Our entire management practices are dictated at minimizing inputs into our cattle.
Cows: We start calving the first week of April and continue on to June for a 60 day calving season. We calve at this time of year to take advantage of the lush spring growth of grass to get the cow back into condition for re-breeding while getting her calf off to a fast start. We calve on pasture and supplement hay, protein blocks, and mineral until the grass growth can maintain the cow (around May 1). At this time, the only supplementation is a quality mineral product. We rotationally graze our cows and calves throughout the summer, moving as the pasture dictate, but usually every 2-3 days.
AI season starts July 1 and continues for 21 days. We usually observe about 90% of the cows in heat during this period. We turn bulls out for the remaining breeding season.
We turn cows on corn stalk fields as soon as they come available. The first stalk fields are from sweet corn in September, followed by corn stalk fields in October and November. This does extend the grazing season for our pastures and allows us to stockpile some grass for early winter.
Calves are weaned at the end of October or the first part of November. Cows continue to graze stockpiled grass and cornstalks. We winter the cows on a corn stalk field with only round bale feeders for protection. Grass hay and sweet corn by-product are the staples of their diet. We continue feeding a quality mineral program. Cows remain on stalks up to two weeks before calving when they are moved to the calving area and receive protein and mineral supplementation along with 2nd crop grass hay and sweet corn by-product.
Calves: The calves run next to their mothers from calving until weaning at the end of October. They thrive on their mother's milk and the fresh clover pastures. We prepare them for weaning by creep feeding . This creep feeding starts at the middle of September. At weaning, the calves are grouped by the sex of the calf.
Heifers: After weaning, the heifer calf group is maintained as a fairly pure contemporary group up to a year of age. They are fed to express their genetic potential without getting fat. The heifers are developed on corn silage, grass hay, protein/mineral supplement, and a small amount of corn. We feed for an ADG of around 2 lb/day. Historically, the heifers wean at 500-550 lb. and have a yearling weight of 800-950 lb.
The heifers are grazed as soon as grass is available and only receive grass and mineral supplements up to breeding.
We start breeding the heifers the same time as the cow herd, July 1st. We do supplement them with a little grain along with the pasture during breeding season. After breeding, the heifers are fed sweet corn by-product and grass hay. They are also supplemented with a protein blocks and mineral.
Bulls: The bull calves are treated very similar to the heifers. After weaning weight are calculated, we select the top end of the male calves to remain as bulls. These select few are put on a gain test with the ration consisting of corn silage, corn, hay, and protein/mineral supplement. They are fed to gain around 3.0-3.5 lbs/day. Most of the bulls are sold after they finish their test at a year of age and we get yearling and ultrasound information. Historically, the bulls wean at 600+ lb. and have a yearling weight from 1,100-1350 lb.