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Calving gets started at Beckers Angus in Pine County

Beckers Angus

Beckers Angus is featuring an LT Converse son with performance, maternal, and carcass strength. Contributed photo.

ASKOV, Minn. – The weather isn’t giving any time off this year to east central Minnesota farmers like those at Beckers Angus.

Temperatures well below zero and record snowfall in December and early January finally gave way to comfortable temperatures of 10-20 degrees.

But then, the temps climbed above freezing on Jan. 15-16.

The snow on various farm buildings was filled with moisture, but it wasn’t melting or sliding off the barn roofs because of a lack of sunshine.

Out in the calving barn pole shed, the heifers/cows were starting to calve. David Becker had several locked in calving pens. He happened to look up at the rafters and noticed a lot of them were bowed downward. One 2x4-inch piece was broken.

“I had to shovel off over that weak spot,” David said.

Trying to work as safely as possible, he got the deepest of the snow off and then climbed down safely from the roof. It was dangerous work.

The rafters sprang back up about 4 inches.

Then, he called a professional to clean off the rest of the roof. It was expensive to hire someone, but David has enough wisdom to know that it isn’t safe to clean snow off a metal roof without the proper equipment.

The hired man wore a harness to do the work, and he removed the snow in the right way to stay safe. He also had insurance, which assured David that he wouldn’t be sued if something happened.

Another small roof did collapse on the side of the barn. The little silage room, once common on every dairy farm, had an odd-shaped roof. The Beckers used the room to load out cattle at David and Roses’ place. They could back up the livestock trailer and use the little building as an alleyway.

If anyone doubts the power of snow, the small falling roof mangled a 16-foot metal gate. An electric line was broken, too, and power to the corral waterer was shutoff.

There was more work for David as he went down the next day and thawed out the waterer and got power restored.

January was proving to be a very busy time.

With wet conditions, the pens needed bedding every other day. This required blowing material into each pen with a bale processor. Then, David took the skid loader and spread it around.

At the time of his report on Jan. 16, the Beckers had eight very nice-looking calves – seven females and one bull. There were about 20 head inside the barn ready to calve.

“In the calving pen, there are more that are starting to bag up,” he said. “I do my morning chores, and I look at them in the bunk, and then I decide who I am going to turn in yet today.”

Calving should be done before Beckers Angus’ yearly sale on Sunday, March 12. Next year’s sale will be scheduled for a Saturday in March, David said.

The cows and heifers are synched and then AI bred. Any females that come into heat again are AI’d once more. Bulls are used to breed any unbred cows or heifers.

The nice thing about warmer temps in mid-January was David didn’t have to get up as often in the middle of the night to check the barn cameras.

But with the warm temperatures, he kept a very close eye on the calves for any signs of respiratory disease or scours. The cows are all vaccinated to give the calves passive immunity. He kept medicine on hand just in case any sickness was noticed. So far, all was good.

“You have to worry about when it’s warm like this, some calves getting sick because of the dampness,” he said. “My biggest concern is trying to keep them dry.”

The Beckers were very busy finishing up the materials for the Beckers Angus sale catalog.

David told his Hubbard Feed representative Wyatt Lawrence about the lack of people to come and clip/trim cattle. Wyatt offered to come and clip the cattle, so on Jan. 14, Wyatt, along with his brother and dad, all drove up from Cambridge, Minn., to clip cattle.

“He works for Hubbard, takes my feed samples, and does my rations so I can stay on track,” David said.

With the clipping/trimming completed, the Beckers took videos of their cleaned-up cattle. David makes pictures from the video, and his daughter-in-law, Becca, loads information, videos, and photos online at beckersangus.com.

“We still have the heifers to video,” David added, but he was sure pleased to at least haveall the cattle trimmed as of Jan. 14. Now it was a matter of getting all the moving pieces together to get the Beckers Angus catalog done in time.

Things were looking promising to get the work all done in time.

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