Twenty years ago when I thought of the phrase “The Fall Run”, I thought of my next cross country race.
Although I am currently reliving my life as a cross country runner watching my oldest daughter begin her journey as a distance runner, the words The Fall Run no longer lead to mental pictures of runners and cross country races. Rather, they bring to mind incredibly busy days at the feed yard as we receive many new cattle…
The Fall Run is therefore synonymous with acclimating new cattle and “refilling” the pens that were empty during the summer months when cattle were out grazing on grass pastures. As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, our grass in Nebraska stops growing. This signals that it is time to move the cattle that are destined for harvest off of pastures and into feed yards. The remaining carefully saved pastures on the ranch are used for the winter feed needs of breeding stock (mama cows and bulls that will make the next generation of calves).
We receive several different types of cattle during
The Fall Run…
Yearlings are cattle that are more than 12 months of age. A Nebraska born yearling typically comes from a spring calving herd and is about 17 months old when he is moved into a feed yard like mine. He was born in the spring, grazed on grass with his mama through the summer, was weaned in the mid-late fall, wintered on pastures or fed in pens on the ranch a diet of grains and forage, grazed again on grass for the spring and summer and then finally moved into a feed yard to be finished in late summer or early fall. Most of the yearlings that I receive into the feed yard weigh 800-900#.
Fall Calves are cattle that are born in the late summer and fall months instead of in the spring. The majority of the cattle herds in Nebraska are spring calving herds, but there are some fall calving herds as well. A fall calf is typically shipped to a feed yard late summer or early fall and is 10-14 months of age. The fall calves that I receive at the feed yard weigh approximately 700#. I really like feeding fall calves because they typically winter very well for me, have few health problems, and harvest in February and March still eligible for an Age and Source Verified program which allows me diversity with my end product.
Spring Calves are cattle that are born in the winter or spring (February through May) and shipped into a feed yard like mine prior to becoming yearlings (they do not spend an extra summer on grass like yearlings do). They graze grass pastures with their mamas the first spring and summer, and then are weaned late fall. These cattle may or may not be weaned on the home ranch and will ship to the feed yard either in the fall or the winter months. While I prefer that the cattle I receive are weaned on the home ranch, I do wean some calves at the feed yard because my cow/calf partners do not have the resources (feed) or facilities (pens or corrals) to wean at home. When we wean calves we call them bawling calves because they vocalize for a couple of days after weaning searching for their mamas. Bawling calves are high maintenance, and require very careful support and care from me. Although it is hard work, I am very good at weaning calves. My holistic approach to health and well-being sets my calves up for success and enables them to thrive even during the stress of weaning.
As I think back to my years as a competitive athlete, I am thankful that I learned to always keep moving forward (even when it hurt). It is the times that we are tired and challenged that make us stronger and more successful. Continual focus and dedication enable success. I tell my kids that the defining moment during an athletic competition is usually toward the end of the race—it comes down to who is tough (both mentally and physically), and who has done their preparation work well. It is the combination of God given talent, and personal drive and tenacity that makes us winners—whether on the cross country course, at the feed yard, or wherever your life takes you…
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