Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Getting to the end of the breeding season!

Well yesterday I spent a considerable amount of computer time imputing breeding records. We use the AIMS program developed by the Angus association for our herd records. This is a wonderful tool, one I am sure would be even more powerful if I knew more about using it. I do use it to enter all my breeding, birth, weaning and yearling records. I fail when it comes to putting in cost and medical records and customer records. Bottom line this is a tool and a tool is only as good as the operator if I had to give myself a grade on using AIMS I think I would give myself a C+. Today is the 30th of December 2009, so I am going to make one of those New Year’s resolutions and that is to try to bring my grade up to at least a B+ by this time next year. I need to take some quiet time to actually study AIMS and make it my mission to input more of the information that will help make our operation more efficient and profitable. We ask for efficiency in our cattle, maybe it is time that we take some of the pressure off of them and put it on ourselves to be more efficient. So far we have bred 7 heifers AI on December 16th the balance went in with bulls on December 3rd, we then A I’d 36 cow on December 23rd with the bull going in with them on the 28th. We DNA test all calves that we are going to register so going right in with the bull after being A I’d is not a problem for us. The last shot was given to our recipient cows yesterday this morning they are all in heat so we are about six days from the end of at least the artificial breeding season. We will be implanting some of the old genetics out of the tank this year. We have several different matings out of VDAR Elluna 97 This famous pathfinder is one of the most dominating females ever born in the VDAR program and several of her daughters are in ET programs across the US. Some of her sons include the $23,000 VDAR New Trend 913 and Alta Genetics stud VDAR New Trend 831. A grandson, VDAR Lucy Boy 2000 was the record breaking top gaining bull over all breeds and top seller at the 1999 Midland Bull Test. Needless to say we are excited to see what these calves will look like. We flushed a daughter of hers out of Bon View Bando 598 last year to Boyd New Day 8005 and have two bulls and two heifers on the ground from that flush. The claves look really good and we still have 13 grade 1’s in the tank from the flush so we couldn’t be more pleased. Dr Harley Schneider of Precise Genetics Inc. will be doing the implanting on January 6th, Dr. Schneider does a great job for us he and his staff are very professional and easy to work with, last year they flushed two cows we got twenty eggs out of the 0168 cow registration #14071041 he implanted 7 and we have 4 calves. The other cow that was flushed last year was our 658 cow registration #14913872 we got nine eggs of which 6 were implanted and we have five calves on the ground from that cow. After Dr. Schneider finishes we will be able to take a little break and just let the bulls finish up! Then we can start getting yearling measurements and planning for next year. I guess that is what I love about the cattle business your never really finished there is always another challenge waiting for you but isn’t that what keeps life interesting?

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is your cow herd efficient?

Cow's on the only feed they get hay and grass

What is your definition of efficiency?

If you look up efficiency in the dictionary you will find the following:

1: the quality or degree of being efficient

2 a: efficient operation b (1): effective operation as measured by a comparison of production with cost (as in energy, time, and money) (2): the ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy supplied to it

How does this definition relate to a cow calf operation I think the key word is measured unless you take measurements you can’t possibly determine whether or not your cow herd is efficient. I had a very thought provoking discussion today with a fellow breeder on this very subject. We came to the conclusion that many breeders think a cow has to be fat and sleek to be efficient. If this is the case they are off track, the only way a cow should be considered efficient is if that cow bred at an early age (between 14 and 16 month of age) had her first calf without any assistance, breeds back within sixty days and regains her BCS back to a 6 or 7 prior to having her second calf. Now we supplement our first calf heifers and monitor the condition of cows on their second calf but mature cows have to make a living on grass, hay and minerals if they can’t do that they are not efficient and need to go to town. Then you have to find out which of these cows is the most efficient, to determine this you measure their calves, because if a cow does all of the afore mention things but her calf doesn’t grow then she is not efficient and she still earns a trip to town. Bottom Line the better your cow herd becomes the more efficient it will be because each year you’re culling criteria gets more stringent.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merry Christmas!!

An Eagle Eye

Two years ago my son Jacob came by the house and told me that he had seen a bald eagle at the farm. Well I had never seen an eagle at the farm and so being a smarty pants I told him he was old enough to know the difference between a hawk and an eagle. He said Mom I am 26 years old I do know the difference between a hawk and an eagle, I thought that was the end of it. But should have remembered that after all he is my son and I had given him a hard time about his eagle sighting so he went about proving to me that there is indeed an eagle living on or near the farm. We had stocked the lake and put a fish feeder on the dock, Jacob set up his wildlife camera on the fish feeder aiming it at the post on the opposite side of the dock. Following are a few of the photo's:

Needless to say I had to eat a great deal of crow after seeing these!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Gizmo 2009-2010 Breeding Season Has Begun!

