Sunday, May 31, 2015





May was one for the books.
It always is.
AI'ing cows, turning out to grass, weddings, the Jordan Valley Big Loop and AI'ing some more....
May was definitely a month that was filled with friendship, love & then some more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Solution Calves.

We spent Monday AI'ing heifers at Mark Malott's ranch in Central Oregon.  Last year Clint and Morgan AI'ed a set of heifers for Mark to KG Solution, so after we had the AI barn set up Sunday afternoon, Mark took us for a drive to look through the calves. 

Mark was really pleased with the Solution calves, and said the heifers couldn't have calved any easier.  Out of the entire set that calved, he only had to touch one heifer - and she was a breach.  He said he was able to calve them like cows - which is always a good thing!  Heifers that calve well, on their own and without assistance - along with calves that get up and are vigorous are great things to have during calving season!
It's always fun to see off spring from heifers you AI'ed the previous year.  In this case, even though the calves weren't ear tagged, you could easily pick out the Solution calves that were born in late February from their contemporaries, born later in March.

We used KG Solution as a reference sire in this year's Double M progeny test, and really liked the calves but it's also reassuring to see a different set of calves on the ground that look similar, but are out of a different herd.  We put a lot of Solution into cattle we AI'ed for customers this Spring, and hope that next year's calves look just as good as the ones we got to go through last Sunday!
And after pictures of Solution calves, I thought I'd throw in pictures of the breeding project Monday. 
This year we used Final Answer 2 - the clone of Final Answer, since he's now deceased - in a set of black heifers for Mark and we hope he has a similar calving experience next winter as he did this winter!

We tucked the AI barn right into Mark's beautiful barn, and in front of his squeeze chute.

And then we got to work the next morning!

- Mark running the chute - Mike the Genex intern helping bring cattle - 
Success is reason enough!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend.

The rain is softly dropping needed drops outside the door as I type out these words.
We got home from a weekend in Central Oregon just before dinner.  The truck got unpacked, the cooler got unloaded, the laundry was started and I rested my body in my easy chair and turned on DVR'ed episodes of American Idol.
And all that I can think of as I type is that we are so lucky to get to do what we do, and with the people who do it with us.
Clint judged the 5 Peaks Jackpot show on Saturday, and I helped clerk the ring that Randy Williams was judging.  Cathy & Rich do such a nice job with this jackpot, and we enjoyed being a part of it again this year.


Sunday we spent the day pulling CIDRs on a set of heifers at the GI Ranch in Paulina.  The drive out there was gorgeous - and I took A TON of pictures, which I'll share more of this week.
We headed back into Redmond Sunday night, and got set up at Mark Malott's headquarters before going out to look at calves.  Mark had a set of heifers Clint and Morgan bred last year with Solution calves at side and they looked good.  We spent the next morning AI'ing 2015's set of heifers and that went well too.

As we were driving through Redmond to our hotel Sunday, we went by Mark's Central OR Ranch Supply store and their billboard simply said:
"Thank you heroes."
And as we drove through Prineville on our way to eat lunch with the whole crew at the Tasty Freeze on Monday, I couldn't count the massive number of American flags they had lining their streets.
Hundreds of flags.
Yards of fabric, proclaiming the red, white & blue.
We are the land of the free, because of the brave.
Thank you heroes.

Friday, May 22, 2015

5 on Friday.

So this week.....well, it's been a week.
Since "work life" has been a bit weighty, I thought I'd just do a quick, light hearted post today on the blog.
1. Matrix Oil Wonders.
AKA - The Mother Ship of Hair Products.
For the past few years, I've been using Marc Anthony Strictly Curls products from Ulta and have loved them.  I especially like the curl cream, and still use it.  But in February, I felt like my hair was getting kind of dry and brittle.  I figured part of it was that it was winter, and the air is just drier here then, but I thought maybe my product wasn't helping as much as it could too.

I'd gotten a sample of Matrix's Oil Wonders sent to me in my last Ulta order, and after using it I fell in love.  So I ordered a bottle of the Amazonian oil, and a set of the Oil Wonders shampoo & conditioner.
And I am hooked.

I love these products, and how healthy they make my hair feel.  They're a bit pricey, but I feel like they are totally worth it. And for the first time ever - I can do "second day hair" since the oil in the products leaves my hair bouncy and separated.
So, if you're looking for a new product - I'd recommend these!
2. House Update.
Things are moving along!

