Buckets of Fun
I hope everyone's spring is going well. Here at Big Trails, the past couple of weeks have been extremely nice with a mix of rain and sunshine that is making the grass grow. It's a beautiful thing and most of the cows are out enjoying it. The last two weeks we have talked about AIing heifers and I want to stick with the heifers for another week because they are the only group of cows that aren't out there eating spring grass yet.
First, a quick update on what happened over the past week. We are mainly getting switched into summer mode: away from feeding and starting to irrigate. We branded the calves in the Big Trails herd Wednesday evening and I would like to say thank you to all of the neighbors that came and helped with that. The next day we put CiDRs in the Big Trails cows that are going to be AIed. Unfortunately, I was too busy running around to stop and take a picture of the actual branding and placement of CiDRs, but my mother has some of the branding at her website. Here they were before the branding as I started to gather them.
Getting back to the heifers, since they are young and we are trying to get them bred for the first time, we take extra care with them. They are in being fed hay and corn. None of our steers get corn and neither do our older cows. Heifers are a different story because we need them to be bred early for them to have the best chance to make good cows. Part of this means that we need them to grow to between 50-60% of their mature body weight by the time we AI them. To do this, we use corn.
For most of my life we have used oats instead because we grow our own oats. However, our equipment is getting older and more difficult to repair when it breaks down. By making oat hay instead of harvesting the oats and baling straw, we also have more hay to feed the cows. Corn provides more energy and less protein than the oats. This helps because it is difficult to provide enough energy from hay to make the heifers grow.
We are more "old school," I guess you could say, than many people the feed grain to their calves. Most ranchers these days seem to have some sort of feeder that mixes the grain with the hay or a lease feed the grain into the feed bunk. We pack buckets. Five gallon buckets of corn are filled each morning and load onto the back of the pickup. We drive into the corral and feed them by hand into bunks. Jekyll herds the heifers out into another pen so I don't have to push through them. After the corn is in the bunk, I let them back in.
I have created a Vimeo account so I can show you some of the videos that I take. Here is my first try. The video itself isn't that good. The light is flickering for some reason and it is shaky with me just holding my phone to take it. I just thought that it shows how the heifers want to come back in and eat the corn. Jekyll doesn't have to bring them or anything, they just want to eat.
I hope the video works and I hope you have a good week.
by Brandon Greet