From Newborn to Weanling

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Calving time is definitely the most exciting time on the farm each year.  Not far behind that is weaning and selling time.  That is when we can really see how well the calves are performing and more what they will look like as mature cattle.  I get excited about what their future holds.  Some calves go on to be female replacements (future momma cows) and some go on to be beef.  No matter their purpose, they are all important to us and we want to make sure they get started off on the right “hoof.”  Here is a quick photo journey of our 2017 calf crop from birth to weaning:

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We calve from September to October (fall calving) each year in usually a 30-45 day window.  Calves are born weighing 65-75+ lbs. depending on breed and gender.  As soon as a calf is born we give it an ID ear tag and record its birth date, gender, and dam.

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We make sure the calf is nursing and mom is doing her job watching her new calf.  It is very important that the cow has maternal instinct and takes care of her new calf.  We had a first calf heifer this past fall to calve that did not want to accept her calf at all (calf had to be bottle-fed).  She was culled from our herd.  Strong maternal instinct is crucial to calf health and survival.

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Calves are very curious at an early age.  We feed our cows periodically so the calves can start to the learn the routine of coming in the catch pen.  Once the calves are older we will feed them out of a creep feeder (only the calves can get the feed) in the catch pen so they associate it with feed time which makes for easier catching later on.

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November 2018, 1-2 Months Old

Here are the calves in November, they are approximately 2 months old in this photo.  You can see how quickly they grow!  Calves are with their dams (moms) until we wean around April each year.  They learn to eat grass, hay, feed, and minerals during this time by watching their mom and the other cows.  Before our bull calves reach 3 months old we castrate them.  Research has shown that it is less stressful on the calves to do dehorning and castrating as young as possible.  Beef Quality Assurance guidelines state prior to 3 months of age so that is what we strive for.

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January 2018, 3-4 Months Old

The calves continue to grow throughout the winter months by drinking milk and eating hay.  They are also on free choice minerals year round.

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February 2018, 4-5 Months Old

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February 2018, 4-5 Months Old

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April 2018, 6-7 Months Old

March through May has been very busy this year with vaccinations and weaning.  Normally, we like to start vaccinations earlier around 4-5 months of age but it just did not happen.  One main reason is we moved the entire herd to a new pasture where we do not have handling facilities and it is not easy to move them back and forth because we have to cross a road and through several pastures.  We will have a better game plan for the next set of calves so we can vaccinate earlier like normal.  Calves received their first set of shots and dewormer at the end of March.  They were weaned middle of April and given a booster (2nd round of vaccinations) and dewormer early May.  Calves were sold after being weaned for at least 30 days.  As of May 21, 2018 all of our calves have been sold (except our freezer steer calf)!

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May 2018, 7-8 Months Old

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May 2018, 7-8 Months Old

At 7-8 months of age, our crossbred calves (heifers and steers) averaged 588 lbs. (with the exception of one heifer calf that was out of a first calf heifer) and our Hereford heifer calves averaged 450 lbs.  They did received commodity beef cattle feed for the 30 days they were being weaned to help keep their weight moving forward since they were no longer on milk.  We then sold our steer calves first followed by the heifer calves!

The heifer calves were sold as replacements off of our farm private treaty.  We usually have heifers to sell each year (depending on the calf crop) so please let us know if you are interested in crossbred heifers (Hereford x Black Angus) or purebred registered Hereford heifers.  We only had three steers born in 2017 and two of them were accidental (our neighbor’s bull visited).  Those two steers were marketed through our local auction barn as a pair since they were close in genetics, size, and same gender.  The other steer is the only calf were are keeping from 2017 and he will be our future freezer beef in 2019.  We always keep back one steer each year to grow out until about 2 years of age for freezer beef that our family eats.

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That’s all for this blog post!  Remember, May is National Beef Month!  With Memorial Day and Father’s Day coming, it is a great time to fire up the grill!  #beefmonth

 

 

 

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#farmlife

We have been so busy on the farm lately!  This is the time of year when calves are weaned and sold, cattle are grazing, cows are pregnancy checked, and so so much more.  This past weekend we gave the calves a second round of vaccinations (to boost their immune response), checked their weight (to see how much weight they have gained), dewormed them for internal parasites, and tattooed the registered Hereford calves (required by the breed association).  It was a busy Saturday morning!  Here are a few photos from what I call #farmlife

Step 1: Catch the calves (with feed of course)!

