The rain kept up this week, the pastures stayed soft and muddy, farm roads were a mess, and I think that frogs were the only animals around happy with the weather. We’ve had the beef herd grazing rotation stopped for about two weeks, trying to let soaked pastures dry out and firm up so the herd doesn’t churn up the soil too much as they graze. After going through ten round bales of hay, it felt like the time had come to get back into grazing, so despite the rain, the cows started moving again Thursday afternoon. They were really excited to get some fresh grass, but the pastures that they are moving through now certainly did not dry out nearly as much as I had hoped they would before the cows went on them.
five attempts and an exam from the vet, we have moved her down the road to join the beef herd and their bull. The Jersey cows can gain weight really quickly if they are not growing a calf or making milk, and Penguin, at two years old and open, has been showing signs of weight gain over the past few months. We discovered that her reproductive anatomy was already pretty small when Brad tried to breed her, so our concern was that the addition of internal body fat would only make breeding her get more and more difficult. The vet came out to examine Penguin and her mother Patty, who has also been having a little trouble breeding, and recommended getting Penguin bred as soon as possible. He said that everything seemed to be in place and proper, but that weight gain was going to become an issue very soon. She had been in a good standing heat the day before the vet’s visit, and he said she could even be bred right then and there. We hustled her into the livestock trailer, somehow got the truck and trailer through the submerged fields roads out to the beef herd, and inside the fence. The bull was immediately interested in Penguin, and I am hoping that he got her bred that afternoon or evening. We’ll leave her in with the beef herd for about a month more, giving her at least one more cycle for breeding in case the connection was not made this week. I was worried about the potential for Penguin, bred by the beef bull, to grow a baby too big to birth next spring, but the vet is confident that the match should work out. We have been letting our heifers grow to two years old before their first breeding, but the vet has advised us to advance our first breeding to fifteen or sixteen months or age to help avoid the weight issues we’ve been having. The next challenge will be to get Penguin out of the beef herd and back into the dairy in a month’s time.