Caring for your herd

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With winter approaching quickly, it is time to start thinking about weaning cattle.

Greg McClure, Riley County K-State Extension Ag Agent, tells KMAN that traditionally cattle are weaned in October or early November, but more people are beginning to wean their cattle a little earlier. He says that weaning your cattle early has many benefits.

“Calves don’t gain a whole lot of weight in the last month or month and a half on pasture, but at the same time those calves are out there on the cows, and those calves are five months old and they’re big enough to wean, but they’re also dragging that cow down. And so if the calf stays on the cow at this time of year, she’s  likely gonna be losing weight, where we would really like for her to gain weight,” says McClure.

McClure says that weaning cattle early isn’t the only nontraditional approach many ranchers have been taking in recent years. He explains the use of low-stress fence line weaning as well.

“You would actually have a holding pin right next to the pasture where you could bring the cows in and hold them in the pin, while the cows stay out in the pasture across the fence and are weaned,” he says.

Although weaning cattle is important, it is not the only task of a cattle owner. A big part of a cattle owners job is managing cull cows and deciding when to sell.

Riley County K-State Extension Ag Agent, Greg McClure says historically, prices drop in November and are typically highest from February to May. With those statistics, McClure says there are a few different options on managing cull cows.

“Depending on what you have for a feed source, you can either get them weaned off early and get the cow out of there or you can wean those calves, put those cows out on stocks and hold them over until February or March,” says McClure.

This decision can seem like one that isn’t very important, but McClure says that cull cows are a big part of profit for ranchers.

“The Farm Management Association shows that somewhere like 24% of our gross income comes from cull cows. So they are not just something to get rid of. It’s worth managing, worth trying to get even more revenue out of them,” he says.

While caring for cattle, McClure says it is important to find what works best for you and your herd.

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