The drywall got textured last week, and was painted and primed this week.  Our contractor ordered our flooring (so excited for it!) and the shower guy was here last week to measure for the pan and walls.  We're also working on refinishing a set of cabinets that came out of another house here at the ranch, so that we can prime/paint them and use them in the mudroom.
Once floors go down, we can have our furniture set delivered for our bedroom and then I think things will really start to pull together then.  I can't wait!
Paint - Sherwin Williams "Accessible Beige" for the walls
Utility Sink - Costco


3. The Funhaver's Motel
I was in John Day this week for work meetings, and there was a bit of a mix up when it came to hotels.  The hotel we were supposed to stay at had rooms available, but not at the government rate so a few of us got to stay at The Dreamer's Motel instead.

We called it the {Funhaver's Motel}.

And while it might not have been 4 star, the owner was so sweet and accommodating and was truly thankful for our business.

I'd be happy to stay there again with that kind of service.

4. A Great Sign.

This sign was hanging in the restaurant we ate lunch at yesterday in John Day, and I thought it was hilarious.

Except I'm more of a Samoa girl myself.  ;)

5. Favorite pictures of the week.
Clint drove a team for Jack & Deana's wedding last week, and I loved taking pictures of him and the team!

A big thank you to Lee & Mary Jean for letting us borrow their team and surrey - we appreciate it!


Happy Friday!

Keep living the dream!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

5 ways to optimize reproductive success in cattle.

Pretty weighty title, huh?
Especially coming from someone like myself.
But honestly - the five items below are basic steps that every cattle rancher can utilize to optimize reproductive success in their cattle herd.
Because if a cow doesn't breed back and subsequently have a calf - she isn't putting forth her effort into the ranching operation.  But part of that equation is that we have to help put those cattle in the best position to breed back.
Nutrition matters.

Sometimes we say that in order to be an expert in bovine reproduction, you first need to be an expert in cattle nutrition.  And that's because cattle use the nutrition they're fed in the following priority order:

1. Maintenance 
 The feed they eat goes to maintain their own body condition.
2. Milking
If the heifer or cow you're trying to breed has a calf at side, their next order of priority is to make milk for their calf.
3. Reproduction
This is the third priority for a cow, and if they're not accomplishing the first two priorities with what you're feeding them, they're not going to start cycling and you're not going to get cattle bred back quickly.  It's really important for cattle to be on a positive plane of nutrition that you can allow a cow to cycle, and ultimately - conceive.
Growth is going to be a factor in first calf heifers (and potentially young cows) as well.  Not only are they trying to maintain the body weight and condition they have, but they're still growing themselves AND trying to raise a calf. 
You really have to be on the ball with proper nutrition to get them to breed back within your breeding season.  This is also why it's recommended to breed your heifers to calve earlier than your cows....the extra days they get between calving and when you pull the bulls can mean the difference between them breeding back or not.
What you did 45 days ago matters.
Cattle need to be on an upward plane of nutrition 45 days prior to breeding, and then they need to remain on a positive plane through the breeding season.
The reason?
It takes 45 days for the egg we're trying to fertilize to be created & developed in the ovaries, and if cattle aren't being fed for that, your breeding won't be as successful.  You can't just put cattle on good feed when the CIDR goes in, or when the bulls get turned out - if you're doing that, you're already behind the 8 ball.
Calving and pre-breeding is the worst time to cheat a cow.  But the good news is that the economic investment you make in a cow through proper nutrition & maintenance during this time period can also be the best return on your dollar.
Slower is faster.
We say this all of the time.
And it's because stress doesn't help you optimize reproductive success.
When cattle are stressed, they release cortisol.  And cortisol kills sperm.
So the slower and calmer you can work cattle, the more reproductive success you will have.  Slower & calmer will lead to faster & better conception.  This is especially true if you are synchronizing cattle and/or using AI with your cattle.  Because of the increased handling that comes with these two strategies, the calmer you can work cattle will help you over the long run.
Breed cattle to reduce dystocia.
The uterus & reproductive tract of a cow takes about 45 days to go through involution and preparations for breeding.  Involution is basically the process of the uterus shrinking back to it's "normal" size after calving.  Cows that have trouble calving (dystocia) will take even longer to go through involution, because not only does the uterus need to accomplish it's basic job of shrinking, but it also has the additional job of repairing any damage that occurred during calving.
This is where the power of selective genetics and AI can help.
If you use bulls with proven calving ease factors (EPD's, head & shoulder shape, birthweight, etc.) you can greatly reduce the amount of dystocia you experience with your cows.  A cow who calves without complications doesn't have the additional stress placed on her reproductive tract during calving, and so involution happens on a more desirable time schedule.
This is the beauty of AI -
You can breed a whole host of cattle to bulls with proven and reliable calving ease factors utilizing AI.   Not only should those cattle calve easier, which means less work for you at calving time - but assuming proper nutrition, they should also breed back more quickly since you've placed the least amount of stress on their reproductive system.
PS - Our favorite calving ease bulls this year are McCoy, Balance, & Effective.
Synchronization can jump start your cattle.
We are very honest with the folks we AI for, in that we will not achieve a 100% conception rate with time breeding and artificial insemination (AI). 
We say assuming proper nutrition -
 50% conception is good, 60% is better and 70% is great. 
Anything above 70% - well, take notes because that conception rate is stellar and you should do the same thing again next year.  If we were a part of the equation - awesome.  But it probably has more to do with the nutrition of the cattle.  ;)
One of my favorite parts of AI though is that you're probably using some sort of synchronization practice to achieve the ability to AI.  While we may not get 100% of the cattle we AI pregnant on the first service, the fact that the cattle were synchronized can in some cases "jump start" a heifer or cow into an estrous cycle.  They may not breed on the first service (AI), but they're more apt to breed on the second heat (AI or bull bred) because the hormone cascade and estrous cycle was jump started with the first round of synchonization.
Because of that, you can rightly expect to utilize a 45 day breeding season.  In fact, in my opinion even though fertility isn't proven to be heritable, by culling out cattle who don't breed up in a 45 day period you're not allowing late calving cows to slow down your breeding season the next year.  (That's assuming that a cow who breeds late the first year, will also calve late, and then may not breed up
I don't know about you - but by the time the end of calving season rolls around, I'm thankful that we utilize a shorter vs. longer season at the ranch!  I haven't found anybody yet who loves to calve heifers or cows for months at a time, and if you properly plan your breeding season the year before - you don't have to.
So there's my {5} tips for optimizing reproductive success in cattle.
Because success is reason enough!
What would you add to the list?
Sound off in the comments!  :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Doctoring cattle.

