The first draft of young bulls were sold last week and they got off to a good start, with all having a fat score of three.
Most had just passed 13 months while our surprise calf from January last year was the oldest.
There’s an element of risk about young bulls. From an on-the-ground level, they’re a powerful animal and need to be handled with care.
We’re also told they’re not as marketable as bullocks, but it is so difficult to look beyond their efficiency.
That is more pronounced in an era where there’s talk of reducing cattle numbers and farmers are told to become more efficient.
Are some efficiencies more equal than others?
The younger three bull calves were castrated so they’ll make an interesting comparison whenever they come fit.
Speaking of young bulls, I found one dead on Saturday evening. I’d seen them less than two hours earlier and all was fine. You win some, you lose some, I guess.
Calving is petering out into a slow finish
About a month ago, I was lucky enough to catch one of the cows in the early stages of grass tetany. As Dad says, those are the things that keep you on your toes.
Calving is petering out into a slow finish. Sorting that dragged out calving period is the main priority for the upcoming breeding season.
It ran late simply because I ended up being too busy on a backlog of COVID-19 delayed construction jobs last summer.
Most were in calf and it was easier to let the cows babysit the bulls rather than try and sort them into their own group.
Breeding is on the verge of kicking off and will commence with the Hereford bull going to the heifers next weekend. He will stay with them for a month or so and then come back home to tidy up the AI group.
They will get at least three weeks of AI before he returns.
Despite their calving in the second half of April, there’s a handful left to go
Last year we had one bull on the out-farm and he was switched from the heifers to the young cows. Unfortunately, that switchover got delayed as other farm and building work was prioritised.
As a result, those young cows had a slightly longer calving interval than I would like but, on the flip side, about 90% of them held to the first service.
Despite their calving in the second half of April, there’s a handful left to go.
The focus on breeding for fertility has seen most cows from their breeding groups holding to their first service
This season, taking the bull with the heifers home to tidy things up and sending the other bull out with the younger cows should simplify things. It’s a more defined stopping point.
The focus on breeding for fertility has seen most cows from their breeding groups holding to their first service. Any that slip from that point slip down the list of who will be retained.
Every year, ahead of calving, I list out all the cows and maiden heifers and mark out who will be going to the bull again and who won’t be.
By the time breeding comes around, you can be sure that there will be a few tweaks to the list. When you’re dealing with stock you can plan so much, but ultimately nature has a major influence.
This year is no different. Some have got a reprieve, while three cows that were to be retained are on the way out.
One aborted, another had a dead calf and a second calver decided she didn’t want her calf. With the breeding season imminent, I better have another look over that list.