We hope you and your families are well. We want to provide an update on the farm. Spring has arrived and our cattle and sheep are now on pasture. It has been abnormally dry for us this spring but have recently received enough rain to get the pastures growing well.
We have officially retired our first Dexter Cow, White Rock Blossom. Blossom was the first Dexter we purchased for the farm. She has been a tremendous producer for us over the past decade. Blossom has been a model for the longevity we strive for in all of our cows. She raised a healthy fast growing calf each year while in production. Over the past year, Blossom lost her status as Queen of the herd. She used to always be first in the lot and dominated the trough space when the group was fed. However, she became timid of other cows within the herd and trails behind others consistently. Blossom will remain on the farm to live out the rest of her life.
We ended our fall 2022 calving season with 23 healthy calves. We had a 92% birthing rate in 2022, which is on par with our three year average birthing rate of 94%. We have also been tracking the percentage of cows calving within a defined calving cycle over the past 3 years. Over the past three years, our herd has averaged an 85% calving rate within the first two calving cycles. Having a large percentage of calves born in a short time frame has helped herd management and the hanging weight of our beef becoming more consistent. The herd also accomplished a 100% weaning rate from our 2020 and 2021 born calves. We will be weaning our fall 2022 calves in mid-May and at this time we are expecting another 100% weaning rate for our 2022 calves. We use this data to analyze our herd's success from year to year. We have been pleased with the herds production the past three years and are hoping to build upon that in the future.
We are transitioning to a new herd sire at the farm and currently are in possession of two bulls. This allowed us to divide our herd and breed a portion to each bull. Our new bull Helgen Farms Archie, was responsible for breeding 7 cows and Five Star Morgan, was responsible for breeding 23 cows. These cows will begin calving in October, 2023. This is the first time we have used two bulls to breed our herd. We have been pleased with Five Star Morgan the past few years but our plan is to incorporate many of his daughters into production over the next year. Morgan is enjoying his final days at Mad Kettle Farm, as we have advertised him for sale.
Our barn lots and working alley for our cattle has recently gone through a renovation. We added a large staging area to bring the cows in. From the staging area they are moved in small groups to the working area. We sort the cattle and calves prior to their move into the alleyway. Sorting the calves from cows prevents injury to the calves in the tight quarters of the alleyway. We are also able to adjust our tarter headgate for size cattle that will be working at that time. We have utilized metal corral panels, slide gates, a Y-split, and tarter squeeze chute as part of our alleyway system. The Y-split allowed us to create a permanent loading area that can be accessed regardless of the weather conditions. These changes have made working our herd much more enjoyable and safer.
Our flock had a rough summer leading into the 2022 breeding season. We lost 3 mature ewe last summer to coyote attacks, these were the first predator deaths we had suffered in almost a decade. The flock along with our weaned calves suffered from an outbreak of pinkeye. We first attempted to treat our outbreak with LA 200 but soon switched to Draxxin for better and quicker treatment. We do believe the stress of the attacks in addition to many suffering vision impairments at the onset of pinkeye led to an unusually low lambing rate this year. This year our flock raised 87% of the lambs born compared to our 5 year average of 87%. They also raised 1.5 lambs per ewe compared to our 5 year average of 1.64 lambs per ewe. The lambs that have been born are healthy and have been growing well. We are looking forward to watching their performance as we collect data to submit to NSIP for estimated breeding values. We are also planning to attend the Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins Symposium on July 8, 2023 and cosigning animals to the sale.
The next generation of Mad Kettle farmers are showing interest in learning and helping around the farm. Our cattle and sheep handling systems have allowed all the kids to be present and involved when working the animals. They are learning about basic animal care and the importance of keeping the animals in optimal health. Cole and Jolie will be showing pigs at the Frederick County Fair this year. This will be the first time Jolie has participated in the fair. She is very excited and looking forward to working with the pigs. Cole will also be showing two Katadhin wethers at the fair. This will be his first time showing sheep. We were able to take lambs from the farm for him to show.
