Each spring, we evaluate our yearlings (calves born the winter before that are now a year old) and sort them into groups. The smaller group is left to eat more, gaining more size before bringing them home to put into the finish pens. The larger group is loaded up, brought closer to home to the finish pens and begins our low and slow, 180 day finish ration before harvest.
The process begins with us setting up a catch pen a few days before we are wanting to actually catch them. The catch pen is made of panels that we set up near their normal gate access to the pasture and secure to the large, permanent fence posts. We then put a feeder inside so they are encouraged to go in.
From there, we will come back in a few days once they’re used to it and close them in. We will sort them into the two groups once they are caught!
Having the finish cattle (which are sometimes referred to as our fat cattle) closer to home is out of necessity. Most of our cattle are fed once a day from round feeders where they have free choice access to forage. Our finish cattle are given a barley ration 2 times a day on top of this free choice forage. This ration is what creates the amazing flavor found in our beef. But, the extra work means they need to be closer to home.
This weekend, we will go gather and sort but for now, we will give them time to get used to the catch pen in order to keep this from being a stressful event.