Saturday, August 14, 2010

A bad week...

I got an email this morning requesting an update...I apologize for the infrequent posts but since the calves stopped dying, things have gotten a little boring...until last Sunday. We had tabbed Sunday as the day we wanted to get the entire mob in and work the cows and calves. Our plan was to work all the cows Sunday morning and use temporary removal of the calves to help get the cows to come in heat. A 48 hour removal is recommended. We were also going to early wean the heifers calves. Well things got off to a good start but by 11:00 am it was starting to get pretty warm so Hal (my ranch manager) made the wise decision to work the remaining half of the cows on Monday. We had trapped around 30 head of cows we wanted to cull and had planned to load them out in the evening. Well, by 4:30 that afternoon, 2 of the cull cows we kept back were dead and Hal was bucketing water to 4 more that were down. The cows had abundant shade, plenty of space and ample water. We decided against loading them out that evening and decided to wait to see how things went. By Monday morning, 12 of the 30 cull cows were dead. Hal made the again wise decision to turn out all of the animals we had left to work, including the calves....we'd work them another time. It was very hot, but I'm not convinced the heat killed the cows we lost. Hal's more conscientious than I've ever been and I've worked cattle in weather just as hot...we work our cows in July/August every year. I'm thinking it was something in the water we hauled to the cows but I'm really not sure...I just don't think it was heat related. Obviously it's easy to blame the heat and maybe that was what killed them, I just don't understand why the cattle we worked and turned out lived and nearly half of the cows we kept back died. The only difference was the water.

As far as the mob grazing goes, things are going well. The cows get 10 acres per day and seem to be leaving a decent amount of residual forage. It looks like we'll have plenty of fall grazing available. I'm still concerned about getting enough stockpiled forage stored up for this winter...600 head of pairs will be by far the most animals we've ever carried on this ranch. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

We turned the bulls in last Wednesday, August 4th. We will leave them in for 45-50 days and will likely work the rest of the cows and calves when we pull the bulls out the end of September. Hopefully we'll have better luck the second time around.

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