Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I Need A Hug

The Ugly Numbers

On Feb 20, 2010 we preg checked the herd and kept 352 pregnant cows at the Goat Ranch. To those 352 cows, we added 26 pregnant cows from Oklahoma, 42 pregnant E6 heifers, and 61 pregnant Arkansas heifers, for a total of 460 head of pregnant cows. We also added 15 pairs from Oklahoma and 131 pairs of Arkansas heifers for a total of 146 pairs. So we had a total of 606 head of cows at the goat ranch with 146 calves as of the end of April (minus the cows we lost during March and April, which I know is several).

On October 4, 2010 we worked all of the cows and calves and pulled the bulls. We had 565 cows and 377 head of calves. The simple math says we lost 41 head of cows and, assuming all of the pregnant cows calved (I know we had a few Arkansas heifers that we culled that were still pregnant and hadn’t calved, but only 2-3) we lost 229 calves (I also think we lost several pregnant cows after we pregged in February). Even if we assumed that none of the 41 head of cows we lost actually calved (which I know isn’t correct because we just lost 12 cows just last month that we know calved), we still lost 188 head of calves. So we probably actually lost around 210 head of calves this year (36%), almost all of them due to scours. Even more alarming is the fact that we lost only a couple of calves that we purchased as pairs. So if you subtract those calves off of the total (377-146=231) we have 231 live calves out of 460 pregnant cows. Ugh! This should make everyone reading this feel much better about their own cow/calf operation.

The worst part about all of this is that we (and when I say “we” I mean Hal) worked our asses off this year spotting, catching and treating sick calves. We spent a small fortune on drugs. Hell, I spent over $2000 on Zinc Sulfate and Zinc Oxide alone in a futile attempt to reduce scours. These numbers aren’t a result of a lack of effort.

Ending numbers:
October 4, 2010

83 cull cows sent to Joplin
2 cull bulls sent to Joplin
23 E6 heifers moved to Sullingers
459 cows kept at the Goat Ranch (457 worked, 2 left in South Center)
204 calves kept with the cows at the Goat Ranch
173 calves early weaned and going to Mickeys
9 Bulls hauled to Sandy’s
2 bulls left in South Center


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  2. This makes depressing reading, but I thank you for your open stance.

    Can you post something of a post-mortem for us readers to learn from? Maybe more detail as to what the conditions were that caused the loss and how you could change your practices to reduce this in the future?

  3. Yes...I plan on doing a "post mortem" blog post with lessons learned and ways to improve. Thanks for the suggestion!