Farm life is boring at the moment. There’s a very predictable routine that revolves around feeding and checking stock, and right now, that makes it very enjoyable.
All the more so because with the first cow due to calve in about three weeks’ time, you know that lull could be broken at any moment.
In the event of that happening, things are ready. Pressure was taken off slurry and sheds are in order, only a few small bits to tidy away. I’ve held off moving the heifers into the calving shed just yet.
They’re in their own pen all winter and will be left there a little while longer. The older cows won’t be too far behind them once calving starts, so the first dozen or so of those will be put in a group of their own and given access back to a straw pen, in case there are any early arrivals.
For ease of movement and keeping them in check, there’s nothing to beat a pair of experienced cows
I must go through the list of predicted calving dates and group the rest up accordingly. The extension to the cow house will be very useful that way. Instead of all the cows running as one group, I’m now in a position to put them into pens of eight.
It’s the first winter in my farming career that every animal was housed. Even the bulls got to stay in this year. They’re both coming up on two years of age and will be heading for grass sometime over the next few weeks.
For babysitting purposes, the last two cows to calve will be going with them. They’re both placid enough bulls, but for ease of movement and keeping them in check, there’s nothing to beat a pair of experienced cows.
The plan would be to get them across the road and out of the way of the cows and calves that will be going to grass. Heading in the other direction will be the group of younger weanlings.
It’s coming up on selection time for the replacements too. They will be due their first BVD vaccine and I use the behaviour in the yard around then as a good gauge of their temperament. I mentioned previously that some calves from a young bull we used in 2019 were a bit on the flighty side. Luckily, he had a bull to heifer ratio of 2:1, so there won’t be many of his daughters retained.
Off the top of my head, I think there’s two. They proved to be very easy to deal with compared to their comrades. There will be fewer heifers to go for breeding on the back of this and the fact that there was a higher percentage of bulls last year.
The flip side of that is you know at some point in the next few years it will balance itself out.
Ideally, it would be a good time to do genomic tagging, but with no clarity on the latest round of BDGP, I’ll just have to wait it out and hope that something gets sorted soon. Surely it would be worth making more use of the national tagging system for DNA purposes.