Thursday, April 1, 2010

Hooray, Springtime!

It's springtime here on the farm...better weather, longer hours, and more to do than we have the time, labor, or (working) equipment for!

On the animal front, we have bred 38 heifers over the last month and only have 6 more to go. Our local large-animal veterinarian was on the farm last week and performed pregnancy exams on 23 heifers and 60 cows. All but one of the heifers he examined were pregnant, and all but two of those conceived through artificial insemination. On the cow side, I think 54 of the 60 were pregnant as well.

We've had a two week lull in our calving and currently only have six young calves on milk after weaning seven earlier this week. 209 cows are going through the milk barn everyday, but that number will be reduced as we have 5-6 that are ready to be dried off and don't have but that many due to calve within the next two weeks.

The sunshine and warmer temperatures are putting our fertilizer and all of the rainfall we've had to use. Our planted forages are very green and showing noticeable growth, especially the rye. Fescue and volunteer ryegrass in many of our heifers' pastures are also putting out enough that we've been able to reduce our hay feeding by at least a third. The wheat/ryegrass mixture we planted for our milking herd to graze will be ready as soon as we can string up some wire and divide it into smaller paddocks.

We're also on the verge of planting corn, and hopefully we'll be putting seed in the ground this time next week, though I suspect now it will probably be the second full week of April before we start the planters. We started disking the fields yesterday, and will have fertilizer spread and disk the fields one more time before we plant. This is the first time in I think 4 years we haven't "minimum tilled" our silage crop, but we need to turn the soil this time to smooth out several rough places and fill in some ruts and washes.

Have a "dairy" good April, everyone!


Anonymous said...

90% conception rate is great and the heifers wow. Is that normal for down there? Not that high up here on the high plains.

crystal.cattle said...

I can't wait until things start to green up around here! How many cows do you normally try and keep in production at a time?

Will Gilmer said...

That's the highest conception rate we've had on heifers in a while. We generally run around 70% on heifers and 60% on cows this time of year.

We usually will get up to 230 cows milking a couple of times during winter and spring, and will get down to around 175 sometime during the summer. We've had to move several cows into beef earlier than normal because we would have gotten up as high as 250 in milk, and that's more than we can handle.