The Record’s Ag Report
Calving season has arrived, and out at the Roger and Penni Ryckman farm near Westfield, 70 baby calves have been born since mid-February. Ryckman said calving has gone very well so far this year.
“ It is going good,” Ryckman said. “I’ll take the cold and dry weather over damp and wet any time for calving season.”
He said calves can take the cold weather quite well and have not shown any signs of sickness. In the spring, Ryckmans vaccinate for ScourGuard and PreGuard to protect against vibrio, leptospirosis and other respiratory diseases.
“Along with vaccinating, not having the wet conditions makes a big difference also in the health of the baby calves,” he said.
Ryckman has not had to move many of their cows and calves into the barns this season, only a couple of days this winter when it was quite cold. In the barns, dry bedding is essential, and they utilize that when the new baby calves arrive and normally spend a day or two there.
Ryckmans are running about 125 cows this year, which is a few less than recent years.
“We are down a bit in numbers as we sold a few more because of the dry conditions,” Ryckman said.
He said they only had three or four inches of rain this past summer, and so far this winter, only six inches of snow. Some pastures last fall were in fair condition while others were quite short. Some of the dugouts were also only half full.
Ryckmans have always done early calving on their farm as they artificially inseminate (AI) 65 to 70 of their cows between the small grain and row crop seeding season. Those cows calve beginning in mid-February, and their pasture bred cows begin in March.
Ryckmans move their livestock to pasture in mid-May and sell them in October. Last October, his 650-pound steers brought about $1.53 to $1.58 per pound. Ryckman was happy with those prices, as they have taken a dip since then. They usually sell about 60 steers and 40 heifers, raise a couple of bulls and sell the open heifers. Even with the markets as they are now, Ryckman is hopeful the market will be back up because he feels the demand is there.
“I think it will be a good year, and for a few years,” he said.
A concern, shared with many in the area, is the lack of moisture. Last fall, Ryckmans only had one-half of a year of old hay left and only one-half of the hay crop from 2012 that they usually depend on.
“So, hopefully, we will have enough feed for this season, and also receive some moisture this spring,” Ryckman said.
At the Sheldon and Kimberly Droog farm near Hull, calving season started a little earlier than their normal date of March 20. On March 1, Filbert was born.
“It is going good so far,” Droog said. “It is a little colder than I would like it to be, but better than wet and muddy.”
Droogs have a dozen baby calves on the ground as of Tues., March 19, and have about 90 cows left to calve this spring. Their first time heifers calve first. They also have not seen any sick calves this season.
“We just really need some moisture this spring,” he said. “We need that spring run-off.”
Renny and Paula Haak and Tom and Cassie Haak run about 220 purebred Angus cows near Hull. About 85 of them are heifers. The heifers started calving on March 9 as they are AI in June. The cows start calving around April 1. Haaks have also seen healthy baby calves this season.