Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Winter Mob Grazing Complete

Well I am officially announcing the beginning of Spring. The sun is out, it's hitting 70 degrees and the grass is really starting to green up. A few days ago we finished up the Stocker Pasture and moved into the South Center where we have around 110 acres of stockpiled forage available. We are hoping to get a few weeks of grazing out of it and are anticipating that by then, we can start chasing grass. Current plan is to move to the North Rock Barn pasture where cheat grass is very prevalent. We are wanting to hit it pretty hard to 1. get it while it's good (very short window) and 2. knock it back so other grasses can start.

It's been a very hard winter...the worst on record. We've lost a few cows in the past couple weeks that were poor condition and got down in the recent mud (a few large storms created some mud issues). The cows are 7-8 years old and the winter hit them pretty hard. Hoping to put 1 BCS back on the cows before they start calving at the end of April.

Monday, March 22, 2010

2009 calf crop merchandied ....

We sold our 2009 calves at the Joplin Regional Stockyards on March 18th at a value added sale. As stated before, our calves are Angus/Charolais cross calves (Angus cows, Charolais bulls) that are vac 45 and bvd pI negative. We have sold our calves at Joplin for the past 5 years and have been very pleased with the outcomes.

The bulk of our calves sold in ONE group (the calves were very close in size). That group of steers averaged 466 lbs (very disappointing and considerable smaller than last year, but our winter was absolutely horrendous and I'm sure that most ranches weaned smaller calves this year) and sold for $1.46. That was a hefty premium to not only calves sold earlier in the week at Joplin, but a substantial premium to similar calves sold the same day.

We kept 42 head of beefmaster cross heifers that we will attempt to develop into cows (if we can't find others to purchase).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Stockpiled Mob Grazing

We've moved through several paddocks now and I'm really happy with the way the paddocks look after we've moved out. There's a lot of tromped in grass and although the cows have picked it close in spots, overall, I'd score the residual a 3 to a 4. We are currently over half way through the Stocker Pasture and even though it's been cold, the pastures we've mob grazed are much greener than the neighbors pastures. The abundant snowfall really pushed a lot of the standing forage into the ground, but 10 acres still seems to be enough groceries for the 370 head of cows that currently make up the mob.

No Wormer - Cold Spring - Shipped Calves

We are trying something a little different this year...we did not worm our cows this spring for the first time. We are hoping to bring back the dung beetles. I have never seen a dung beetle or evidence of dung beetles on any of our ranches. I am hopeful that not worming may bring them back. The plan is to spot treat cows that look wormy, but hopefully we won't treat many.

On a side note, this spring has started off very chilly. The grass greened up a week ago but the temperature fell right back to the upper 40's and low 50's and looks like it will stay there for the next 2 weeks....certainly not ideal growing conditions. Thankfully we still have a few weeks of stockpiled forage available for the cows.

We loaded out the calves today, they sell at Joplin Stockyards March 18. I'm not exactly sure on the numbers but will update in a future blog.

We kept 42 head of weaning age beefmaster cross heifers but honestly, they are pretty small from the horrible winter and I am not confident that we can get them bred. We may sell them in the near future.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Stockpile grazing of the Stocker Pasture

We have begun our movement thru the Stocker Pasture. We currently have around 370 cows (weighing approx. 1000 lbs each) in the mob. So assuming 370,000 lbs consuming 2.5% of body weight = 9250 lbs of dry matter needed per day. I calculated that there is approx. 2000 lbs of dry matter per acre in the stocker pasture x 60% utilization = 1200 lbs of dry matter per acre. 9250/1200 = 7.7 acres needed per day. We have 203 acres in the stocker pasture divided into 11 pastures which are then each split again, so 203/22 paddocks = approx 9 acres per paddock. Right now, the cows seem to be cleaning up the pastures pretty well, there isn't a lot of residual left after 24 hours of grazing. Our density is only 41,000 lbs per acre, but thats the best we can do without having to move more than once a day....but I would love to see them tighter. The mob last year was about the same density (800 head x 600 lbs per stocker = 53,000 lbs/acre, but there is a hell of a lot more hoof traffic with 800 head versus 372 head. I am not currently seeing the trompage I'd like to see (and that we got last year) with the cows...when we move back thru this pasture in April, I hope we can cut these pastures into thirds instead of halves. I'm anxious to see if we get the same amount of "destruction" (eating trees, weeds, trompage, etc) with the cows as we did with the stockers last year.

It looks like we should be moving into the south center pasture on March 24 and we should have around 14 days of forage there before moving into the cabin pasture and preparing to move back through the stocker pasture.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

2010 Early Planning

Tomorrow will be the first day we will begin grazing the Stocker Pasture since late summer. The Stocker Pasture has an incredible amount of stockpiled forage that I hope will carry the 414 cows for 30 days. A little over half of the South Center pasture still hasn't been grazed since late summer and the plan is to move there in 30 days to finish graze out as green up begins...it looks like there are around 15-20 days of grazing left in the South Center, fantastic stockpiled forage there. We do have addtional areas that have some grazing left (across the road and some in the rock barn pasture) but I hope we don't need to move there.

The plan now is to move through the Stocker Pasture, into the South Center and as green up begins mid April, move into the Cabin pasture and then back through the Stocker Pasture and South Center to calve. That's the plan anyway.