Tag Archives: paddock

Winter Is On Its Way!

Got a late start this morning, but headed up to roll up a polybraid, then take it to the paddock where the cows were and set it up.  I had put off rolling this polybraid up all summer and because of that, there was some damage to the wire (it wasn’t energised all this time) from deer, calves, sheep chewing on it and breaking the tiny wires braided inside the poly.

Thinking the cows would be starving (they act like that a lot), I provided them far too large a stockpiled paddock.  They just ran around trampling their food and kicking up their heels!  Despite standing knee deep in fresh grass, after about an hour, some of them had wandered back into the old paddock to nibble on short clovers.

This is the first strip of winter stockpile I’ve turned them onto this season.   The paddock size is 17.9 acres, but they’ve been alloted about 7, which as i said was far too much.  It’s grown pretty good although this is growth since May, not August- September, so the quality will not be as good and I’ll need to watch the condition of the cows as winter becomes more severe and they need more energy.   I estimated there are about 7 inches of forage at about 350 lbs per inch giving 2450# per acre.  Given the number of cows and calves in this mob, they eat about 6000# per day, so this 7 acre allotment should yield about 17,150 lbs or 3 days of grazing.  It will be interesting to see how close i get to the estimation.

Forecasting snow flurries by morning.

Shabbat Shalom!

tauna

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Photo Bomb!!

 

Refuge Ministries

Quick trip to my farm to shift the cows across the road.

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Even though we are inside the Gator, still got my hunter orange so as to be more visible.

Yes, i was just there yesterday, but discovered that I had grossly overestimated the amount of forage the cows would have, so they had to be moved today.

Took Dallas with me just in case my temporary netting decided to take flight in our 33 mph gusting winds.  But all went well;  he wouldn’t have needed to go, but sure gave me extra peace of mind.  Taking out mineral,

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Always keep out mineral for cattle unless it’s just raining everyday.  We use Redmon Natural mineralised salt.  You may know the company as Real Salt.

shutting gates, and draining a water tank took us 55 minutes.  Driving up there and back takes 1 hour 15 minutes.  Obviously, I usually plan to spend more time up there to justify the trip.

Frying lumpia this afternoon in preparation for my monthly trip to Refuge Ministries in Mexico, MO.  

 

Cheers!

tauna

 

 

Buying Beef or Lamb From the Farmer

There are many articles out there addressing this and to be sure, each producer may do things just a bit different, so please don’t take this article as the end all for ‘how to purchase beef from a farmer.’  This is what we do.

Step by step.

  1. If it is important to you, ask questions or visit the producer’s website (if they have one – many don’t,  we are producers not techies or salesmen) about how the animals are handled and raised.

Sample Question:

  1. Are the beeves you sell fully grass finished or grain finished (feedlot) do they receive grain on pasture? If so, is the grain non-GMO?
  2. Do you vaccinate your animals?  Are the animals you sell to me treated with antibiotics, synthetic dewormers, hormonal implants,
  3. Is your farm and animals raised organically?  certified organic (3rd party certification)?, (Certified organic animals/meat must be processed in a certified organic abattoir, all this adds tremendously to the cost of certified organic but doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than your local producer.)  For example, many of us raise fully grass-fed and finished from conception to consumption, no implants, no synthetic dewormers, no antibiotics, etc, etc.  But, we might treat some brush in the next paddock with weed killer, so no way can that animal be certified organic.  Also, even if our farm and animals could be certified organic, if there isn’t a certified organic butcher shop, the meat cannot be certified organic.  I would have to make a 4 hour one way drive to a certified organic butcher.  Not going to happen.
  4. Why can’t i just ring up and you have a beef available?  Don’t you keep cattle year round?  Yes, we keep cattle year round, but most of us are cow/calf producers and will only finish enough animals to fill orders placed six months or more in advance.  Once an animal is finished, it needs to go to slaughter – every day that it is still on pasture, it is losing money.   Most of our animals are sold as calves through traditional markets, so if you haven’t ordered a beef well in advance, we won’t have saved back enough beeves to finish one for you.  Also, sometimes the weather plays havoc with finishing times as well.  If you want factory finished feedlot beef, you’ll have to go the store.

You may want to visit the farm before making a purchase, but remember, we are producers, not salesmen – if you aren’t serious about making a purchase, please don’t take up too much time.  Be prepared ahead of time with questions.  You may decide after you meet with the farmer and see how he operates, not to purchase, but don’t take up time just out of curiosity.

