Catching a R&R Break!

Farming doesn’t stop—even for a pandemic. We’ve been very busy at Sassafras Valley Ranch, but a little rest and relaxation is vital to mental and physical health. We took a break at one of our ponds and did a little fishing. We enjoy feeding the catfish. It’s a point in each day that we can just sit back for a moment and enjoy the splendors right here on the farm.

Bale Grazing

We are trying bale grazing for the first time this year on a poor, rocky 10 acre ridge field in order to improve soil health. There’s 280 bales of hay and 50 mature South Poll cows and herd bulls, which will be moved with a poly wire every other day and given access to 4 to 5 bales at a time. The hay was purchased, delivered, and unloaded at the site. So, we never had to touch it.

Keep or Steer?

At Sassafras Valley Ranch, we want to make sure that we are retaining high-quality genetics.  For a bull calf to be retained as a bull and not steered, it must meet certain criteria. To do this, in the fall, Bruce scores the cows and the calves using an evaluation or score sheet.  Not only does he look at the bull calf itself, but also its dam—both are scored on the following traits.  We also score heifer calves using this same evaluation tool.

Dam Scoring

Longevity 

1 = 1 to 3 years old

2 = 4 to 6 years old

3 = 7 to 8 years old

4 = 10 years or older

 

Udder quality

1 = poor, large

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = great, small, tight

 

Condition

1 = emaciated, very thin

2 = thin (can see all ribs)

3 = moderate (can see 2-3 ribs)

4 = very good, smooth

 

Frame

1 = too big or extremely small

2 = a little tall

3 = moderate

4 = very moderate

 

Disposition

1 = charges

2 = nervous, agitated

3 = calm, uncaring

4 = curious, extremely gentle, calm

 

Hair

1 = rough hair, longer coat (not appropriate to season), not slick

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = appropriate to season, slick/oily

 

Girth 

1 = narrow

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = wide

 

Calf Scoring

Thickness

1 = thin

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = thick

 

Performance

1 = slow growth

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = fast growth

 

Frame

1 = too big or extremely small

2 = a little tall

3 = moderate

4 = very moderate

 

Disposition

1 = charges

2 = nervous, agitated

3 = calm, uncaring

4 = curious, extremely gentle, calm

 

Hair

1 = rough hair, longer coat (not appropriate to season), not slick

2 = below average

3 = above average

4 = appropriate to season, slick/oily

 

The scores are added and combined (cow/calf).  The higher the score the better.  The scores are then evaluated to see which bull calves will be retained as bulls and which ones will be steered.

 

 

Pushing Through Winter

Farm projects haven’t ceased because of winter. In addition to feeding and caring for livestock, we started broiler chicken and hog feed additive studies. Plus, we are gearing up for a cattle feed additive study. The framework for the beef barn began this week. Today, the local FFA students installed pens and panels they had built in their welding class. Despite the cold and wet winter weather, we are pushing through it to accomplish what needs done and to keep projects on time.