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Calving season is finally here

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.

Calving season is finally here

Over 150 calves on the ground as I write this, and so far it has been reasonably smooth. What I mean by reasonably smooth is that I’m exhausted- my arms/hands sleep at night, and I’m finally starting to get into ATV shape (which means that one’s fat doesn’t jiggle when going across a Sandhills pasture at 35mph).  What does calving season look like around here? I thought the easiest way to describe it would be ‘a day in the life.’

Sunday, May 1st -up at 5:30, and kind of rolled onto the floor.  Grabbed a protein bar and was out the door.  Headed to the shop and made sure there was nothing pressing that had arrived on my phone overnight, grabbed my trusty four-wheeled steed and headed out to the calving lot south of the shop to tag up. This lot just has heavy first calvers in it. I tagged, weighed, and banded a couple, and then decided to move the heavies to a different lot. I got them moved and tagged a couple more enroute, and then headed to the barn. 

At the barn I had a ‘put-on’ to tag and turn out. He was a twin, and the cow that had lost her calf was a nice 10-year-old cow that had had a preemie that I took care of at the shed for over a week, trying to get him to live; and he didn’t. I tagged him and turned them out into the south lot with the other pairs. I had to smile as I saw him bucking and running much to his new surrogate’s dismay. I got another 10-year-old into the calf-pulling room as her calf was determined that there were only two teats, not four, and got him rolling on all four. I had picked them up in a pasture 10 miles away with the trailer when it looked like he was starving the day before. The intern showed up and while he washed down the calf-pulling room, I got the outside pen cleaned up. 

The two of us headed out to the east lot to pair out 12 head of heifer pairs. They did surprisingly well, and then I sent him home for the day, as it was Sunday after all. I headed across the pivot south of the shop to the young cows, or second calvers to four-year-olds. This pasture, while only a couple hundred acres, is a rough, incredibly hilly one, and when I got to the south side, I had 10 pair that were hanging out that I pushed through the gate to meet up with the 12 I had paired out from the north. Right as the last one was running through the gate, the entire herd showed up, with the thought process that they needed moved too. 

I made a quick loop through the pasture to check for any newbies that were born during the night, had a handful to tag, and then stopped at the shop to visit with the Boss Man as he was done feeding at the lot. A quick conversation, and we had a game plan for the next couple of days. I headed to the pasture the old cows were in, down our gravel road a couple of miles, and proceeded to tag there until 12:30.  I had tagged close to 30 by that time, and decided to stop there, as my energy was floundering from catching and weighing calves, and for every calf I was tagging another cow seemed to be calving. The majority of these calves are out of AI sires, and the ‘due date’ was coming up quickly on the 4th. I ran to my house, grabbed a quick lunch, and then headed back to pair off of a pasture we had moved the old cows from two days before, and also continue my tagging. I told the Boss Man I’d meet him at 3:00 at the feedlot, and soon realized that not only was it going to have to be 3:30, but I was going to have to come back later and continue my project. 

I headed to the feedlot, and we captured the fall calves and gender sorted those. I also sorted off a handful that I will take to the sale barn instead of going to grass. Then we got the lightweight steers/heifers in and did a quick gender and sale barn sort on them, as we will work the steers on Tuesday, and get them headed out to grass.  Next, we ran the replacement heifers in, and I made the final sort on those, along with getting all the tag numbers of those I’m going to keep as replacements so that we can get new tags made for them this week before we work them and head them out to grass.  The last project at the feedlot was taking out the yearling bulls and trailing them a couple of pastures to the south where they will meet up with the rest of the bulls on Monday and get moved a couple of miles away where, hopefully, they will be tired enough at that point, they won’t cause a lot of issues. Around 6:30, the feedlot work was done, and I headed back south to do some more tagging, along with checking out a pair of twins that were born that morning, that at this time I’m leaving with the cow as I don’t have another surrogate. I finally decided around 8:00 that I had had enough for the day, and tomorrow would be another day - a rainy and snowy one by the looks of it - but we will take any moisture we can get, even if it means a lot more work.

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.  

Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com. This column represents the views of one person and are not necessarily the opinion of the Midwest Messenger.   

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Jaclyn Wilson raises Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Nebraska. Send comments to her at jaclyn@flyingdiamondgenetics.com.

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