If you decide to purchase, already have it in your mind how much you want to buy.  For example, a typically grass-finished carcass will weigh 600-700 lbs.  Be sure to ask the producer, his might be bigger or smaller, but armed with that information, you can quickly determine whether you need a whole, half, or quarter carcass AND you can budget for it.  Be prepared that the carcass may be larger than the producer says – we cannot guarantee an exact hanging weight.  We are just not that good.  We can usually get within 50 lbs more or less.  Quarter carcasses are more likely sold as a split side rather than a hind or fore quarter, but ask; some producers sell both ways.  Half and quarter (split side) will be more expensive – Why?  because we have to find another buyer(s).

So, figure out  how much  meat your family will eat in a year or 6 months.  Most of us only offer beeves once or twice a year since it is time consuming to sell directly to the consumer, however, we are happy to do so if you are serious about quality meat for your family – we share that vision with you.

For a rough figuring, say your family eats 2 lbs of beef per day.  A whole beef of 600 lbs carcass will yield about 360 lbs of packaged meat.  If you want enough for a year – buy two beeves.  You must let the producer know at least 3-4 months in advance so he can keep the animal for you on pasture plus have it booked in at the butcher.  Many local butchers shut down for deer season, which means all domestic animals have to be butchered, hung, and out by 1 October.  They won’t take more in until the first of December, so it is critical to let the producer know well in advance if you want any.  Spring time purchases can be just as critical because so many people want to get animals in.

Once you’ve settled on a price (this will vary a LOT), then you may be expected to make a down payment to hold your beef.  This is reasonable.  Kind of like making a down payment on a vacation trip or anything else you’ve spoken for to do in the future.  Most of the time, you will pay the producer for the beef and the butcher for the processing.  Our processor charges 44 cents per pound hanging weight for basic processing and $30 as a kill fee.  But, i will tell you, that he charges less than most places and certainly less than a USDA inspected plant.  If you want extras like burger patties, extra tenderizing, excessive deboning, or other specialties, these will be an additional cost.  Work that out with the butcher.  Your producer will give you the contact information.

Retail Beef Cuts – most butchers are glad to help you with your custom order, but do a bit of study ahead to make best choices.  Also, remember, local butchers aren’t going to be into fancy, exotic cuts, so ask about special cuts, but you may not get exactly what you want.  You’ll also be asked how thick you want steaks cut and how many to a package, what size roasts and what kind.  Deboned or bone-in.  (i personally like a lot of bone – makes a ton of soup stock or treats for your dog, however, i always get my rump roasts deboned because i make corned beef with them).  How many lbs of burger in a package (1 or 2)?  Organ meats?, Suet?  These are just a sampling.

The butcher will tell you when the animal will be taken in to the butcher and it will likely be killed that day.  If you want organ meats, you MUST notify the butcher in advance!  Don’t forget this.  It is not the producers responsibility to tell the butcher how you want your animal custom processed.  If you don’t notify him, it will probably be thrown away, after which it cannot be salvaged.  If you wait until after the calf is delivered to call the butcher, do so as soon as possible.  Don’t make the butcher track you down and keep them waiting on how to process your calf.  This is not polite.

The producer will likely notify you within a day of the weight of the animal and what you own him.  The animal is yours now and has your name on it, pay him promptly!

Once the butcher calls you that the beef (or lamb) is ready for pickup, GO GET IT!  Some butchers may start charging storage if you leave it for long.  Just go get it and pay him for goodness sake.

How Much Freezer Space?  Allow 20 lb per cubic foot.  That’s packing it in there, though, and won’t be handy for sorting and finding what you need.  It will keep better in a chest type freezer kept near 0ºF versus your frig freezer or even a stand up freezer.  A stand up freezer certainly takes less floor space, but the chest type is typically more energy efficient as well.

What breed?  Some breeds are naturally more lean than others, but if it’s in the feedlot on a high grain diet, it’s gonna be fat regardless if it’s Corriente or Angus.  On grass, the genetics of the animal will be more expressed, but by and large, the producer will take the animal to a determined end point.  Grass finished will generally have less cover and internal fat that grain finished.

Hope this helps!  Do some online googling and research – there are loads of info out there.  Don’t assume the producer is producing in such manner that is important to you.  Don’t complain about the price or the lack of availability.  If you think a producer is too expensive, just shop elsewhere – don’t complain about it.

