Feeding Zone

Our ranch not only feeds our livestock but is a haven for Bald Eagle’s as well!  Here are some pictures and a video of the bald eagles’ that come back to our ranch year after year to feed on placenta’s.  I’m always amazed at how big these birds are. I’m glad we can supply them something to eat in the winter time when food is scarce.

~Erika Fossen~

Here is my video of them on YouTube:





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BSE Case, A Positive For The Canadian Beef Industry

IMG_2313I’m sure some people may have heard about the positive BSE cow that was recently found in Alberta. This is one of the main reasons I wanted to start a blog to clarify things that happen in the industry that maybe aren’t portrayed very well in the media. I think this case is a perfect example of something that is actually a positive for the beef industry when we really take an in depth look at the situation and not simply rely on the media’s interpretation of the event.

Firstly, it would be great if we could stop referring to it as “mad cow”. I think that conjures horrible images in consumer’s minds and is unrelated to the actual prognosis. The proper name is Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). BSE is a progressive neurological disease in cattle. In addition, humans cannot contract BSE unless eating certain parts of the animal: the Specified Risk Material or (SRM). All SRM material is removed in animals who are 30 months and over in all slaughter facilities in Canada.

It was very unsettling news for cattle producers in Canada to hear the words BSE in the media. It takes us back to the dark years (2003) when our cattle were instantly worth nothing. For about ten years after that prices were still very low and it was hard and sparse years owning cattle. For example on our family ranch we probably lost over 1 million dollars of income during that ten year span. I am proud to say we made it through those years with our ranch (most of our land and cattle herd) still in tact. We had to find ways to subsidies our business of cattle production. We were lucky enough to have merchantable timber on our place so we did some logging, we also found a gravel vein so developed a gravel pit and sold gravel and unfortunately we had to sell some land as well to make it through. In addition, we could not make any positive progress because there was simply no money. We had to rely on what we already owned and lived very modestly. We have had some positive years lately, but the words BSE still make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. However, once the initial fear from the word subsided I got to thinking that this finding was actually very positive for the Canadian Beef Industry. This case was found because of the ongoing screening and surveillance Canada does for BSE. Canada, because of our status as “controlled BSE risk country”, needs to test 30 000 head of dead, dying or diseased cattle per year. These cattle being tested are not going into the food supply chain and the cow that recently tested positive was found from this screening and was not in the food supply chain. That means Canada’s surveillance system is working because we found this animal and she never made it into the human food system. I think this really shows how far Canada has come since our initial outbreak in 2003. I wish that was the story the media told!

I have attached some links to some websites with factual information regarding what is happening with the BSE case found in Alberta. I challenge and encourage our followers to find real information to base opinions and judgments on.

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association BSE Update

Canadian Cattlemen’s Association webpage

Canada Food Inspection Agency

Real Agriculture

14 In One Day

Erika Fossen beat me to the punch on her last Blog, February 25- 12 New Babies. I was going to write a very similar blog, but ya snooze ya lose! We chatted about it and decided I should go ahead and post my blog even though they would be very similar in content. I thought I’d at least give you guys (our readers a couple days in between)!
On February 25 (our cows must be on the same schedule) we set a calving record at our ranch, we had 14 babies in one day. It makes for a very busy day, but we love it! We love it for various reasons
1) I am nervous even to write this, but the weather has been fantastic -5 overnight so the ground stays hard, so we don’t have mud, but it’s not too cold for the babies to be born. It is the perfect time for the cows to calve, so when the weather is good we like to have as many baby calves born as possible to take advantage of the gift of good weather in February from Mother Nature.
2) It’s nice to have a calving period that is short and sweet. Calving makes long days and nights checking on cows and making sure things are going smoothly. It is great to have a condensed calving period and get it over with as quickly as possible and go back to sleeping full nights!
3) It means our bulls are doing a good job and our cows are cycling early. A cow only cycles every 21 days, so she can only get bred every 21 days. When we have a big groups calving all together like that that makes us happy that our cows and bulls are healthy and fertile. It is also a bit of reassurance that our management practises are working. In my area of BC, because we turn our cows out on huge amounts of crown range land with little fences, it is worrisome that the cows can take off and not be with bulls, and therefore miss a cycle and our calving can stretch out for months. How we manage this is we keep the cows closer to home for the first cycle and a half and have them in smaller pastures locked in with the bull. This is great for our calving, but costly for hay, because most of the time there is not enough grass by the first of May to totally sustain the cows, their calves and breeding bulls, so we have to feed into May, but when we have majority of our calves born in February and March it definitely validates this decision.
In total as of February 28 we have 109 healthy calves on the ground. Not quite half way there! Keep going girls!

Here are some pictures of our girls with their calves!



