The Feeding Tractor and The Feeder Calves

Hi I’m Mike. Today is the day that the calves of the ranch
graduate to the next stage of their lives and today we get out the feeding tractor and
get them growing on our Wyoming life. Welcome back, its another beautiful Wyoming
day, but don’t let all the sunshine fool you. Its still only 40 degrees, which for me, with
no wind, seems like summer in aruba. At least in my mind, and just let me have
that one. This winter on the ranch, we are rewriting
the way that we do things and trying to make improvements for the better. Normally, calves would have been sold already
and would have left the ranch. We would be on to winter feeding and we would
have a paycheck in the bank. None of those normal things are happening
this year for the first time since we have been on the ranch. We have decided to keep calves at home, wean
them off their moms and put some weight on them here before selling a single one. At that point they should be worth more than
we have into them and we won’t be at the mercy of the market as it stands. For the cows, now that they don’t have calves
on them, they are being forced to forage a bit more than usual. When my father in law Gilbert was alive, he
would have me start feeding around the first snow. This year, the cows are out on pasture, and
have access to plenty of grass that is still available throughout the ranch. And that paycheck, well, usually we would
have it in our hands and some of the worry about the next year would be past us. This year, you can tell, everyone is on edge,
wondering if this is going to work, and its not only our family that is taking a risk. Erins mom also makes most of her living off
the ranch, and when tiny profits start getting spread too thin, its stressful enough, when
there is no profit, well I’ll leave that up to your imagination, but its not easy. Also with the lack of daily feeding there
is one piece of equipment that is getting a break out of the whole deal. And that is our feeding tractor the John Deere
6420. This tractor was on the ranch when we came
here, Gilbert bought it in 2006 and when we first came here, it wasn’t used. In fact, it still had the plastic on the seat. Gilbert used it during haying but that was
about it, but it was Erin who asked if we could use it during feeding our first winter. Gilbert said yes, and although we still use
it during haying, its also used all winter feeding the cows, but not quite yet. Since we aren’t feeding the cows, we must
be feeding something, and this year, it’s the calves. Actually, at this point, they are now weaned
off their moms, so technically they are considered weaners. I can’t call them that with a straight face
day after day, so for me I will use another term that you hear around here and that is
feeders, or feeder calves. Which is quite appropriate, because we will
be doing a lot of feeding them. This morning we will be using our feeding
tractor to first feed them a bale, then we will be headed back to the summer pasture,
where we will pick up another type of feeder, one that will keep them in the good stuff
for quite a while. Before we get there though, we have to move
them all into a corral and out of the way, as we feed them and as we move in their new
feeder. With one bale on board, weighing in at about
1400lbs we can head back toward the calves, excuse me, the feeder calves. There are about 130 of them all waiting patiently
and this one bale will feed each one about 11 lbs. Since they weigh an average of about 400 lbs,
then we can figure this bale will last them 1 day. The bale since it was produced here on the
ranch this summer, has a cost to us about $40. So each calves share is about 30 cents per
day. On hay alone we expect our calves to grow
between 1 to 2 lbs per day. If we average 400 right now and we want to
average 500, then we need 50 days to make that weight, at least on average. 30 cents per day, at 50 days is 15 dollars
per calf, or about 2000$ total dollars in hay. That’s an average, to get more perfect numbers
we are going to have to weight each calf and figure out how much each one needs to grow,
and that is coming, just not today. 50 days is a long time to still be waiting
for that payday. We have bills to pay, the ranch needs operating
capital and we have people waiting for a paycheck. To help this process happen a bit faster,
we have to figure out a way to put more weight on the calves and faster. There is a product, made by show rite feeds
called accelerated steer and heifer grower, most people just call it accelerator. Today we start feeding it but with the help
of our creep feeder that we left down in the summer pasture. With the calves occupied and munching on a
bale in our center corral, they are out of the top one and that’s were we are going
to put our feeder calf, feeder. We need chain to pull it home and we are off. The creep feeder was last used this summer
to help calves gain weight also but we got it in with them a bit late and although many
of them took advantage of it, they will have a chance to try it again once we get it back
home. Over 4 miles away we find it waiting, and
hook it up to the back of the tractor for the ride home. Its made to pull along, it doesn’t have
wheels but it does have a type of skid to travel on. They do take a beating however, and need yearly
maintenance. The big trick is making sure its empty when
you move it, if it even has a few hundred pounds of food in it, they can and will tear
themselves apart. This one is empty, and we can head back toward
the main ranch with it. Once we arrive, its into the corral where
we can drop it off. At the feed store, we pick up a ton of our
accelerator and pull in next to the feeder while the calves keep a close eye on what
we are doing. Then we can start filling it up. I wish we had an elevator or bulk feed store
near us, but we don’t have one within a hundred miles, so we have to deal with bagged
feed, unless I have time to take at least half a day to run and pick it up. This feed costs us 14$ per 50lb bag. We should be able to fit 30 bags in the feeder
and that gives us a total cost for this fill up of $420. Per calf, that comes out at 3.25 cents. A bit pricer than hay, but our hope is that
with this supplementing their feed we can push that daily gain up closer to 3 lbs per
day. Accelerator is a relatively low protein but
high fiber and fat grain based developer that puts on weight and is specifically made for
beef cattle. I don’t know how long this will last these
calves, sorry feeder calves, but we hope that it may last a week maybe. A 450 lb calf, that might bring $720 at auction,
which isn’t enough to cover costs, but if we can gain an extra 10 lbs per week on that
feeder calf, then that 450lbs is now 460 lbs at the same price he or she is now worth an
extra $16. The cost of the accelerator and they hay total
is about 3.50 cents per week for that feeder calf. 3.50 to make 16 dollars extra. Take that over a few weeks, and that feeder
calf will eventually be worth what is cost to raise on the ranch. As long as the market holds up. That’s the gamble, and we not even gambling
with our own money, but the ranches livelihood. The whole thing scares the crap out of me,
but we have a plan, and we know what we have to do, and what we have to make. I’m just glad that we made the decision
to take our product and make it work for us, not just give it away to the highest bidder. The feeder calves they seem happy and we still
have a long row to hoe but I’m happier too, since we came to the ranch, I wondered why
we just let someone tell us what we would make each year. We couldn’t go to market and hey man, we
had a rough year, we had drought so we had to buy hay, we had a tractor break down and
we had to fix that, since we had added expenses, we are going to have to ask a bit higher price
for our calves this year. If we tried to do that, they would laughed
us out of the sales barn. But like twisted sister said in way back in
1984, we not gonna take it. And no matter how it works out, we stood up
for ourselves and sometimes that all you can do. Thanks for coming along, be sure to subscribe
if you want to see how this whole thing works out and come along with us, explore the ranch
life and escape the ordinary. Until next time, have a great week and thanks
for joining us in our Wyoming life.

6 comments on “The Feeding Tractor and The Feeder Calves”

  1. Sean Baxter says:


  2. Connor Taylor says:

    Great vid mike I hope you have a great day and keep farming

  3. Washingtons Global says:

    Holding out as long as we can with the calf's. Taking the product and making it work for the ranch is the most important part of ranching!!! 💪 Video Mike… Congrats on BTR getting monetized too… Superchat ready!!!

  4. Clear Creek Farm says:

    Love the video

  5. JB Weld says:

    Are there other ranchers in the area holding onto calves due to prices as well?

  6. Brian Campbell says:

    Is there a reason to not use a hay feeder?

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