Last updated on April 7th, 2022 at 01:10 pm
For Daniel, Seeing is Believing
Sometimes, you gotta see to fully believe. Just ask Daniel Schwab.
MEET DANIEL SCHWAB
Schwab and his wife, Amanda, run 300 commercial cows and a handful of purebreds on the family homestead near Meyronne, Saskatchewan. Charolais bulls and now some Simmental provide the genetic power. The registered cows are bred AI to produce home-raised bulls.
It hasn’t always been that way. For the first several generations, the operation was mainly a farm, with about 30 cows around to graze the spots a plow wouldn’t go.
Then Schwab’s dad upped the cow herd to around 100 head, a number that stayed stable throughout Daniel’s childhood. When Daniel took a more active role in the family farm, the cows became a major part of the operation.
The cows have long been on a mineral program, Schwab says, both tubs and loose product. Then, three years ago, Schwab transitioned to Riomax® tubs.
The results made him a believer. The fourth-generation rancher saw a 50-pound increase in weaning weights and 3% better breed-back with his herd, consuming the new mineral only part of the year.
Calving, Grazing, & Weaning
The cattle come home from summer pastures mid to late October, “and we start putting tubs out for them,” he says. The cows stay on the mineral through late gestation and calving, which begins around the middle of February for the heifers and March 1 for the mature cows. Calving season winds up around June 1.
Schwab had seen, in the breed-back for his cows, the advantages of an adequate mineral program during the critical times of gestation and calving. But being one who likes to see results for himself, he did an on-farm trial using the tubs year-round.
He put pairs on two pastures with similar grass and water. One pasture had tubs throughout summer grazing, the other didn’t. That’s where he saw the 50-pound difference in weaning weights.
And he saw another advantage, too. When he weaned in early November, the calves that had been on mineral all summer didn’t stand at the fence and bawl as much. “It must have been familiar to them that there’s a tub,” Schwab says, and the calves spent more time eating than bawling.
Consumption & Herd Health
And he noticed a change in the amount of minerals his cows consume. Comparing his present mineral with his previous program, “It’s amazing the amount that we were going through in comparison to what we’re actually consuming now.”
He hasn’t put a pencil to it yet, but a little skull time shows him that he’s further ahead.
What’s more, the amount of sickness decreased significantly, and therefore so did his medicine costs. “We’re treating less animals now than we were three years ago,” he says.
He recalls treating 10 to 15 calves a day in years past. “And all of a sudden, we’re down to one every now and again. We’re not putting as much medicine into them as we were in previous years,” he says.
“It’s really been a huge improvement for us. Going forward, I’m pretty sure we’re going to year around (mineral program) and getting hooked up with tubs that have garlic infused in them.”
Garlic? Yep, garlic. Schwab started using garlic blocks a couple of years ago for fly control after several neighbors told him about how well it worked for their horses.
“We tried it and we’ve noticed a big difference. The cows aren’t standing around all grouped up, trying to get away from the flies. They’re spread out more and the bulls have easier access. They’re grazing further out and they’re not just big groups of them.”
Making the Most of Poor Quality Forage
The Schwabs also farm, and the cows go on standing corn for about a month beginning the middle of November to early December.
Given the reduced feed value of standing corn, Schwab says the mineral needs of the cows increase during that time. Once the corn is grazed out, the herd transitions to a higher quality hay and baled small grains.
“Triticale has become a big part of it now for what we do for feed variety,” he says. We like to get grain bales of those. They do well on that and you don’t have to worry about bloating.”
Get More Bang for your Buck!
Schwab is not shy about sharing his experience with others. “The biggest thing that I say is it all comes down to a good mineral program. You gotta be able to get the right minerals to them and the right formulation of minerals to them,” he says.
“You’ve got to start with a good mineral at the beginning. If you’re looking for the most gain and the most bang for your buck, essentially that’s what you’ve got to be looking at,” he says.
“Some guys around here, they want to basically put in as little as possible and see a better return.” They are more range operators, which is a consideration. But Schwab asks them a question.
“What do you hope to gain out of putting our minerals? Is it just to make you feel good because you’re putting something out there or do you actually want to see a profitable result and a good return on investment?”
To Schwab, that’s what his mineral program is, an investment in his cows. “Once they (other ranchers) actually hear our results and start to see those, it plays a big factor on what guys do, too,” he says.
Cattle are a big part of Daniel and Amanda’s life. Daniel bought his first set of cows when he was 13 years old. Amanda, the AI technician for the operation, is farm-raised and was actively involved in 4-H (a not-for-profit organization that is focused on strong leadership for world-class positive youth development experiences).
And now the Schwabs are three. Their daughter, Willow, came into this world in January 2021; the fifth generation on the Schwab homestead which dates back to 1911.
“As our kids start to grow up, definitely we’ll be keeping them involved and trying to keep them interested in the cattle, the farm life, and ranching.”
Written by Burt Rutherford, Former Senior Editor at BEEF Magazine