BeefWatch Articles from August 2021
The 2021 Nebraska Grazing Conference is back as an in-person event after going virtual in 2020 due to the challenges of COVID-19. This year’s conference will be held Aug. 9-11 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney with a program that bridges grazing lands production and conservation.
Last year, several pieces of legislation were introduced in Congress, with the principal aim of increasing the level of negotiated cash trade. The cattle industry responded to the proposed legislation by creating a voluntary framework, known as the 75% rule, which includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation.
It is no secret that rainfall and humidity aid in the quality and quantity of summer forage production. However, these two factors also contribute to the fly populations. Not only do large fly populations cause irritation that creates devastating production losses, but also spreads infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or pinkeye. Pinkeye is a highly contagious disease that promotes inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva portions of the eye. The occurrence of pinkeye increases in the spring and peaks in the summer months before decreasing in the fall.
Many producers have moved from spring to summer calving to avoid death loss from inclement early spring weather and to see a reduction in labor and winter feed costs. Just as there are upsides to changing timing of calving, there are also downsides, which may include reproductive challenges and decreased calf weaning weight. It is important to understand the change in management practices when converting to a summer calving herd.
In an effort to improve participation, several enhancements and improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program for cattle have taken place over the last three years.
Early weaning is typically defined as weaning before calves are 150 days of age. In extreme cases beef calves may be weaned at 45 days of age, but more commonly early weaned calves are over 90 days of age. Early weaning may be advantageous in times of drought, when cows are in a confinement system, or as a body condition management tool for very young or old cows. Once weaning has occurred, the cow, now without the demands of lactation, can be maintained on poor quality forage and little to no supplement.
The summer heat is bearing down across the nation. With the summer heat comes the concern for animal welfare, specifically towards cattle in feedlots. With rising temperatures and high humidity, cattle are more prone to heat stress. This concern increases when winds die down reducing air movement.
When cattle experience heat stress, producers may see reduced intakes and gains. However, in extreme cases, cattle can succumb to the detrimental effects of the heat stress they are experiencing.
Early pregnancy detection in replacement heifers or cows is a tool producers can use to increase profit. Traditionally, cows and replacement heifers are pregnancy tested in the fall of the year and then non-pregnant cows and cull cows are marketed at that time. This is also when cull cow prices are seasonally at their lowest.
Timing of Pregnancy Test
Pregnancy can be detected in cows as early as 30 days using ultrasound and blood tests.
Previous research has shown the benefit of pregnancy diagnosis and how it adds to a producer’s bottom line. Keeping one cow over winter can cost $100-$200 in feed and supplements so removing open cows can help decrease winter feed costs. Options for managing non-pregnant beef females are discussed in a BeefWatch article appearing in this issue. Pregnancy diagnosis is a very valuable tool in the beef industry and it is grossly underutilized. Only about 20% of producers employ some sort of a pregnancy diagnosis in their herd.