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Step 2: Get all your supplies ready!  I have a tackle box that I keep needles, syringes, ear tagging equipment, and more in.  I use the cooler for vaccines.  The laundry detergent bottle is my “sharps container” for used needles.  The dewormer and tattoo supplies are also out and ready to go.  Notice my pen and paper…you need that to record ear tag numbers and weights (or you could use your phone)!  Also, we have our scale monitor attached and ready to read weights.

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Step 3: Process calves!  We gave two vaccinations, recorded weight, dewormed with an oral dewormer (in the mouth), and tattooed a select few.

Raising healthy calves is our number one priority!  We want them to go on to their next home and be productive whether they are replacement heifers or steers that will end up on your dinner plate.  Ensuring a quality, safe, and wholesome beef product is our goal as beef cattle producers! #beefmonth #beefqualityassurance #beefitswhatsfordinner

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May is National Beef Month!

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May is National (and North Carolina) Beef Month!  How are you going to be celebrating?  I know for my family we are going to eat beef and lots of it!  Now that the weather is warm we are firing up the grill each week with hamburgers and steak.  I still love a good slow cooker recipe that involves roast or beef stew too!  What is your favorite cut of beef?  I really enjoy a tender ribeye or filet mignon.  Did you know most of your favorite steak cuts come from the loin primal area on a cow?  Check out the photo above for a reference to the primal cut areas.

In April, I toured around the county attending community agriculture events where I talked about NC Beef, raising livestock, and NC Cooperative Extension.  The NC Cattlemen’s Association has a giant puzzle that people can put together to teach them about the primal cuts.  The puzzle is a big hit with kids!

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I really enjoy educating the public about beef and livestock in general.  I get a lot of questions about beef cuts and how to cook them, how cattle are raised, and the different options available in the grocery store (organic, all natural, etc.).  Check out this infographic on the beef lifecycle:

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Do you have any questions about how your beef is raised?  What do you look for in the grocery store when it comes to purchasing beef?  It is how it was raised, cost, marbling, appearance, etc.?  Leave me a comment below!

Interesting in trying new beef recipes?  Check out the links below to area bloggers that were challenged with visiting beef producers at a local farmers’ market, writing a producer profile, and creating a recipe from their beef (compliments of NCDA&CS).

https://pastrychefonline.com/2018/04/16/smoky-beef-carnitas/#

https://www.bigbearswife.com/dijon-sirloin-tip-roast-with-brown-butter-mushrooms/

https://www.girlgonegourmet.com/slow-cooker-beef-stew/

https://lifeofaginger.com/north-carolina-beef/

https://adventuresfrugalmom.com/how-to-make-albondigas-in-an-instant-pot/

Happy Beef Month Y’all!

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Working Calves

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The herd made their way back over to the land of green about a week ago.  The photo above shows what everyone did as soon as they crossed back over to the “old” side of the farm.  They have been wintering on the “new” side of the farm where we are working to clear land to put into more pastures.

Anytime a holiday rolls around it seems like it is cattle working time.  Except in July- we try to do as little as possible in the middle of summer here, it is just too hot. 🙂  We got all the calves caught and worked so we can start the weaning process here soon!  Even though we only had ten calves to work, I ran into a few issues along the way.  Two of the steer calves decided to lung forward in the headgate and take my syringe with them as I was trying to give them a shot.  What do you do in that situation?  Either I let go or risk losing a finger or getting hurt.  I let go…and what did I get back?  A bent needle.  A bent needle needs to be thrown away because if you try to use it again it can break off into the animal and in that case you have to fish a needle out of their neck or the animal has to live out its days on your farm.  You cannot sell a calf that has a needle in its neck because it may migrate somewhere else and end up in a primal meat cut area.  Another fun thing is giving a shot to a fuzzy necked calf.  It is really hard to see where hair meets skin and when giving a subcutaneous injection it is easy to shoot out the vaccine on the other side of the skin.  Good times.  Especially when you have 10 doses for 10 calves. 🙂  We got it all sorted out and everyone is vaccinated, dewormed, weighed, and happy despite the few issues along the way.

