Spring time harvest: calf tips to remember this time of the year

Bye, bye, rye!

It’s always a sad time of the year for me when I have to see my big, beautiful fields of rye being chopped. As I know  we need to do it for the cows, it’s always a reminder that spring is quickly passing.

It also reminds me of how busy we are and how little we think about anything else during this time of the year. Sometimes, we are so busy that we only focus on getting the rye in and do the minimum of everything else we have to do.

This means, the calves and heifer especially get the raw end of the deal. They get fed at different times, their buckets aren’t scrubbed every day and well, we just really make sure they’re alive and that’s about it.

As I am thinking about this I realize that this is a very bad habit for not only my family, but one many other farmers have picked up as well. We all know that just one change can make or break the health of heifers, and we spend all the other 351 days (minus 7 for spring crop and 7 for silage harvest) trying to minimize those stressors so why do we not worry about them now? Well, we’re tired, we’re hungry, we want a good quality crop and we just want to get it in the bunker/silo so we can spend time with our family that’s why!

As I personally understand the importance of commitment  to harvest this time of year and all of the contributing factors, I encourage you all to step back and think about the importance of a heifer rearing program and the goals. One small set back can cause a chain reaction of problems that will not only affect your calves now, but also a few months from now. I know you’re tired, but find the time to feed that calf colostrum that needed to be pulled at 10:00 at night, don’t wait until morning.  Spend the couple extra minutes to make sure buckets and equipment are clean. Sometimes, a reminder of your goals is just the push they need to take the extra steps to make sure the job is done right.

So, let’s take a step back, and revaluate our thinking. I know harvest is important -but so are our heifers. Let’s remember how important our heifers are and the decisions we make for them. Most importantly, harvest is only for a short part of the season. The decisions we make now for our heifers, will last a cow’s lifetime.


For more tips on calf rearing contact:

Angela Breneman-Calf Specialist, 717-810-6826 or abcalfspecialist@gmail.com