December 3rd and 4th was spent doing the cattle shuffle to get everyone in the right place for the work to come. Each year we used a couple of our young bulls on our heifers. We believe strongly that if we aren’t willing to use a young bull based on his EPD’s then we shouldn’t be selling them. In past years we haven’t artificially inseminated any of our heifers however this year we are going to AI a small group to test a new timed breeding protocol (new to us anyway.) We put seven young heifers into the pen behind the barn with a cidr going in on December 8th. The young bulls went in with the balance of the heifers on December 4th a group of nine in with Gizmo Midland 808 0066 430 Registration #16358619 another group of ten in with Gizmo New Day 816 658 8005 Registration #16333727. After the seven are AI’d we will put three of them in with the 808 bull and four in with the 816 bull for clean up.

At the farm we split out a group of twelve registered cows that calved later in the season (not their fault the bull that was in with them broke a leg) and a group of ten recips that calved late for use this year in with Coleman EXT 6149 registration #15730734.

We then put twenty five cows into a pasture to be used as recipients in our embryo transfer program. We will have these cows set up to receive embryos on January 6, 2010. Dr. Harley Schneider of Precise Genetics sends us the schedule of when and what drugs to used then will be at the farm on the date the cows are to receive their embryo. This year we will not be flushing any of our cows we will be utilizing eggs that we already have in the tank, from previous flushes. We have been working with Dr. Schneider for many years and have found him and his staff to be awesome! After these cows are implanted we will put another young bull in with them for clean up Gizmo RT 735 577 464 registration #16029577. This young bull does not have real powerful numbers but we feel that he will make cows that we want to retain in our herd.

The last pasture is our cows to be artificially inseminated a total of thirty six head will be set up in this group. We breed using a timed AI protocol to we will breed this group of cows on the 23rd of December. We will be using the following AI sires for this season:

Coleman Midland 430 #14797532

BC Matrix 4132 #14159119

Sinclair Rito Legacy 3R9 #14378386

Sinclair Extra 4X13 #14774030

Sitz Alliance 6595 #12310707

Boyd New Day 8005 #13050780

HA Image Maker 0415 #13739532

Sinclair Excellency 5X25 #1496982

The Coleman EXT 6149 bull will be utilized for clean up on this group of cows. Last year we AI’d 25 head with 23 settling if we can get anywhere near that kind of result again this year we will count ourselves blessed!

Needless to say the next few weeks will be busy ones. We work very hard each year making these breeding decisions, knowing that a decision made will impact our program for many years to come. Anyone in the cattle business understands that bad decisions can be devastating for a program.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Coleman Angus Sale - Gizmo Purchase

We toured several farms in Wyoming and Montana back in August of this year (see Montana tour blog). While on this tour we saw a good number of N Bar Shadow X4124 daughters at Sinclair Cattle Company, Inc. and just fell in love with them. They were very feminine with flawless structure we felt that this type heifer would make the kind of cows that we want in our herd. We also had the opportunity to see Larry and Dee Coleman’s operation in Charlo, Montana, where our favorite cow family was the Coleman Donna 386.

This cow’s son the Coleman Foundation 972 bull calf was just as good as his picture! This is a calf that has the potential to make a tremendous impact on the Angus breed. A few weeks after arriving home we received a sale catalog in the mail from Coleman and after studying the catalog we had settled on several lots that we knew we would love to have but the one that we really wanted was lot 1B the Confirmed Heifer Pregnancy out of N Bar Shadow X4124 and the Coleman Donna 386 a blending of the two genetics that were our favorites when in Montana. Needless to say we couldn’t make another trip to Montana so on Tuesday October 13th Ronnie, Jacob and I all gathered around Jacob’s computer at the office signed into Live Auctions and went to a cow sale. We were able to get the lot 1B pregnancy purchased for $7,500.00 and feel that this will be a mating that will have a very positive impact on our cow herd. A maternal sister sold ½ interest for $19,000 out of RR Rito 707 while a maternal brother sold one breeding share for $10,000. Needless to say we feel that purchase will be used as foundation genetics in our herd so be looking for more on this purchase in the future!

To Blog or not to blog that is the question!

