The Other Side of Sunset

The Other Side of Sunset

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Commencement: A New Stage of Life

This past week, we hauled the heifers to the Palmer Pasture. After several dreary days of cattle sorting and hauling, it was nice to have the sunshine brighten up the scenic view. It seemed a good omen for these females who are beginning the next phase of their journey on the County Line.
These heifers will be mothers for the first time in 2018. But they started out life on our farm. They were born during our 2016 calving season.
 
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.
He also gave each of the 25 heifers a shot of vaccine to prevent respiratory issues and diarrhea.
 
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 heifer below was waiting for her turn in the chute.
April 2017
I spent a little time looking at photos of the 2016 calves. I'm not sure whether this is the same one, but it definitely has a similar eye patch.
March 2016
Maybe this one was trying to stay incognito so she wouldn't have to go to her OB-GYN appointment. I know that feeling.
But they all had their time going down the lane ...
... and into the chute.
The same day the Lutalyse shot was given, four bulls came a callin'. The bulls were chosen for the "job" because they are bulls whose offspring are expected to have lower birth weight, making it easier for the first-time mothers to deliver their calves. The newest bull, which we bought last month, also joined the party.

The four bulls stayed with the heifers for 10 days. Last week, the heifers and our newest bull arrived at the Palmer Pasture.
Some 283 days later, these females will become mamas for the first time. We will expect to get our first 80-pound bundles of joy next January 28 or so.

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. 

4 comments:

  1. I think you could be right about the 'eye patch heifer.
    Seeing your chute, I thought you may be interested to see the yards just completed on a central Queensland property.
    Amanda doesn't blog regularly but I do enjoy her posts of life on their cattle property.
    http://bushbabeofoz.com/2017/05/07/over-the-yard-arm/#comments

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    1. I will check her out! Thanks for the tip.

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  2. It sounds like quite a process. The baby cows are so cute and I want one as a pet. They have a cute and playful demeanor, kind of like a dog at times. I've been told they are very intelligent and have best friends. It looks like they have a nice pasture to roam on. Thank you for that.

    Heidi Sutton @ Ag Source Magazine

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    1. Thanks for taking time to comment!

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