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I have to say, dad and I make a pretty good team working calves!  He usually pushes calves through, weighs them, and I catch them and vaccinate/deworm them.  After we work calves, I log all of the information and update our records!  That involves recording calf ID, weight, vaccines given, and dewormer given.  I also record the side of the neck the vaccine and dewormer was given on, serial/lot number, expiration date, route of injection, and any other important information.

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This information is critical when there are withdrawal periods involved.  You need to know when a product was given and when the withdrawal period is up so the calf can be sold/marketed.  In this case, we gave an injectable dewormer with a 35 day withdrawal time for cattle.  That means, the product is active in their system for 35 days and that animal cannot be sold for slaughter (or in my opinion sold to any unknown source such as through a sale barn) until 35 days has passed and the product is out of their system.  Recording vaccine information can be very important in the event that an animal has a reaction.  You can easily identify the vaccine by the serial/lot number and know which side of the neck the vaccine was given on.  I cannot say enough good things about becoming Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certified and understanding the right way to do things when it comes to taking care of beef cattle and record keeping.  It is very important!

 

 

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Wrapping Up Winter

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It is almost April and we just received snow just a few days ago.  I think everyone is ready for winter to be over and spring to really arrive.  The pastures are coming in really well and will grow more once the temperatures can remain warm.  The cows have spent the winter on the “new” side of the farm.  We have been working to clear this land for pasture use for YEARS.  We are still in the process of clearing it and getting it ready for seed but the cows spent the winter on it which is exciting.  They have really enjoyed exploring the new pasture.  Here very soon we will move the cow herd back over to the other side of the farm to start rotational grazing and so we can prepare calves for weaning time!

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In order to prepare the calves for weaning, we will give them vaccinations (respiratory and blackleg), dewormer, and some will get additional ID (tattoos for the registered calves).  Calves will then be weaned for at least 30 days on the farm prior to being sold.  Heifers are sold off of the farm and steers are sent to the weekly market (we do always keep one for freezer beef though).  Everything should be wrapped up by the end of May!  Then, we will have the cow herd pregnancy checked and any cull cows will be sent to the weekly market!  Bring on the grazing and warmer days!

We also added a new addition over the winter!  Meet Dory, the cutest blue heeler puppy ever!  Dad said he wasn’t getting another farm dog…and then he came home with this sweet girl.  We just love her and she is fitting in so well.

My not so little baby, Payton turned ONE last week!  Time really does fly by when you have a child.  She has such a big personality and loves to move (she is almost walking), eat, talk, play with toys, nap, and go on adventures (especially the farm).  She has eight teeth and loves to eat BEEF!  For her one year old photos, we just had to find a cute baby calf to sit her beside.

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Photo Credit: Mossy Ledge Photography

At work, I am busy making pasture visits, hosting trainings for producers, and catching up on office work!  If you ever want to know what is going on just follow our website: https://alamance.ces.ncsu.edu/ or our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/AlamanceNCCES for upcoming events, information, and more!  There is always something going on and I try to enjoy every minute of it. 🙂

 

 

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Goodbye 2017!

This year has been exciting and full of firsts for us!  Payton was born in March and she is the first grandchild born on Lauren’s side of the family (and the 8th born on Ryan’s side).  HelenAnn also moved back home from Missouri!  It has been exciting to have her back in NC (she had been in MO for 5 yrs.) for a year now!  She graduated from Missouri Valley College in 2015 and then upon graduation worked for Missouri Valley as a recruiter and later in marketing.  She is now  the Marketing Director for Grinz Orthodontics.  This year was also the first time we have calved 11 cows, I think the most before that was 8 or 9.  Our first purebred Hereford calves arrived in the fall from our Hereford bull that we purchased last year.   We also hope to move the herd onto new pasture ground next week!  We have had an incredible year and are very blessed to be able to farm with family!  From everyone here at 3B Cattle Company, we want to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

2017 Calf Crop Photos

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Eleven

We hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Memorial Day weekend!  We are thankful for those that serve or have served our country so we can do what we love!

