I always find there can be a great sense of satisfaction coming into September. The turf is home, all the cows are (hopefully) in calf and there’s enough silage bales stacked beside the shed to last until April.
That being said, our breeding for next year did not go entirely to plan.
A bull that we thought to be subfertile turned out to be perfectly capable of putting cows in-calf. We had been using him as a teaser for getting the cows in heat but it’s now looking like we might have a lot more Limousin calves than planned.
The cows which he could have succeeded with have been marked in the book and their calves will be genotyped next year using the self-selection option on the BDGP tags.
On the bright side, he has tightened up our calving dates considerably for next year, with 10 cows due in the first two weeks of April.
I really hope the weather is kind at that time next year, otherwise we’ll be calving here, there and everywhere in any shed we can find.
The cows here are predominantly Limousin which is why we prefer to cross them with a different breed but, last year for a change, we kept our first Salers heifer.
Intending to use a Limousin on her, we got a bit suspicious after she showed no signs of heat and when the vet was visiting for another issue, he announced that she was three months in-calf.
With three bulls in close proximity to her, we had no idea which one she’d had a dalliance with, as she was never missed and no bull was seen in.
It wasn’t until she had a lovely little white heifer this year that we figured out where she’d escaped to, somehow bypassing a mains fence to get to her chosen suitor.
Normally that would be the matter closed, until we kept a second Salers, a half sister to the first. And would you believe it, off she hopped through the hedge to the very same bull! So it’s looking likely that we have at least one animal in calf to a Charolais.
In an attempt to improve drainage on a few fields surrounding the slatted shed, piped shores were put in by a local contractor. Benefits can already be seen with all pipes in full flow during the wetter days last week.
Any pedigree bulls or light weanlings we keep over winter are housed in the calving pens with access to these fields on drier days. Unfortunately for them, once calving starts they get evicted into the fields full-time. This means the land can take a bit of abuse if the spring is wet, which seems to occur every two years out of five.
Hopefully this work will give us a bit more leeway with both turnout and housing dates for the younger stock.
We’ve also identified a 10ft x 18ft section of the shed between our calving pens which can be used as an extra dry pen.
With the simple addition of two 10ft gates, it would be very useful for keeping on some extra weanlings if market trends don’t see an upturn before Christmas.
I’m actually surprised it was never thought of before, a simple case of not being able to see what was right in front of our eyes. Perhaps I should have gone to Specsavers, as the advertisements say.
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