John Nollette          Jacki Musgrave   
By John Nollette and Jacki Musgrave

Like much of the area, GSL experienced a relatively dry fall. Our 2020 hay crop was about 90% of our long-term average. Fertilizing our hay meadows last March may have been a big part of getting to that 90%. Hay quality was slightly improved with a higher crude protein content in 2020 than 2019 (7.9% vs 6.9% CP). Since we had a large carry-over of hay from 2019, the decision was made to sell 600 bales.

cow and calf

Overall pregnancy rates in our younger cows improved this last year. Pregnancy rates were 80 and 87% for our March- and May-born yearling replacement heifers, respectively. This was an improvement over the previous two years (72.5 and 81.4%, March and May, respectively). Two-year-old pregnancy rates improved for May (60.4 vs 75.4%, 2019 and 2020, respectively), while March rates were similar (93 vs 92.9%, 2019 and 2020, respectively) herds. Mature cows in both herds had similar pregnancy rates (92.3 and 93.4%, March and May, respectively). In the March herd, timing of pregnancy was good; we had 78.8% of heifers and 87.4% of cows calve in the first 21 days. Last year, the March cows were bred on the meadow pastures, which may have contributed to the increased number of cows getting pregnant early in the breeding season.

smart feeder with cow and calf

New yearling studies were started with March and May weaned calves this year. May steers and cull heifers and March replacement heifers were fed dried distiller grains at different rates to target different overwinter average daily gains. Even with the different projected gains, we were able to manage all the yearlings in one pasture and utilize our SuperSmart Feeder. We currently have a producer model of the Smart Feeder ordered. It was intended for the yearlings to be fed with the new feeder; however, the manufacturer ran into production delays. This caused us to move our SuperSmart Feeder to this study and individually feed our March 2- and 3-year-old cows post calving in our stanchion feeders. We look forward to receiving the new feeder within the coming weeks as we get ready to transition to summer studies.

Joslyn Beard completed her PhD in December and will begin her career in Arizona. We thank Joslyn for all her help over the last 3 years and wish her well as she starts her career. We didn’t have any full-time resident students at GSL over the winter. Selby Boerman and Nicole Woita moved back to GSL in April and will be here until they finish their MS degrees in just over a year. We were lucky to have Maddie Carr, a vet tech student from NCTA, spend about a week with us in March during calving. Maddie was a big help to us during calving over her spring break.

We ordered a portable corral system from Rawhide Portable Coral to facilitate research activities on the east end of GSL. Without having facilities on the east end of the ranch, we have been limited in our ability to collect data when cattle are on summer range. We think this system will help but would eventually like to see a couple permanent facilities put on the east end of GSL at some point.

When we ordered the portable corral system, we decided to upgrade scale indicators. We purchased a Bluetooth compatible indicator from Tru-Test. This allows us to scan EIDs on all the cattle we work and enter all the data directly chute-side. We have also been using the indicator to collect calving data at tagging. We feel like this has decreased error and time involved in data collection.

snowy pasture 

We received 1.6 inches of rain and 5 inches of snow in a March storm, which improved our moisture outlook some. Hopefully, we continue the receive timely moisture as we prepare for the grazing season ahead.