I am often asked what a typical day looks like. While I usually smile, shake my head, and say “there is no typical day when you are caring for animals” that is really only part of the truth. The whole truth is that even though our animals and Mother Nature dictate particulars as to what we do each day, there are certain things that are done EVERYDAY, 365 days out of the year. This provides a fascinating blend of routine and challenge.
I am a “creature of habit”. Part of that is my given nature, and part of that stems from years of having a very rigid athletic training schedule. Interestingly enough, cattle are also “creatures of habit”. They find comfort in a daily routine. For that reason, we have a very set daily feeding schedule at the feedyard.
My foreman and I “read bunks” at 6:00am which involves driving through the feed yard and looking at all 23 feedbunks to score how the cattle ate the previous day. We use this score to help us determine the appropriate amount of feed to give each animal that day. There is quite a bit of math and science involved in feeding cattle; however, there is also a “feel” that a good bunk reader will develop as he/she learns to look at the cattle, at the score of the feedbunk, and at the history of feed consumption (how much the animals in each pen have historically eaten over the entire feeding period). This is something that both my foreman and I are very good at; and part of the reason that our feed yard provides such high quality care to our animals.
After we “read bunks” and then sit down at the computer to look at the history of feed consumption for each pen, we determine how much food to deliver to each calf in each pen for the day. Our calves are fed twice daily: breakfast is served between 6:30 and 8:00am, and linner (my children’s term for the combination of lunch and dinner) is served from 2 to 4:00pm. Unless we are in the midst of a terrible weather event, we NEVER deviate from this feeding schedule. Even in the event of terrible weather, it is our top priority to get good, high quality feed, to our cattle twice daily. Their good health and comfort depends on it.