LUVERNE, N.D. – With calving season less than a month way, Jordan Svenningsen, Tiffannie Justesen and their son, Grayson, will be taking a week’s vacation to visit Jordan’s parents in Arizona before the calves start coming.
“I just hope we don’t have any early surprises while I am gone that the hired man has to take care of,” Jordan said.
The continued exceptional winter weather has permitted Jordan to do some maintenance work around the farm. He hasn’t gotten around to installing the video system in the calving barn just yet, but he says that will be one of the first projects he will tackle when he gets back from Arizona, along with paint work inside the new house since the sheet rock workers will have finished up their work by then.
“We hope to be living in the new house before calving time starts,” he noted. “The cabinet guy said the cabinets have shown up and he can install them when I get back from Arizona. My goal is get off the plane, get home, and then start painting the place the next day.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 5, he shipped some calves that he was raising in partnership with a sale in Aberdeen. These calves were a little later than the rest of the herd, but by now have caught up in weight. A group of 15 replacement heifers were also sorted out from the calves and kept on the farm near Luverne.
“Since the weather is still gorgeous out there, we are still feeding cows out in the field,” he said. “We are saving a pile of feed, and since this is my first year using a mixer wagon, I got a couple loads of beet tailings and am mixing that in with some ground hay. That stretches the hay a little further and makes the cows eat some of the hay they would normally pick through. They eat it like candy. I have found that any piece of hay that touches beet tailings or gets a little beet juice on it – it seems like they clean it right up.”
When the calving season starts, the pen shuffle will begin, as Jordan keeps moving cows and newborn calves around to make best use of the facilities. He has five calving pens in the calving barn and can divide them into small units if necessary using portable panels.
“I try to put the cow and calf together for a day in one of those pens to make sure that the calf has sucked, been cleaned off and the mother claims them,” he explained. “Then I will kick them out of the pen, but the mothers will be able to go in and out of the barn and the calves will stay inside for about a week after they are born.
“Around every other day we are sorting animals and moving them from one pen to another. A little larger calving barn would be ideal, but my choices were to build a new house or a calving barn and I think the house took precedent,” he added.
Jordan mainly has three pens. The north pen has a lean-to structure in it and that is where the herd stays before they are calving. He tries to have only 40-60 head confined in the actual calving pen. When the calves are a little over a week old they will go over to the south pen.
“We do a whole farm shuffle each spring moving the cows around,” he said.