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.