Chooks Eating Grass – Replication 2 – 3 days

Next 3 day replication started morning of 5 Jun 2015 with Dallas moving poultry netting to fresh pasture before letting the chooks out of their tiny eggmobile.  Day 1 egg collection – 7 eggs.  Day 2 egg collections:  7 eggs. Day 3 egg collections: 7 eggs.  We’ve continued with one pound of the wheat screenings cleanout, but that is really not enough for them since they are eating it all and still seem like they want more.  However, for the next replication, we will continue with one pound and increase it after the grazing trial.

More and better quality in this paddock with up to 65% red clover and a good deal of plantains, although both are more mature than what chickens usually desire, they'll still hammer it pretty good.
More and better quality in this paddock with up to 65% red clover and a good deal of plantains, although both are more mature than what chickens usually desire, they’ll still hammer it pretty good.
Lovely thick forage in same sized paddock of .39 of an acre.  Estimating 300 lbs of forage per inch with 6 inches available for 1800 lbs times .39 for 702 lbs in the paddock.
Lovely thick forage in same sized paddock of .039 of an acre. Estimating 300 lbs of forage per inch with 8 inches available for 2400 lbs/acre times .039 for 93.6 lbs in the paddock.

We  have discovered that this size paddock with this much forage results in far too much trampling of quality forage and not enough eating.  Now that we are getting an idea of how much chooks eat in a day, we can determine how many chooks can be managed in smaller, more easily handled housing.  A full length 164 foot poultry netting fence is too much work for only 14 hens eating .75 lb of grass per day.  In other words, to be more cost effective, the 41′ by 41′ enclosure allowed with a poultry netting should allow about 41 hens, of course depending on forage quantity and quality.  This would include realising that the taller forages would be unavailable for chooks to eat.

We realise that, by the book, chooks typically eat only 4 ounces of feed per day.  However, i think that is a purely grain diet which would be more dense than grass, legumes, and forbes.  Probably, most of what is being utilised, however, is actually scratching and trampling.  Nevertheless, this needs to be considered to keep a healthy sward.

Sick Baby Calf

This continued wet, cool, muddy spring is a bit hard on the calving season.  A few, thankfully very few, calves are showing a bit of milk scouring since the forages are too high in protein this year.  Most are fine.  However, I did have to bring a calf in tonight.  He is small and with his mum milking good and the protein levels higher than normal in the forages, he has been weakened by milk scours, so he’s been lying about too much and now has maggots in his navel around the penis.  He’s pretty droopy, but i still had to throw a rope on him, then heft his squirmy self into the back of the Gator.  Tied him up and headed home.  He rode quietly (probably terrified!), but perked up when i dragged him out back onto the ground.  I gave him an antibiotic and sprayed his navel area really well with screw worm spray – that started the maggots to wrigglying out.  However, I don’t know how deep inside they are, so i’ll have to keep washing it out and spraying the area.  Hopefully, i’m not too late to save him.

Although, I shifted the cows/calves to a new paddock, i had to leave the old one open because the baby calves were not keen on crossing the muddy ditch.  As they get hungry and their mums go back for them, they’ll eventually come across, but I will need to check for stragglers in a day or two.

My temporary paddock divisions using polywire are no longer needed, so I reeled up the one that was in the cows’ fresh paddock tonight.

Cheers!

tauna

Warming Up!

Wow, it is amazing how warm weather can energise a person into working and really enjoying it!

Monday morning started off a bit rough though since it had been quite cold the night before and my early morning check of the lambing situation found 5 dead (cold) but 7 thriving.  At this point, I’m beginning to think there is a vast difference in mothering ability of these ewes.   However, all get a pass until the weather stays warm.  With warmer weather this afternoon, the ground is thawing on top, so it’s very slick to have a pickup out in the pasture, so after nearly getting stuck in an area I had pulled into to load some gates, I decided to drop them off at their new location just inside the gate and later I would drag them down to the water tank with my Gator.  Additionally, in the afternoon, Dallas and I moved the cows and calves a half mile to fresh pasture.  A little bit of green showing, but mostly they are picking at old stockpile which will serve them fine as long as the weather is not stressful.

Apparently, through the excitement of moving the cows, the guard dogs flattened the electrified netting that held in the sheep and unfortunately, once we returned, all but 5 nursing ewes had escaped.  That’s the way it goes, of course, since I was planning to move them down the road the next day up to the corral.  However, too late for that, so we spent the next two hours  pushing the ewes more than quarter mile through two paddocks and across a ditch with deep running water.  I was so proud of them actually ploughing through that water!  Sheep can really be stubborn about getting their feet wet.  I was calling the sheep to follow and Dallas was pushing and so the little lambs that couldn’t cross, he grabbed and threw them across to their mums.

