As I traveled to Eden Shale Farm early one morning I watched the sun come up over the eastern horizon. It was one of those first few mornings that both the temperature and humidity had dropped to the point that there was a sense of fall in the air. It was a stark reminder of just how fast the seasons change.
And with the changing of the seasons comes a change in the work done on the farm. This past month we have continued mowing pastures and getting the last of our hay baled. We have also been working on getting some of Dr. Higgins hay feeding structures completed before the winter. The fence line hay cubbies, as he calls them, are now installed and ready to be used. There are five different designs all sitting side by side so that we can compare the differences as we use them.
We also weaned our calves on September 12th. I was curious to see how much our weaning weights had changed this year being that 2/3rds of our calf crop were AI sired calves. We also had a wet summer which has kept the grass growing all year long. Given these two factors you would expect our weaning weights to be higher than they have been previously, and that is exactly what we found. Last year’s calf crop had an average weaning weight of 439 lbs. This year’s calves averaged 39 pounds heavier at 478 lbs. I also compared weights of our AI calves versus the natural service calves that were sired by the registered Angus cleanup bulls. The AI calves averaged 34 days older and 37 lbs heavier than the natural service calves. Using the market value of calves the week that I weaned them, if I were to have sold them at weaning the AI calves were worth $54 more than the natural service calves, which would have calculated into an increased return on the calf crop of $2,800.
However, the calves are participating in a weaning trial that Dr. Lehmkuhler designed in which half the calves are turned out on grass and fed a 13% pellet. The other half of the calves are broken into three groups that will each be fed a different ration (13% pellet, 50/50 pellet, 3-way pellet). At the end of thirty days all the calves will be weighted again to determine weight gains. I am expecting the AI calves to out gain the natural service calves. Results from this trial will be reported at the Eden Shale Open House Field Day on October 15th.
The day went well with Ron Shrout and Becky Thompson helping us at the chute. Once we had all the calves weighted we pulled blood on the cows to determine pregnancy status. In all we worked 193 head through the chute that day.