There is no debating that this spring has shown the stranger side of Kentucky weather. The cool weather just refused to go away, surprising us with multiple April snow days. But hopefully we can put all that in the rearview mirror and focus on the work at hand now that the weather has improved.
As I’m sure is the case with most everyone else, we got our fertilizer spread late this year. The first cutting hay crop looks to be short and thin compared to normal, but hopefully we continue to get some moisture throughout the summer and the second cutting can make up for it.
Calving season went well again this year despite all the mud in February and March. We ended up with an AI conception rate of 66% for the first calf heifers, and 60% for the cows. We also had 68% of the calf crop on the ground in the first 30 days of the calving season. The main calving season lasted 50 days, not counting the handful of stragglers that always have to drag it out. Despite the muddy conditions, this years calving was a success.
Due to the muddy conditions we had to divide the cows up into more groups than we normally do to be able to spread the mud out and not tear up each feeding location quite as much. This meant that there was a lot more manure to clean up than usual. Last year we hauled around 40 loads of manure onto hay fields, and this year I would estimate that we have close to double that amount that needs spread. We also worked on repairing a lot of damaged areas that needed reseeded. We lightly disced the areas and then drilled in rye grass to try to get some quick cover on them. With the cooler weather they have not germinated as quickly as I would have liked but I am still hopeful.
As spring time get kicked into full gear I hope that you find enough time to get everything accomplished. It is a challenging time with so many task demanding your attention, but if it means winter is over, then I am up for the challenge.
Despite February being much warmer than usual, it seems like it has been a rough winter. January was brutally cold, and then Feb and March were brutally wet. Hopefully now that it is April, we are on the downhill slide with the bad weather and the mud.
The past month at the farm has been defined by one thing, calving season. This year we have right at 80 females to calve and as of March 12th, we have 48 calves on the ground. The first calf heifers started calving on Feb 14th and 20 of the 27 heifers have calved AI. We bred 30 heifers AI so that means we had an AI conception rate of 66%.
The cows didn’t start calving until the 1st of March. They are still calving AI bred calves so I don’t know the AI conception rate for the cows yet. As of right now 60% of the herd has calved in the first 27 days of the calving season.
The biggest challenge this year has been dealing with the mud. Eden Shale received 8.5 inches of rain in the month of February. Our saving grace was the infrastructure that we have installed, particularly the calving barn and the hay feeding structures. These structures have allowed the new calves to get out of the mud and have a dry spot to lay down.
Another project that we completed this month was to hang up our buzzard decoy at the calving barn. The buzzard is made of a black rubber mat and is made to look like a dead buzzard hanging upside down. Buzzards have a strong sense of mortality and when they see one of their own kind dead, they tend to leave the area as to avoid the same fate.
Since we hung the decoy we have not noticed any of the black headed buzzards around. We still do have the red headed buzzards occasionally landing to eat after birth and baby calf manure, but we have not had any black headed buzzards terrorizing the new calves. I am curious to see how long the decoy is effective in the same location.