May 21, 2024

From the Barns: Market is unsettled

Spring has arrived and it is good to see grass growing and greening up. I won’t say that grass growth is exploding, because over the last few weeks, winter has tried to hang on. Although we have seen several 70-degree-plus days, we have also had quite a few mornings starting in the 20s, with a number of days seeing a cover of frost. Not unusual for us to see these temperature fluctuations this time of year, and although we were getting a bit dry here, we had one really nice rain that helped replenish us and gave a shot of moisture to this new grass.

We have been grazing the cereal rye now for a couple of months, with almost all of the new cow/calf pairs either calving on those pastures, or in the case of the bred heifers, being turned out once their calf hits the ground. We have gotten a lot of use out of this rye and hopefully will maintain at least through April. On our 80 acres of ryegrass, we just turned out on that April 1. As of now, we have 117 yearling heifers on that and it will be interesting to see if that maintains them, or if growth and regrowth is good, we may need to turn a few more head out there. After one week of grazing that, the heifers seem to be full and content and we are looking to keep them on the ryegrass until very close to breeding time in June. We applied urea and ammonium sulfate to both the rye and ryegrass, and with the rain that followed a few days later, we have seen a surge in growth of both forages.

Before we kicked the heifers out there, we gave them their first round of pre-breeding vaccination. We will pull them off in about 30 days to give them their second round, plus deworming, then back out there until time to start their synchronization protocol for AI breeding.

Next week, we have two loads of fats to ship out. I need to get another three to four loads sold shortly after that. This market is very unsettled right now as you all know, largely due, I think, to this “bird flu” problem. Hopefully, this thing will regain its footing and give both feeders and packers some confidence going forward. We haven’t placed many new cattle this past month, again mostly because of the uncertainty of things. I hope we are able to, because once we ship out these loads of fats over the next month or so, our numbers of cattle will be lower than usual. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, but it does take numbers in many cases to keep an operation going.

We did wean the calves born last fall and they are off to a good start. Their mothers were pregnancy checked and turned out on spring and summer pasture, greatly reducing the feeding load and the costs associated with wintering cow/calf pairs. The pregnancy numbers were good and we were pleased with that.

On a final note, April 8 is the date of the total solar eclipse. As you have no doubt heard, southern Illinois is in the direct path of totality and we will be able to witness it in its full glory. It is being promoted down here as a big deal and many visitors to this area are now here. Here at the farm, we will take the opportunity to witness this supernatural phenomenon and it will be interesting to observe it, giving credit for it to the God who created this earth that we are stewards of and orchestrates all things like this that we have the privilege to be a small part of.

Jeff Beasley

Jeff Beasley

Creal Springs, Ill.