Last Friday, we weaned our spring calves off their mothers. Here is a picture of the calves on the left and cows on the right. I saved both paddocks of grass for this specific purpose so that both groups would have plenty of quality forage during the weaning process. This fence works perfectly for keeping the calves apart from their dams. It is an old woven wire fence with a hot wire on each side. The woven wire fence keeps any calves from sneaking under the hot wire and the hot wire keeps the cows from crowding the woven wire fence and going over the top. Because the cows and calves are right across the fence from each other, it eases the anxiety of being separated from each other. They do bawl for a day or two, but otherwise weaning this way is a minimally stressful event. You can see that the calves are more interested in the new paddock of forage that what their mothers are doing across the fence.
Here are Ferdinand (on left) and the cow herd grazing a paddock on a hot August afternoon. Our ability to provide plentiful high quality forage to our cattle even during the peak of summer temperatures is one thing that sets us apart from most other producers. Our 60 day breeding season is drawing to a close and soon Ferdinand will be removed from the herd so that our calving season next year will stay compact and the age variation in our calf crop will be held to a minimum. This helps in producing consistently finished yearlings the following year during our 3 month harvest season. This year's harvest season will start week after next and the first group of animals are very nicely finished. We do still have about half a dozen yearlings that are not sold, so this is a perfect time to take a tour of our ranch and see what harvest ready animals look like.
We are about 10 days away from the decline of our spring rush of work. This picture is of the last field of hay that I will put up this year and was taken from almost the same vantage point as the one in my early April blog posting. This field of hay consists of 6 paddocks that were grazed by the cow herd during calving season in the first half of April. So this forage had two months of regrowth and will yield a good quantity of nice quality hay. The two fields of hay that I already put up were cut in May and also yielded well and were even nicer quality than this field. So, it looks like the cows and weaned calves are going to have plenty of excellent feed this winter.
I am almost halfway through AI breeding season and you can barely see the cows and calves grazing in the distance. The cooler spell of weather has been very welcome and has given me a short breather from irrigation duties. But the transition to summer looks imminent and I have my irrigation pump back up and running. The water supply looks good this year, so forage production should be plentiful and of high quality for both the cow herd and my yearlings being finished for harvest which will start in two months.