Since my last post, it has been a busy month on the farm. After the cows come home from their various pastures we usually begin feeding them hay. Hay is fed to all the cows in large bale feeder that hold between 3-6 bales each. We also have a bale shredder that we use to feed bales on the ground and to shred straw for bedding. The cows get fed daily and it takes between 1-3 hours a day to do chores, depending what needs done and how nice the weather is.
In November we preg check the cows. This is a procedure done by our veterinarian. He palpates the cow by reaching through her rectum and feeling her uterus to see if she is pregnant. If the cow is far enough along (approximately 4 month or more) the vet can physically feel the calf fetus. Under 60 days is a little harder and he can usually tell by feeling the uterus. Any cows that are not bred (pregnant) we usually sell as an open cow. We make our money by selling the calves, so a cow without a calf costs money.
We also wean the calves that were born in spring in November, too. Weaning is a natural process that all animals go through. Beef calves are traditionally weaned at 200 days. Our calves were approximately 240 days old when we weaned this year. Many of the calves had already begun the weaning process naturally before we sorted them off. We practice fence line weaning. A process where we sort the cows and calves in two separate pens, but the cows and calves still have contact with each other through the fence, but calves can’t nurse. There is a product on the market that is a plastic tag that fits in a calves nose, prohibiting the calf from suckling its mom. Unfortunately because it’s usually cold in our area when we wean, we can’t use these because frost tends to build up on them exposing the calf’s nose to frostbite.
Vaccines are also done on the calves in November. The calves get the same vaccines they received in the spring–a booster. The vaccines protect them from common ailments including pneumonia, which can cost a lot of money and time if an outbreak occurs. Also, since we try to run an antibiotic free herd, vaccines are worth their weight in gold!
I was fortunate to win a trip to Winnipeg, also this month, to attend the Agriculture Excellence Conference sponsored by Farm Management Canada. I won my trip by submitting this video about “Y We Farm” and the future of Canadian Agriculture:
Y We Farm video
The conference was a great experience not only for networking but also for learning how to better manage our farm.
On the grain side of things, we’ve sold some loads of feed wheat. With the wet harvest conditions we had, all our wheat had mildew on it which the millers do not like, so it is sold to be used for animal feed. At this time last year, we hadn’t sold a single load of grain. This year we have sold almost half our grain, what a difference a year makes!
Now, we are dealing with the inevitable cold and snow that November usually brings. Over the past 36 hours we received over 30 cm of snow. I know that’s nothing like the Buffalo, New York area was dealt last week. I can’t imagine that amount of snow in such a short time.
That’s been our month on the farm in a nutshell. December proves to be yet another busy month too. I’m excited about a project I’m working on with a fellow blogger, so stay tuned for the big announcement!