We are constantly looking for ways to improve and 2020 was no exception. Despite this being the craziest year ever that included a pandemic raising livestock must go on. We took our normal steps this year but added a few more this fall that will help us work toward our beef cattle dreams. We decided after eight years to try artificial insemination (AI) on our herd again. One of the biggest obstacles is time and of course it isn’t cheap to AI. We wanted to do AI for a couple of reasons but the main one was to bring in proven Black Angus sires for our registered Black Angus cows since we only own a Hereford bull at the moment. We did decide to AI some Herefords and commercial cows as well. We chose to go with timed AI and synchronize the herd to breed on a specific date. This worked well for us and we did all of the workings and then had a professional come in and do the actual AI. (Fun fact, I am AI certified for beef cattle but haven’t done it in ten years so I wouldn’t trust myself to get good conception rates.)
To say we are excited about trying AI this year would be an understatement! We normally have our vet out to do pregnancy checking in May but with using AI we decided to do it earlier next year. Our plan is to move the cows back from their winter feeding pasture and have them checked around February/March to see who caught AI!
On another note, calving went well this fall for the most part. We did experience a few bumps along the way but that is to be expected every so often with a small herd. One of our Hereford cows had twins for the second year in a row which was a huge surprise to us but all is well. One of our commercial cows had a calf that wasn’t very responsive despite our efforts and had to be put down. Lastly, we had a cow that checked pregnant with the rest of the herd but had her calf late which stressed us all out! On a more positive note, we were about 50/50 with bulls and heifers which is always nice and everyone is doing well. We also added another registered Black Angus to our herd this year and she calved a beautiful AI sired heifer that we plan to keep.
As of this past weekend, the entire herd (bull is now on the job) was moved to the winter feeding pasture. There, they will be fed hay throughout the winter as we patiently wait for our grass to start back up again in March/April!
With everything considering, I feel like we had a very blessed year on the farm and are looking forward to what 2021 holds. We hope you and your family stay well and that you have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!