FarmingFriday

Every Friday, I share a few of the activities that took place during the week on our farm in eastern South Dakota. We raise corn, soybeans, wheat and beef cattle. Farm life is based on seasons, the weather and the needs of our livestock – so each week is often unpredictable!

This week…

We started moving the cows and calves out to pasture. On Tuesday, John and Ron vaccinated and moved 50 pairs from around home to pasture. I helped them for a couple hours, but they worked at it all day.DSCN4640

Before the cattle can be hauled out to enjoy the fresh green grass – they need to have a few vaccinations.

DSCN4641

We sort off the calves from the cows, so that none of the calves get hurt by the larger cows in the process of moving them through the chute.DSCN4642 DSCN4647

The pen below has almost all of the calves sorted off from the mother cows. The cows will be worked next. By “worked” I mean:

  • giving each animal their vaccinations
  • writing down the tag numbers
  • replacing any missing ear tagsDSCN4644

It does make the mother cows and calves nervous to be separated since the calves are not weaned. The cows and calves all do a lot of moo-ing while they are separated, however we do this to ensure the safety of the calves and cows. It’s only for a couple of hours and then we put them back together.

Vaccinations:

Some vaccinations have to be kept cold, so we bring a cooler packed with ice packs out to the chute. DSCN4649

Recording Ear Tag Numbers:

After each calf goes through the chute and receives it’s shots we write down the number. Then, when the mother cow comes through we make a check mark. At the end, all of the calves and cows should match up. One calf to one mother cow. We make sure the animals are “paired” up together because we want to be sure that each pair ends up at the same field. Sometimes, we will divide a group of cows into two, taking each group to a separate pasture. It is important to send the right moms with the right calves.

DSCN4659

Replacing Ear Tags:

Each cow and calf on the Blachford Farm gets an ear tag with a number. Since all of the cows are black, the number provides our identification. This way, if one gets sick or is about to have a calf it is easy to remember which number. Just saying, the black one is about to calve would be really silly and unhelpful. However, saying or recording that cow R16 is about to have her baby is very helpful! Every winter, a few tags fall out or break. Before sending the cows out to pasture for the summer, we replace all the tags that have fallen out. This makes our record keeping much easier.

DSCN4650

These three things are all “housekeeping” items that need to be done each spring in order for us to keep accurate records and maintain a healthy herd. I have helped my Mom do these things every year for as long as I can remember, but this is the first year I have helped send John and Ron’s black cows out to pasture. My mom’s cows and calves are white!

img_3227

 

It is always a big relief to get the cows and calves out to the pastures. There, they can happily eat fresh, green grass. It also helps John out because he doesn’t have to feed hay or silage every morning anymore. His feeding chores take less time during the summer, which is good.

This week, it rained several times so it was too muddy to plant any soybeans.

John and Ron also checked fence to make sure that there were no holes or gaps where sneaky calves could walk out.

Today, I’m heading home to a very wet Missouri for my cousin’s wedding! The forecast is predicting more rain in Missouri on their wedding day, but that’s supposed to be good luck. We’ll have fun rain or shine. If the crop was in and the cows were all out to pasture, John would have joined me on the trip. However, it is still “go time.”

It was a productive (cows to pasture) and slow (waiting to plant) week on the farm.

Thanks for reading!

20130530-223555.jpg