“There is always something to do,” at least that is Chris and Jena Madrid’s motto. The couple is always on the go, often in different directions, doing whatever needs to be done. For the last couple of weeks, Chris has been on the road trucking while Jena has been at home feeding heifers and wrapping up some fencing projects.
The Madrids AI’ed some heifers in late October with the hopes of transitioning a part of their herd into a fall calving routine. Both Chris and Jena are keen stockmen, and they decided to breed their fall-calving heifers to a Hereford bull because the black-baldy outcome seems to be popular in the Central Plains where fall-calving is a more common practice. Marketability and quality are huge for the Madrids. They are hoping their fall calves will be easy to sell when the time comes.
“Everything we do, we try to do it with quality,” Chris said.
Chris’s trucking business has really been a game changer for the Madrids. Not only does it bring in its own separate income, but having access to their own personal truck has afforded the Madrids so many more freedoms. Since they run primarily on leased ground, there is a lot of shuffling cattle around and as any seasoned producer knows, hiring trucks is not cheap.
“Trucking for ourselves helped us basically pay for the truck in a year with the money we saved,” Jena explained.
While Chris has been tearing up the black-top with his truck and cattle pot, Jena has been taking care of their heifer calves. Like many producers, the Madrids hold over all of the heifer calves, rather then selling them right off the cow like they do with their steer calves. They fed the heifer calves for a bit until they settled down some after weaning. They will then be turned out on grass until early winter.
The Madrids run their cattle in some pretty tough country, so hardy, feed-efficient cattle are a must. Chris and Jena want to make sure every single cow they own is working hard and pulling their weight, because in this current ag economy, they can’t afford not to.
When it comes to picking replacement heifers, they keep a close eye on them as they grow and develop over the late fall and early winter. The heifers that rise to the top in terms of body condition indicate to the Madrids they are scrappy and efficient, which can be a direct relation to fertility. The smaller heifers get sorted off after a bit and taken to the sale ring. Chris explained that at this point in their development heifers are still valuable, so it’s better to weed out the lower performing heifers when they are young.
“A light heifer calve is still worth more then a dry two-year old,” Chris pointed out.
Since Chris and Jena have switched to this practice of picking replacement heifers, they have seen really positive results with their conception rates. In fact, they are seeing nearly 80 percent conception on their fix-time AI’ed heifers after they have had a 14-day CIDR in. In fact, conception rates hold strong throughout the whole herd. Chris estimates they usually only have between 2-4 percent dry cows in their entire herd.
Preg-checking the entire herd will be the next major project on the docket for the Madrids, but they have some time as most of their cattle are still out grazing. Until then, Chris will continue trucking some and doing maintenance on equipment. The couple takes care of about seven pivots, so there will be plenty of work that will need to be done on those as well.