Our calving season has come to an end. The mud has been a real issue for the past few weeks. We measured 11.5 inches of rain this past month with 8.5 coming this last weekend. I am not sure which brings more stress, the extreme cold or the mud. They both suck the energy from the brood cows, especially when they are lactating. It is a challenge trying to balance rations and compensating for energy loss from weather conditions. Someone asked me one time what was the most important thing I have on the farm. After some long thought I concluded it would be the scale on the front of my TMR. That is the one thing that I must have for reassurance that all the animals are fed well, and that enough energy and protein are put in front of them everyday for them to be productive. I can see a body condition change in the past few weeks. This is somewhat expected, but it is also something we monitor closely. The better hay has been saved for this last month of the winter, which will help the herd recover from calving and start cycling again for rebreeding. One thing everyone has noticed is that the hay supply is going to be tight. The neighbors are talking about how they are feeding 2 and 3year old hay that they might have had left over. This is about all that is available in Southern Illinois. We are hoping that the grass isn’t too far behind us.
The finishing barn is half empty at this point and the rest are soon to follow. We sent some loads out late in the month. That gave us room to bring in the replacement females and finish developing them inside prior to breeding. This is the one group I am concerned about regards to body condition. They have been in an outside lot and it is obvious the winter stress has taken a toll on them. We put CIDRs in them on the last day of February, setting them up to breed the 2nd of April. I hope by bringing them inside we will alleviate some stress and get them back on track.