September 29, 2011

Weaning Part IV - And the process Continues

We have had some really pretty music around our place for the past week and it was getting quiet at the end of last week, but we weaned some more calves again this weekend.  The calves we weaned last weekend have been moved into the pen outside the shed and are adjusting well to their new feed and life without their moms.  The new group in the shed, are not so quiet, yet.  We have been watching the calves pretty close several times each day to make sure nobody is getting sick and that everybody is eating.  One of the most important components to help calves fight the stress of weaning is feed.  If you can get the calves to the bunk and keep feed going in they will have a better chance of handling the stress without getting sick.  

Supper Time!

We are teaching them that food is now found it the bunk and not under the cow or on the pasture ground.  I don't just put the distillers in the bunk and head back to the house.  The first few days I will put the distillers in the bunk and then walk behind all of the calves in the pen and nudge them in the direction of the bunk.  Letting their herd instinct and curiosity get them the rest of the way to the bunk to see what their more eager friends have already figured out.  With in a day or 2 they all have it figured out and impatiently meet me at the bunk ready to eat.  A few nights ago we let the last bunch of calves out with the rest so all of them are getting reacquainted again it has been a few months since they might have seen a friend that went to a different pasture.  We will move them to the big pen over the weekend or first part of next week and then get them switched to a different feed ration.  They will stay as 1 group for a few more weeks until we re-vaccinate them again.  After we give them their 2nd round of weaning shots we will sort them by size into 2 groups.  They will stay in these groups till the replacement heifers are chosen and the big steers are shipped to the feedlot in December.

Couple of calves eating on the mineral tubs. 
 Weaning the group on Saturday didn't go as smooth as we had planned.  Cow #510 is now on my you know what list permanently and she will not be going back to that pasture again!!!  That pasture is really rough with what we in Nebraska call Cedar Canyons which are steep hills with lots of Western Red Cedar Trees growing on the sides.  Lets just say that 510 tested mine and my horses "cowboy" ability several times and lost.  She put up a good fight making me pull out some "Man from Snowy River" (If you haven't seen the move, you need to watch it) type leaps of faith off steep drop offs and Coal had to climb 1 hill that I am sure mountain goat would be at home on.  But at the end of the day she made it to the catch pen, her calf is now at the house, and Coal got a little bit of special care (he got to sleep in the barn and an extra scoop of grain).  Sorry no Pictures of that, I didn't think that was the best time to pull out the camera phone for group Foto!  I may have to look into a video camera for my horses headstall!!  I am not sure I am looking forward to gathering her in about 45 days when we start moving cows off summer pasture to the corn stalk fields.  Maybe she will have learned her lesson by then.
Sunday when much smoother with the last group.  There are few old cows in that group that still haven't figured out the my horse has cat like reflexes and they can not get by him.  Even if the did get by him, his secret weapon is the ACME rockets that he isn't afraid of using.  But weaning went smooth and with in 3 hrs we were gathered, sorted, and had all the calves and 2 bulls loaded.  Weaning is now over and we are onto the next big task of harvesting corn and getting things ready for winter.  The best part is our calves averaged 48 lbs heavier than a year ago!!!

The last 3 loads of calves, bulls, and horses headed for home!!

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