Where do I go From Here?

Help Support CattleToday:

It us great that you want to improve and you are actually making some changes. Is your Dad on board for change?
I wouldn't say he's totally on board. We have roughly 30 head cows a piece. I'm hoping if I can make some slow changes and he can see the success of what I'm doing it will encourage him to jump in with both feet.
I don't want to come off as someone that turns my cattle out and takes zero care of my animals. I would put my cattle up against anybodies around here local. They're in top shape and anybody would be glad to have them on their farm. We keep mineral available at all times 365 days a year. We just have a lot of unexplained mishaps and issues. I feel like I've got an excellent base to start from I just got to make sure I start going in the right direction. I'll try and get a few pictures uploaded on here in a day or two just to give perspective.
I don't want to come off as someone that turns my cattle out and takes zero care of my animals. I would put my cattle up against anybodies around here local. They're in top shape and anybody would be glad to have them on their farm. We keep mineral available at all times 365 days a year. We just have a lot of unexplained mishaps and issues. I feel like I've got an excellent base to start from I just got to make sure I start going in the right direction. I'll try and get a few pictures uploaded on here in a day or two just to give perspective.
Wouldn't be too sensitive about it. 2 cattlemen usually have more than 3 opinions. Lots of folks will strongly suggest what you need to do for your cattle. Caveat is to see if it's needed and profitable for most of us.

How you manage them is your prerogative, though. Land of the Free, after all.
I wouldn't say he's totally on board. We have roughly 30 head cows a piece. I'm hoping if I can make some slow changes and he can see the success of what I'm doing it will encourage him to jump in with both feet.

When my Dad and I took started this venture, which had previously belonged to my Mom's Dad, we had lots of difference in opinion. Slowly, through visual confirmation, he came around to doing things differently than my Papaw and neighbors.

Be patient with him and show him. Likewise, let him show you things too.

It's brought my Dad and I much closer together. Wouldn't trade that for anything in this world.
Well in appreciation for all the good advice given to me on here I figured it would be good to give everyone a years update and follow up from my original post. After implementing several changes with our vaccinations and lowering our stocking rate we have had our most successful calf crop that we've had in years. Our calf losses dropped drastically and our heard is looking as good as it ever has. Ended up keeping a couple of heifers from my best cows and currently looking for some Brangus or Braford heifers which @kenny thomas may be helping me with and I greatly appreciate that.

I did contact my local NRCS office and tried to get information to get started in the cost share program to help fund a new bull. After several calls and emails I never seemed to get any answers or any help. All I got was my name on the list and told I would get a call back. But the plan is to sell our two bulls and put our money in to something to suit our needs much better. I feel like we have scared ourselves in to a corner and went to much in the direction of calving ease with the issues we've had in the past. Our calves have been a good bit smaller than they need to be so there's room to improve there.

As for having a set calving window I still haven't been able to convince my dad of making that change so I have started to cull out my cows that do not calve in a proper spring or fall window. More than likely I will end up culling everything that doesn't calve in the spring but the fall calving does seem to have some benefits so I'm holding out for now. My five year plan is to buy enough replacement heifers each year to completely phase out and replace anything that does not calve in the spring window more than likely so that's what I'm shooting for. I hate to cull and try to replace at this time due to current cattle prices. I have good, timely, productive cattle so I feel like I have some wiggle room there for a little while.

Again I appreciate all the sound advice provided on this forum. Thanks!
Great to get your update. You may find that 2 calving windows is not the end of the world. My son and I run 125 +/- cows. and calve a fall group and a spring group. We have let a good cow slide from one group to another on occasion... not going to break the bank if she gets off schedule for some reason. They can't get off schedule and slide a second time though... Sometimes it is a heifer that has milked good, raised a real real nice calf and just doesn't get bred back because she has lost condition... sometimes it is the weather and pasture conditions.. The drought has made this a challenge this past year.

We also buy some calves, usually bulls calves sold in singles or small groups that are a little cheaper, bring home and work them and then put together a group of similar size. We used to wean on the trailer and sell.... now we wean and get them conditioned, grouped and they will bring a little more at the sales. Sometimes sell direct to buyers.....

