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From the Barns: Heavy load

We went from a dry September to a wet October in the blink of an eye. It wasn’t a total washout, but I believe we received 7 to 8 inches for the entire month. That certainly muddies conditions and limits some of the things we were able and needed to do. I’ll give a couple examples of those in a bit.

The first round of cereal rye that we sowed was a beneficiary of the moisture and then warm days to follow. The stand looks full and growing well. Our soybeans were ready to cut and we were coming in right behind that to sow ryegrass, but the rain hit and that postponed all that for a few weeks. This was making us nervous about getting to sow anything else yet this fall, but early this week it had dried out enough that we were able to get the beans cut. The following day we came in with the drill and began and by tomorrow we should have that job completed. The ground is in perfect shape, so we are optimistic about getting these 85 acres of ryegrass up and going.

Last month I mentioned that fall calving had started with some problems, but the last 30 days it turned to the better and all is now going well as this wraps up. Those cows were short on grass, so we have just now moved them close to home where we can supplement them with some feed as we prepare to start breeding them next month. Some will get A.I. while others will be turned out with the bulls. Spring calving cows were recently preg checked and the results were relatively good. They have been turned out on some stockpiled fall and winter pasture and hopefully they won’t need much else if weather stays decent.

We have been selling some fat cattle every couple of weeks and have two more loads scheduled to ship next week. Prices are holding steady at best. Should be better, but could be worse. The August and September feeder cattle we brought in have continued to do exceptionally well. We shipped out three loads of 800-pound heifers earlier this week. Over the 75 days they were here, they gained 3.4 pounds per day and they had less than a 1% death loss. These results were phenomenal.

I don’t mean to imply that all groups perform like this, but overall we are seeing very good performance. We brought in quite a few more feeders in October and most are doing really well, although two groups have given us some health problems. I think there are multiple reasons why, but the cold, wet rains that we got less than a week after we got them certainly had to cause problems for those cattle.

A couple of months ago I was bemoaning the equipment breakdowns that we seemed to have a lot of. We saw more of that in October. The feed truck had some major issues to be repaired and we just got it back today after being down almost four weeks. The Cat loader had a starter go out, so by the time new one arrived it was down five days.

Using the spare feed wagon and tractor and the skid steer to load feed really slows the process down. Most of the day was spent in making up to eight loads of feed each day, with most of it being hauled 4 miles roundtrip. Labor and time were really eaten up with this and that caused some things to be neglected because of lack of time. Not to complain entirely, as we are blessed to have backups to operate and get the job done with.

Creal Springs, Ill.

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