July 25, 2021

From the Barns: When it rains …

I need to talk about the weather first, of course, as 2021 continues to be an eventful year. We have been fortunate to be spared more flooding. The river has been bank full all week and water trapped inside the levee is too much, but all in all we have been missing the heavy rains or storms. So, everything is well watered, tiles are flowing large and forage is green and continuing to flourish.

With high water, we could not cross our bridge, so the portable corral was placed into service and four trailer loads brought the south side group of 50 back home for pregnancy check today. The portable corral — Titan West standard model, very easy to set up and strong enough that there are no worries once the cattle are inside, our Environmental Quality Incentives Program project lane fed the corral perfectly and all was very smooth except the slow loading — worked well except loading the trailer was slow and is an area to improve on next time around.

Pregnancy ultrasound checking this morning, a beautiful one with cool temperatures for an early 6 a.m. start. My job is to make sure all gates, the chute, tub, alleyway and lot fences are all working properly and ready for action. Everything is working very smooth as I write this. All heifers carry an AI record and a pasture exposed record and I will share the results before I send this article. Results: 2 1/2 hours, 148 heifers checked, 125 bred, 23 open, 85% success after AI and 45-day pasture exposure.

We had a very good Western Illinois Grazing Group meeting here on June 22. I waited until the Friday before for an open forecast as we have had, in the past, a poor record with keeping rain and storms away on the pasture events. It was a nice, cool evening, except, wouldn’t you know it, the evening ended with some sprinkles about 8:30 p.m.

It was a great group of 16 grazing enthusiasts. We spent some time gathering full plant grass samples in paddock #1B — brome, orchard, reed canary, fescue, timothy and Italian ryegrass — and then discussing the characteristics of each and what preferences one would have for grazing seasons: now, late summer, fall, winter and early spring. The point being, there is no perfect grass, but there is a grass to fit in your plan for your season and environment.

Other discussions included when to clip or not, what role density plays in that — good grazing is all about density — and the various aspects of an EQIP project. We viewed several paddocks as examples, heifers grazing and the EQIP project, although, as always, ran short on time at the end of a very good evening.

We will be meeting again in July with the Leo Arnold grazing operation near Beardstown. It should be very interesting to see how graziers function on sandy soils. The August meeting will be at Cassidy Farms near Table Grove. Jim and Cindy Cassidy have a nice EQIP project underway. Each of those meetings will be announced about five days ahead so as to avoid weather if at all possible. Watch for emails and text messages. If you want to be on a list, email me at tjtror@mtcnow.net.

As far as grazing progress here at River Oak, we have worked through the reed canary and now face the catch-up in the fescue. Progress there will depend at least partially on the numbers after the pregnancy check and what density we can formulate in some paddocks. Management determines that and then the cattle can do the work, and perhaps the Batwing mower to clip some stray seed heads.

Get signed up for the Heart of America Grazing Conference in Mount Vernon Aug. 10-11. I will see you there.

This is the greatest country in the world to live in, even though I am perturbed at several things happening out there these days. Hope you were able to celebrate on July 4. Stay safe and sane and enjoy some summer.

Trevor Toland

Macomb, Ill.