John Nollette Jacki Musgrave
Calving in both the March and May herds went well this year. Like most in the Sandhills, we had one major storm in March; however, we made it through that with minimal death loss. We had 92% of March cows and 79% of March heifers calving in the first 21 days. In the May herd, calving distribution was similar between cows and heifers at 85 and 83% calving in the first 21 days. We have used a 45-day breeding season on both cows and heifers for almost 20 years. Due to the number of late calving heifers each year, we decided to move the March and May heifer breeding season to a 30-day season. We hope this will help on the rebreeding percentage in the 2-year-old cows that has been a challenge.
We utilized artificial insemination (AI) on two studies this year. In the March herd, 40 mature cows were bred to a terminal sire using either sexed or conventional semen. Our May 2- and 3-year-old cows were bred to high-milk EPD Red Angus sires. The high-milk Red Angus sires were selected to mimic current practices in the industry and create a higher milking group at GSL. The 7-day Co-synch + CIDR with timed AI protocol was used on both groups. The response rate to synchronization was 85.7 and 59% in the March mature cows and young May cows, respectively. Response was measured by heat detection patch score. Both groups increased about four percentage points from 2020.
Forage quality early in the grazing season was lower than our average. Crude protein (CP) value of upland range diets collected from esophageal fistulated cows were 10.4% in June compared with our June average of 12.2%. However, in July, upland range quality picked up slightly above our long-term average (11.9 vs 11.2%). Our meadow CP values responded similarly from June to July, increasing from 10.9 to 13.6%. Conditions were dry in late May and early June but timely rains later in June and early July allowed for CP values to rebound.
We decided to fertilize our hay meadows again this year. The fertilizer and timely rainfall paid off for our hay production. Hay production was 18% greater than last year and 8% over our long-term average. However, with the hot dry weather since hay was harvested, we have not seen much re-growth. We hope to get enough rain this summer for meadow regrowth for fall and winter grazing.
As usual, summer is a very busy time at GSL with intensive data collection on multiple studies, along with the normal ranch activities. We have been fortunate to have help from interns, Brittney Emerson and Jessica Starr, and graduate students, Selby Boerman and Nicole Woita.