Monday, September 6, 2010

Working Calves

After the calves were hauled home from grass we let them get acustomed to their new surroundings for a couple days and then it was time to vaccinate them. The reason why we vaccinate our calves is to protect them against viruses and some diseases. It's a lot like a mother taking her child to the doctor for routine checkups and shots. As the calves come through the barn we get their weight and give them vaccinations. By getting their weight it allows us to get a good inclination of how they are growing. All this information is written down in a notebook to be trasferred into a herd database. By keeping accurate records, we know each time a calf was moved to a new location, given a shot or medicine if it is sick, and all of its' birth information (who the calf's parents are, what day it was born, and how much it weighed).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weaning Time

Fall is fast approaching which means several things: 1) cooler weather 2) the leaves will begin changing colors 3) Labor Day weekend with my family 4) the calves will be coming home from summer grass.

In every young animals life there comes a time when it must be separated from it’s mother and begin life on it’s own.  For our baby calves, that “time” is at about 8 months of age.  This may seem harsh and even sad if you are unfamiliar with livestock production.  These calves are fully capable of being on their own: they no longer need their mothers milk and they rely on forages and grain as their source of nutrition.  Eight months seems like a relatively short period of time, but not when you compare it to the life cycle of a cow.  These heifer calves will have hit puberty and be able to conceive a calf by the time they are 12-15 months of age (on average).  The gestation of a cow is about 9 months so most heifers have their first calf when they are 2 years old.  On the flip side, bull calves (the boys) are able to breed a female at a year old. Castrated male calves are either fed on forages, grain in a feedlot, or a combination of the two until they reach a mature weight and are ready for harvest.

I am excited about going home this weekend because I will have an opportunity to see all the calves and spend time with my family.  That is one of the neat things about families involved in the cattle industry in general, it is a family affair!