You are right, with the price of cattle right now, it is not the time to be replacing good cows that calve regularly, but just aren't in that "calving window"... if they calve every 11-13 months year in and year out, they are good cows... often you can get them to back up a month or so if they are in good shape and we have taken 3 years or so to get a good cow to go from calving in July back to calving in May or April..... or held over a July cow to go with the fall calving group so her calf is bigger this time when it gets sold because it is older, but then she will be calving right in with the group next time. That is where putting the bulls in for a specific amount of time and then pulling them out is important...

We have a vaccination protocol that we mostly follow... and all bought cattle get wormed when they come on the farm. We also mostly always worm calves after they are weaned... but we do not regularly worm the cows. If they are "hard keepers" or seem to have reoccurring problems, worms or something, they get shipped. There are several cows in our herd that have some dairy influence, I am a "dairy cow person" and they have more trouble maintaining their condition on just pasture....especially if it is dry.... but if they are in good shape when calving and for the first 90 days, they usually breed back, then lose condition... and then regain it after weaning their calves. You learn what works.

We like to calve heifers only in the spring since they are going through 3 parts... calving, and raising a new calf, which means milking good, trying to continue to grow their own body, and then getting bred back. Spring grasses work much better for that. I like calving a fall group, cows not heifers, get them on the ground by Dec, before we get any really crummy weather... the cows are on pasture cleanups, getting fed hay and are good enough condition from being on good grass while dry in the late fall, to be able to make enough milk on decent hay. These calves can be marketed in the spring as lighter weight feeders if the markets are real high... or carried on pasture with the dams until July/Aug when they are weaned off and the cows go on and get their break until calving.... calving on decent grass and not too hot weather... we have preg checked and then turned cows back out with their calves until the calves are 6 wts at weaning and are eating good and do not drop weight when we wean them. We also feed a little grain out at pasture.... enough to get the cows comeing in regularly when we call, and the calves learn that it is a good thing... they go right to the bunk in a couple days to be fed once weaned... Usually we bring a group back to the main farm, keep them in the lot that has the barn access with the bunk feeder... and the calves follow the cows right in the barn, learn the bunk is "oh wow, this is good to eat" and when we take the cows back out in a week to go dry at pasture, the calves never miss a beat.

One thing we do is to leave a couple cows in with the weaned calves for an extra week... say any that are open or shorter bred... they will come right in when called, the calves will follow because the presence of a "surrogate mom" is calming, and then they do not seem to miss their own mom much at all... The opens get shipped and the shorter breds get moved to the other calving group or get sold...

We run mostly angus, but have several herefords, a fair number of bwf, and several smokies and some reds in the mix. Plus my half a dozen with some dairy in them also...Bred black we get mostly black calves... had a bull that was not homo for black and got several reds on some red cows this year... but there is one sale that they will sell decent at; if they grade, then it won't matter the color there... and there are more "small backyard type" farmers that go there and raise a couple beef for eating and will pay decent for "off colored" calves if they are decent calves, and many cannot afford to buy the blacks, so look for off colored calves anyway... so we don't hurt as bad as at some of the other sale barns.

Sounds like you are doing good with the improvements you have been working towards. Yes, sell the bulls if you are not 100% happy with the results and buy a good replacement or 2. With "cull bulls" bringing in the $1.00 lb and more, you can sell the 2 and invest in one real good one or maybe @kenny thomas might know of someone wanting to change out bulls and can find you a good one that is a little older when they go and invest in a "new bull" for their herd. We have done that several times in the past. Plus, if you get one that is real good, don't think you have to trade him off in 3 years... We have kept bulls for 8-10 years as long as they continue to get the cows settled... we have several places we rent, so have to have more bulls than some people do... but if he puts good consistent calves on the ground, he stays...

