A college lecturer I had once said there’s no such thing as a perfect farm. He was right. There are too many variables to contend with when dealing with nature. It’s a case of when you put a plan in place, plan to adapt it.
The extra rain has seen rotations speed up a little. Cows are in one-and-a-half- or two-acre paddocks at present and are getting just over two days in each rather than three days.
The past week has seen the first calf fatality with a heifer that hadn’t been thriving well succumbing to liver damage. A case of you win some, you lose some.
Something of greater concern occurred in the breeding herd.The senior bull was put out with the cows two weeks ago. Things seemed to be going ok until four days in and it was noticed that the bull had broken his penis. The timing could have been worse. A contingency plan has been put in place.
The cows in this group will be AI’d for three weeks and one of the young bulls who was destined for slaughter last week was held back. He is a pedigree and thankfully the only cow he is related to in the senior group of cows is his own mother so we will move her to one of the other bulls.
The young bull is currently on a diet to get fit for what’s ahead. The first pedigree bull purchased in here had been fed on for show purposes. He bulled two cows and had too much condition on him and he didn’t do anything else for over a month. Having put a big effort into achieving a tighter calving spread, I don’t want to blow all that work now.
The hope was to keep the bull team the same for the 2016 breeding season and then go bull shopping, but that plan has now changed.
Standard practice here is to buy in a bull well before he is required. A bull in a herd breeding its own replacements like here is a long-term investment. Ideally, I’d like a bull on the farm for at least five breeding seasons, with his daughters around for another 15 or so.
With that in mind, I’m not going to go to a show and sale and target the bull that one man deems to be best on show on the day. I’d rather spend time looking for a bull than more money. In total, four bulls have been purchased since 1999. A decision was made a number of years ago to keep this a one-breed herd. There are three out-cross cows around but their progeny don’t have the same growth rates as their comrades. So that’s one choice made.
Step one in the bull search is to go to the online herd book and ICBF website and check out the various breeding values of what’s available.
As this is the first time a purchase will be made since the introduction of the G€N€ Ireland program, I feel it’s only right to stick to participating breeders. Data recording aids the decision making when it comes to breeding and reduces the lottery element of it. I want functional cattle, not show cattle, so appearance is only part of the picture.
On top of the bull issue and calf death, my phone packed in at the weekend which has made getting in contact with the AI man more fun.
They say things happen in threes. Hopefully that’s me done for a while.