Why February is the best time of the year
On the morning of February 1st, it was -36 here. Call me insane, but I think February is the best time of the year to be in the purebred cattle business, despite the temperatures. (Of course, I also think June and October are the best time of the year, but I will get to those months in the future). Why February? Only because it is probably the most important month of the year for purebred breeders. It is the month major breeding decisions get made – and those decisions will impact your breeding program for at least the next 5 years, and potentially shape it for decades. In short, it is the month of opportunity.
In February, there are January/February calves on the ground that are developing, and providing an early glimpse of their potential. They create a short window to determine what matings from last year appear to be working. There are so many questions to be asked and answered: How easily did they calve? Were the calves vigourous? is the colour/pigmentation what you expected? Is it the sire? Is it the dam? Was it just the wrong combination of genetics? What is the early performance/muscling/femininity like? All of these questions impact the decisions that must be made this month.
In the mail there is a steady stream of bull sale catalogues, followed by sales to attend, and fellow breeders to chat with and learn from. Not only are bulls to be selected for your own use, but also the inspection of different bloodlines, cow families and breeding programs are very important. Not to mention the constant comparing to your own bulls back home – how do your bulls stack up against those of your peers? What can you learn from your peers to make your breeding decisions/marketing program better in future years? What are the current industry trends? Should you follow those trends within your operation? What are your customers telling you about the genetics they purchased from you last year, or the year before that? February provides the opportunity to network, and obtain this important feedback.
Finally, after doing the evaluations and answering all of those questions in your own mind, the breeding decisions have to be made. At Applecross, we continue to expand our numbers, so we continue to utilize AI as much as possible in order to broaden our genetic base, before turning out the bulls to finish things off. In February, a lot of time is spent with our projected breeding chart, the chart that highlights the all of our options and our best ideas. But potential matings can still change half a dozen times between February and mid-March. We don’t always get what we want either – AI matings can come back; we can change our mind at the last minute and then regret the change a day later, but all in all, February is the month of opportunity. Stressful at times trying to make a good decision – one that you won’t know the answer of for 5 years; but an awesomely exciting time to get to pull the trigger and make your choice.
February. The month of decisions. The month of opportunity. The best time of the year.