BELFIELD, N.D. – It’s beginning to look a lot like spring at Tessier Herefords, although mixed in with the sunny, warmer days are a few cooler nights and mornings. On at least one day, afternoon temperatures rose to 50 degrees.

The ice and snowy patches across the pastures have dried up and the mud is gone, leaving dry grass for the cows to calve on.

“It has dried up nicely, even on the hilltops, and with the warmer weather, we can calve out on the pasture. The cows do better calving outdoors,” Zach Tessier Zach, who owns and operates Tessier Herefords with Lacey (Larissa) and their two kids, Hadley Jo and Hayden.

When the calves are born, the Tessiers place an ear tag in them, weigh them and will start collecting data on the registered calves. They will brand calves later in the summer.

“Branding is a big event. Everyone comes and helps and we will go and help them at their brandings. It is a lot of fun to see everyone and we get the work done,” Lacey said. Calves are also vaccinated at the branding.

This week, new calves are bouncing around the pastures with their moms, and the Tessiers’ Hereford cows are well known for their mothering abilities.

The kids are delighted with the calves.

“The kids enjoy watching the new calves jumping and running around the pasture,” Lacey said.

So far, the Tessiers have about 70 calves on the ground.

In May, the Tessiers will begin their rebreeding and breeding program. They first A-I the registered Hereford cows to registered bulls they have decided on in advance.

“We have an extensive A-I and embryo transfer program, and we strive to use the best possible genetics,” Zach said. “Lacey and I feel that using the best bulls and females available will keep our bull customers profitable for many years to come.” 

The Tessiers are able to increase the amount of registered calves they will have at calving through embryo transfer.

 “Our commercial cows carry embryos to advance our genetics to pair the best bulls with the best cows, and gain more registered calves with the right genetics,” Lacey said.

Lacey explained the eggs are fertilized and implanted into donor cows when they come into estrus. Approximately seven days after insemination, embryos are flushed from the donor’s uterus and transferred into surrogate cows.

The embryos are also cryopreserved just like A-I straws.

Zach explained how the embryos are graded:

“They grade embryos three ways: the best of the best is a 1grade; the second best is a 2 grade and the third best cannot be frozen but if you have a cow on hand with you when they flush, you can immediately place it in the cow,” Zach said. “Last year, we received 12 embryos and all of them worked.”

Heart River Genetics will flush their cows again this year and their embryologist will come out to the ranch to insert them.

The Tessiers will then be getting ready for summer grazing in their five pastures, some in the rough Badlands, by the end of May. The commercial and registered herds run together.

“We start cell grazing starting at home, and every two weeks, we move them to a different cell,” Zach said.

In the summer, the cow/calf pairs graze in a large season-long pasture lush in the summer with diverse plants in the native prairie.

“We keep ’em in front of fresh native grasses and make sure we move them often,” Zach said.

In June, they will begin haying.

“I take the tractor out (and the other haying equipment) in mid-June, and it doesn’t stop running until mid-August,” Zach said. The Tessiers put up some 1,200-1,300 bales of hay for their herds.

Later, they go back and haul the bales home for winter.

Meanwhile, the registered bulls that were sold at the bull sale are still in the pen being fed. Zach plans to deliver them to their new homes in a couple of weeks.

The Tessiers will be watching the skies this spring for good, timely rains to keep the native prairie grasses growing and the hay in the fields growing.

Lacey and Zach plan to take their kids out to rodeos all over the region so they can participate in riding mini broncs, and competing in barrel racing, fly racing and other fun and challenging rodeo events.

“Both Hayden and Hadley Jo want to be involved in rodeo like Zach and I were,” Lacey said.

The Tessiers wanted to thank their readers for following along with them this past fall and winter.

They hope to see everyone at their annual bull sale in 2020, which will be on the first Saturday in March.

(As this is the Tessiers final report, Farm & Ranch Guide wants to thank them for allowing us to come out to their ranch on a 29 degrees below zero day and still taking us around the ranch. We want to thank them for all their reports and photos, and wish them the best of luck in all their future endeavors.)