For cow/calf producers, the next two months represent the most trying of times. February and March are traditionally the months when most cows will calve, which can mean getting up several times during the night to check the condition of the soon-to-be mothers.
You can almost count on the coldest nights bringing on calving as do those nights when the sleet/snow/rain mix seems to coming down sideways.
It's a trying time, but it's also a rewarding time as those babies will grow into market animals (meat). It is the same ritual every year, give or take a little. However, there are certain management strategies that can be implemented to increase the success of the cow/calf business. Each producer does strive to make his/her operation as successful as can be. But it takes some help from others to fit all the pieces together.
On Thursday, Feb. 7, we'll have our next beef meeting to help you become better informed on a few cow/calf items. David Otte with Green Valley Seed, Monte Rowland with Ursa Farmers and Travis Meteer with University of Illinois Extension will all be on hand to lead some discussions on important aspects of grazing and breeding.
Their talks will focus on two specific items: getting pastures growing and getting cows bred.
We've all seen how stressed out pastures have become over the past few years from inconsistent weather and over grazing. We need to take the time to understand what the grass plants are going through to learn how to properly manage this resource so it can provide as much as possible -- because when the grass performs well so do the cattle.
Secondly, getting an improved conception rate should be a number one priority for all beef producers. Last summer's heat and pasture conditions allowed some cows to slip by the first breeding cycle, which only increases your cost of keeping that cow. Ideally settling the cow the first go round should be every cattleman's goal.
We'll start the program at 6 p.m. at the Sullivan and Son Auction and Events Center, located eight miles south of Carthage on Ill. 336.