Late May - June Calving and Grass Fed Operation

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dimka1980

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Hi folks,

Would be grateful to hear your opinion and answers to my questions. Ok, I started an operation both cow-calf and stockers. Lots of mistakes, but "hey, it is an experience". One and biggest mistake was that I brought stockers too late it started to snow and I did not have a chance to train for electric fence. So, I had to have two separate herds all winter long and it is not good. Ok, that first. Now I want to ask you what are some of the best approaches I should plan for. Calving is planned for late May-June. Now, I plan to wean bull calves when 7 months old, meaning around January. Leaving girls with mothers probably. Per Greg Judy, they will wean themselves when time comes. So, my question is this. Let's say I have a heard of cows, calves in fall...cows are bred. I bring in some stockers. I can put them all in one big herd if stockers are trained for electric wire. However, my question, what do I do in January? When weaning bull calves go ahead and remove the stockers also? And have a separate herd? Any ideas. Ok, one thing I did not mentioned, I also plan to castrate with "calicrate bander" bulls around 12-14 months old so utilize the testosterone to full potential. What would you suggest?
Thanks
 
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dimka1980

dimka1980

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I have seen very little of what the “experts” preach work in winter country. I would rethink your management because you a headed for a huge wreck.
Can you add some details? I almost went through one of the worst winter in the last few years and have not so much issues so far. What would you suggest to "rethink"?
 

callmefence

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Wean themselves when the time comes..huh. I see a bunch of unweaned yearlings in your future and probably some stocker calves going back to the tit. Not to mention hiefers getting bred to young.
Stocker calf's required different management than dry cows even if they did dry up. There's a reason they are kept in separate groups.
I agree with creek. Judy and salatin make their money selling hope. Making people think they can a ridiculous amount of money on a few acres. It would be nice if you could, but it rarely works that way.
 
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dimka1980

dimka1980

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Wean themselves when the time comes..huh. I see a bunch of unweaned yearlings in your future and probably some stocker calves going back to the tit. Not to mention hiefers getting bred to young.
Stocker calf's required different management than dry cows even if they did dry up. There's a reason they are kept in separate groups.
I agree with creek. Judy and salatin make their money selling hope. Making people think they can a ridiculous amount of money on a few acres. It would be nice if you could, but it rarely works that way.
acres is not the problem for me...what I want to do is to separate bull calves in January and leave females with cows...what is the issue here, I am not catching
 

callmefence

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acres is not the problem for me...what I want to do is to separate bull calves in January and leave females with cows...what is the issue here, I am not catching
The acreage comment was not directed at your outfit. It was my opinion on Judy.
Why leave the females on the cows? Cut the steers at a younger age. Even if only fall back to 7, you best lute the hiefers they've been with. Let the cows get dry and run on pasture. Let the calves, raised and bought be managed as stockers.
I'm not catching either.........
 
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dimka1980

dimka1980

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The acreage comment was not directed at your outfit. It was my opinion on Judy.
Why leave the females on the cows? Cut the steers at a younger age. Even if only fall back to 7, you best lute the hiefers they've been with. Let the cows get dry and run on pasture. Let the calves, raised and bought be managed as stockers.
I'm not catching either.........
Looks like we are going to have a very good discussion here:)

Ok, why leave females with cows? I have calving season in June, so by January bull calves are 7 months old AND they start trying to breed...so there is a need to remove them...is it make any sense on this one? On the other hand, winter and my plan is to have least amount of herds on the farm...so I remove bull calves and stockers in January and only starting in January I start having two herds, up until then only one herd

Then comes April-May...I continue to manage two herds up until next step

Then June-July I have calving season and also castrate the bull calves of last year at 12-14 months old

So after castration is finished, I run AI and put all animals together after that with the clean up bulls...one large herd like that all the way until January

I know that maybe I am missing something in this plan and would be grateful if you guys point me where:)
 

gcreekrch

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Best to manage different age groups separately for the best performance of all. You trying to bale graze calves and cows together will see a bunch of your young stock either not gain weight or possibly starve to death while the stronger cattle just get stronger.
Only been operating in a very similar to your area for forty years so have some experience. Fences and better management will make you more money than the stuff the experts in better areas and some with no cattle at all like to preach.
 

gcreekrch

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Also, castrate your bulls at a young age, easier on the cattle and you haven’t got a bunch of staggy looking steers to sell for less money than good steers are worth. Some do leave calves on cows as you are suggesting. Not all cows will wean their calves and the chance of a yearling still sucking and a newborn starving is a very real possibility.
Hauling hay to where your cattle will winter and having enough in those spots won’t leave you wondering how to get them to another spot as you were asking on another post.
 

