Weaning Calves… Pushing My Luck

Bad weather and calf weaning, 2 things that don't go great together.   We learn by our mistakes, right?  Well...um... most folks do!  I have been here before.  Harvest and other fall jobs delayed the weaning of the last of my calves.  Like most farmers, I always have something that must be done "right now".  Weaning calves should have hit the top of that list a month or two ago.  "It'll stay warm a little longer", I tell myself, pushing my luck.  In the back of my mind, I know better.  Hoping the whole "Global Warming" thing is not a farce, I delay to the last possible moment.

Since my cows are spread over 4 different pastures, the calves are caught when possible and moved to a centrally located dry lot for weaning.  Moving corrals and capturing calves is just the beginning.  Nutrition is a big part of weaning.  Grinding feed and medicating come next as the calves stress over losing their mama's.  Weather is probably half the equation in successful weaning.  This is the part I cannot control.

There are 40 calves in the lot, some captured a month ago, some as recently as this week.  About the time I am catching up... Cue the weather!  The forecast shows the 40's we have been enjoying are about to be a thing of the past.  The weekend weekend will start with 2 days of rain and snow followed by plummeting temperatures.  By Sunday morning, the wind chill is estimated to be 15 below.  Far from ideal conditions for stressed calves.

Two years ago a storm moved in as I tried to get some calves to market.  I actually called the local road grader man to tear up my lane just to get traction on the ice and snow.  The conditions kept deteriorating to the point that the sale was almost canceled and buyers were few.  With that little debacle still fresh in my mind, I begin calling sale barns.  Some of these calves have got to go now!

The biggest and longest weaned calves are heading out this afternoon.  As for the rest, they are gonna have to bear out the storm.  Most of my day will be spent setting up wind blocks and insulating cattle waterers.  It's about all I can do at this point.  I tell myself, "I am not gonna wait so long next year".  Hmmm... Seems like I've heard that before.

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