Fall has arrived in South Florida. You can't tell it by the turning of the leaves since everything stays green here all year around. You tell by the lower humidity and cooler temperatures — a welcome change from hot summer temperatures and 100% humidity.
We calve in the fall, beginning in September and continuing through January. Despite the spring and summer drought, our cows maintained well this year and are producing very healthy calves. I'm anxious to see our final calf numbers in January.
Fall calving is beneficial for us because our cows are in their best condition of the year. This, along with abundant fall grass, fewer insects and cooler temperatures, make a winning combination.
While many of you in other parts of the country experience wet winters, our winter and early spring can be very dry. This limits our grass quality, and these seasons aren't always favorable for our calving.
Thankfully, we received a lot of tropical moisture in late September. We had to pump water out to keep the pastures from flooding, but we were careful to keep all that we could in reserve. This water could be very valuable by early winter if the weather pattern is similar to the last several years.
We start vaccinating cows the end of October. We vaccinate for leptospirosis, vibriosis and trichomoniasis with a combination vaccine. Any cow that has a bad bag, is crippled, blind, too old or hasn't calved in the past two years will be culled.
The cows and bulls will both be wormed and checked for soundness. The bulls will be semen tested. We feel all these practices help maintain a healthier more productive herd that expresses itself in higher calf numbers.
During this time our cow crew is more important than ever. Having enough riders to completely gather pastures without leaving any cattle behind is critical to the success of our herd health management program. If any sick or impaired animals are left behind, then the vaccination and breeding programs are defective.
Billy, Charlie, Jason, Art, Chris and Duane are the men that work alongside us to make this operation successful. They are passionate about their jobs and are some of the best cowboys in the business. I'm proud they're a part of our operation.
Knowledgeable, experienced employees, an effective herd health management program and good weather are critical in the ranching business. I'm confident two out of three of these are working favorably in our operation. With a little luck, the fall weather will be favorable, too.
Mary Anne Cruse, brother Wes, their parents and grandparents operate Ru-Mar Inc., a large, South Florida commercial cow/calf operation. Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.