Following the Calves, On the ranch

Following the Calves: Decisions, decisions

Print“We’re going to sell them all.”

I could hear it in Virginia Evert’s voice. She hated to say that. After all, she and cousin-in-law Rachael spent nearly a year with those heifers, from calving to weaning and developing.

Much longer if you consider the genetic decisions and investments in herd improvement.

“All the old-timers say, ‘Save when they’re low and sell when they’re high,’” Virginia says. Even after last fall’s price drop, the market is still relatively strong.

Anne Burkholder had room in the yard and interest in buying the other half of the calf crop.

Evert_galsSo Virginia and Brandon and Kirk and Rachael all sat around the kitchen table and weighed the variables.

“If they’re not saving any we’re not saving any,” Brandon says. Management is simplified by decisions made in tandem. An outsider might never know ownership is held separately.

Following the 2002 wild fire, their herd rebuilding was so aggressive the criteria for saving a female was that it was female. (Ok, there was a little more to it than that, but basically they were saving everything they could to increase numbers.)

The first-calf heifers are housed at the same farm place as the newly weaned females.

The first-calf heifers are housed at the same farm place as the newly weaned females.

“The first few years, we’d go out the morning of sale day and pick the heifers we liked best that day,” Virginia says.

Now they wean the heifers at Rachael’s parents’ place. Keeping them into January gives them more confidence.

“Then we are able to relook at who we like at that point in time,” Virginia says. Daughters that are the product of AI have a better chance, the odds are less favorable for those born to unfriendly mamas.


Hondo was a new addition to the family the week I visited, and I swear he was even cuter in person!

But they all get the benefit of better nutrition in front of them. Pat Laird of Laird Feed in Gothenburg, Neb., provides advice on weaning rations and cow mineral programs.

“We analyze everything to determine, ‘Is it the best money spent?’” he says. Pat takes a look at the available resources, calculates the quality and quantity of home-grown forage and then develops a plan.

The fact that he’s a fellow producer who also sends calves to Will Feed just sweetens the deal. He has firsthand knowledge.

“The transition from mama to the feedlot needs to be as smooth as possible,” Pat says, noting that they all use Avail-4 mineral and have paid more attention to whole-herd nutrition in the last several years.

“They’re smart producers. They realized it benefited everything from conception to cow health and calf health,” Pat says. “It makes sense. That cow is not only nursing, but developing a fetus, too.”

She could also be developing the next generation of Evert cows.

But not this year.

Anne reports the Evert heifers have come up on feed and have adjusted nicely to the feedyard. Calving season is “on” and the cycle continues. Next time we’ll check in on the new beginnings at the ranch, while the feeder animals near the finish line.

May your bottom line be filled with black ink,


 Catch up on the rest of the Evert family’s story with these posts:

Our “Following the calves” series will also take you to Arizona and Florida in these posts:



blackinkmiranda Visit Website
I love God, my kids, my hubby, rural life, agriculture and working for CAB. I’m officially the director of producer communications, which basically means I get to learn from lots of smart people and pass that information along to lots of other smart people: you. I’m so lucky to work with cattle producers and other folks in this great industry. (Oh, and one more job perk? I get to eat lots of really yummy beef.)
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