Every year, I wean my replacements, but I have never weaned calves to sell. My calves are sold off their Mommas – Momma takes care of them until they day they leave the ranch. There are vaccine protocols in place – one round of vaccine at Spring work – boosters in June – but with each working the calf returns to Momma. (By the way – when you talk about cows – it’s always Momma – not Mom – not Mother. The only exception is when speaking about the herd and then at our ranch – it’s “the girls”.
There are many programs that buyers look for when they are bidding on our calves. Each program gets special consideration by the buyer – and more dollars to the rancher. The vaccines the calves receive are preventative vaccines like your child gets before they enter school – NOT ANTIBIOTICS. We sell our calves on a Vac 34+ program which requires CattleMaster Gold FP5 & Ultrabac 8 at first working – then CattleMaster Gold FP5 & One Shot Ultra a few weeks before delivery – but they are not weaned. That would be a Vac 45 program which basically is the same vaccine protocol but they have been weaned from Momma for 45 days. The buyers prefer the weaned program. They feel it is less stressful for the calf and they transition more efficiently to their next environment. Our calves are also sold – ALL Natural – NO Hormones.
As you read in an earlier post – we shipped two weeks ago. At that moment, we weaned every calf. I want Momma to have time to recover before December 1st when she will calf again. So there were 110 calves left to feed. I have never had that many to feed. I did not even own a bulk feeder and that is where it got interesting.
I started calling other ranchers, Co-ops, and Feed & Supply Stores for information. I was taught to research every detail – cost – specification. Take in all the data available and make the best decision – the most cost effective decision I can make for the ranch. Crispin at Eldorado in Elkhart helped me with the bulk feeder purchase. (Crispin is an expert in forage and has forgotten more about grasses than I will ever know.) Producers Co-op in Bryan helped me with the correct feed for these calves and scheduled the delivery. (Producers Co-op has the best team of experts in animal nutrition and their service has always been impeccable.)
The truck arrived. The feeder was filled. Eric Morrow from Producers helped us set everything up correctly.
Every day at this ranch is different. Every day presents another lesson – sometimes academic and sometimes a life lesson. I find myself surrounded by such good people – so willing to share information – to really lend a helping hand – to walk me through my options. This has been a new experience. Sometimes when things do not go as I planned, it forces me to step into the unknown – face my anxieties – and turn that problem into an opportunity. These calves don’t see a problem – all the feed they can eat seems like a real opportunity to them.