From Our Outfit
What a year…
I’ve been in the cattle business… well… all my life and have never weaned off a better set of calves than we did this year. They are stout, even, calm and just more ‘solid’ than any I have ever raised and they didn’t have a single bite of ‘creep’ along the way. They were out of the same bull and the same set of cows… really, with a few exceptions, as the last several years. What made the difference?
First, it rained. Many will say it rained too much. There is no doubt that is a big factor. As a result we sure had ‘foot problems’ like never before.
Second, we planted Legend lespedeza on every acre we could last spring, and harrowed pastures really aggressively as we planted it. These three factors working together resulted in an unbelievable amount of forage in every corner of the place – especially on one poor old farm that had been almost ‘farmed to death’ in the 70’s. I took some photos of the Legend lespedeza this summer after I mowed ragweed in one pasture – as high as the ‘cutter’ would go, and the Legend was still 12-14” tall after the cattle had been on that section for almost a month. Like I said – I have the photos.
Then it quit raining, which is good if you’re harvesting crops, but usually not so good for pastures and the cattle in them. We went on to ABUSE that lespedeza several weeks longer than we should have, but if that’s ALL there is for cattle to eat, and I mean ALL, then that’s what you do. It’s still dusty out there, but those cows never stopped milking and those calves looked like they were on ‘full feed.’
No slump. No hay. No tubs.
I’m reminded of the many ‘old timers’ that I’ve talked to over the years – if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it thirty times, “You can put more pounds on calves with lespedeza,” they say, “than you can feeding corn.” Now I don’t have to take their word for it – I’ve seen it myself!
In full disclosure we have sold Legend lespedeza seed for over 15 years now, but this is the first year that producers have emailed or even ‘texted’ me photos of their Legend from all over the country. One from Buffalo, Missouri sent me a text this summer with a photo attached and joked that he was “not very happy with the Legend lespedeza that he was mowing” for hay that day … it was “only taller than the front tire on the tractor” he was mowing with. I texted him back… and told him that he needed to get a bigger tractor.
One more piece of disclosure is needed. This spring when we worked that set of cows and calves, I was ready to use the normal regimen of worming and pouring as we had always used, when Dr. Dave asked if we might want to try something new. It was expensive – really expensive! I won’t tell you the brand name of it, but it’s designed to give each animal long-range protection against internals and I don’t believe we had many flies at all until late August. Some said this was the worst year in a long time for horse flies and I can only remember seeing one. (Maybe I should get out and check my cows more often.)
There you go. It was a winning combination… rain, plenty of quality forage at the right time, and very few pests and parasites. Now if we can find a solution for market volatility… we’ll have it made.