It’s hard to believe September is around the corner already. With a few heifers doing well, I began meal feeding some off grass, to get them away a bit sooner. I’ll be glad to see the back of some of them.
They’ve proven to be a heart breaking bunch all year. It’s not that they are all mad, but there’s a higher proportion than I’ve become used to. Any work with them takes far longer than any other group on the farm, as they prefer to go anywhere but where I want them to. When I do get them in, they become a safety hazard. It’s a consequence of one decision I made.
In 2019, we retained a young bull for breeding. It was a stop-gap measure, as we were considering a slight change in direction with breeding.
Dad and I went through the pros and cons of holding onto him, but ultimately decided to go with him rather than purchase another bull that winter. Among the pros were, he was polled, easy fleshing and wasn’t related to any of the maiden heifers. The main downfall was he was a bit on the nervous side. We gambled on him, but put a contingency plan in place in the event his temperament came through in his calves. If they were too excitable, we’d retain extra heifer calves the following year. Decision made, it would take time to see if there were any consequences.
Sure enough, the calves brought out the positives. Fleshing wasn’t an issue and you could tell that while vaccinating them last summer. When you’d go to inject them, they had rolls of skin. It was like picking up a puppy. That fleshing contributed when it came to getting the bulls off a little younger this year, as they performed well. Fat scores and grades were good. The heifers look in line to do the same. The downside was there was a high proportion of lunatics among them. Some even had a badness about them. Everything was a sprint and if one ran to a corner, they all ran after.
From a work perspective, it was a backward step. Yes, the cattle may have looked the part, but how they made easy jobs difficult wasn’t worth it. Fortunately, we had a few runs of luck.
Firstly, there were two bull calves for every heifer from him. Secondly, we had that flexibility in our plan to breed a lower number of heifers to fall back on. We did put a pair of heifer calves from him to the bull. They brought the calmness from their mother’s side, so were left run through. They’ll be scanned in a fortnight and the results will determine how long they will be about. It will be the same for all the herd really.
The up and down nature of grass growth this year saw the older cows scanned and split into bull and heifer calf groups earlier than usual. The young cows will be scanned the same day as the heifers, while it will probably be early October for those who had the bull taken out recently. Therefore, I won’t have a proper handle on what numbers will be calving next spring for potentially another two months. I’ve already made my list of potential replacements for 2022, so I just have to observe how they carry themselves from now on.