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Is she or isn’t she–that is the question

10 Nov
Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

Dr. McFarland pregnancy checking a cow

It’s that time of year again. With the calves weaned, it’s time to learn which cows are pregnant, which ones are open (not pregnant) and which ones are due to calve later than we like. This keeps us from putting winter feed into a cow who is not going to raise a calf next year. Often the ones who were bred later will make a fine cow for someone on a different calving schedule, but do not fit our “program”. Our annual cycle is absolutely determined by our climate. We ranch at a high altitude, and even our low country is more than a mile above sea level. The long summer days and great soil mean that our grass is high in protein, perfect for raising strong and healthy livestock and wild ungulates. The short growing season means that we need to maximize that grass while it is available. Add to this our complicated schedule of a landscape scale rotation through private and state lands, and BLM and Forest grazing permits. This means that we need our calves to be born in a fairly small window, so that they will grow and thrive when conditions are optimal, and be a uniform size when it is time to sell them. We shorten that window for some of the cows by artificial insemination in late June. This does give us an added risk of bad weather during a shortened calving period–a risk we try to minimize by keeping them close to sheds and shelter during calving. But we will worry about that next spring. For now, we wait for Dr. McFarland’s cry of “pregnant!”, “late!” or “open!”. First he peers through the googles that show what the ultrasound machine is perceiving, then he follows up with an old-fashioned palpation if necessary. Some of the cows get vaccine, some get new eartags, and they all get a backpour for parasites. Then it’s on to the wintering grounds–just in time, for today we got our first real snow

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Brittany and Megan taking care of business

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Rhen and McCoy supervising, again.

Megan contemplates her next move

Megan contemplates her next move

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with "pregnants" in the field

Eamon running the hydraulic chute, with “pregnants” in the field

"pregnant!"

“pregnant!”

Mc McCoy bringing the cow up

McCoy bringing the cow up

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Cow in squeeze chute with Brittany and Pat

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany and Rhen high-five

Brittany--the happy cowhand

Brittany–the happy cowhand

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

Rhen and Meghan, thinking about cows

 

 

 

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