February 25th – 12 New Babies

It was a big day of calving yesterday. Here are pictures of the mothers and baby calves born on February 25th. The information is below the picture.

51Z had her heifer calf unassisted @ 6:00 am and it nursed on its own.

S61Z had her heifer calf unassisted @ 7:00 am and it nursed on its own. She had her 1st calf last year and now this is her 2nd calf.

K264U had her heifer calf unassisted @ 8:30 am and it nursed on its own. This cow has a tendency to ‘show her reed’, which means in the last weeks of her pregnancy, her cervix pushes out and could prolapse. Because her calf is a heifer, we have noted this. We will not keep her in our herd.

T601A had her bull calf unassisted @ 10:00 am and it nursed on its own. This is her 1st calf.

52X had her heifer calf unassisted @ 10:30 am and it nursed on its own. This is her 4th baby. We bought this cow as a bred heifer at an auction.

N234T had her bull calf unassisted @ 1:30 pm and it nursed on its own. He was a big boy when he came out. As you can see by the position of her (the cow’s) head, she is NOT happy that we are near her new calf!

127P had her bull calf @ 2:00 pm and we had to assist her. It was a large calf. This cow’s name is ‘Fertile Mertal’ because she accidentally got bred in the fall, as a calf. When she was 15 months old, and was in a pasture with her pen-mates and a bull, she gave birth to a healthy calf! Thus she has had a calf every year for 12 years. She is a good cow.

U13Z had her heifer calf unassisted sometime in the morning, although wasn’t found until after lunch. It had slipped under the fence and wandered off with the older calves. Because the mom was separated for 3 hours we then had to help it nurse, as she was kicking at it. As you can see by the picture and how far away she is standing, she’s still uncertain about the baby.

570S had her bull calf @ 5:00 pm with help from us. It was another big boy. We bought this cow as a year old heifer in the spring, from a ranch in Lumby. They have been good cows. This is this cows’ ninth calf.

234S had her heifer calf unassisted @ 7:00 pm and it nursed on its own. This line of cows has been in our herd for a long time, the black cow (6th picture) is her niece. This picture of her and her calf shows the excellent mothering qualities. She has her leg back, so the calf can get at her udder with ease, and the cow is licking her baby’s butt and pushing her into nurse.

S13U had her bull calf unassisted @ 7:15 pm and it nursed on its own. The ’13’ line has also been in our herd for a long time and are awesome cows.

219T had her bull calf unassisted @ 7:20 pm and it nursed on its own. This cow is a good producer, but she makes us a little frustrated when she has her calf. She likes to hurl insults (beller loudly) from about 40 feet away, but not help him get up and nurse. Thankfully there was no snow on the ground this year so we knew we could leave him and eventually he would get up and get going.

Today, February 26th, is turning out to be another big day with already 7 born and it is only 1:00 pm. ooh, now 8! Bring ’em on girls!
~Erika Fossen~

Even Vegetarians Need Meat!

(This is my Birthday/Christmas gift from my husband)

Here are a couple videos of our cows eating their placenta’s. They often do this as it gives them a boost of protein and energy after calving. It is also natures way of ‘cleaning up’ the calving grounds, which helps keep predators away.
~Erika Fossen~

Just In Time

Disclaimer… This blog should have been posted right after my last one about bringing our new bought cows home! Things have gotten crazy quickly and we are in full swing of calving, so this post is a bit late! SORRY!

We ended up getting our girls home just in time! We brought the last 2 loads home on Friday and Saturday morning we had our first calf! Our first calf gave us quite the scare… Everything started our normally we saw 24W (her tag number to us their tag numbers are like their names) she was off by her self and her tail was lifted (a pretty good indication that she is starting to calve), so we kept an eye on her. In an hour when I checked on her things had progressed, but there were 2 back feet sticking out first instead of two front feet! Ideally we want a forward presentation of a calf at birth the two front feet coming and the head right behind! However 24W was calving backwards two back feet coming first. This makes us very nervous because if the umbilical cord breaks the calf’s head is still inside and can suffocate! As soon as I saw two back legs I yelled at my husband to grab the calving chains from the barn and bring them down to the pen! He was taking along time and I was getting annoyed and anxious when he yelled down the chain weren’t there! What the heck I thought where else could they be? When suddenly the light bulb went off… I had brought them to Vancouver for the Ag In The Classroom presentations and had not put them back! :( ooooops! My husband, Cyle,  sprinted from the barn up to our house to retrieve the missing chains! Once we had them we pulled the calf out! It was a beautiful ring eyed bull calf (intact male).

That evening we had another calf! A heifer calf (a female)! Our timing on bringing our new cows home could not have been any better!IMG_2241
yle and I’s first calf, the ring eyed bull calf.

ur second calf, the heifer calf!