March 24, 2010

Calving off to a good start

By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer

With spring comes calving season, and while some McKenzie County producers haven’t started yet, those that have say that so far, things are going well, especially when you compare this year to last.
“I think the big difference between this year and last is preparation,” says Lynn Hovde. “We have more straw available this year, the cows have been fed better this winter and I think they are in better shape overall this spring than last.”
So far, calving problems this season have been of a more routine manner than the out-of-the-ordinary problems that people experienced with last year’s snow and cold.
“Calving has just begun in McKenzie County,” states Dale Naze, North Dakota State University Extension agent. “So far things are going well. It’s a little wet and muddy, but the temps have been mild and the wet doesn’t compare to what we saw last year.”
A problem faced by many people in last year’s long, cold, snowy winter was a hay shortage. This year ranchers are more likely to have plentiful supplies of hay and other feeds, because last summer was a much better year for hay, so many producers won’t be searching for hay, to purchase.
“I just started with my heifers and only have a few calves on the ground,” adds Les Haugen. “So far things are going well, but I’m concerned about finding dry ground. We moved cows the other day and it’s wet everywhere. The creeks are full and we still have big snowbanks out there, so I’m not sure what’s going to happen. But, at the same time, I can’t complain about the wetness because that’s what grows the grass. If we could just get a little sunshine, things would be looking a lot better.”
According to the National Weather Services forecast, Haugen won’t be getting much of the sun he’s hoping for. The only sun forecast for the remainder of the week is on Wednesday and possibly Thursday, with freezing rain forecast for Thursday night and rain on Friday. But the hope is still alive with partly sunny skies forecast for Saturday and Sunday.
“Things look good so far,” says Naze. “But, Mother Nature will tell her own story down the road and hopefully, it will be a good one.
For a little help with Mother Nature, the National Weather Service has a new information product on its web site that could help producers. The experimental Cold Advisory for Newborn Livestock will use temperature, wind, humidity, sky conditions and other information to create a graphic that shows the potential for weather-related impacts to newborn livestock. The graphic was used in Glasgow, Mont., last year by the National Weather Service and was expanded this year into other nearby states.
More information on the Cold Advisory can be found at