Earlier this week, my husband decided that he needed even more females in his life . . . living with four women just wasn’t enough. He and his dad purchased some Red Angus bred heifers from Nebraska which we received on Sunday. My husband actually found these beauties through a video on Facebook. Social media has certainly changed everything about our lives . . . even the way farmers do business in this case.
Our girls immediately picked out their favorites as soon as they walked off the trailer. My oldest daughter, Laney, picked the one who made herself right at home and started eating out of the bunks almost immediately. My middle child, Ruthie, picked the one who touched the electric fence first and therefore got zapped as a result. If you know my girls, this selection strategy will not surprise you. Laney typically follows the rules while Ruthie just has to know what it would be like to get zapped.
Once Laney and Ruthie made their selections, we put uniquely colored tags in the heifers’ ears to identify which one belongs to each of our girls in addition to the normal tags they get (shown in the picture on the right). Even our baby, Andi, has one of her own which her older sisters picked for her. These heifers will calve in March which is when the rest of our heifers will start calving. Our older cows will calve the end of March/first of April.
So, what will we do with the baby calves once they are born? All the calves will stay with their mother for about 120 days. At that time, they will be weaned from their moms. We will select which ones we want to keep as replacement heifers (meaning we will add them to our cow herd and they will be bred for next year). The steers (castrated male calves) and any heifers we don’t keep will be fed out to market weight. They will then be sold, taken to your grocer’s freezer and ultimately to your kitchen table.
We’re currently feeding these girls corn silage and ground hay. As a special treat to get them comfortable with us, we’re also feeding them a little bit of ground shell corn. The corn silage comes from field corn that we chopped last fall and the ground hay comes from alfalfa hay bales that we made last summer. We use our hay grinder to grind the round hay bales up into shredded pieces that our cows and heifers eat. I’ll talk more about hay grinding later.
Just think, before you know it, I’ll be blogging about calving season and that will mean that spring is almost here. I can’t wait to share that with you . . . calving season is easily one of the best times of the year on the farm.