Our cows start calving in February. We start with the bred heifers prior to our Production Sale on President's Day Monday in February. We have a calving barn that the calves can get out of the cold for 24 hours, then they are moved to bigger pens with wind protection, lots of straw and pole barns, if needed to get out of the snowstorms. Depending on the winter and if the snow isn't too deep by the end of March or early April, some of the cow/calf pairs can be turned out of their lots into some surrounding fields to graze.
May is a busy month moving different groups of cattle through the AI chutes. Artificial Insemination (A.I.) was first used in our breeding program in 1975. Starting May 1st, we heat detect and A.I. more than 800 females. We believe in large sire groups and try to use a minimum of 100 straws of any outside A.I. sire. This practice gives us a more accurate progeny test and leaves us with larger groups of genetically similar seedstock to work with in the future.
We vaccinate, tattoo and hot-iron brand the calves in small groups during the month of May, so they are all ready to be moved to their respective pastures by the end of May and beginning of June. Our sale heifers are the last to be AI'd and moved to their pastures the middle of June. Somewhere in the middle of all of this, Ben has gotten the pasture fences ready and Richard and Brad are working on getting the farming completed.
During the summer months, most of the pastures are on a twice over rotation schedule, so we spend a lot of time moving cattle and checking water sources. Again, depending on Mother Nature, starting the end of June, we are busy putting up hay for the winter months. We raise all our own feedstuffs plus sell some cash wheat and sunflowers which keeps us busy throughout the summer.
September is usually spent chopping silage and weaning calves. The cattle are rounded up in each individual pasture and the calves are hauled home. Once home, the calves are weighed and vaccinated.
In October we bring the cows from rented pastures closer to home to graze crop residue fields. By November, we have moved all the cattle to within 5 miles of home and they continue to graze crop residue fields. After the weaning records are reviewed, the bull calves are sorted and those that didn't make the cut are banded. The heifers are also evaluated at this time and the initial selection process for replacements heifers is conducted.
The Bred Sale Heifers are moved home in December. We also move the cows closer to home and onto some winter pastures. As long as the snow isn't too deep, they continue on crop residue fields and pasture. By end of December, the cowherd starts to receive a silage, chopped hay ration and mineral supplement.
The cowherd gets moved to the fields and pasture behind the yard in January. Towards the end of January, they receive their Scour Bos shots and we start to sort them off in 2 groups, those with closer calving dates are kept closer to the yard.
We normally market our steers in January or early February with cull heifer calves sold in May.
February and March keep us busy with calving and chores.