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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Break 2011: SWKS or Bust

I just got back from a long-awaited, luxurious break in tropical.....

Southwest Kansas

The only thing actually tropical about SWKS right now is how terribly dry it is. I haven't seen it this dry in a long time and the farmers in the area could really use some moisture. This fall, KSRE documented only .65 inches of precipitation in my home county. It's a "farmer rumor" that we have not received more than .11 inches of precipitation since the first of the year.

And even though I didn't get to hit up a beach on my spring break, I had a blast out at the farm and helping my dad. I got to clean out our calving barn because during calving season it tends to get a little messy! The best part of my trip was getting to check in on these little babies:

One of our first calf heifers, #123, with her baby heifer ready to nurse.

We have a set of first calf heifers that calved in the beginning of March. First calf heifers are female cows that are having their first calf. They take extra attention and management to make sure they raise a healthy calf.

When compared to older cows, heifers have a lot more calving difficulty. When a calf experiences a difficult birth it requires special attention because they often take longer to nurse and may have compromised immune systems. That makes getting them colostrum even more important than normal. If you don't remember what colostrum is, check out this post.

Two of our heifers, #123 and #125, nursing their calves.

We have all of our cow-calf pairs out on the corn stalks directly behind the farmstead, which would be where the yellow star is. They can walk up into the pens where the red star is, and get water and some extra hay that my dad puts out a couple of times a week. We also have protein lick tubs available for them. Our calving barn, blue star, is close to the pens so we can walk the cows up to it if they are having any trouble. Inside the calving barn is a large chute and three pens. That way, we can keep a cow and calf inside and out of the weather if needed. Obviously this winter, we haven't had to do much of that because the snow has not been an issue. Sometimes dad will keep a pair in the barn if the wind is terrible when it gets cold.

It was a much needed break from school and studying to be back on the farm and involved in production agriculture again! I also got a chance to explain to my little nephews that the cows Papa works with everyday become the beef that we enjoy on the dinner table. That is why agriculturists take pride in the animals they raise, because it feeds hungry mouths. The food we produce at our farm feeds my nephews and yours, and that makes it imperative that we produce a safe, nutritious and affordable product.

My Best,


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