Farm and Ranch
Meanwhile, back at the ranch....
By Rayford Pullen
Feb 26, 2021
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You can almost see spring from here, and for me, thatís a good thing after all the cubing and haying and calving in cold weather.  The next 4 months, March through June, approximately 120 days, will be the best of the best regarding forage quality which results in the best gains, the most milk produced and the best time to get those spring calving cows, which actually calved during the middle of winter, rebred and putting that 150 of so pounds back on that we normally lose during the winter.

While fall born calves around here normally weigh 5-6 pounds less that our spring born calves, we have been fortunate this year that birthweight has not been an issue with our first calf heifers this year. February and March is when the major majority of our spring calves are born which is important because we want them to be able to take advantage to all the wonderful forage we have in the spring and gives our cows time to recover from winter and rebreed before we reach the dog days of summer, hot and dry, when forage quality declines rapidly.

Over the years, we have moved our spring breeding from May 1 to April 15 to hopefully have calves born earlier so that when their rumen begins working at around two months of age, they will have more growing days on the great forage.

Between calving and rebreeding, we also like to give our calves their first vaccination for the respiratory complex(IBR, PI3,etc.) blackleg and dewormed.  We like to do this when the calves are 2-3 months old, but since we only do this once, all calves are worked regardless of age.

At this same time, we give our cows their annual vaccination for lepto and vibrio.  As mentioned in an earlier article, giving a good vaccine for these two will go along way to protect our cattle from the lepto spread by wild hogs which is usually spread from infected water. You may also want to deworm your cows, especially the young ones.  Depending on where you live and how heavily you stock your pastures, other vaccinations may also be needed.

Our cattle have been going through the mineral the past few weeks, and in my opinion, prior to calving and up till rebreeding, this is the most important time to keep mineral available.  We keep mineral available all year but if you are seeing retained placentas, or other signs of problems, you may want to make sure you keep mineral available.  We prefer loose mineral with salt blocks available fed in a rubber tub.  If you are feeding trace mineral blocks, you are not providing the mineral your cows actually need. 

Now is also the time of year when we really notice our cattle rubbing their hair off due to lice infestations.  This can be cured by spraying them with an insecticide or prevented by using a good antiparasitic product in the fall.  Either  way, the old rancher saying is ďin May, the lice go away.Ē

As winter turns to spring, with calves running wild in bunches, and moms chasing after their young ones, you understand why we all do this.  This is the most beautiful sight for those of living close to our cattle.

Itís a wonderful time to be in the cattle business.

Rayford Pullen
Pullen Angus