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Livestock

From the Barns — Beasley: Dealing with illnesses

Creal Springs, Ill.

Who would have ever thought that human health would be harder to manage than cattle health, but that has proven to be the case over much of January and February. I had a bout with pneumonia, and everyone else here at the farm has had some sort of illness to deal with. I hope we’re finally past that.

Speaking of cattle health, it has been surprisingly good the past couple of months, considering the terribly wet and ever-changing weather patterns we have dealt with. Not that it has been perfect by any means, but I expected it to be worse. Instead, mortality and morbidity have been holding close to expected numbers. That is the reason we put in place and follow an effective vaccination and treatment protocol.

I also did not expect that we would have another winter with as much precipitation and mud as we did over that 2018-2019 season, but here we are again. The only difference is it started raining in October and just has not let up. I don’t think we have gone more than four to five days without moisture. Pasture and pen conditions are way less than favorable and cattle comfort has not been ideal and our working environment has been tough, to say the least. The forecast for the next week looks good. Let’s hope it starts drying up soon and doesn’t continue into June, like it did last year.

Our cattle inventory is down right now. Having shipped nine loads of cattle in January and early February, we normally would have quickly replaced them with more feeder calves. However, with all of the mud and the poor health of me and all the others, we backed off and didn’t place any new cattle over the past month.

Hopefully, we will start back this week, and that will be determined by sale runs and the price of calves. With all that’s going on around the world, this market sure has been topsy-turvy, and it seems like we are all unsure when to sell and when to buy. Hopefully, this thing steadies up and fears will ease.

Bulls came out from the fall calving herds over the last few weeks, and we should begin calving heifers within two weeks, with the cows to follow a week or two later. We have pushed our spring calving season back the past couple of years to avoid calving in conditions like we currently have. That certainly looks to have been a good decision.
If this ground will firm up this week, we will go back on the rye fields for some late winter and early spring grazing. Sure will be nice to feed less hay and deal with trying to get that in the bale rings or unrolled. We had to go strictly to hay feeding and supplementing with our Mix 30 liquid protein and energy feed. That has been a huge help getting through these elements, but ready to get back to some grass.

Hoping that March comes in like a lamb — and goes out like one, as well. We can all use some relief. Hope all have a successful calving season. I will report back with what’s going on in Southern Illinois next month.

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