Ok, I think blogging can be a very good thing, but……when the heck do people find enough time to actually get around do doing the darn thing. I started out the Gizmo blog when I was sitting in a hospital room in Colorado when my sister was ill. It was a great way to pass the time in a town where you don’t know anyone and the patient is sleeping most of the time. So I start the blog get it all hooked into our Gizmo Angus farm web page come home excited about my new endeavor write a couple more entries and then as my daughter in law would say waaaa loooo reality!

Back from Colorado with my sister, now I need to get back to the office and catch up with the stack of stuff the elves didn’t take care of. Thank goodness for the super elf (Wanda) that did keep the stack down by half and still managed to get all her stuff done she is my hero! Ok now for a break-down of the past couple of months to get my blog caught up:

October 6, 2009 arrive home from Colorado just in time to wish Jacob my baby boy at the age of 28 a happy birthday! Home for three days then leave for Georgia and Abby and Curtis’ wedding, which was absolutely beautiful! I am so thankful that my sister was getting well and I could get home in time to attend. Back from Georgia in time for the first of the embryo calves to arrive and to pack for the Sunbelt Ag Expo which we ended up not going to due to the death of Ronnie’s cousins AJ and Ruth Mercer in an automobile accident . I still can’t believe that two such wonderful people are gone from our lives, but know that God has a plan for all that he does and some things we are not meant to understand we just have to accept. The next week was busy with work getting ready for the annual business meeting with our accountant and attorney always a stressful time for me. Then the big trunk or treat event at the church for Halloween and wow October is gone!

November begins with a trip to Nashville to pick up our new border collie Rock he is an awesome dog! We left right after church on the 1st (7 hour drive) picked up the dog first thing Monday morning and drove home that day. On Tuesday our vet Dr. Hank Lee was scheduled to come to the farm to semen test the bulls that we had consigned to the Alabama BCIA Fall Round up Sale in Union Town Alabama and the bulls that we had selected to use on our herd this season. While he was on the farm he also took care of the horses CHIP (Color Him in Pink) and Sonny. Back to work at the office Thursday and Friday. Friday night we head to the lodge at the farm to start cooking for the Paulk family reunion to be held on Saturday. Ronnie and I cooked (smoked) two Boston butts and a brisket and 40 pounds of chicken for this event. Leave the farm on Sunday morning at five a.m. to go to Alabama for the Twin Oaks & Stevens Cattle Company Dispersal where we purchased five lots (which I will tell you about in a future blog). Get the new cattle loaded then go to another farm to pick up the recipient cow purchased from the Coleman sale that I have yet to blog about. Then head back home where we arrived sometime in the wee hours of the morning. Did I mention that a hurricane is predicted to hit on Tuesday? Go to the office on Monday with about two hours sleep then home where I crashed and slept for about fifteen hours I am so thankful that the good lord sent the little hurricane to visit it did no damage other than offer us some down time. Back to work on Wednesday (Tuesday was a hurricane day) leave the office and go the Weaton Worldwide Moving convention in Destin. (Did I mention that we are also agents for Weaton Van Lines?) Leave the convention on Thursday afternoon go back to Pensacola pick up Jacob and drive to Alabama for the Union Town Bull sale (Lance delivered the bulls Thursday morning while we were still at the convention) Back home and a weekend off! Back to work, Doctors appointment for Mom then get everything together for the Leon Branch retirement party at the Lodge on Saturday. Sunday is the Thanksgiving family dinner at Ransom Middle school for our church, it was wonderful they did a cardboard testimony service that really touched all of us. We are so blessed to have such a wonderful church family! Monday its back to the office Lance is on vacation so Ronnie and I have farm duty (mostly Ronnie I have a frog in my pocket when I say we) ok Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday work at the office then Turkey day! Cook, Cook some more then add a couple of pies and stuff ourselves and call it a day! Spend Friday Saturday and Sunday getting over Thursday then head back to work on Monday. Did I mention Christmas shopping? Well got most of that done during spare time now going to get busy on Christmas cards decorating and Party’s that start up next week.

Now we are into December and I am already pooped but have to admit I really love the Holiday’s so it is a good kind of pooped. This weekend Ronnie and I will decorate the lodge to get it ready for the company Christmas party the following weekend. At some point I am going to decorate the tree at the house, but I haven’t figured out when and in my spare time I am going to do more of this blogging stuff!

So hopefully I will get the hang of blogging if not I have figured out they have a delete function on the blog site!