Summer has ended and new life is around the farm. We have had 14 new born claves born in October with more to expected in through the middle of December. We had twin calves for the first time this year. The cow is a first time mom and has done great raising two claves. Our senior cow, White Rock Blossom is 15 years old and is successfully raising her 11th calf at Mad-Kettle Farm. Many of our Dexter cows are closing in on double digit age and remain productive within our herd.
Our cattle have been co-grazing this fall with our bred ewes. The bred ewes will remain with our cattle until the week of Thanksgiving. We will split them as our bred ewes will begin lambing at the beginning of January. Co-grazing has allowed for more flexible grazing options with our developmental ewe lambs. This group of ewe lambs has benefited from having access to more clean pastures than in previous years. Our 14 ewe lambs are currently with our new ram TLF 21009, we will be expecting lambs in March. In total, we should hopefully have between 85-100 lambs born in 2022.
Last summer, we raised 4 broad breast white turkeys. This year we decided to expand our turkey operation to 30. We lost one turkey while they were in the brooder for the first 6 weeks. We then moved the turkeys outdoors for the final 10 weeks of growth. A few turkeys were able to fly out of the electric netting and predator's killed two birds. Since losing those bird, the turkeys are put in the barn at night. We will be harvesting them before Thanksgiving and expect weights around 18-20 pounds per bird.
We have the beef. We will be bringing our slaughter cattle home from our lease around Thanksgiving. They will be on a finishing ration of unlimited hay and supplemental grain feeding schedule until they are taken to Gore's Custom Slaughter. We hope everyone has a safe and happy holidays.
We are excited that spring is here. The grass is growing and our cow calf pairs were happy to arrive at the lease farm to begin grazing fresh pasture. Our cow calf pairs will remain together until the beginning of June when we will wean the calves. Morgan has been rewarded with a little rest and relaxation after a two and a half month breeding season. Morgan bred 22 cows and 2 heifers this winter. This will be the first group of calves sired by Morgan on the farm. This is quite exciting as Morgan is homo polled (no horns) and all of his offspring will be polled as well. We will begin calving around the middle of October.
Our lambing season has ended and we had a fairly good year. We have 36 ewes currently with raising 70 lambs. Six of our ewes are successfully raising triplets. All the lambs are healthy and growing well. The flock just began their pasture rotation and were happy to see fresh green grass. The lambs will remain with their mothers until the beginning of May.
October is an exciting time around the farm. Our Dexter cows have started calving and we currently have four healthy calves on the ground. We are checking the herd daily as 18 more cows should be calving in coming weeks. The herd is rotated to new pasture paddock each week. Each paddock is rested 26 days between grazing to keep pasture recovery and nutritional levels high.
Breeding season arrived for our Katahdins at the end of September. Our rams Fred and Barney are hard at work servicing our ewes. The rams will be removed from the ewes at the beginning of November and our flock will be reunited. Fred will be used for clean up duty in case any ewes don't breed up during their first exposure. We are excited about the potential of this upcoming lamb crop.
The farm has added some new animals over the summer. Cole has shown tremendous interest in the farm over the past year and decided to try raising rabbits, turkeys, and chickens. He has done a great job caring for all the new animals. His turkeys are huge and will be great for upcoming holidays. The rabbits are becoming tame and all the kids enjoys spending time with them. The ISA brown chicks are growing well and will be producing lots of eggs in the future. With successfully raising poultry this year we are considering raising meat chickens next year.
It has been busy the past few months with weaning lambs, making hay, managing pasture, and various other tasks. We took a trip to Pennsylvania and New York to deliver Dexter heifers. We have had multiple people visit the farm to pick out breeding stock from our Katahdin lambs.
