We weaned our calves on September 17th. KBN Field Associates Ron Shrout and Jacob Settles helped us that day, and I appreciate their work and support of Eden Shale Farm.
The 88 calves that we weaned had an average weaning weight of 488 lbs. This is the heaviest the calves have been at weaning since we started the herd in 2013. It is also the most uniform group of calves we have had, with a total calving window of 45 days (excluding the last 4 stragglers to calve).
The cow weights were also up 52 lbs this year at weaning time, due in part to the young herd maturing (average age 4 years old), and the abundance of grass causing all the animals to be in great body condition. Despite the average cow weight increasing to 1225 lbs, as a herd they were still able to wean 40% of their body weight which is consistent with years prior.
The pregnancy conception rates were good this year as well. The cows had a total conception rate of 92% after one round of timed AI and 60 days with a cleanup bull. The 28 replacement heifers had an AI conception rate of 72% after two rounds of timed AI and using sexed semen (heifers). After 40 days with the cleanup bull those heifers had a total conception of 88%. As it stands right now, we have 111 bred females to calve in the spring of 2022.
At the end of September we had to spray our alfalfa for army worms. We were able to catch them early and was able to save the third cutting. It was really the only crop they showed up in, as we scouted other hay fields and pastures but did not see enough activity to warrant spraying.
In October we drilled 20 acres of rye grass into existing pasture fields. We used two different varieties, Elena Perennial Ryegrass and Marshall Annual Ryegrass. We drilled them in different areas so that we can compare how each variety does. Our goal is to be able to turn the cows out onto the ryegrass pastures early next spring before our fescue based pastures are ready to graze.
I would like to thank everyone who attended the Eden Shale Farm Tours this fall. The August, September, and October field days combined had about 175 people in attendance. I again want to thank Superior Ag Insurance for their sponsorship of the Open House Field Day in October. If you were unable to attend one of the field days, you can follow along on our website at www.edenshalefarm.com.
August was hot this year. The Mesonet weather station at the farm measured 20 days in August that had no measurable rainfall, the humidity was at least 93%, and the average temperature for those days was 86 degrees! Thankfully we received adequate rainfall to compensate for the extreme heat. However, it has still been a good year for grazing cattle and for that I am thankful.
This past month we worked the replacement heifers that are on the grazing trial with USDA. The pregnancy check showed that after two rounds of AI and exposure to the cleanup bull, we had 28 of 32 heifers bred. We will be sharing much more data about this project after we crunch all the numbers and finalize the results.
The working facility in the paddocks (which USDA purchased several years ago) had a load cell malfunction under the chute. Chris McBurney, with McBurney’s Livestock Equipment, was able to come replace the load bars with a new model and get our chute functioning again so that we can collect accurate weights on the heifers. I want to thank Chris for his quick turnaround time for getting the new load bars installed and keeping us up and running.
Dr. Higgins has been at the farm recently putting some finishing touches on the pond liner water harvesting project. As you recall, the pond liner captures rainfall and diverts it into a 3,000 gallon collection tank. A solar panel and submersible pump then pumps the harvested water up into the pasture and into another 3,000 gallon tank, which gravity feeds into an 8 foot tire water tank. This system is functioning well and has allowed us to put a 14 acre pasture back into the summer grazing rotation. We also found a water leak at another location, so while our contractor, Art Snapp, was there we repaired the line.
Despite not being able to hire a summer intern, we are fortunate enough to have hired Chey Warner as our fall intern at the farm. Chey attended Morehead State for 3 ½ years and is now taking online classes to complete her Animal Science/Vet Tech degree. She lives in Frankfort and will be working with us at Eden Shale Farm throughout the fall semester.
The annual Open House Field Day will be October 9th at 10:00am and lunch will be provided. The tour is limited to 100 people, so if you have not RSVP’d please do so to reserve your spot today. To RSVP please call 859-278-0899 or email at email@example.com. We look forward to seeing you at the farm.