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Video 101

Ever wonder what it takes to create all those videos of bulls that you watch before Bull Sale Season?  It certainly looks simple enough.  Until you try to make one that doesn’t seem as though very young children were in charge . . .

  • Step One:  arrange for bulls to be clipped, groomed, cleaned
  • Step Two:  juggle the realities of weather, filming conditions, and whether or not the synchronized heifers are all calving
  • Step Three:  set up a pen with a pleasant backdrop (preferably not manure piles, retired machinery, or a rotten fence through which bulls will exit)
  • Step Four:  choose a team who enjoys the work, has a better than average patience range, and has nothing else pressing to do, as this process CANNOT be hurried
  • Step Five: trudge quietly behind bulls until they manage one or two walking passes the length of the filming pen (rule of thumb is acquire 3 to 5 minutes of video for every 45 seconds of good footage)
  • Step Six: spend all of your evening hours for the next 4 days snipping and assembling the good bits of video . . .
  • Step Seven:  finally upload the finished project-either when it is edited to satisfaction, or one’s spouse is threatening to use one’s computer as a calf sled if one does not turn it off and become human again

There you are!  All of the secrets revealed . . .

Hope your calving season has begun well and may your hay yards stay full.

 

 

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First Bull Weight of the New Test

We run our performance test on the bulls for 4 consecutive months, weighed every 4 weeks.  This allows for a wide range of environmental conditions, sorts out anomalies, and blends in the compensatory gain of the first few weeks.  We also try to spread out the processing events since we have to run them through the chute for weight.  This time, we took an ear notch for BVD PI testing, poured for lice, and trimmed sheath hair.  The long, twisted hairs below the sheath are often dirty and matted, which can cause irritation and even exacerbate warts.  We have had much better breeding soundness evaluations since we began this maintenance step.

The group is at an average weight of 844 pounds, and has gained 4.3 pounds daily since weaning.  We really can see their rumen development during this first month.  The high fibre ration keeps the factory steaming along!

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Spring Madness!

Obviously a whirlwind since Bull Sale . . . . or maybe sitting down at the desk has just been second in line to more outdoor realities.  This morning was the wrap up of the second synchronization group of just over 100 head.  Was a gorgeous morning: still and sweet after the bluster and wet of last night.  We are greening up! Guess Spring has decided to come after all.

 

 

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Automatic Pivot Track Filler

What to do on a mild, sunny afternoon in March . . . ?  Run the self-loading, self-spacing automatic pivot track-filler.

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Notes on Performance Data

Today a rancher called with an excellent question about how our performance numbers on the bulls relate to each other. It merits some explanation. The three measurements of performance that we include in our catalog are 205 Day Adjusted Weight, Average Daily Gain, and Weight Per Day of Age.

  • 205 Day Adjusted Weight is calculated by American Simmental Association, based on the weaning weight we submit for each animal. They adjust to exactly 205 days, and also make an adjustment based on the age of the dam.
  •  Average Daily Gain (ADG) is calculated by us, based only on the performance of the bulls while on feed test. They are weighed every 4 weeks for 16 weeks.
  • Weight Per Day of Age (WDA) is calculated by us, based on the bulls’ weight at time of ultrasound, which is usually mid to late January. It reflects their average gain over their entire life up to that point, including the time on test.
    These are basically three snapshots of a bull’s performance during different phases of his life. Some useful things can be determined by looking at the patterns: for example, if there is a significant difference between ADG and WDA, then the bull performed significantly better during one phase or the other. Or, if the 205 Adjusted Weaning weight is way above average but the bull’s weaning weight EPD is not, then we might assume his performance was environmentally rather than genetically driven.
    Our goal is to collect and present enough data to help cattlemen make a well rounded evaluation of what kind of package each bull offers. Happy studying!

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Sneak Peak! New Calf Crop . . .

Open Gate has added a new sire to the genetic program:

Hook”s Trinity 9T calves, January born, on first calf heifers.

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Breeding Soundness Evaluation

For our purposes, we prioritize this process before the bull sale in order to identify individuals who are unsatisfactory for successfully completing a breeding season-this involves a lot more than simply determining sterility.
First, an overall physical assessment for soundness is made. Then, testicles are measured as a correlative to fertility and maturity and examined for consistency, uniformity and the presence of any abnormalities. We also really want to make sure there are two . . .
Next, the penis is examined for a normal extension, for warts (which are prone to vascular bleeding and interfere with fertility) and for the presence of a persistent frenulum or “tie” which occasionally results when the penis and prepuce did not separate completely. This presents a physical impediment to extension and must be surgically addressed. Finally, a semen sample is examined for motility (movement and activity) and morphology (form, structure and maturity). Since semen production takes about two months, this is really only a “snapshot” in time of the reproductive status of a bull, but it gives us an excellent starting place and opportunity to address any challenges to their career as breeders.
We are very grateful to Dr. Cale Bjornstad for his thorough and objective services – and as a bonus, he’s an awful lot of fun!

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February is Gone!

Tomorrow, the calendar will read March, which means…. Bull Sale panic/countdown is Full On!

 

Catalogs should be arriving soon . . .

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Ranching can’t be about what we’ve already done. It’s gotta be about what we do tomorrow.
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