We decided to try co-grazing with our mature Katahdin ewes and weaned Dexter calves this year. We were skeptical of co-grazing but have been pleasantly surprised with the practice. The main advantage of co-grazing for our farm has been better utilization of our pastures. Our pastures have withstood the dry weather better than in years past. The practice of co-grazing allowed our weaned lambs access to better pasture rotations as well. We did have concerns about sorting the co-grazing group at first. However, the Katahdins and Dexters calm nature makes sorting them stress free. We have provided the co-grazing group with a standard sheep mineral. We plan to co-graze our mature Katadhin ewes and weaned Dexter calves in the coming years. We hope you consider this practice as well.
March was incredibly busy with the birth of new lambs. We welcomed 54 lambs to the farm. Our 16 mature ewes averaged a 218% lamb crop and our 14 ewe lambs averaged a 120% lamb crop. We had 3 ewe lambs that did not breed in their first ram exposure but should have lambs in the coming weeks following a our last chance ram exposure. Our flock just began its rotational grazing season. We currently have 5 paddocks set up to rotate through with the ability to add more as we enter the summer months. The lambs are growing quickly and will be weaned on May 3.
We just acquired our new herd sire for our Dexter cattle. Five Star Morgan is a proven bull that will be able to service our entire herd. He is a red homozygous polled bull which will provide us with an entire polled calf crop. We are very excited to add Morgans genetics to our herd. However, we will have to wait until January 2021 to expose our cows to Morgan and his first calves will arrive in October 2021. Our fall born 2019 calves are growing great and will be weaned on April 19. At weaning our mature cattle and remaining 2018 calves will be moved to our lease farm to graze through the fall.
Things have really picked up around the farm. We have had eight Dexter calves born over the past five days. Our herd bull worked hard in January and February to service our Dexter cows. Cole, has been helping with the cattle this week and is enjoying every minute of it. He helped tag new born calves and monitor laboring cows. This past Saturday, Cole and Jolie, helped tag our first born calf of the season and noticed a cow in labor. We kept our distance and monitored the cow and were able to watch her give birth to a heifer. This was the first time Cole and Jolie, got to watch a cow give birth. We are still expecting calves from 17 cows and the next few weeks will be eventful.
As we inch closer to fall things are picking up around the farm. We have brought our 25 bred cows back from the lease farm to prepare for calving. We will continue to utilize rotational grazing to provide nutritious growth for our nursing cows and develop strong root system in our pasture to increase spring hay yields. We have four designated paddocks for grazing and will stock pile fescue in our remaining pasture field to be strip grazed once the growing season has ended. We are hoping to graze our stockpiled fescue into January. Our calves from 2017 and 2018 were returned to the lease farm to graze through the end of the growing season. These calves will have half to the pasture ground available to them as we are renovating the remaining ground by no-till drilling fesuce.
Our retained ewe lambs have been merged with the mature ewes for the first time since weaning. These ewe lambs have been managed aggressively to gain weight in preparation for breeding season. The ewes are on good pasture and receiving an additional half pound of grain each per day to maximize potential offspring. We will sort the ewe group into two separate breeding groups and place them on fresh fields to be exposed to our rams. We will be expecting lambs in the middle of February.
We have had a busy few weeks making hay. The time and resources that go into making hay exceed all other yearly projects on the farm. There have been numerous studies done that show hay left sitting on the ground is subject to 20-30% loss. To help minimize this loss we have 66 bales stored on pallets and tarped. These bales should only suffer roughly a 5% loss. This is a short term solution to preserve hay. Our long term goal is to build a permanent hay storage building to help limit hay loss in the future. This is the first time we have stored hay under a tarp, we hope it works well.
A few weeks ago, we were approached by friends about adopting their cat. They told us Mr. Whiskers enjoyed being outside and thought he would be a great barn cat for us. We agreed to take him, hoping he would help to eliminate mice around the barn. To our surprise he has really taken to the bottle lambs we currently have. He is frequently found in the pen relaxing near the heat lamp with the lambs.