We weaned our calves on September 26th, which was about three weeks later than we had been previously weaning. However, this was when the sign was right to do the weaning. Does the sign have any bearing at all on how things go? It depends on who you ask and their most recent experience, but I think there is something to it and we always check the sign before setting the date for weaning or castrating.
A big part of the excitement of weaning this year was getting to use our new chute for a full days work. We had ran the calves through it, and treated some pinkeye in the cows, but this was the first big herd working where everything came through. The chute worked flawlessly all day, and having access into the palp cage from the left side of the chute was a huge time advantage over our old model. And having the scales underneath it lessened our labor needs by one person.
KBN Facilitator, Jacob Settles helped us that day, as did our current intern Joel. Joel even got the opportunity to give vaccinations, apply pour on dewormer, and Jacob taught him how to pull blood from the tail to check for pregnancy. I want to thank both these gentlemen for their assistance that day, and to Greg for having the cows captured and ready to work.
The calves weaned off the heaviest they have yet at an average of 517 lbs. Our previous high weaning weight was 485 lbs. But remember we were three weeks later, and if they were gaining 1.5 lbs/day then they weighted about the same as our previous high weaning weight. We weaned 95 calves this year which is also the most we have had at weaning time. Of those calves, 64 head (68%) are steers that I hope to take advantage of another good year of feeder prices next summer.
I also want to thank David McGlothlin with Genetics Plus for his help selecting semen for this calf crop. This has been our best looking calf crop yet and we liked them enough to breed the cows the same way this spring (we used Angus bull Plus One and Hereford bull Kingdom).
The cows were also heavier at an average of 1260 lbs (about 40 lbs heavier than last year). However all the cows were in one body condition score higher than they usually are at weaning. Everything was easily a BCS of 6+. Despite being heavier, the cows still weaned off 41% of their body weight, which was an all time high as well.
We still have a lot of work to do, but the herd is trending in the right direction. While we aren’t breaking any all time records, we are getting better each year. Remember, we are just 10 years out from starting with herd of splitting cows from the stockyards…