Whew!! Let’s put the winter of 2016 behind us. Time to think of warmer temperatures – sunshine – and Spring rains. In the Texas area, that also means preparing for our Spring cow work. Now every cattle operation has a time and action plan that must be executed. Once the breeding-calving dates are established, we have to work with our veterinarians to establish the most effective vaccine protocol needed for our area. Your vet is going to know what issues face your region and be able to recommend the best preventive vaccines necessary for disease control and herd health.
Our operation falls into a pretty traditional breeding-calving cycle. We want our calves set up for grass when the calves are about 90 days old. So we start our herd calving December 1st and the calving is over by the end of February. We worm and blackleg our cows in Spring Work, but our focus is the calves. They have relied on “Momma” for immunity but now we need to bolster that immune system so we improve their health – feed efficiency – weight gain. After all – most of us are selling pounds. And to me – it is critical to sell a healthy well developed calf – one capable of feed efficiency and growth to my buyers. It is important to remember that our reputation goes with every calf we sell. So the way I set up my calves – genetics – vaccinations – nutrition – low stress handling – ALL matters.
This is an example of a vaccine protocol plan. This is NOT a recommendation because you must consult with your veterinarian. You will note – no use of growth hormones or antibiotics. That would appeal to an all “Natural” market. Niche marketing is another story!!
Spring work involves giving all our attention to the herd. Or does it? What about the cowboys that work so hard during this process? In our planning process – we give a lot of thought to what those guys are going to eat. Yes – you heard me right. I am sure you have read the tales from the cattle drives when the cow hands thought they deserved an increase in wages. When they approached the trail boss – they were told to “eat more” – that was the only available increase at the time. Well, times have changed – these guys work hard and deserve good wages and all they can eat!!
My husband, Gary, is really a good cook. In fact, HE likes chuckwagon cooking and WE like his cooking. We loaded the trucks with equipment the night before – he rolled out the chuckwagon. We are all up and at ‘em before the sun comes up. We are busy prepping for the cow work – he is busy prepping for our lunch. We have vaccines, syringes, coolers to prepare – he is prepping meats, fresh vegetables, desserts, and plenty of cold water. We have horses to saddle – he has fires to light. There are 5 of us working the cattle – there is only one of him. We are trying to keep a stress free environment – trust me when I tell you that he can get really stressed. And as every cowboy on the trail drive knew – you were never to make the cook mad!
But when the meal is set out – we thank God – and then Gary because it is delicious!! The meals are always different – but the meals ALWAYS include beef. Isn’t that what our business is all about – BEEF. From pasture to plate really means something in our families. In fact, it is important to ALL families – we are just the ones responsible for very critical pieces of the production process. We understand our part – we take beef production very seriously – we want to exceed that consumer’s expectations. Takes commitment – a lot of hard work – so much to do!!