Circle S Simmental heifer calves

Circle S Simmental heifer calves chewed on corn bedding on a beautiful Saturday ahead of Thanksgiving. Each yellow ear tag lists their dam’s number, as well as the initials of their sire, the year they were calved and their birth order in the calving group. Each heifer is also tattooed with their year and birth order.

When she is confirmed bred, the heifer’s tag is removed and she gets a new ear tag with her tattoo number. She is also registered with the American Simmental Association using her tattoo number. Photo by Andrea Johnson.

LOUISBURG, Minn. – Farmland across Lac qui Parle County slowly took on its open harvested appearance. The majority of the 2019 cornfields were combined, and the residue-covered fields were ready for cold and snow.

From Nov. 1 to Thanksgiving, less than half an inch of precipitation fell across the west central Minnesota county. Temperatures ranged from lows in the teens to highs in the 40s.

Farmers took advantage of partially-frozen ground to finish their marathon harvest season. Some farmers even completed tillage when temperatures rose above freezing.

For Kami and Mark Schoenfeld and family, the main activities included collecting big round bales, preparing the fall calving herd for breeding, and gearing up for lambing in January.

Mark, and his father-in-law Harvey Hastad, had baled cover crops at a friend’s farm located about 15 miles away, near Lac qui Parle Village. The cover crop mixture included oats, rye, millet and more.

On Nov. 23, the men loaded up the skid loader and headed over to the field with a big round bale trailer. The bales were brought back to the Hastad farm where 55 Simmental and SimAngus cows will spend the winter.

The 1,250-1,500 pound cows were already turned out on a large harvested cornfield north of the Hastad grove for fall grazing.

Once that field is grazed and/or barely accessible due to snow, the cows will be moved to a cornfield just across the driveway to the south that offers access to the big round bales, plus protection from the wind.

Getting that northern field fenced in was difficult, Kami said. She used a drill to get the holes started in the frozen ground. Step-in posts held up two lines of electric fence surrounding the harvested cornfield. Once the cows were let out in the field, they quickly spread out and found plenty to eat with the lack of snow cover.

The Schoenfelds sold about 25 calves in November at the Sioux Falls Regional Livestock auction market. The calves had been backgrounded about 45 days.

Other jobs on the farm included administering CIDRs (to stop cycling) to nine cows that calved in September/October, plus a couple open cows. When the CIDRs are pulled, the cows will get a shot of Lutalyse to synchronize estrous cycles and then the cows are AI’d all at the same time.

“Their calves weigh 250 pounds at this point. We’ll wean the calves in the spring,” Kami said. “Hopefully the cows will all be pregnant, and they will calve again in the fall.”

Management decisions were made at the farm too.

Two cows were open – one was 13 and the other 3, and they were getting additional feed ahead of harvest.

Kami decided to have the ewes and ewe lambs ultrasounded by Dr. Brady Myers, DVM, Tri-County Veterinary Clinic. He found there were two open ewes while the rest were bred. Most of the ewes are having twins, which is what Kami wants.

“Our ewe lambs that were bred later, I have a few more open, but we’ll let them do one or two more cycles and then I’m going to pull blood samples to see if they are pregnant,” she said.

She hasn’t decided if she will keep the two open ewes or not.

“A ewe is a lot cheaper to feed for a year than a cow,” she said.

The first lambs are due in early January. During ultrasounding, she determined all of the ewes had enough body conditioning for late gestation, lambing and nursing their young. Kami put out non-copper protein/mineral tubs for the ewes in mid-November. Sheep cannot have copper as it is toxic.

While Harvey, Mark and Kami worked on farm chores, Gladys Hastad, Kami’s mom, had friends over to make outdoor Christmas planter arrangements. The women bought Spruce tips that served as the center for their arrangements. Next, they added an assortment of birchwood, evergreens, berries and pheasant feathers. Christmas ornaments and ribbons completed the beautiful displays.

The Christmas planters are given as gifts, displayed at their church and used as festive outdoor decorations at their homes. The completed planters looked just as pretty as the purchased kind and had the added benefit of being homemade.

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