The herd at N bar A Ranch is made up of mature cows, breeding age heifers, yearling heifers/steers and calves of the year. Most female offspring from mature cows/ breeding age heifers are retained and grown with the purpose of integrating into the herd, to one day have calves of their own. Male offspring are grown for the purpose of producing high quality beef.
Calves are born during the spring/summer months and typically weigh between 60-80lbs at birth. They are closely observed to be sure mother and calf are bonding and that the calf is vigorous and getting that all-important first milk(colostrum) as soon as possible. The newborn calves are weighed, sexed, banded(if male), and tagged for identification shortly after birth and never out of sight of the cow.
For robust growth and well being of the calves, they are not weaned. Instead, calves are kept with their mothers and around one year of age, have typically weaned themselves from milk. With free choice nutritious feed, the mother and her growing fetus experience no set back from this practice. Just before having her new calf, the cow and last year's calf are separated briefly while still allowing both to see one another and touch noses. This ensures the newborn will have adequate milk to begin its life. Once the new calf is born and exhibits strong nursing habits, the family group is reunited.
During the growing season, the cattle at N bar A enjoy a life of grazing the pasture and forest, offering diverse forages to select from. They typically retreat to the shade of the trees during the heat of the day to lay down, relax and ruminate.
Flies are a nuisance to all varieties of livestock throughout the growing season. The ranch practices several methods for fly control including: as needed application of an organically approved essential oil based topical deterrent, maintaining a free range broiler flock to help mitigate adults and larvae, strategic harrowing to break up manure thereby drying it out making it inhospitable to larvae,and by not using pesticides on pasture or topically on cattle allowing natural fly predators to flourish.
During the cold months, the herd is fed free choice certified organic hay and baleage. All that hay helps them stay warm from the inside out through digestion. Before the snow falls they love finding all the dropped apples from the many apple trees throughout the property.
The herd is never cooped up in a manure filled barn and instead enjoy fresh air and sunlight all winter long. Paths are maintained with tractor snowblower so they can freely access their food, water,bedding and get exercise while doing it. The cattle seek shelter from the elements using natural barriers/protection such as hills and thick stands of fir trees. They are also allowed access to a well ventilated 3 sided shelter during times of inclement weather. Aside from their feed, hay is available for the herd to bed down in.
When needed, a set of custom built wooden corrals featuring a bud box,solid side alleyway and squeeze chute with head catch, all serve to safely and humanely contain cattle for routine health care, breeding and necessary treatments.