May is one of the busiest months on the farm. There are fields full of new calves, the first crop of hay is getting very close to being cut, and for spring calving herds, it is breeding season.
This year at Eden Shale our calving season went relatively smoothly. Our heifers started calving first (February 14th) and the cows followed behind two weeks later. Our AI conception rates where not as good this year as they had been in years past. The heifers had exactly 50% AI conception rate and the cows were lower at only 45%. I’m not exactly sure what caused this decline in the AI conception rates. The weather was a bit warmer than previous years, but not enough that I would have expected these declines. I also do not think that the winter weather was a factor as it was milder than normal and we had plenty of high quality hay on hand.
Our calving window this year is still tight as we had 50% of the calves born in the first 30 days of the calving season, and 72% were born in the first 45 days of the calving window. This year we have pulled out our second calf heifers and are feeding them along with the first calf heifers during calving and up until we breed them. This is to try to ensure we get more of the second calf heifers rebred on the AI heat cycle.
In April we had our vet, Dr. Matt Parker, to the farm to pelvic measure our replacement heifers and to perform a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE) on our herd bulls. In early May we will work all the cows and give them their pre-breeding vaccinations and deworming, at least two weeks before we start the AI synchronization process. This means that every cow will go through the chute four times in the month of May.
The 36 steers that had been in the barn for 90 days on the feeding trial ended late March. Unfortunately, due to the global coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent decline in feeder cattle prices we lost $6,600 in the value of the calves from the start of the project (December 19th) to the end of it (March 22nd). However, we were able to capture a lot of interesting data from the project. The self feeder group used 157 bales of straw vs the bucket fed group only used 98 bales. The self feeder group ate 12 bales of hay vs the bucket fed group ate 17 bales. And the self feeder group ate 6 bags of mineral vs the bucket fed group at 8 bags of mineral. All of the data is still being analyzed and I will present the final report here once it is released. As for the pen flooring, the pens have not been scrapped out yet and that also will be shared in a future article.
For the time being all our events and tours are still cancelled. Once things open back up we will share event dates and agendas. As always you can stay up to date with what’s happening at the farm here by subscribing to our blog.