I’m not for sure where the year has gone, but suddenly it seems that Thanksgiving is here, and I’m pretty sure I was just celebrating the Fourth of July. If you are traveling this year, please be safe as the weather sounds like it may be uncooperative.
I’m cooking this year. I’m going to try and venture beyond serving the Boss Man, the Boss Man’s Wife and the teammates something besides protein bars and DQ blizzards. The chicken from “chicken bingo” picked a decent travel destination, so I guess dead bird is not going to be the delicacy of choice. I’m a couple days out from having to have a menu finalized, but at this point I’m almost wishing I lived a little closer to a larger metropolis and would just pick up a ready-made dinner at Whole Foods.
Things have been moving and shaking around here. We spent this last Sunday putting CIDRS in the fall recips. We are doing something completely out of our norm this year. I moved my cows from the Home Place to the North Place after they calved this spring, and we held those cows over to put into a fall program as they were all end of April-May calvers. Then, we shortened up the breeding season on the spring calvers at the North Place to 30 days and sorted any good opens off to carry over into the falls. With the herds at both locations it not only gives us the opportunity to provide fall recips but enhances our marketing opportunities.
We had to make some different business decisions for the North Place herd because of the layout. Usually we will winter graze on lease pasture until the middle of December and then either feed hay or run on stalks. The North Place doesn’t provide really anything for winter grazing after the first of the year, which means that we are having to buy and feed hay until May. There is no bigger expense for feed than to have to purchase hay for at least four months. Cow costs start to increase to over a dollar a day more to operate and that’s not including all the labor and time involved driving back and forth.
To decrease costs for the season, we moved the fall herd to a different location. It increased costs for around 30 days, but then saved us significant money over the next five months, as the cows could stay in the same location until May winter grazing and feeding a ration as needed. The biggest deciding factor for us was that once we implant embryos, we don’t want to move those cows for around 60 days, and the other location provided that.
What is the coolest, most exciting (as in, kid on Christmas morning exciting) thing is that the new location gives us the opportunity to run our new partner program, Allflex Sense Hub Beef, with an ease that we would have really struggled with at the North Place because of the connectivity, and the number of stations we’d have to utilize.
Sense Hub Beef is an eartag that, when placed within the cow’s ear, will provide both repo and also health off of the individual animal. The tag is taking minute-by-minute readings and transferring them to a base, which is sending them to a laptop. We are also receiving alerts through an app on three different phones, (mine, my business partner, and the owner of the operation, who decided to throw cows in our herd to put embryos in and is also utilizing the Sense Hub program).
The tag will provide us the data for when the cow is cycling, the length of her cycle, the ideal time to breed, and the intensity of the cycle. At this time, we don’t have the “health” option, as we want to trial-run the program on the fall herd before determining if we will use it in the spring since the tags are reusable and good for up to three years.
If the program works like we are hoping it does, the opportunities it provides for our operation and business could be huge. To take some of the guesswork out would be a real benefit — plus the cost savings and increase in conceptions may be huge. As we continue to see how it works, we will update. The neat part of the program is the owner of the operation where we are running our fall recips is as excited about it as we are and is able to experiment with it on his own cows. The Allflex team has been phenomenal to deal with in getting the deal together and setting it up, along with any and all questions that we have. Just one more thing to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.
Jaclyn Wilson is more than a rancher, raising Red Angus cattle at Wilson Ranch near Lakeside, Neb. She’s an artist with a welder’s torch. She holds leadership positions with several agriculture organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.