May for us means pregnancy checking.  Yesterday, we had our veterinarian come out and palpate eight brood cows and three heifers to check for pregnancy status.  All of our females were pregnant (always exciting and what we strive for) so we will be expecting eleven calves in the fall!  Out of the eleven, we are expecting four purebred Hereford calves for the very first time!  The rest of the calf crop will be Black Angus/Hereford crosses.

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Pregnancy checking is very important and done annually on our farm since we have one calving season.  It is crucial to know which females are pregnant and how far along they are.  This helps when it comes time to make culling decisions.  If a cow or heifer is open, they are culled right away.  If she was bred late, we take that into consideration and may decide to cull if she does not fit in with our desired calving season.  When a cow or heifer calves late into a calving season, it is hard to get her “caught up” with the rest of the herd.  She will always be late after that and therefore her calf will be smaller than the rest of the calves.  We like to calve September-October and consider November-December late in our herd.  Most years, we are done calving within 30 days.  Our bull is always left in at least 90 days (December-March).  We like fall calving here in NC because of the weather and feeder calf market.

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Baby Payton Arrives!

A lot of excitement has been surrounding the newest arrival, Payton Elizabeth Langley, born on March 22, 2017.  Payton is Ryan and Lauren’s first child and Jimmy’s (Lauren’s Dad and owner of 3B Cattle Co.) first grandchild.  Payton had everyone waiting on her being 9 days overdue, but she was well worth the wait!  She is now almost 6 weeks old and enjoys her farm visits every week!  She has met the horses and will soon be my sidekick feeding cows!  Here are a few photos of Payton:

The farm has been quite busy too with the arrival of spring and green grass!  Spring means working calves, finishing winter feeding, preparing pastures for grazing, starting fly control, weaning calves, pregnancy checking cows, and selling calves!  It is a fun and exciting time for sure!  So far, we have worked calves (vaccinating, deworming, and weighing), started fly control, and have cattle on rotational grazing.  We plan on finishing the calf work this Friday.  We have weaned some calves but need to finish and also sell a few steers and cull heifers.  Cows will be pregnancy checked later this month!  We have eight cows and three heifers to be checked.  If all goes well we will have four purebred hereford calves born this fall (calves will be available for sale)!  Here are a few recent photos from around the farm:

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Spring isn’t all about farm work, we like to play softball too!  Ryan and I have been playing co-ed softball for the City of Burlington for YEARS!  I even played fastpitch softball when I was younger and dad coached.  This year, we needed a sponsor and dad decided that the farm would sponsor the team!  We play on Friday nights at City Park in Burlington, you can see the schedule on their website if you ever want to come out and watch.  Here is the t-shirt design I came up with:

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Hopefully, your spring is off to a great start too!  I know we are beyond blessed with baby Payton’s safe arrival, rain to make the grass grow, and healthy cattle!  🙂

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3B Cattle Company Update!

I am not sure where the rest of 2016 went, but it has flown by!  Here on the farm, we have been very busy this fall with building a hay shed, new fencing, cleaning up land for new pastures, calving, and working cattle!   I documented most of the excitement so I can share what we have been up to!

Calving started September 17th and finished around October 6th.  Our calf crop consists of 4 heifers and 4 bull calves.  There are three Hereford x Black Angus heifers and one Black Angus heifer.  We have one purebred registered Black Angus bull calf born (AI Sire Remedy), one Hereford x Black Angus bull calf, and two commercial Black Angus bull calves.  The purebred calf will be kept a bull and will be available as a prospect while the other three bull calves will be castrated.  We may have some of the heifers available, but will make a decision closer to weaning.  Below are some photos I snapped during calving season!

The hay shed was completed in November after what felt like months of work.  Dad (Jimmy), Ryan (my husband), and Eric (our friend) worked on it almost every weekend.  We were all very excited to see the end results and couldn’t wait for our hay to arrive.  Our peanut hay arrived in December just in time for winter feeding to begin!

