…AND IT’S KILLING ME! Yes, overdramatic indeed. We’ve had 1 ½’ feet of snow the past couple of weeks and it is NOT going anywhere. I simply can’t remember a time when we’ve had this much snow and this much severe cold while grazing cornstalks. Absolutely have never had these conditions grazing stalks while the calves are on the cows. We are putting out grass hay and the cattle seem to be doing GREAT! They are getting better nutrient quality vs. the stalks only. Don’t starve your cows! Though they should be able to do well on low-quality grazing forage, they can’t do well on zero grazing forage and/or hay.
WHY IN THE WORLD…
…would someone try to sell grazing genetics at the WORST time of year for a grazing only animal? Well…there are multiple reasons, mental deficiency not being the least among them!
Late winter/early spring, prior to grass green up, should be the time of year when a grazing animal looks the worst. Once green up arrives, and assuming high-quality grazing is available during the growing season, an ungulate should put on weight through compensatory gain and end the growing season fat and sassy. They should be bred (in nature they are) to time the end of their pregnancy with good weather and some time to start adding condition prior to birthing. In most of the Midwest this would mean April-June. Lactation and preparing for breed back will take a lot of nutrients but a good grazing situation will more than compensate for that. Weaning will typically take place a few months after the growing season is done so that the momma animal won’t get run too far down during the winter to rebreed the next summer. We require our cows to keep a calf on until February or March and then breed back, never missing, to stay in the herd. I don’t mind letting a cow get run down a bit during the course of the winter, it’s a good test, but they should not lose 200 lbs. If a cow dropped to a BCS of 4 during the winter it would be best if they had time to increase it to a 5 before calving in the spring.
So, back to the question of sale timing: One reason we have a sale in March, as opposed to December like we used to, is so we have more time to prepare for the sale. When we were preparing for a December sale, we were trying to finish fall harvest (already the most busy time of the year) and get ready for a sale at the same time. This wasn’t good for the spirits of anyone! Another reason we moved the sale to March was for customer service purposes. When we had December sales our customers didn’t seem at all excited about buying an animal they weren’t going to use for several months. We decided if we could carry an animal through the winter for our customers it would better suit their needs. Because we can carry our animals through the winter on nothing but water, primarily corn stalks, salt and mineral, we knew it wasn’t a major expense to do so. Ask any other seedstock producer what their daily costs are for boarding an animal, or what they would charge to do so. For most it is very costly to carry seedstock an extra 3-4 months. A fringe benefit of this protocol is that we get to apply more pressure to our strictly sorted seedstock animals to see if they are ready to become next generation bulls and cows.
Only a fool would try to sell bulls and bred heifers that look like what we have to offer on March 12. It is a big ask to trust that they will look amazing in the summer…but they will. There is a method to my madness…but it cloaks itself in lunacy at times!