The fall weather this year has been good to us. It has been dry enough to get a lot of work done around the farm, but in Owen County at least, we have also had just enough moisture to keep the grass growing and the cattle looking good.
With the help of UK’s Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler we hosted a virtual Weaning Workshop this year. Dr. Lehmkuhler came to the farm and helped us on weaning day and captured a bunch of video footage that was then used to create an online module. Other topics were also covered and presented in the preceding weeks as their own module. In all there were 8 weeks’ worth of videos covering every aspect of the weaning process. If you would like to view, the content is available on the UK Beef IRM and Eden Shale Farm Facebook pages.
Weaning of the calves went well. They were weaned on September 2nd, and that day given a blackleg and a modified live respiratory vaccine, as well as an injectable dewormer. The calves averaged 454 lbs. This was down slightly from last year, but is not concerning for several reasons. One, we weaned the calves about 10 days earlier than usual. Two, we AI bred to very maternal sires with the hopes of retaining heifers as replacements. And three, our mature cow size continues to come down (now at 1173 lbs). For the past 5 years our cow size has gotten smaller while continuing to wean on average 40% of their body weight.
As part of the Weaning Workshop, we gate sorted the steers into two separate pens. They would spend the next 35 days in the barn eating free choice hay and 5lb/hd/day of one of two different rations. One group was fed a ration of cracked corn and distillers’ grain. The other group a ration of cracked corn and a protein pellet. The protein pellet was more expensive but the calves did gain slightly better on it. The increased cost of the feed did pay for itself with the increased gains, but did not make significantly more profit. Both groups had an average daily gain of about 2.15, as you can see in the chart put together by Dr. Lehmkuhler. We made money on both groups of steers by weaning them and backgrounding them for 35 days.
The marketing plan for the steers is to utilize the Blue Grass Verified Feeders Program at Blue Grass Stockyards around early December. More information about the program requirements can be found here https://www.bgstockyards.com/sales-info/value-added-programs