BeefWatch Articles from July 2022
As the drought that has plagued the western U.S. since 2020 hangs on, much of Nebraska is currently experiencing moderate to severe drought. July tends to be a busy time for production cows, resulting in high nutrient demands, which further exacerbates the limitations of drought-stricken grass.
Drought has limited pasture availability and forced many producers into feeding total mixed rations (TMR) to cows. Including silage in a TMR can reduce ration cost, improve the energy content of the diet, and add moisture, which can serve as a ration conditioner. However, high commodity prices have encouraged many grain farmers to plant corn for grain rather than silage. Silage can also be made from small grains such as rye, wheat, oats, triticale, or barley, or from summer annual forages such as forage sorghum, sorghum-sudan or pearl millet.
We ask a lot from our cows come breeding season. We expect her to be providing adequate nutrients for calf growth (lactating), we expect her reproductive tract to repair and return to estrus prior to the start of breeding. All these expectations are within 90 days after calving to maintain a yearly calving interval.
The 23rd annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. This year’s Open House will be a hybrid format with our traditional in-person event held at GSL along with being live streamed online webinar.
Forage quality and yearling rate of gain decline throughout the summer, particularly in cool season grasses. Strategically supplementing yearlings with dry distillers grains in the second half of the summer as the grass quality declines will increase average daily gain (ADG), but will it increase returns?
Quality is a prediction of the expected palatability of a carcass. Quality grade is based off animal maturity and marbling. In addition to these factors, other characteristics such as color, texture and firmness of the final product are considered by those making purchasing decisions. Differences in these characteristics can be impacted by several different things and often tie back to the life of the animal. It is often noted that the combination of genetics and environment can impact the phenotype, or physical characteristics, of an animal.
When a beef animal is harvested, the value of the carcass and the resulting cuts are determined based on the grades of the carcass. Quality grading and yield grading is monitored by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS). Unlike inspection, which monitors food safety and is mandatory for meat products being sold in the United States, grading is a voluntary program and is used to determine the marketability of the product.
This planting season, early dry conditions followed by late wet conditions in some areas have caused some fields to be designated prevented planting acres. To go along with this, high feed and forage prices and less than ideal pasture conditions due to previous years’ drought are allowing the opportunity for producers to think outside the box. After all, an influx of prevented plant acres provides freedom to produce annual cover crops to counter-balance current forage prices.
Feedlot managers understand that heat stress reduces intake. This effect is more marked in cattle that are closer to their finishing weight, and during the first heat event of the season as cattle are not acclimated to heat yet.
In recent years, a modern technology, “virtual fencing,” has emerged into the market and has been gaining growing interest from the livestock producers, particularly in the cattle sector. Virtual fencing technology has been studied in some European countries and Australia where grazing beef and dairy cows are predominant. More research is currently being conducted in the USA to better understand how virtual fencing might fit within cow-calf and yearling operations as a tool for grazing management.
The 2022 Nebraska Grazing Conference will be held August 9 and 10 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, NE with a program bridging grazing lands conservation and management.