Here is the calf that was featured in my March blog post. He is almost six months old and pretty much half as big as his mother now. He has turned out to be one of the really good calves in this year's calf crop and is an example of the kind of cattle I am striving to raise that will produce a nice sized, well-finished grass-fed carcass at 18 months of age. He is moderately framed with nice thickness and lots of volume. His dam produces plenty of milk and has good genetics for growth, but is a smaller framed cow that is quite efficient in raising a calf that will weigh well over half of what she weighs by the time he is weaned in a couple months. This is a perfect example of what I am trying to do with my breeding program. This steer is the progeny of many generations of artificial insemination using semen from some of the very best bulls available anywhere in the world.
My failings as a blogger have been manifest during recent months. Since I started in 2015 with the monthly images of Ferdinand and then the frequent views on what is happening on the ranch, it has been more difficult to come up with original happenings. Pasture rotations, haying, and other production practices don't vary that much from year to year. We do have to adapt to the variability in weather among other things, but each year finds us mostly repeating the practices that have proven successful in the past. So, as my posts have become somewhat redundant, I'm reluctant to cover old ground again. But, the first newborn calf of the year can overcome that reluctance. There is nothing quite like the first calf of the year to renew our enthusiasm in the work we do. Spring is right around the corner!
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.