March at Eden Shale means calving season. This year has been warmer and drier than normal which makes things nice. It makes you realize why producers enjoy fall calving with no mud.
If you recall, last spring we bred 114 females. As of this spring we have 97 bred cows that are expected to calve. That equates to an 85% total conception across the entire herd.
The herd is broken into two main groups during calving season. The mature cow herd consists of cows that are having at least their third calf. This year we have 63 of these mature cows. They will mainly calve out in the pasture and Greg will ear tag them and rotate them to new pasture as they calve.
The second group is made up of first and second calf heifers and they will calve at the barn next to Greg’s house. This makes keeping a close eye on them much easier. This year we have 34 heifers at this facility to calve.
Much like the cows, as the heifers calve the babies will get tagged and the pair will get moved into the “nursery” field for they next 10-12 days. Once the babies are stronger and doing good, those pairs will get moved in to a third field. This rotation during calving season makes it easy to locate new calves because we are always moving them out of the pregnant group and into the nursery. The nursery group never has large numbers in it as we are always adding to it but also moving the older stronger calves out. The last group starts small and continually has new pairs added to it until calving season is over. This rotation allows us to keep the mud at a minimum and have fresh pasture that we are rotating the new calves to which keeps the udders cleaner and the calves healthier.
As of writing we have had 52 calves born in the first 18 days of the calving season. That is 54% of the calf crop born in two and half weeks! In my opinion this is the best reason to synchronize and AI the herd. Having the calves all be similar in age and size makes it easier to manage them throughout their time at the farm. The AI component gives us consistent genetics and coloration throughout the calf crop and it allows an advantage at marketing when there are more animals that will sort on to the same load.
On the farm there are many things that are difficult to control. In my opinion the length of your calving season is the easiest thing to manage. Besides; calving season is hard, so why allow it to drag on for months…