While the warm weather has not been good for the skiers, the sheep are enjoying the lack of snow. After an awesome grass growing year we have lots of stockpiled pasture left for the ewes. It is one of the best jobs to go move the flock onto some fresh stockpiled pasture in the middle of winter. It's great nutritionally for the ewes and it's cheap and easy for the farmer.
Over the next few days we will be weaning the calves from the momma cows. We do this to feed the calves better over the winter. If we leave the calves on the cows they have to compete with the bigger cows around the hay feeders. We also feed a much higher quality hay to the calves than we do the cows.
The weaning takes place over a few days. We start by separating the calves from the cows. We have a pasture set up where the moms and the calves can communicate across a fence line. They are inches away from each other but they can’t get back together because of the fence. Both groups have food and water. There is some calling back and forth but for the most part they take the separation without much stress.
It all starts with catching the herd in the corral. Cow moving always works best If I can convince the cows to follow me verses pushing or herding the cows from behind. This is pretty easy to accomplish in the winter with a nice bale of baleage on the back of the tractor. So here I have just arrived in their wintering spot with the tractor. I’ll drive through them calling and let them start eating the bale on the back of the tractor.
Once I have their interest I head down the lane towards the corral and they all follow. Pretty easy. At some point they usually start passing the tractor and as I get to the corral they are waiting for me. I try to have a salt block and water at the corral to reward the cows for coming into the corral. It’s the little things that help make cow moving fun.
Thanks for reading,
Leith, Mary Kate & Norah MacKenzie