I have a herd of three bovine (the generic term for cattle). I have one cow, Maxine, who is ten years old. Her heifer, Norma Jean, was born in April. Then I have my fifteen-year-old ox (fancy way of saying overgrown steer), MJ. They are a happy little family.
I need a plan, however. MJ is big and pretty old for a steer. Let’s face it, most steers don’t see their second birthday outside of a freezer. MJ is slowing down.
He’s having a bit harder time getting up, and his eyes look tired and are now ringed by white hair. He’s still a gentle giant, but I do worry about his hips.
Maxine has her babies so easily, and she has lots of milk for them. Unfortunately, at her age her udder starts getting a bit lower to the ground and a newborn calf has a hard time nursing.
My ex-brother-in-law, Norman, had to help Norma Jean (hence the name) nurse for a couple of days before she got the hang of it herself. Norman’s recommendation was to retire Maxine. I have no problem with that, but I did promise Maxine that she has a forever farm. She’s not going to get sold.
That means Maxine is not bred, but she is coming into heat. That means hormones. Even though MJ is a steer (castrated), he still reacts to the hormones like a bull.
I hate to see this every three weeks. She jumps him ,and then he jumps her. It’s got to be hard on Maxine, and MJ was moving very slowly after this day. I really didn’t anticipate Maxine being retired while MJ was still here.
Now, let’s talk Norma Jean. She’s a little girl right now, and MJ absolutely loves her. She adores him.
Remember those hormones. If she is with MJ when she comes into heat for the first time, he will squash her. I’m not sure I want to sell her right now because with the drought, cattle prices have dropped. I also am looking at Maxine for the long term. She doesn’t want to be here with no other cattle. It would be nice to keep Norma Jean for company for her mom after MJ is gone.
Are you still following all this? Now to the plan. Before Maxine comes into heat the next time, we plan on taking her and Norma Jean to one of Norman’s farms where there is this young guy.
He was with the cows out in pasture, but he injured his shoulder. He’s been healing, but he isn’t in perfect shape yet. It’s not sure he’ll recover to be able to breed again. We’re going to put Maxine with him, and it will be an easier test than throwing him in with an entire herd of cattle next year.
He is a purebred Gelbvieh. Maxine is too. That means we’ll have a purebred baby (maybe a bull to replace his injured bull).
After Maxine is with him for a week or so, we’ll bring her home. Hopefully he’ll get the job done and Maxine won’t come back into heat. Waiting to have her bred at the end of September means I should be done with school (or very close to it) by the time she calves and has a baby that needs help nursing. We just can’t have any snow days.
Instead of bringing Norma Jean home, she’ll go with some other heifers to be weaned and fed. Next summer, she’ll get put with a bull. Then she can come home next fall after she is bred.
Hopefully, this plan will work well and I’ll end up with MJ (as long as he’s healthy and not in pain) and Maxine will have one last calf next summer. Then Norma Jean can be my production cow.