Life on Rocking P Ranch
At Bayer, we believe that taking care of the well-being of animals is the right thing to do and that is goes hand-in-hand with the health of animals. Every day, we witness the remarkable commitment livestock professionals have in ensuring their animals are healthy and well-cared for. Jim and Cyndi Puyear own Rocking P Ranch in Moniteau County, Missouri where they raise Simmental Cattle. They care for the health and well-being of their cattle in a variety of innovative and practical ways.
If you are inspired by Jim and Cyndi’s practice and think you have a project that can make a difference, apply for a Bayer Care4Cattle grant online at http://go.bayer.com/Care4Cattle.
The cattle farming landscape has changed significantly in the last 50 years. However, one thing has remained the same. Most farmers care for their cattle.
I have traveled the world and spoken to thousands of farmers in my life and career as a farm broadcaster. While no two farmers do things exactly the same way, there is one universal truth: true stockmen (and women) focus on the well-being of their animals.
For the past few decades, my husband Jim and I have raised Simmental Cattle in the heartland of the United States. As a seventh-generation farmer, I know that we must use good agricultural practices and methods that fill the needs for health-conscious customers. Our livestock are raised in a stress-free manner and their well-being is always at the forefront on our farm.
But most people have never set foot on a farm. How can they know what cattle well-being means or looks like? Here are 7 ways we ensure that the animals on our farm are healthy, content and well cared for.
1. The first limiting nutrient to all living things is water. Having an ample supply of fresh water accessible to our cows is the most important thing we can do for them. This can be done through water troughs, automatic waterers, ponds, streams, and wells and should be accessibly in every environment the cows are including fields and pastures, barn lots, and other shelters.
2. High quality, air-dried forage is the biggest management tool we have. Sustainability is such a buzzword in agriculture today, but it's not a new practice. Grow what Mother Nature and your soils will let you grow! Here, in mid-Missouri that includes fescue and clover. We get free nitrogen from the air because clover is a legume and fixes nitrogen in the soil.
3. Knowing the stocking rate on our farm is important to animal well-being. We know exactly how many acres are needed per cow/calf pair while making sure to maintain 3 – 4 inches of top growth in the pasture. We practice rotational grazing to make sure the pastures aren't grazed too tightly which benefits the cattle and the fields.
4. Both natural and artificial shelter is necessary. Temperature extremes are a way of life in mid-Missouri so we want to provide shade from the hot sun and shelter from storms. We built a "calf hotel" with creep gates last winter so calves were able to get shelter from the winter elements while momma cows were eating hay.
5. We are hands-on with our cattle at Rocking P Ranch. The Simmental breed is known for docility, which is an important trait for us because we do handle our cattle ourselves. Training cattle to halter is an important management practice here. It is a huge benefit if we need to assist in calving, nursing, and for artificial insemination and embryo transfer.
6. For overall herd health, an ample and consistent supply of salt and mineral is readily available for all the cattle (including calves) all the time. Cows that are denied salt and mineral will develop malnutrition conditions or dehydration.
7. We work closely with our veterinarian. In this picture he is transferring an embryo into a recipient cow. Our herd is on a one-time per year vaccine regimen. We vaccinate for respiratory, reproductive and gut diseases and worm them at that time. We also participate in the Federal Johne's Disease Voluntary Control Program so our veterinarian tests our cows at that time.
We've experienced a very limited amount of illness in our herd. If there is an illness or injury, we catch it early and treat it quickly. We spend time with our cattle herd and watch for signs. We watch their eyes, ears, nose, mouth, posture and movement. We know when something is not right. They'll talk to us.
All of these methods ensure that our animals are healthy and content. We are more "hands on" with our herd than most, but it works for us!
-Jim and Cyndi Puyear