Doug Bichler

Doug Bichler moves a group of cows to dry ground April 7 at the Bichler ranch in Linton, N.D.

LINTON, N.D. – It is starting to finally feel like spring across south-central North Dakota, and the Bichlers are continuing to progress through calving season.

“We’re kind of in a calving lull right now,” said Doug Bichler during his March 31 report. “We’re waiting for the bull breds to get going a little harder.”

Temperatures have been slowing rising throughout the later parts of March and now into early April. With the snow melting and the ground drying out, the Bichlers have been able to turn some of their cow/calf pairs onto higher ground.

“It’s starting to dry out on the high spots, so that’s good,” he said. “They now have somewhere dry to lay out on the hills.”

The rising temperatures and melting snow is great, but with that comes a lot of mud. But since temperatures entering April still dipped below freezing at night, the thawing has been slower – a good thing for producers with flooding concerns.

“We’re not really near a creek or anywhere that floods, but you feel for those people that are in danger of that,” Doug said. “As much as everyone wants 60 degrees, it’s nice to have a slower thaw.”

It has been a successful year for the Bichlers. With a successful production sale and a calving season that has gone by without many hitches, Doug and Maria are satisfied with how everything has turned out, especially considering the tough conditions this winter.

“The sale did well,” Doug said. “We sold more head than we have in the past, especially with our females. We did a lot better than we thought we would. We also were able to sell cattle to a lot of new customers, and whenever you can grow your business from that aspect, it’s definitely a positive.”

Though it was a successful year, Doug said there are still some things they are going to look to do different in the future.

“Our input costs get a little ridiculous sometimes,” he said. “We go through a lot of corn, and it would have been nice to have a plan in place as far as purchasing some corn and saving a little money.”

They put up earlage for the first time this year, something that proved to be a good feed source for them. They will look to plant more in the future to help save money on the backside.

“The more we can do to raise our own feed and keep costs down, the better it’s going to be for us,” Doug said. “It’s one of those things we’re going to have to look at as we try to keep an eye on costs. That’s an every year thing for everyone. If you don’t watch that you can get yourself into a bad position.”

What is next for the Bichlers? Well, spring time means grass time on their ranch, and they are excited to turn their cows out on pasture in May. They will also be pushing breeding back this year, not because of the winter, but because of Doug’s personal situation of losing his arm and trying to make things more manageable in the future.

“Pushing calving season back a bit will help me out,” Doug said. “We’re going to switch some things up there and focus on getting the cows out and keeping the calves healthy until grass time. Weaning will be here before you know it, and then we kind of start all over again for the next bull sale.”