Thursday, October 26, 2017

Feeder Cattle: Month 1 - September

We filled up our monoslope barn with cattle in September!  The cattle that went into the barn are feeder cattle and will be fed until they are ready to become beef!

This is our monoslope confinement
This first month it is important for us to keep the stress low for these animals!  Prior to coming in they were weaned from their mammas.  This can be a stressful time for them (but, like all mammals, they will be fine!).  They've been moved from their mammas, they've moved homes, and have some other new calves around them.  All this newness and stress catches up to them and is our main concern this first month.

As soon as they come to the farm, we "work" them with our veterinarian.  This just means that we give them vaccinations, worm and anything else that they need (by direction from our veterinarian). 

The calves are in the chute!  This helps keep everyone (people and animals) safe!

The main focus is to keep them eating and drinking.  Just like you and me, if we don't have our bodies well hydrated and fed, then we get stressed, we lose energy, and we get sick.

They get fed two times a day when they first come in, so we can keep an extra eye on them.  The ones that come up the bunk first are normally the healthy ones (and are obviously getting fed the most!).  The ones that hang back and don't come up right away we keep an eye on for coughing, runny noses, etc. 

You can see the calf that is hanging back here.  His ears are droopy, he has some snot running out of his nose, his head is down.  He's not feeling 100% :(
 We work with our nutritionist to make sure their ration (feed mix) is good for their bellies.  If we don't get the feed right, they won't eat (leading to more stress/sickness!).  We also need the ration to be palatable for them - if it's too dry or too wet, they don't find it 'appetizing' and won't eat. 

Iowa weather fluctuates (tell me something I DON'T know…).  Our confinement barn helps creates a steady environment for the animals so the fluctuations in weather aren't so severe.  Reducing…you guessed it:  STRESS!  The barn has plenty of bunk space for everyone to get a chance to eat out of the bunk.  But, for those small ones that get bullied - we have stress tubs in the pen so they are still getting nutrition when they get pushed out (every species has bullies).  We also keep the barn bedded with more straw to keep them dry and clean - TA DA - LESS STRESS.   

If we don't do a good job reducing stresses (and in turn, sickness), then we have to rely on antibiotics more!  If we provide a good environment and good care the animals bodies will take care of most if these issues themselves.

I love all of the different markings and faces. <3

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Harvest in July

Our combine is out in the field…in July!

This year we are trying something new (to us).  We let some of our cover crop (rye) grow and combined it for the seed! 

DJI_0025

Normally, we kill our cover crop in the spring so it doesn’t compete with our cash crop (corn/soybeans).  This year we let it grow to use the seed this fall to plant as cover crops.    

DJI_0028

You can see in the photo above you can see the green (weed) area that drowned out this spring.  But over all, it was a pretty field.

You can also see in the photo where the combine is leaving the straw in rows.  We baled that for our cattle and are now going to plant the field to sorghum to chop for cattle feed this fall.

This is the first year doing all of this – we’ll see what we learn!