Just sold an easy calving bull we bought back in 2013, that we used on heifers...he got stifled; and we still have one that is easy calving that we bought in 2012... we would use them one year on one group and the next year the other one so they were not breeding their daughters... and then they would often get put out to pasture with the cows as a late cleanup and to just stay out and active and not sitting in a bull lot getting lazy. We had a bull one time that was checked fine... when we got his group in from pasture we had 6 cows that were 6 months bred, and the rest were open... something happened to him... so now we try to move bulls around after 90 days,,,, or just throw one more in after 90 days as a hedge against losing all that time...
So that is another reason why we are a little more lenient with "calving windows" because we can make it work in different ways.
There is no right or wrong way... it is what is right or wrong for you and what you feel you need to accomplish.
One benefit we have found to 2 calving windows is have money from selling calves twice a year . Fall calvers equals spring money when I need to buy fertilizer. Spring = fall money for whatever. Id rather have more cows calving in the spring . That's the schedule God has for most animals.
We try to calve 60/40 spring to fall calving numbers.... but when we buy some breds sometimes it can get skewed.... and when that one bull went bad we wound up with 20+ that all of a sudden became fall calvers when we put in 2 young bulls to get them bred right away... but we like to calve out 70-80 in the spring and then the rest in the fall....
@gcreekrch ; Maybe that is why you make a living from your farming/ranching... and we work another job as well as farm.... but in the same token, wanting to keep better family lines of our own cows, than we can afford to go out and buy to replace them, is why an occasional animal gets carried over into the next group. In the case of those 20 some, it was the bull's fault, not the cows... remember, we have many rented places, and they range from 20-50 acres and only have 1 bull in at most places... like I said, they do not get a slide into the next group a second time around... I might keep 1 or 2 in a year that for whatever reason did not get settled... but more often, they are shorter bred than the rest of the group because we did not take the bulls out on time, or at places that the bulls go in and stay in until the cows come home from pasture.... and it is better for us to move them back to the next group than to sell them and then pay more for some we know nothing about.... we have done that a few times and been further behind because unless it is a farm dispersal sale.... truly from a real farm selling out....not "put together animals".... there are not the better animals available very often here. And honestly, with what we figure it costs to keep a cow for a year... an animal that is costing $2,000 to 3,000 bred is not going to pay for herself in 5 years, if she has 5 steers in a row.... @kenny thomas referred to the "farm dispersal" sales that are often put together groups of cows by traders and such... it is a fact of life here....

I do not have the ability or expertise to do a c-section on an animal having trouble calving like you are capable of... that is another vet expense that adds hundreds of dollars to the "cost" of the animal.... so that is another reason we seldom buy a bred heifer now... have lost several from their being bred to "easy calving bulls" and then trying to calve 90+ lb huge calves and can't... Right now there is no way I can justify spending 2500/3000 on a bred older cow either...
Bless you your abilities, but paying 1800 plus for bred heifers that need groceries just does not work for me.
So that is what .75 dollar to 1.00 Canadian... so about 1400 in US dollars? That makes the $1600 to $2000 heifers I saw 2 weeks ago worth close to 2200- 2500 Canadian? I am not good at conversions...Breds here have been way out of proportion.... we bought 3 bred heifers due in March for 1700 each for a neighbor that was wanting some... weighed around 800... smaller than anything I want to calve out even in a couple of months... guess it is just me... I'll take an older cow any day over a heifer... but I do not have the place or the abilities to deal with problems like Dave does... so for him it works...
And that is why I will give an animal a second chance on occasion... and why I will graft calves on cows that lose theirs if at all possible... and we have shipped many that did not cut the mustard...Cut about 25 from the total head count just this past spring... opens, older cows, a few that raised crummy calves... and been more than thankful due to the drought conditions... it made sense and saved several places from being overgrazed...
I admire what @gcreekrch does... and his animals are real nice and make him a living....
ours are paying for the land payments and paying for themselves pretty much along with hay sales and such...wish we could do more like he does, but we can't.
I'm with you Jan. I have way to much time & expense in my retained heifers to not give some of them some slack if they are a little slow to breed back. Usually its my fault but mother nature and our crappy forage don't help.
I ran three calving periods for a number of years and it worked very well, but our winters are usually mild. Winter spring and fall calving. Except for the spring calvers, the other would only have to slide three months. A bonus was it keeps your bulls busy.
We fall calve but I leave the bull in until weaning time. Anything that gets bred back late will be sold as a pair and I will buy back an open cow from up north to replace her. Even if she doesn't get bred an open cow will gain a few hundred pounds and the market price will for butcher cows will generally be better in early spring.

Latest posts