'Tis the season.
For doctoring cattle that is.

Most of the cows at Double M are turned out onto fields of grass now, and are grazing away. 
In the late fall/winter, we feed hay to the cattle and the person who is driving (not feeding) is in charge of checking health on the cattle.  Since the cows are turned out now, the guys go through the cattle periodically to check health.  Basically, they either drive through the herd in a pickup, or usually end up riding through on a horse and checking health.
I'd bet a diet coke that horseback is their desired method of transportation.
If a cow or calf has to be doctored, the guys will decide if they're close enough to a working facility (chute & alley) to bring them in and doctor - or if not, then they'll rope them in the field and doctor them there.  Roping can be a "one man job", but it's easier with two people - one to rope the calf, and one to flank it.
Right now they're mostly treating calves for pinkeye or pneumonia, so most calves get a shot of Nuflor (or Resflor) and an eye patch if needed.  The guys try to catch health issues early, not only because it's more economical but because they care for the cattle and don't want to see anything suffer.

Checking health and doctoring - well, it's just a part of the job!

The cattle take care of us - so we take care of them.

Success is reason enough.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Big Loop.


Two things that ranchers love - happened this weekend.
Rain & Rodeo.


We spent our weekend enjoying The Big Loop in Jordan Valley, Oregon. 

Clint and Morgan were entered again this year... 


First up was the team roping, and then they competed in the Big Loop.



While they didn't catch on Saturday, it was fun to watch them in the events.
We stayed for the rodeo Sunday as well, and when we woke up Sunday it was gorgeous outside.  It was the perfect temperature, and the sun was shining.  We headed into town early to do a bit of shopping at the park and I even bought a pair of sunglasses since I'd left mine at home; it was so bright out.  As everyone was headed into the rodeo, huge rain clouds came rolling in and the skies opened up.  It poured rain off and on for the rest of the afternoon, but armed with coats, blankets and a tarp - we were determined to watch the rest of the rodeo.

A big thank you to Kim & Morgan for letting us stay with them! Taking in the Big Loop has become a tradition for us, and it is a great way to spend the third weekend in May.

Let the 'Big Loop' fly!


Read my 2014 Big Loop recap here.