Current Progressive Dairy digital edition
Advertisement

HERd management: Think spring

Christina Winch Published on 18 April 2014

females_on_farm

This winter has been one for the record books here in southwest Wisconsin. We have endured record cold and plenty of snow.

advertisement

advertisement

Day after day of subzero temperatures and thawing out waterers is not fun. I think our skidloader was parked in our garage more this winter than my husband’s truck. This was so he could plow his way down the quarter-mile driveway to milk cows in the morning.

Snow didn’t stay soft long; it turned hard and slick, which made excellent sledding snow down the hills for the boys. As I started thinking about what to write this time, it’s a nice 40ºF outside, and I just finished building a 5-foot-tall snowman with my boys. That turned my thoughts to spring.

Spring on the farm can be an exciting time of year. The world is waking up from its deep winter slumber, all ready for a new adventure. The snow turns from a bright sparkly white to a dull dirty gray and melts.

Ditches become small creeks for stomping in. Tulips and daffodils peek their heads out and show off their beautiful colors. As much as I love my boys picking them and bringing them in the house for me, I much prefer to watch the flowers bloom outside.

Good Friday means it’s time to plant potatoes. This year that should be doable, since it’s mid-April. For us, we watch the grass turn green and check the hardness of the ground daily to determine when we can let the cows out to pasture.

advertisement

The cows seem to sense the coming of spring as well. They stand by the gate out to the paddocks bellering and waiting for us to let them out to get that first taste of the sweet grass. The evening milking that first day they are able to graze is always interesting.

Not only does milk production tend to go up, but when they fill up on that fresh grass, it also affects what comes out the other end. Farmers are itching to get their tractors revved up and ready to go to work. It could be emptying the manure pit, chisel plowing the field, seeding alfalfa or planting corn.

No matter how big or small the job is, tractors will start rolling out of the shed and across the fields. Everyone has their favorite thing about spring, and mine is calving season.

As rotational graziers, we have adopted a bi-seasonal calving program. We calve two times a year. Our first group calves in from mid-March through the first part of June, and our second group calves in from the end of August to the first part of December.

So with the arrival of spring also comes the arrival of around 100 calves. When the first one is born, a new excitement for a new year fills the air. There will be late-night barn checks and meetings that will be missed.

Little calves will need extra help and enjoy being spoiled by three boys. The crock pot and oven timer will get their yearly workout as I prep meals between feeding calves.

advertisement

We have Dutch Belted cattle along with a nice selection of cross-breeds. It’s always fun to see what type of coloration and markings the babies have. This spring, my 11-year-old is anxiously awaiting the birth of one calf.

It was two years ago that he was old enough to show at the fair, and he wanted to show a red belted heifer. He was lucky enough that one was born that spring, and he named her Ruffles.

He showed her for two years now, and she is due the first part of April. The vet says she is carrying a heifer, but only time will tell. If Ruffles does have a heifer calf, then he will show her this year.

All these thoughts of spring make me want to order my seeds and start planning my garden. Whatever your favorite time of spring is, take a few extra moments to breathe in the fresh air and bask in God’s glory. Our Great Creator is the only one who can make spring a wonderful time of year. PD

Christina Winch
Dairy Producer
Fennimore, Wisconsin

LATEST BLOG

LATEST NEWS