Remember back in March when I introduced you guys to Ryan and Tania?
Well, the Beierbachs are back!
A couple weeks ago I got in touch with Ryan to find out how calving season was going and he invited me back to their ranch to check things out. Hitting the road for Whitewood once again, I spent the entire drive thinking about how glad I was that they didn’t calve mid-winter.
For some people in Saskatchewan, calving season has already come and gone, but for the Beierbachs and many others, there are still a few weeks to go.
Each rancher chooses the time of year they calve based on the dates they “let the bulls out.” Some farmers choose to calve in the winter so they can focus on seeding crops in the spring (among other reasons), while others calve in the spring to dodge harsh weather and allow the cattle to spread out in the pasture to avoid potential disease.
During my second trip to the Beierbach’s, I was blown away by how quickly a new calf could function. Within minutes of birth, a healthy calf could stand, walk and find milk. I learned about the importance of colostrum—a form of milk produced by mammals during pregnancy that contains antibodies to protect the newborn against disease—and how crucial it was for the calf to get its “first suck” within hours of birth.
Another interesting tidbit from the experience was how the Beierbachs eased their cattle off its winter diet. The transition from hay to green grass can be hard on a cow’s stomach, so in the spring it helps to have a mixture of both. In order to do this, Ryan and Tania will leave a few pastures to grow in the fall, so that come spring there is a nice mixture of old and new grass for the cattle to munch on.
In two quick trips to the Beierbach’s I am pretty sure I’ve doubled my knowledge of ranching, if not tripled it. Thanks again to Ryan and Tania for putting up with all of my silly questions and I am already looking forward to my next trip to Whitewood in July!