Once over the ditch and through the gate, the key was to give them access to the hay pile so they would be occupied while iIset up seven nettings quickly before they escaped the area. Meanwhile, Dallas went back around to shut the gates behind the cattle (two had come back because they forgot to take their calves with them!!!  aaargh!), so all were together, then he continued on through to Cord Road to drive all the way around the square mile by gravel road.  I then sent him down to gather the 5 ewes plus lambs into the corner by Morris Chapel cemetery and install a netting around behind them.  That way they would be safe until we could move them next morning to be with the rest of the flock.  It was pretty much dark by this time.

We had noticed hours earlier a ewe having difficulty with giving birth, so when Dallas came back, we walked through the flock with the torch and found her.  I walked her over to the hay bales, grabbed her hind leg while she was distracted by eating and flipped her over.  The first lamb was fairly easy to pull out, so it was a mystery why she was having trouble.  So, i reached inside her and way, deep inside was another lamb.  It came out easily, too, so not sure why she was having trouble.  Nevertheless, I laid them around to her head, but she would have nothing to do with them; not a good sign.  I let her up and she just walked away, lambs baaing and wet.  Stupid ewe.  Dallas and I tried to push her back towards the lambs, but she would have nothing of it, so we caught her and walked/dragged her to the corral.  I packed the two lambs up to her and we tried for half an hour to get those lambs to nurse, but the ewe didn’t want them and they didn’t want her.

Both Dallas and I were tired and hungry by now (about 9:30pm), so we headed home and 35 minutes later we were back and fixing a light supper.  While it was warming, I went out and fed my five bottle lambs, back in for supper, then, taking a big box, I drove back up to see if a miraculous love fest was happening.  Nope, not at all.  I left her shut in the corral, grabbed the lambs and brought them home for feeding.  At midnight I finally got a shower and headed to bed.

They were very unhappy lambs and cried nearly all night in the basement.  But by morning after multiple feedings, they were strong.

Preparing for a Cold Snap!

Cold temperatures have descended on north Missouri today and forecasted to hang around for at least the next 10 days! With the ground already frozen, these continued below freezing temps made

it tough to set up the sheep electric netting fence.  Thankfully, I put up netting around several large bales of hay and running water for the sheep to stay put until the weather breaks, though I may have to chop ice if we don’t get any snow.  Sheep really don’t need water if there is snow available.

No longer am I trying to graze the road banks with the sheep.  Moving them down the bank is like pushing water now and with the ground frozen, it’s far too difficult to install the Kencove sheep netting fence.  At this point, grazing the banks in the spring after green grass starts coming on will be the next time they are pushed out.  Sheep grazing the banks eliminates the need for me to mow the banks with the brush hog, but it is extra work.

Cattle are a different story in the water department.  If there is plenty of heavy, wet snow, they won’t drink much, but if that’s what we have, it destroys the stockpiled winter forage for them to graze much faster than just being frozen or a light snow.  However, with a light snow, they will need fresh flowing water available.  Therefore, in anticipation of freezing weather, I filled the water tank and opened the leak valve so that the water will fill the tank and then continue running over the top of the overflow pipe.  Flowing water will not freeze easily – especially if the cattle are drinking from it.  The drawback to overflow is that the water is draining the pond from which it originates, though in Missouri, this is usually refilled easily when spring rains come.

Winter grazing with the lack of grass regrowth allows us to strip graze whatever size breaks we want to give the cattle or sheep.  If I know I’ll be back up to the farm the next day, I’ll give the cows a very small break of forage so that they won’t walk all over it and ruin it before grazing.  However, if it will be several days or if it’s going to be extra cold, I’ll set up a bit larger break.  The breaks are fenced with one strand of Powerflex Fence electrified polybraid fence and step-in posts for easy set up and tear down.  I use two lines and leap frog them across the paddocks  – allowing enough quality forage to maintain a healthy condition on the animals.  Strip grazing versus free access will vastly increase utilisation resulting in, on average, about 60% more grazing days!  Additionally, manure is more evenly distributed across the paddock.  (my paddocks average about 20 acres each).  My cows and calves require about 6500 lbs of dry matter per day, so accurately estimating the amount of forage per acre is crucial, then I open up enough acres for the cows to graze however many number of days I want.

Happy Grazing!

tauna

Sheep bale grazing near a small patch of timber.
Sheep bale grazing near a small patch of timber.
9  grazing under the snow - Copy
Going for the green!
Cattle grazing through snow  - strip grazing stockpiles forage
Cattle grazing through snow – strip grazing stockpiles forage