This year, we selected 36 calves to be kept in tact as bulls. These bull calves will either be kept for our own breeding purposes or sold to buyers. On December 18th, these bulls went on feed to begin their gain/performance test.
Each bull was weighed before going on feed and will again be weighed and sonogrammed at the end of the performance test. The bulls will be on the gain test for about 100 days.
This feeding period allows us to collect data on efficiency & production to be considered in genetic selection of future herd sires. The test also allows us to measure feed conversion, which is the amount of feed an animal consumes as compared to the amount of body weight gained (expressed as a ratio). Feed conversion ratios around 6:1 (6 pounds of feed per pound of gain) are common in most beef cattle operations. Cattle that gain more weight with less feed or forage are more efficient.
On January 19th, Dr. Reid Redden & Dr. Ronald Pope with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension came out & ultra sounded 390 ewes as part of the American Sheep Industry Association’s Let’s Grow initiative.
After ultra sounding the 390 ewes, we determined that 183 are carrying singles, 193 are carrying twins, and 14 are open (not bred). That makes a projected lamb crop of 145.9%. Last year’s projected lamb crop was 136.6% after the ewes were ultra sounded. We are getting closer to our goal of 150%.
By identifying which ewes have twins, we can adjust our management in accordance with the resources we have. During lambing, we can spend more time on predator management in pastures that have ewes with twins (since they have a potentially higher lamb crop value than those with singles). Ewes with singles don’t require as high of a nutritional level to maintain themselves and to lactate supporting one lamb.