The Murnions weaned heifer calves have enjoyed the extra feed since winter hit so early.  

ROY, Mont. – The snow hit central Montana about the middle of October. Unfortunately, it hasn’t left yet and the Murnion family was forced to start supplementing some of their cows with feed. Thank heavens they aren’t afraid to divide and conquer.

Father Rex and daughter Angela head out early in the morning to feed the cows while the ground is still frozen. The Murnions feed out all their cows using a pickup truck equipped with a Hydrabed, which makes feeding out large round bales relatively quick and easy.

“We’ve warmed up a bit. We are right at 30 or 32 degrees right now. It’s been tough feeding because there are mud puddles underneath the snow,” Lori Murnion explained.

The weather has been less than cooperative, but at least the steer calves have been shipped off and are safe and sound over in a feedlot in Iowa. The Murnions have been working hard over the years to bring up the weights of their calves. They have found that if they give their calves a shot of LongRange wormer and MultiMin at branding, followed up with another shot of MultiMin at preconditioning, they remain fairly healthy and make it onto the trucks in good shape. Their program must be working wonders as their steer calves averaged close to 680 pounds this fall.

“I just got a text from the buyer over in Iowa and he said the vet noted these were the best set of calves he’d seen all year. He said we have a good program, so that was nice to here,” Lori stated. 

This is the first year the Murnions have sold their calves to this particular buyer, who happens to own the feedlot where the calves will be finished out. Cutting out the “middle man” in the buying/selling process sure alleviates some of the stress during the fall.

Back in Iowa, a friend to the feedlot owner is very interested in coming out and looking at the Murnion’s heifer calves, so they are hopeful. They will bangs vaccinate their heifers the on Nov. 19 in preparation for a possible out-of-state departure.

The fall works have been completed on all of the cows and bred heifers, but there are still a few last-minute projects that need to be completed. Lori explains they are still working to shuffle cattle around and get them closer to home for winter. Part of that includes taking care of Lori’s 19 milk cows, which she uses for nurse cows in the spring during calving.

“We pull the calves off our old cows and have the milk cows raise them. That way we can sell the older cows. We try to put two extra calves on each milk cow” she explained.

Lori kind of has a soft spot for bottle calves. In fact, that is how her and Rex got their start. They bought 60 bum calves when they first got married and Lori raised them all on the bottle. They sold the steer calves and kept the heifer calves. After a few years of that, Rex and Lori had finally developed a starter herd. Now Lori is eternally grateful for her Brown Swiss nurse cows.

The mad rush of the fall is dwindling down as the Murnions settle in for winter. When asked what is on the horizon, Katlyn just laughs.

“Maybe we will get to relax for a day,” she says.

As a rancher’s daughter, Katlyn knows that’s really just a pipe dream, as there are few days off on a family ranch. Lori just laughs with her daughter because she knows something is bound to pop up.

“We have a friend in Billings that actually got hailed out this summer and we are getting the tin they are replacing. We are talking about putting a shed up over our cute and working alley,” Lori said.

So no, it doesn’t look like there will be a relaxing day in the near future for the Murnion family.