A Little Bull. . .

Our bull-raising philosophy is: Grow them slowly! We hope to extend their useful life and—as recent evidence indicates—perhaps increase overall lifetime fertility. Our intention is to raise bulls with excellent calving ease and the ability to produce growthy calves. But the best EPDs in the world are worthless if a bull outgrows his feet and legs. Additionally, studies have shown that bulls fattened as yearlings may deposit fat in the scrotum which—even if the bull is later lowered to a very thin body condition—remains and may decrease fertility.
We calve on green grass in May for several reasons. First, there is plenty of daylight for checking cattle. Secondly, the peak demand on any cow is approximately forty-five days post-calving. This is her period of heaviest lactation and also the time she resumes cycling. In our region, grass growth peaks around July 1. Why not feed her the best when she needs it the most?
We fenceline wean to decrease stress on both dam and calf. Evidence (and our personal observations) indicates calves go on feed sooner when they can still touch noses with their momma and get a little loving. Calves are started on ad libitum oat hay and a custom grain ration high in fiber and containing a balanced protein. All cattle in our operation receive ad lib salt/mineral mix.
Following their first winter, yearling bulls are sent to pasture where they continue to receive a light grain ration. The grain serves a couple of purposes. First, it helps extend the grass. And, equally importantly, it keeps the bulls coming up to the bunks for a daily dose of human contact. We’ve found that there’s nothing better for taming cattle than a five-gallon bucket. Bulls spend their second winter on a ration of CRP hay and the same custom grain mix.
Veterinary procedures for coming-2 year old bulls are as follows:
September: Preconditioned calves with vaccinations to protect from clostridials (“blackleg”), virals (BVD, BRSV, IBR, PI3 + vibrio, lepto), Fusogard (footrot), pinkeye, and branded.
October: Separation from dams, boostered vaccinations, weighed, dewormed, applied tattoos.
May: Yearling weights, dewormed.
February: Weighed, dewormed, boostered vaccinations, and performed Breeding Soundness Exams.

A Little Heifer. . .

Our cows are bred to calve beginning May 1 – but our cows seem eager to begin the process, so in some years we have had half of our calves by then. Our calves are born on grass, which we find virtually eliminates instances of scours and contributes to overall better calf health.
As calves are born, they are transported with their dams to the particular pasture which will serve as the dam’s breeding pasture for the subsequent breeding season. The calves will stay with their dams until early to mid-September, when all pairs are collected and transported to a common pasture. The calves are then pre-conditioned (vaccinated for clostridial diseases (“blackleg”), viral diseases (BVD, IBR, BRSV, PI3), vibrio, and lepto) and branded. At weaning two weeks later, the calves are weighed and given vaccination boosters. We practice fence line weaning, and it is at weaning that calves are introduced to a ration of grain and free choice oat hay.
Heifer calves are separated from their brothers by early January. They remain in drylot and on the same ration until they are transported to their respective breeding pastures in early May.
As with our bulls, we don’t push our heifers too hard. Consistent with publicly available studies, we have had success with heifers conceiving at 60% of their mature weight and the following year conceiving (with calf by side) for their second calves.
Veterinary procedures for yearling heifers are as follows:
September: Preconditioned calves, with vaccinations for clostridials (“blackleg”), virals (BVD, BRSV, IBR, PI3 + vibrio, lepto), brucellosis (“Bangs,” official calfhood vaccination), and branded.
October: Separation from dams, boostered vaccinations, weighed, dewormed, applied tattoos.
January: Deworm with ivermectin pour-on.

A Little Cowhorse. . .

Foals are born in a 400+ acre pasture in the shadow of Castle Rock, a landmark on the former Butterfield Overland Despatch freight trail that connected Independence, Missouri to Denver, Colorado in the 1860’s. The young horses learn early how to navigate in rough country with rocky cliffs, creeks, a pond, a little grass, and more rocks. Aside from a bucket of grain every now and then to entice the brood mare band into view, the foals don’t have much human contact until weaning. After that, they are introduced to halters, hands, curry combs, and other manners.
Veterinary procedures for yearling horses are as follows:
August: Weaned
November: Dewormed ivermectin
January: Dewormed moxidection, vaccinated tetanus, rabies.