Sunday dawned bright and early and it was moving day! Moving day for who you might ask? Not me, but the steers that Wes’s family raised. We didn’t have to pack their bags to move but we did have to prepare them to move…. to the sale barn. It was time for the steers to make it to their next home.
Just like moving day for you or me, there was a lot of work that had to be completed before the steers were loaded up and brought to the sale barn. First, they had to be born! Wes’s family has around 70 cows, mature females that have had a calf before. These cows are bred by three bulls or mature males that are able to reproduce. Why do they have to have so many bulls? Because, on average, 25 is the magic number of how many cows a bull can monitor and breed successfully. A cow comes into heat, or her body is ready to release an egg, around once a month or every three weeks. A bull can detect the hormones released when she comes into heat and he knows she is ready to be bred. That is a full time job! If a farmer wants to make sure all his cows are bred then he has to have enough bulls to go around. If a cow doesn’t have a calf then she didn’t do her job and according to Dad, “If she doesn’t do her job on the farm, then she is eating for free and we can’t make money!”
Once the calf is born, the cow allows the calf to suck or drink milk from her teat. She has four teats on her udder. The calf stays with the cow from 6-10 months of age or 450 to 700 pounds. Normally the farmer decides when to wean the calf. A calf is weaned, or taken off the milk produced by the cow, and put on grain, hay, or grass.The corn these steers eat is raised on Wes’s farm and fed to the steers. Wes also hauls this corn to MFA to be sold to other producers. Some times he has to haul late at night.
Calves are born as either males or females. A female is called a heifer until she has her first calf then she is called a cow. A male is either a bull or can be made into a steer. A bull calf can be castrated, or have its reproductive organs removed, to be made into a steer. A steer has several benefits once it has been castrated: Decreased aggression, higher price when sold, tender meat, a higher grade meat, and additional marbling in the meat.
The steers getting ready for moving day have all been castrated, received up to date vaccinations and shots, and been weaned for several weeks. The 40 steers were sorted into pens and now were ready to be loaded. Wes hooked up the truck to the trailer and backed up to the shoot!
The steers were then loaded onto the trailer and hauled to Callaway Livestock Center. The steers will be bought by other farmer, producers, or feed lot owners. They will be fed more grain and hay until they reach a weight of around 1200 pounds. Once they reach this weight they will be processed and eventually end up as part of your steak that you order at Colten’s or hamburger you eat at the high school basketball game.