Monday, July 2, 2012

The Operation

I thought y'all might like some inside scoop into the cow/calf operation we have going on at Nacke Farms.

All of our cows are registered purebred shorthorn.  I'm not biased at all when I say shorthorn is easily the superior breed of cattle. ;)  Their hair color can range in color from red, red and white, all white, to roan.  Our bull and most of our cows are red or red and white, although we do have a couple roan cows and three roan babies this year.

Every spring we are lucky enough to get to transport our cows out to a huge pasture with a creek running through it.  A farmer, who is friends with my dad, lets us keep our cattle at his place which is a win-win for everyone.  He gets to keep his pasture grass nice and short and we get free grass for our cows all summer long.  The cows stay there until the middle of fall, when it starts getting cold.  Then we bring them home to Nacke farms to overwinter in our warm barns and fill up on grain and hay.

I visited the cows one night on my way home and snapped up some happy pics of happy cows.  It's a very picturesque place, especially when you arrive there at dusk!

Onto the operation!

I'll start with the cows (aka the baby makers).  We currently have 14 cows in our herd ranging in ages from 3-11 years old.  Most were shown at county fairs by me when I was younger.  Some we raised from calves and kept back in the herd as replacement heifers (different sires of course) and some we bought at sales as bred heifers and cows.

So far this year all cows except one have calved.  We lost one calf due to what we think was trauma from it being stepped on. (sad face)  But as my dad says, when you have livestock you're going to loose one every now and then.  We had one set of twins a couple of months ago, so currently we are 13 for 14.  Having twins in cattle is much like having twins in humans.  It's rare, but it happens, especially when the cow's family is genetically known to have a predisposition for twins.  Last year was the year of the twins, we had 3 different sets, two of which came from maternal half sisters. 

Then there is Mo, our bull.  He's 4 years old and pretty laid back.  Not much gets him excited besides a bucket of grain and the occasional cow in heat.  You do have to be a little more watchful of bulls.  Never turn your back on even the tamest because you never know when they might get the inkling to play toss the human.  And that is a game you will never win!

We do not AI (artificially inseminate) any of our cattle.  AIing is very common in the cattle industry, in fact it's strange for a small heard owner, such as ourselves, not to.  But AIing takes a lot of time, extra money, and you have to monitor your herd very closely to know when your cattle are going to be in heat.  All reasons we leave it to the very capable Mo to get the job done!

We also run a small feed lot.  Most of our calves join the feeder group when they are around 5 to 6 months of age and weaned off their Mama's.  There they will stay, eating all the grain their heart desires for approximately another year.  It's a pretty sweet gig if your a cow.  Once they are fed out and fattned up we then either sell them to a comercial buyer at the local sale barn or take them to the local butcher shop to fill friends, family, or our own freezers. 

We keep allmost all of our calves from the time they are born until it's time to go to market.  Everyone always asks (in a concerned tone), "isn't it hard to eat the calves you raised?".  If you start thinking about it too much it can be, but growing up on a farm I've learned that this is the way of life.  They get the life of luxury for a year and a half so that we can eat some tasty steaks.  While that might be barbaric to some, I'm reminded of that awesome father son chat in the Lion King!  It's the circle of life.

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