March 20, 2023

From the Barns: Statistics don’t lie

Calving season has officially begun for us. Four heifers have had calves the past few days. We have 75 head of heifers to go. We did some sorting yesterday. We are keeping the heavy springers up close to the barn, while the others are about a half mile away. Looks like about half of these girls will calve in the next couple of weeks. We have a number of individual pens in the barn and most nights, especially if the weather is not good, these heifers will be penned up where they can be checked throughout the night if necessary.

The last couple of years have seen us move our calving date back. The vast majority of both cows and heifers should have a calf mid-March through the end of April. Trying to avoid the chance of more inclement weather. Not that the weather right now is all that great, but the last month was not conducive to good calving weather, so maybe we at least have missed a majority of the bad.

Something that I think is interesting enough to mention. Our heifers, of course, are bred to easy calving bulls. One commercial heifer had to have her calf pulled today. The calf was larger than normal. The past year or more we have been doing genomic testing with Method Genetics. This group of heifers was tested last year. David pulled the records today and looked back to see what this particular heifer’s calving index numbers were. To no surprise, she placed last in the group for calving ease. This I guess is validation that numbers and statistics don’t lie. Producers should consider utilizing available science and data to help in making production decisions, such as maybe this heifer shouldn’t have been kept for a replacement.

Speaking of replacement heifers, we have 140 to be bred this summer. We have been having to supplement them with feed and hay since we had no grass carryover from last year. Fortunately, the rye we sowed last summer has had favorable growing conditions, and this past week were able to place them on the rye for grazing. It has been a pretty sight seeing those good, black heifers out on that green grass with plenty of sunshine. Going to put on some fertilizer as soon as it is dry enough and hoping this rye will get us another 60 days or more of grazing.

The sunshine didn’t last too long as we got 3 to 4 inches of rain last night and today. We are still quite wet, although for the first time in a long time we had more than a week of no rain and the sun shining along with that, so we were seeing some drying in some places. We actually got to spread some manure one day, which helped the cattle in the feedlot, although much more needs to be done. Wet winters like these seem to be a depressing time for me. You would think I would be used to it, but we just can’t seem to get by with a dry winter.

We did get that load of fat cattle shipped out Feb. 21. It was mixed steers and heifers. They left here weighing 1,550 pounds. Results were good with 50% prime, no yield grade 5s and a dressing percentage of 64.6. Based on the carcass scan in early January, their pen mates that are left were about two to four weeks behind them. That being the case, I will probably shoot to ship the rest of the pen out around March 15. Live cattle prices are still strong and getting stronger, so should get a good price for these, as well.

We are trying to pinpoint a date to wean the fall-born calves. Most of these calves are 5 to 6 months old now. Since we are having to feed the cows so much to get them through the winter, we think it will save quite a bit of money to pull these calves off. I anticipate this will happen within the next two weeks. Calves are already trained to eat as they eat right alongside the cows. Should be an easy transition.

Jeff Beasley

Jeff Beasley

Creal Springs, Ill.