GoWyo

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I would castrate all bull calves at birth or by 3 months of age. Then you eliminate the possibility of heifer calves being bred by their herd mates. Wean all calves at 6 months of age -- you could maybe leave heifer calves on cows until 7 months, but they won't be gaining much in January. If you leave heifers on longer, they absolutely should be pulled off separate and weaned by 10 months. With all former bull calves being steers by 3 months age, you can run your heifers with your steers together as stockers. What is your market window on your calves?
 

farmerjan

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What @gcreekrch says is really suited to the cold climates as he lives and works in it. I have alot of respect for his methods.
Cows do not naturally wean their calves in most cases. Have had many that would have a big calf on them and then drop a new one that I was not expecting. Had a vet that was not very accurate in preg checking so alot of cows called open were not.... left the calves with the cows to go back with the bull to get rebred, figuring to pull the calves later at the next preg check... only to have the cows turn out to have been preg and then they had a new calf. Had to pull the older calf in a hurry so the new one could get milk. PLUS the cow needs a break from nursing the calf, and her system needs a chance to produce colostrum for the new calf and she will not produce much or very good colostrum if she is "supposed to have weaned her previous calf". Some do wean them, but more do not than do.
I have a 2 1/2 yr old that has a 3 month calf, that is still sucking a cow when she gets a chance. AND she was weaned for over a year away from the cows running with just other heifers from her group. They were weaned late though. She is going to be sold. I am not even going to try to use a nose flap or anything because I have seen her on 3 different cows now. Nothing will stop her.... except becoming hamburger for McDonalds.....out of a good cow too. So an example of one that would never have self weaned, and now won't even stay weaned....
Unless you have alot of good grazing that you can rotate cattle on for the better part of the year, a growing calf at 6-8-12 months cannot get all they need out of hay. You will be stunting and starving the feeders/weaned calves trying to let them compete with the older cattle in the winter time when they need the nutrition the most. Cows do not "play fair" when they are eating.... they won't say "oh you go ahead you are thinner and younger than me"..... they are going to make sure they get what they want and how much they want.....and leave the pickings for the smaller, younger and more timid animals.
Bull calves can get more "frisky" before 7 months, but the thing is the heifers will actually mature faster than the bull calves many times.... so even if the bull calves do not catch them, if they start cycling early, they will get caught by the herd bull if he is in the pasture. Certainly, most will be cycling before 12 months. I have had a few calves born to 15 month old heifers so they were cycling and getting bred at 6-7 months. Not ideal although our experiences have turned out okay....but they are always stunted/smaller than their counterparts of the same age.
If you read much on here, there is a thread by @lithuanian farmer about their experiences with bull calves since they do not castrate anything in her country/operation. But I do know that they do wean them off and run the bulls separate from the heifers after weaning.
We use the callicrate bander on the bigger bull calves and have gotten along well with it. BUT, we do not wait for them to get to 12-14 months. They are way too bullish by then and it would be very hard on them in general. Plus the masculine characteristics.... bullnecks especially, often do not decline after that as much as one would like. The testosterone helps with the increased growth to a point, but you are looking at a really good sized set of nuts at 12 months..... it would set them back alot. We find that doing them by 7-8 months.....600 lbs give or take...... is about the biggest we want to do. We do some cattle trading so the bulls that size are often bought ones. We try to do ours either as babies when they are easy to handle but might be a problem if we don't catch them.... or they wait til we run them through the chute and get worked.... just before they go to summer pasture. 6-10 weeks old usually.

Greg Judy has a whole different ball game with the weather and grazing conditions he has, than you do up there where you are.
Same with Joel Salatin. I am about 20 minutes from him, here in Va. I agree with some of what he does and we do rotational grazing as much as we can with the rented ground we have. But there are some things that I don't think he does all that well; except to tell others " how to do it". There are several others that do rotational grazing in the valley here that do a better job of it and incorporate some of the more conventional ways alongside the different types of rotational grazing.

Don't have any idea of your market for cattle there so don't know what the long term purpose and goal is. Some of what you do should be to accommodate the market you are selling your animals into. I like red cattle but the market here discounts them terribly. Black is what sells here so we mostly have what the market dictates in order to stay viable as a farm.
 

gcreekrch

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Iirc, the reason to leave them bulls, is that implants are illegal there.
Guess they gain better as bulls, rather than steers.
Market must be totally different too
They all gain if you manage properly for your area and feed them.
 