As soon as calving is over, it is time to start thinking about breeding.  First, we start by having our bull examined by the veterinarian.  This exam is called a breeding soundness exam (conducted yearly) and it consists of a visual exam (eyes, feet, body condition, soundness, etc.), scrotal circumference measurement, and semen quality check.  This exam lets us know if our bull is ready for breeding season.  The only thing the exam cannot check for is libido- it is important to watch the bull once he is turned out to ensure he is interested in the cows and doing his job.  Our new young herd sire, Boomer was checked in late October and he passed with flying colors!  Boomer was also given his yearly vaccines while he was caught for the vet.

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Next, it is time to prepare the cow herd for breeding.  About a month prior to breeding (in November for us) we round up the brood cows and vaccinate them.  We also check their body condition, weigh them, and make sure everything is good with them.  Cows are given a modified-live vaccine which helps protect them and the next calf against respiratory and reproductive diseases.

Boomer was turned in with the cows on December 11th so we can start calving in September and stay on schedule.  We will leave him in with the cows 2-3 months to ensure all the cows are bred.  If all goes well, we will have our first set of registered Hereford calves next fall!  We will be expecting a total of 11 calves (four being Herefords).

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To wrap up 2016, we needed to start processing calves since they are coming up on 3 months of age.  Calves were weighed, vaccinated, and castrated right before Christmas this year!

I hope you enjoyed catching up with us and seeing photos of our growing herd!  We hope you had a Merry Christmas and want to wish you a Happy New Year!

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Fall- Calves, Education, & Fairs

Fall is my favorite time of year!  Our cows are due to calve any day now and I cannot wait to see what our calf crop looks like for 2016!  We are expecting eight calves: three Hereford x Black Angus calves, one purebred registered Black Angus calf, and four commercial Black Angus calves.  The calf in the photo is from last year’s calf crop.  Our ear tagging system is super easy and helps us keep track of the year born and birth order.  This calf was a bull calf from one our Hereford cows and he was the 6th calf born out of the 2015 crop.  All of the 2016 ear tags have been made and are ready for their calf assignments! Stay tuned…I will post once calving starts! 🙂

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Another of my fall favorites is the annual Farm to Table event at Cedarock Park.  I have been teaching at this event for several years now and my station is all about beef!  Over two days, we will see about 800 4th graders and teach them all about agriculture!  I partner with the NC Cattlemen’s Association to bring exciting materials and visual aids to the students each year.  Our event is September 20-21 this year and I hope it brings more fall- like weather with it!

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Photo Credit: meatgoats.ces.ncsu.edu

Lastly, I love the NC State Fair.  I grew up showing dairy cattle at the NC State Fair which involved sleeping in the Jim Graham Building, late nights, early mornings, naps with my cows, and so much more!  The fair floods me with so many memories.  When I was at NCSU for my undergrad, I was involved with the Animal Science Club and showed a Hereford heifer, helped with the milking booth, and took care of the animals in the animal ark.  My husband and I were also involved with the NCSU Pack Pullers in the antique farm equipment building.  We also attended some of our favorite concerts at the fair- Jason Michael Carroll and Eric Church.  My involvement has continued through my professional career as both a 4-H Extension Agent and a Livestock Extension Agent.  If you walk throughout the NC State Fair you will notice hay bales decorated by 4-H members from all across the state.  One year, my group of 4-H’ers from Pender County decorated a hay bale and we had a blast doing it!

I also encouraged 4-H’ers to enter their arts and crafts for prizes at the fair!  If you go to the NC State Fair, make sure you take a look at the 4-H exhibits, arts, and crafts- it is a must see (located in the building where the flea market takes place, close to Blue Ridge Rd.).  Each year there is a Youth Market Turkey Show where youth showcase their turkey project for the year anturkeyshow_1d compete for prizes and scholarship money.  For several years, I have been involved in the turkey projects and they are quite fun!  In addition to everything I mentioned, I have been involved in other various aspects of the NC State Fair and hope to try something new this year with the forage contest!  Hopefully, you will get a chance to visit the fair in Raleigh during October 13-23, 2016!  I am already looking forward to the corn on the cob, livestock shows, horse shows, 4-H exhibits, and catching up with friends!

Come on fall, I am ready for you and your cooler temperatures!  Pumpkin spice anyone?

 

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