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.
To a farmer the long days of summer simply means that there is more daylight to get work done. Never is this more apparent than during the months of June and July, and I can assure you that we have been taking full advantage of the long days at Eden Shale.
June allowed us great hay making weather and we were able to get all of the first cutting baled without it getting rained on. We have also baled and wrapped the first cutting of our sorghum sudan grass. We have baled a total of 306 bales so far this year. We typically need about 425 bales to get us through a normal year, so we are setting in good shape at this point in the season.
Last month we purchased 24 cull cows that are grazing in the paddocks. They will be rotated through the paddocks for 60 days and then we will harvest them through Beef Solutions. We recently purchased 20 more cull cows that will be kept in the bull barn and bucket fed two different rations. The first group will be fed a standard 3-way commodity feed and the second group will be fed a custom mixed ration that Burkmann Nutrition put together for the trial. These cows will again be fed for 60 days and then harvested through Beef Solutions. These cattle will be harvested in August and early September and I will share the results once they have been processed.
On July 9th we started work on three new construction projects with Dr. Higgins. One project will be a new option for winter feeding and the other two will be water harvesting projects, one of which will eliminate the need for an unreliable pond to water the cattle. We are very excited to get this new infrastructure added to the farm and I invite you to come to our Open House field day on October 13th where we will be showcasing these three new projects.
July was also a busy month for having people at the farm. We hosted 9 different field day/tours that totaled 185 people from 30 different Kentucky Counties during the month of July. Most of the visitors were cattle producers from across the state, but we also hosted a group of High School Ag Teachers, and a group of inner city kids from Lexington.
I would like to thank everyone who visited Eden Shale Farm, as well as Dr. Higgins for his time in helping to give the tours. I also need to thank our farm manager Greg and our intern Ben for keeping the production of the farm running while I spent time hosting these groups. These are the folks that continue to make Eden Shale Farm a success. I hope that producers in Kentucky see a value in the work that we are doing and continue pushing us to provide new and innovative ideas for the beef industry. Because at the end of the day, that is the ultimate goal for Eden Shale Farm.
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.