Lee VanRoss

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Dimka1980> After reading your opening statement I am compelled to inform you the back end of the cow raises first when standing.
You reference Greg Judy on the subject of weaning but there seems to be a paucity of information from Mr. Judy on weaning in deep snow.
Have you no neighbors, or family in the area with a modicum of experience in the cattle business willing to share their knowledge?
I see little evidence in your inquiries that you have been around cattle until you started an operation of cow/calf and stockers.
This business can be very unforgiving and "Hey, but it is an experience" will jump up and bite you. Too many bad decisions and your
kopeks become chervonets and you and those who depend upon you are facing a long days journey into night.
By whatever circumstance you have reached some of the most productive and experienced cattlemen in the world. Listen to what they have
to say and weigh their advice as it applies to your own situation. Pay close attention, if you will, to advice from the Canadians as they have
the experience and know how to handle the extreme weather that you encounter there.
I also have the feeling you are dealing with a great more than weather but we can get into that when you have more time and it is
to that end that I wish you success in your life and the business of cattle. LVR
 
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dimka1980

dimka1980

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Guys and ladies, thanks a lot for your input. Mr. Judy or whoever, I understand that it all different depends on the circumstances. As for the locals, very little cattleman to see, and those who are to follow doing somethings I won't be able. They are very large farmers and by that I mean they have virtually free feed (grain) because they till 10s of thousands of hectares and grow grains. And they can afford to build barns and whatnot for the animals and feed them all winter long. My approach is low input...others around me that are in the similar conditions started to feed hay late October, and keep animals in some sort of pans all winter long...well with no experience I did completely different and almost everyone thought I was crazy...my animals were grazing up until January 2-3d, and moved daily...then I continue to move them to where the hay bales were. My questions are asked not bacause I try to "mimic some guys on the internet"...and yes I came here to ask questions and then try to understand as to WHY people doing it one way or the other.

For example, one thing I try to understand and decide as to when to castrate the bull calves...all suggest as young as possible, but then tell to use hormones...this is something I won't do, because there is a reason American beef with hormones injections are not allowed to sell in Europe...so then we back to square 1...if castrate early, how much smaller are they going to be? Some say the same others say smaller...simple physiology telling me that of course they will be smaller if castrate early, because of lack of testosterone in the system...castrate late then is an option.

Then the next question to follow...if wean bull calves in 6-7 months it make sense to put them with the stockers that are 10-11 months at the time. But I wanted to know is it going to be ok, or the larger animals won't let the smaller to eat?

The last question then...female calves...leave them with mothers, seems like the only option, because otherwise, I would have to have 3 herds to manage in most of the winter, and I think it is just not the best way to do things.

Oh and the last thing to add...most likely I won't even sell the live animals, but rather finish them on grass and have them ready for slaughter July-November at 24-28 months...and market meat

Very different I understand that, that's why I am learning to lower the cost and use some cost saving tips on managing the cattle through winter with minimal cost.
 

Dave

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The majority of bull calves are castrated at a young age and not implanted. Actually the number of cow/calf operations that do implant calves is a relatively small percentage. I don't know who is telling you to implant. Although it is an excepted practice here. It is not as common as some would have you believe. The negatives of leaving those calves bulls far out weighs the few extra pounds you will gain by doing that.
 

MurraysMutts

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I've never personally done it, but I would think you would lose more than you will gain castrating that late. Just going by things I've read here and there. Something u may try is castrating half of them, and run them in the same group. I'm positive that genetics and feed regimen will play a roll as well. Most grass finished all natural beef here is 30 months I think. Dont quote me on that. Just takes longer
 

gcreekrch

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A former friend of mine followed the Ranching For Profit philosophy until the bank told him to sell the ranch. He went from a relatively profitable conventional operation to gladly selling a newer line of haying equipment at half its worth, to managing his cow herd low input until he sold them, calves weighed little, cows died of starvation, they stopped vaccinating and his wife told me how happy therir cows were not being worked twice a year, until they were sold on a forward contract......... Underweight bred heifers were refused, cows in poor shape were refused, 40% were open as they were full of disease. They rented grass to people for a few more years until the bank suggested they sell and they still believe they just needed more time to prove the point.....
I took the course myself and used what I could of it, still here and still growing. Most times you have to put something in to get something out.
 

C-Ranch

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For years we implanted all calves at branding. It wasn't until we could not get the implants one year so we branded and fully expected smaller calves at weaning. However the opposite occured. Calves averaged the same as the previous years with implants. The flowing year we did as @murraymutts suggested and only implanted half the calves to see if we had experienced a fluke the previous year. Well fast-forward to today and I'll just say we no longer implant. Good feed and vaccination/mineral program and calves will do fine on their own without the extra cost of implants. Just my honest opinion I'm sure others will disagree.
 
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