Soapweed's Ranch Ramblings
The writings of a Nebraska Sandhills cattle rancher!

Cattle Work Winding Down
Nov 20, 2004

It has been a busy fall, but things are looking up as the cattle work winds down. A week and a half ago, we weaned our replacement heifer calves. We had left a little meadow with fresh after-grass (grown up after haying in July) for this purpose. It was close to a set of corrals, so our three-person crew got them in, sorted the cows away from the calves, put the cows into a dry lot with hay in bale rings, and put the calves around the corner into the fresh meadow grass. There was plenty of "music" for a couple days, but the calves soon got to be big girls and took to their new status well. We also "caked" them on the ground, giving them a twenty percent pellet. They took to this new treat like a duck to water.

The day before yesterday, Dr. Susan came out in the morning and we bangs vaccinated the 202 head. Also, we decorated the girls with new ear-apparel and their new "permanent" cow number. We double tagged each heifer, and their new numbers are 400-499 purple or 400-499 yellow. The extra two heifers are 400l and 4002 yellow. We used the Universal Ritchey pre-numbered ground-in tags on one side, and pre-numbered stamped Y-Tex tags on the other side. Hopefully the tags will stay in for many years, but by double tagging, a back-up system is in place. At pregnancy checking time a year from now, we will also put a hot-iron year brand "4" on their left shoulders.

That afternoon, after processing these calves, two trucks arrived and we loaded the heifers so they could go to their new winter home. They will spend the next six months at a "heifer-development" feedlot south-east of Gordon. We used this facility two years ago, and were happy with the outcome. Last year, we didn't keep any replacement heifer calves. We loaded ninety head onto each truck and twenty-two head onto our 24' gooseneck trailer. We didn't individually weigh the calves, but by weighing the loaded trucks and weighing again empty, the heifers weighed an average of 640 pounds going into this feedlot. A target weight gain per day is about a pound and a half. In early May, these heifers will be AIed, and we are planning to use an Angus bull named Bextor. He worked great on our heifers that we calved for the first time this last spring.

All of our calves weighed well this fall, and the price was good, too. The steer calves averaged 624# @ $124.70 per hundred-weight, and the heifer calves averaged 612# @ $113.60. Selling expense came to $13.20 per head, which included trucking to the sale barn, commission, insurance, brand inspection, and beef check-off.

We pregnancy checked all of our cows this fall, and also gave them vaccinations of C&D and Stay-bred (Vibrio-Lepto), and Warbex for grub and lice control. The cows checked out 94% bred and 6% open. We didn't mouth the cows this year, having decided to keep anything that was bred regardless of their age. We did cull a few cows for other reasons. So far, the open and cull cows that we have sold have averaged bringing about $680 per head.

The weather is still nice, so we are coasting along with the cows grazing left-over summer pastures and after-grass on the hay meadows. We haven't started caking with protein supplement as yet, but will do so when the weather turns for the worse.

We've been horseback almost every day since early September, and have enjoyed the nice fall. We appreciate the ranching life-style, and living out in the hills with plenty of fresh air and elbow room. Our mission in Life is to do our part in providing this great nation and the rest of the world with the wonderful tasty and nutritious product of BEEF.






Copyright © 2005 Steve Moreland
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