Not all changes are right, good, or positive so it’s imperative to evaluate the considered change in thinking or action as to how it will impact the environment, culture, family, mental or physical health of you or those around you. Expand your thought process into the ripple effect of your decision. Try to determine the unintended consequences BEFORE they are upon you.
In regard to my last blog entry and the lack of early grazing in spring which led to poor quality stockpile, i failed to consider how that decision would so drastically lower the condition of the young and old nursing, pregnant cows. With more animals this year, grazing the land chosen for stockpile will surely be attainable.
It is further exacerbated by having calved early (15 April) and therefore needing to wean in early February, which led to feeding hay to weaned calves for far too many weeks before springtime grass is emerging. Another impact i had this past year (2022) was that i’d purchased 56 first and second calf heifers (25 of which had March born calves at side!) plus had taken in several of Allen’s ancient good cows hoping for one more good calf out of them. All these animals suffered the most in nursing their calves through the winter on low quality stockpile despite the offer of high protein lick tubs.
Thinking holistically has led to an annual timeline tweaking once again. Moving breeding season to 5 Aug – 23 Sep which will mean cows start calving 15 May through 1 Jul. The breeding season will hopefully, be better situated for turning in bulls and mustering them back out after ragweed season. However, this past year (2022) was exceptionally long in that pollen did not dissipate until 2 October!
These calving dates will allow me to push weaning to first week or so of April vs first week of February! Great reduction in labor and feed costs.
One would think that after 30 plus years, i’d have this tweaked out, but each year and each mob of cows is a bit different in makeup which reveals problems that might be unexpected or unavoidable.
Remember when several weeks ago i commented on how fortunate it was that i could begin the grazing program as taught by Jaime Elizondo which he terms #total grazing or #nonselective grazing. Well, the easy street is well over. I went on a couple week getaway and came back to 8-10 inches of snow and single digit daytime highs and below zero night time lows with wind chills well be low zero. Although other producers who are much more dedicated than i am are doing a stunning job of total grazing right through the snow and cold as evidenced by the beautiful photos they post on Instagram.
But i cannot do cold – never could – so if i can get my cows on a 10 acre to 20 acre paddock with tall grass and running water in the ditch and provide them with protein tubs, kelp, and salt – i say ‘sayonara’ see ya in a week. Maybe it’ll be up to 10F by then.
Total Grazing takes a pause since i gave my ladies enough grazing to last 2-3 days Wednesday afternoon. Although the high temp for the day was forecasted to be 51F, that was first thing in the morning with temps dropping rapidly throughout the afternoon and winds picking up to 20 mph and regularly gusting to 40 mph. Thursday’s high might sneak up to 23 and drop to 9 in the night. Admittedly, i am a fair weather rancher, so the girls are on their own until Saturday when it warms up for the day. But they are haired up with warm coats, plenty of fresh water, protein tub, Icelandic Thorvin kelp (i purchase from Welter Seed & Honey by the pallet load (2000 lbs), and clean (without YPS) salt harvested by Independent Salt Company, thought it’s actually purchased from and delivered by Vit-A-Zine, Butler, Missouri.
My cows are doing okay on this 20% all natural protein, but when i move them to 4 year old endophyte infected fescue leftover from theorganic soybean farming situation, the protein level may need to be boosted for them to effectively utilize the forage. I’m researching that situation since i’m not keen to offer urea which is the main way higher protein tubs get to the 30%-40% level. First, however, after the postal delivery crush of holidays, i’ll be sending off forage samples to assess the TDN and protein levels – maybe they won’t need higher protein. On an aside, i built this little sled out of scrap materials which is a necessity if i need to move the tub with the cows (by pulling with my JD Gator)- it weighs 200 lbs to start.