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High school student builds herd

Jaden Maanum, a sophomore at Morris Area High School, talks about his cow and calf herd. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times1 / 2
Jaden Maanum of Morris Area FFA is building his own herd as he breed cows for calves. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 2

It had been roughly 35 years since there were cows and calves in a small pasture on Jaden Maanum's home farm.

"We thought maybe we'd have a small cow and calf (operation) but it just didn't work out," Jaden Maanum's grandpa Lyle Maanum said.

Maanum, a sophomore at Morris Area High School, brought cows and calves back to the farm in 2016 when he started his own herd.

Maanum's project is a supervised agriculture experience through Morris Area FFA. FFA members choose an agriculture project that they work on for several years. The project has requirements he must meet including record keeping.

"I chose to breed beef cows and raise them as a cow and calf pair, "Maanum said.

"I've been around cattle since I was a little boy," Maanum said. "I will always be around cattle."

His family operation includes 500 Holstein feeder cattle.

"I think it's a good project to get started with, to seek what he likes...," Lyle Maanum said.

He bought his first four cows the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. He bought another four cows right after Christmas in 2017.

"I'm still in the early stages," Maanum said. "It's going to take a while to get my herd (numbers) up there."

Maanum has already sold one cow and lost a calf during birth. The cow was sold because her calving dates didn't match what he needed for his herd.

Maanun bought red Angus cows. He's breeding them with a black Angus bull which is owned by his neighbors.

"He's got a lot of good genetics. He has a very good semen count," Maanum said. The bull's good genetics will increase the likelihood of pregnancy and good calves, he said.

Maanum's dad Joel helped him pick out the cows for his herd. "It's my project but he's guided me along," Maanum said.

The family buys stock from farmers and ranchers they know because, then, they also know the quality of the cows, Maanum said.

"I want a mix of different colors. I want healthy, sustainable calves," Maanum said. His calves need to be able to transition from cow's milk to feed readily, Maanum said. The calves need to be weaned from milk in a set number of weeks, Maanum said.

The cows and bull are separated until it's time for breeding. Maanum chose to use natural breeding to build his herd. While some operations use artificial insemination where the bull's semen is inserted into the cow, Maanum said studies show that A.I. is successful about one-third of the time.

"A cow goes into heat every month," Maanum said. "A bull will notice (a cow) in heat and he'll breed here. I like to stick with the bull. It's not always a guarantee but you have more of a chance for her to breed..."

A bull can mate with a cow multiple times in a day, he said. A.I. is done once a day.

When the weather warms and pasture conditions allow, the cows, calves and bull will be in the pasture.

"There's a little bit of pasture...and he has (added) a small pasture," Lyle Maanum said. "It's doable."

Maanum will need to sell calves and heifers and switch out his bull as he builds his herd.

"It's a long-term project but there is good benefit in the end," Maanum said.

Maanun used a youth agriculture loan through the Farm Service Agency and a Mike Rowe Works grant administered through the FFA to help start his herd.

Editor's note: This story appeared in our March 17 2018 Farm Progress Edition. To read more from that edition, click this link.