When a calf is born on the Lakeview Angus Farm near Drakesville, Iowa, it finds itself on the move pretty quickly.
"After our cows calve, we move the pair to a new pasture right away, and we work the calves right then as a way to keep the scours down," says producer Daryl Wiegand who operates Lakeview Angus Farm with his parents.
Mr. Wiegand and his father David calve out 220 head of cows and heifers each year. In addition to managing pasture and hay acreage, the family farm operation produces 800 acres of soybeans and corn. With an all-black Angus cowherd, the Wiegands use purebred Angus bulls. Their goal, says Mr. Wiegand, is to produce a quality product for the end consumer that will grow efficiently. To achieve that, each calf must be born healthy and stay that way until it leaves the farm.
The calving season kicks off in early February on the Lakeview Angus Farm with first-calf heifers calving on the rolling Iowa pastures. These are followed closely by the main cowherd, which begins calving in early March. To increase uniformity, the calving season is limited to 90 days.
"We have never vaccinated our cows against scour-causing organisms," says Mr. Wiegand. "I figure that we can move our calves and keep them out of a confinement lot and control disease better than having to get our cows up and work them again."
By putting new calves into pastures where they are not exposed to patho-gens, there are fewer problems with scours. Segregating cow-calf pairs also aids in managing the increased nutrient requirements of a new mother. Mr. Wiegand supplements stockpiled forage with chopped haylage during the winter months. To reduce waste and the incidence of mud, the cow-herd is fed in inverted tires placed on a gravel ridge.
To minimize stress when moving a new mother and her calf, Mr. Wiegand uses a homemade calf sled to move the calf with the cow following along.
Working together, Daryl and his father designed and built their own calf sled, which has been awarded $250 as a runner-up in the Drovers Profit Tip contest. Mr. Wiegand says that he has used the calf sled successfully for 2 calving seasons. He has even built a second calf-carrier sled and sold it to a neighbor who had seen it in use and wanted a sled of his own. Mr. Wiegand plans to build a few more this winter in his heated shop in hopes of bringing in a little extra income.
- Best producer innovations 2000
TARGET=_blank>Calf carrier moves new pairs easily and safely (Equipment)