BeefWatch Articles from June 2021
Ready or not, summer heat has arrived. Cattle have had little opportunity to become acclimated to summer conditions this year, so helping cattle cope is critical. The combination of hot temperatures, high humidity, and lack of air movement can cause severe cases of heat stress for cattle. This can result in reduced intakes and gains, and in extreme cases, death.
Nebraska Extension’s efforts to assist farmers and ranchers to achieve profitable outcomes continue with a series of workshops that will offer strategies and tools to reduce risk exposure associated with cattle production.
In June and July, Extension specialists and educators will conduct “Managing Cattle for Profit in 2021” in Thedford, North Platte, Alliance, Norfolk and Ainsworth.
Nebraska Extension will be hosting a summer meeting and tour focused on stocker/yearling systems on June 30th near Nenzel, Nebraska. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. MDT and the program will kick off at 9:30 a.m. MDT at the Nenzel Community Building. A meal will be served at noon, and a tour of Three Bar Cattle Company is planned for the afternoon.
Greetings beef producers. To continue building on previous Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) related articles, I want to talk about how the beef industry is making moves to use BQA as the gold standard of animal welfare, and how that is good news for you. Consumers care about the welfare of food animals whose product may eventually end up on their table. This leads consumers to ask questions about how their food is raised, in this instance, beef. In order to provide consumers with answers, many restaurants, food service, and retailers adopt and implement animal welfare programs.
Common mullein (Verbascim thapsus) is an increasing concern to grassland managers as the aggressive forb spreads from old fields, disturbed areas, and rights-of-ways into healthy, native grasslands. This invasion has prompted state and county officials in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming to list the weed as a state or county noxious weed.
This spring as the grass continues to green up yearling cattle will find their way to the pastures of the great plains for summer grazing. Cattle are stocked on grass pasture this time of year due to its additional nutritive quality that equates to gains, relative to dormant pastures, prior to entering the feedlot. One economically justifiable way to make stocker cattle more efficient on grass is by administering implants. Utilization of implants in stocker cattle can increase average daily gain by 5-20%, improve feed efficiency by 5-15%, and improve lean tissue deposition by 5-12%.
When faced with developing drought, ranchers often have questions. How severe is this drought? How long could it last? Is this as bad as the last drought we experienced, or is it the worst one? What are the chances it rains enough to produce normal forage over the coming weeks or months, and how much rain would be needed for a “normal” grazing year?
This article was first published in the May 11, 2021 edition of “In the Cattle Markets.”
The following is a summary of the webinar “Are Livestock Producers Willing to Pay for Traceability Programs?” given on February 4, 2021, as part of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Farm and Ranch Management team’s weekly webinar series. The webinar can be accessed at https://farm.unl.edu/webinars.
Free choice mineral mixes are commonly used to provide the mineral that grazing cattle need. However, ensuring that cattle are getting enough mineral without overconsuming can be a struggle. Being on either side of the spectrum can be costly either in reduced performance due to deficiency or in increased feed cost due to over consumption. An extra 1 oz per cow per day can cost $4 to 8 per cow per year. If your mineral mix is designed to meet the cows needs at 4 oz per day, intake above this only adds unnecessary cost.
Is your average cow size greater than it was ten or twenty years ago? As breed genetics and harvest weights change, the cows grazing pasture today tend to be larger than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Larger cows eat more, and if an operation is running the same number of cows today for the same amount of time on the same amount of rangeland as 10 or 20 years ago, the stocking rate has increased. But has the forage production increased to match the stocking rate?
The historical demand from China and domestically low stock-to-use ratios has led to the most recent run-up in grain prices. The direct impact of higher grain prices is that it increases the cost of gain (COG) for feedlots. In other words, it costs more dollars to put on the same amount of weight. Higher COG generally creates incentives for feedlots to place heavier feeder cattle and to ship cattle at lower finished weights. These two incentives combine to require less feed and effectively limit the impact of higher feed costs.
Are you planning to plant a summer annual grass, maybe to build hay supply or have some extra grazing? Which one will you plant?
It can be confusing because there are six different types of major summer annual forage grasses. These include: sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum (which we often call cane or sorgo), foxtail millet, pearl millet, and teff. Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses. So, base your choice primarily on how you plan to use it.