Weaning calves can sometimes cause as much stress on the producer as it does the cows and calves. If your facilities are lacking you will certainly have to deal with animals that get out, and we are no stranger to that at Eden Shale.
Getting ready for weaning means several different things need attention. We have to get the shade structures moved over from the paddocks back to the weaning barn. We also have to spend a day or two fixing fence in the areas that the cows will be in during the weaning process. Between the deer and the dead ash trees our old fence doesn’t stand a chance.
If you are going to use an open lot to wean calves you must take into consideration the availability of shade for those animals. If they do not have adequate shade they can suffer from heat stress, when coupled with the stress of weaning can cause sickness. We make sure we have more than enough shade to get all the animals covered at once if they so desire. We use portable shade structures that can be moved to other parts of the farm during different times of the year.
We weaned the calves on September 10th. We had several of the KBN Facilitators come to the farm and help us that day. We weighed and worked every animal on the farm that day and their help was much appreciated. Besides getting vaccinated and weighted, we also pulled blood on the cows to determine pregnancy. I am pleased to report that we only had 4 open cows out of the 70 head we tested. That gives us a total concepting rate of 94% in the cows.
We also tested our 25 replacement heifers that will be calving for the first time next spring. We had 2 open in that group for a total conception rate of 92%. Overall, I was very happy with the conception rates of our cows this year.
Another interesting statistic is that the average weight of our cow herd went up 40 lbs this year from 1154 last year to 1195 this year. That is due to the better condition that our cows stayed in all summer long. We had a wet year, and the grazing stayed strong and the cattle were not pulled down by the calves as much as usual.
The calves weaned off better than last year too. This years average weaning weight was 484 lbs, up 12 lbs from the year prior. Even thought the cows and the calves were heavier at weaning time, the percent body weight that that cows weaned off remained the same at 41%. Overall, we continue to create a younger, more efficient herd as we develop our cattle each year.
Heifers pictured below.
On September 12th we hosted our third Weaning Workshop at the farm. We had about 17 producers attend the workshop which covered multiple topics and allows them to get hands on with the curriculum. Brent Tolle, with Boehringer Ingelheim, discussed chute side protocol when working cattle, He covered proper vaccine handling, shot placement, and proper deworming techniques.
Our calves were not due to re-implant at the time of weaning, so we got some ears from a local slaughter house and hung them on a board so that the producers could get some practice on how to do it properly. The producers really liked practicing on the ears since they weren't on a live animal that is jumping around and they didn't feel like they were hurting them if they did it wrong.
Producers also got to develop a feed ration feeding plan with UK's Dr. Lehmkuhler and discuss marketing considerations with KDA's Tim Dietrich.
The hands on learning ended with UK's Dr. Higgins going over infrastructure and environmental factors that affect weaning calves. We had a good Weaning Workshop and I want to thank all the folks that helped put it on, including Boehringer Ingelheim which sponsored the meal.
As part of this weaning trial the steer calves are sorted into three different groups in the barn and are on three different rations that the producers came up with. They will eat those rations for 30 days and then be reweighed. We will share the results of this trial at the Eden Shale Open House Field Day on October 13th. If you would like to attend that event please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or 859-278-0899.
Hello, my name is Dan Miller and I work for the Kentucky Beef Network. KBN took over operation of the Eden Shale Farm in April of 2013. We are using the 961 acre farm as a demonstration and learning center for beef cattle producers. This blog serves as a place to document daily farm activity and host discussions about the demonstrations being implemented. I hope you find this information useful and that you come visit us at Eden Shale Farm.