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From the Barns: Calving problems

Seems like September went by really fast. One thing for certain is that it has been a very dry month in southern Illinois. On Sept. 28, we received nearly 1 inch of rain, but that was the only significant moisture we had the entire time. As we had above average precipitation most of the summer and good forage conditions, all of a sudden we turn dry and the grass disappears quickly. That is just a reality this time of year as summer forages play out especially when we go into a dry spell.

On the bright side, these are perfect conditions for manure removal, pen and mound cleaning and repair, which include bringing in dirt, lime or rock where needed. The skid steer has been running almost nonstop all month and things look so much better. It is amazing how much can get done when you get this kind of opportunity. The first full week of October looks like much of the same, so we will keep pressing on.

We decided to go ahead and wean the spring calves earlier this week. A couple of our local cooperating cow-calf producers decided to do the same, so we have 74 calves just bawled out and vaccinated. Got them started with the prairie hay and starter ration and they are being aggressive coming to the bunk. They were pulled out of the receiving barn today. The heifers will be bangs vaccinated next week, the same day that we will preg-check their mothers.

Fall calving has not been going all that smoothly. We have encountered some out of the ordinary problems such as a couple of stillborns and a case of Clostridia on a week old calf. Also numerous calves born two to three weeks early, with a couple of those being so small and weak that they couldn’t survive. Not sure what is the cause of all these issues, but is very frustrating to lose calves under any circumstances. Most of the new calves are doing well and hopefully things will get better as we move farther into the fall.

This month we have been selling about two loads of fats per week, including some 1,600-pound steers we shipped out today. To try and catch an improving market we have held onto cattle longer, which of course results in heavier weights. That seems to be the case for most feedlots across the nation who have been dealing with market disruptions and processing backlogs caused by the virus pandemic. We still have quite a few loads to sell over the next couple of months.

Feeder cattle numbers where we source most of our animals have been down lately, so we didn’t put in new ones over the last few weeks. This week, they saw an uptick in sale barn runs and today we brought in 116 mixed steers, bulls and heifers. The new cattle I reported on last month have exceeded expectations, both in health and gain performance. Pleased with that and when you see this kind of result it is encouraging to see that our program is working well.

Hoping to get some rye sown over the next week. May be too late to get much out of it for fall grazing, but if nothing else should be there for us in late winter and early spring. Anxious to see what the next month brings and staying positive that it will be a good one.

Creal Springs, Ill.

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