At this time last year, they went with their mothers to summer pasture. In the fall of 2016, we brought the whole Class of 2016 back to the farm and weaned them from their mothers. We sorted out all the boys, who became feeder calves. At the same time, Randy selected 25 of the females to become part of our breeding stock. The veterinarian calfhood vaccinated them in November 2016.
Their brothers and sisters went to the sale barn in March. Later in March, the heifers began another step toward motherhood.
In March, Randy mixed MGA into the feed given to the 25 heifers. MGA stands for melengestrol acetate, which suppresses the ovulation cycle for the heifers. For 14 days, Randy added the MGA to the grain in the feed truck and fed the equivalent of 1/2 a pound per head per day.
Then, in April, we gathered the heifers to run them through the working chute. Randy gave each of them a shot of Lutalyse, so the heifers will come into estrus (or heat) at the same time.
So why do we try to synchronize the heifers' cycles? We do it to shorten the calving season for the heifers, which saves labor at calving time. (Well, it saves some labor for the humans - not the mama cows.) Because heifers are first-time mamas, we check them frequently in case they are having trouble calving.
The four bulls stayed with the heifers for 10 days. Last week, the heifers and our newest bull arrived at the Palmer Pasture.
We also hauled the rest of the bulls to the different pastures with mature cows. Our cow herd should begin calving around February 7.
And the story will begin yet again.