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Working Ranch April/May 2016

“Depending on the market, we will either retain ownership through the feedlot phase, or sell the calves at auction,” he says. “We have been going right to the feedyard with them, but we are subject to change.” Data is collected on the fi nished steers at harvest, and Richard says he’s still working on how to best incorporate that data into his management plan. “We get data back on the pens of cattle we feed out. We know how they graded and what kinds of premiums we may have received. We haven’t gotten it down to the individual animal as far as detail goes, but that’s something we’re trying to work more towards,” he shares. The last few pens of cattle have performed well through the feeding phase with average daily gains of 4.5 to 4.9 pounds per day. A large portion of the heifers are retained as replacements and AIed to calving ease sires. “Most of the heifers we keep.” Kory says. “We’ve sold them as bred heifers in the past if the grass was looking short, but most of the time we’ll breed them and keep them for ourselves.” Nikki feels that by focusing on strong maternal traits and calving ease, it just makes sense to keep what the ranch has produced. “We’re going in to it knowing we want to keep as many heifers as possible for our own use,” she says. The Josefi aks aim for a 60-day calving window. The calves start showing up in February, and calving wraps up in mid-April. The mature cows are range-calved either in the sand hill pastures or out on stalks. They’re checked every day, but expected to be experienced enough to calve unassisted. Heifers are calved in January and are managed in a lot at the headquarters so that any extra attention they need is readily available. They’re allowed to mother up for a day or so and are then kicked out onto wheat pasture or cover crops. In terms of herd health, Kory sums it up the best, “We do what our three vets recommend.” Aaron’s philosophy is that a strong vaccination protocol from the start lays a good foundation for both the ranch-raised and purchased calves before they ever even enter the backgrounding lot. “Our fi rst round of shots are viral modifi ed live vaccines (MLV), including pasturella. Since we’re coming into the feedyard, we’ll also treat them with a good wormer that’s either oral or injectable. The second round we boost the virals, give them a blackleg shot and implant the steers.” Aaron says a lot of costly antibiotic use can be avoided if a calf’s immune system is as prepared as possible for the stress of weaning and the preliminary backgrounding phase. “We can prevent the use of antibiotics by having a good herd health program and vaccinating cattle correctly from the start,” he shares. “As an industry we’ve got to do a better job of preventing illness through vaccination instead of trying to fi x problems with a bottle of antibiotic.” Aaron Larson (L) and Kory Josefi ak. 62 I WORKING RANCH I APRIL / MAY 2016


Working Ranch April/May 2016
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