As the air gets crisp and the leaves change colours, we are starting to work on our fall ranch tasks. Fall brings a sense of anticipation and preparation for the colder months ahead. Let’s take a peek into six fall tasks that are important for our ranch.
We are assessing the condition our pastures, ensuring they are will provide nutritious forage for our cattle throughout the next month or so. This year, the fire has thrown our whole fall routine out the window as we basically can’t use any of our privately owned fall pasture. Between the areas that are burnt, and the miles of fences that are burnt, we can’t graze these areas this year. Fortunately, we have been able to lease some pastures from neighbours to hopefully help get us through until the snow arrives.
The health of our cattle is a priority, especially going into the winter. During the fall, we are weaning and vaccinating calves and preg checking the cow herd. The prep checking allows us to have an approximately calving date on each cow so that we can make decisions on which ones should be kept over the winter. Since hay is extremely expensive this year and we have limited pasture, we are having to sell more cows than we usually do. These are some tough decisions that will hopefully help prepare us well for the winter ahead.
Winter Feed Preparation
With colder temperatures on the horizon, we are starting to get our hay into the stack. This year, our hay crop was down 80% plus we lost some hay in the fire, so we are having to purchase quite a few large truck loads of hay. The loads are starting to now arrive so that we will hopefully have all of the hay in the stack before snow arrives. Proper feed management is essential to keep our herd healthy over the winter. We want to ensure that we have high quality hay in the stack ready to feed the cows when the snow arrives to help maintain the body condition of the cow herd going into winter.
Fall is the ideal time to perform routine maintenance on our ranch facilities, including fences, barns, and equipment. This year, we are only focusing on the front facilities as we will need to have the salvage logging complete before we start on the miles of fencing that burnt in the fire this summer.
Fall is when we turn our ram out with our ewes, usually around the middle of October. Prior to breeding season, we must bring the ewes home into our lambing pen, vaccinate and start to feed them grain every day to flush them. Flushing helps to increase the ewe’s nutrient intake and body condition prior to and during breeding. We do this to help increase the rate of ovulation and in turn hopefully increase the number of lambs that the ewe will have.
Feeding Calves and Lambs
Since we wean the calves from their mothers in October, we must start to feed them hay and grain. Our replacement heifers are fed a small amount of grain over the winter to help grow them out and keep them in good body condition. It is important to slowly start them on grain so that their rumens can adjust. Not all start at the same time, so we must push them over to the feed troughs each morning and evening to encourage them to try the grain. We carefully watch to see how many are eating and then increase the grain proportionally over the next few weeks. This year we are also feeding some lambs that will be going to the abattoir later this fall.
Fall on the ranch is an exciting and busy season—full of opportunities to care for our cattle, nurture our land, and prepare for the challenges ahead. Pop on over to our Facebook or Instagram account to follow along while we work through our fall ranch tasks.