BeefWatch Articles from October 2023

BeefWatch Articles from October 2023

What to know about grazing frosted forages

The first frost may be welcome for its fly-killing ability, but for cattle producers running cattle on annual forages, a few management steps this time of year can make sure that first frost doesn't have the same effect on cattle grazing milo, sudangrass and sorghum varieties. 

Thinking of backgrounding calves this fall?

Cattle prices have responded to lower cattle inventory.  If you are keeping up with cattle production news media, nearly every week, someone declares how much feeder calf prices have increased since last year.  Sales of 500- to 600-cwt feeder calves are getting close to $300/cwt.  Expecting a gross revenue of $1,600 or more for feeder steer calves this fall is not out of the question.  Yet, with increasing costs of maintaining a cow, some cow-calf producers may wonder:  to increase revenue in 2023, is it worth it to retain calves for feeding during a backgrounding o

Trading manure and crop residues, considerations for a fair trade

With harvest around the corner, you might be considering trading manure for cornstalks or vice versa. In many ways, it’s easier to pay cash for either product, but there are advantages to trading. This article will focus on what kinds of things to consider to be sure any deal made is a fair trade.

Ag lenders offer insight on conditions for Nebraska livestock producers

In 2017, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) and Nebraska Extension made a commitment to implement a multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative (BSI) to develop and support implementation of beef production systems in Nebraska. In addition to the BSI, a parallel project funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) implemented a study of the best practices for incorporating beef cattle onto cropping systems while improving ecosystem services to ensure sustainability.

Marketing calves with blemishes

Calves with blemishes are usually cut off when taken to a sale barn and sold for a reduced price.  What can a producer do with these calves to add value? 

First, let’s look at what determines price.

High culling continues to impact beef market

This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" in September 2023.

The annual fall feeder run is about to begin. Given cattle prices, forage conditions, and the economy the question of whether heifers will be retained to rebuild the beef cow herd remains uncertain. Consider these factors that give pause to whether this expansion will occur with as much momentum we might think. Continue reading on the Center for Ag Profitability website.

Manure Stockpiles: Mind Your Manners

Manure stockpiles must be built following some regulations, but where those regulations end, manners should remain. I suspect that just about everyone reading this article has been told on more than one occasion, “Mind your manners!” Or, perhaps as a parent, it’s this very simple instruction that you now give to your kids as they head out the door to spend time with someone outside the household. Continue reading on the UNL Water website.

Protecting Farms & Ranches from Wildfires

Wildfires affect America’s farm and ranches, damaging and destroying homes, barns, agriculture production facilities, crops, and livestock.  Below are some tips to help avoid or minimize fire damage to your property.

Knowing, Growing and Grazing Grass Webinar Series: October 23, 26, 30, November 2, 6, 9

Would you like to grow your grass knowledge and better understand range and pasture resources? Nebraska Extension will host a six-session webinar series on Monday and Thursday evenings beginning October 23 through November 9 from 7:30 - 8:45 p.m. CT that will explain the basics of knowing, growing and grazing grass. 

Topics will include:

•           Identifying key grass species you want more of in your pastures.

What do stocker and cow-calf producers think of Virtual Fencing?

Producers that attended the Nebraska Grazing Conference (NGC) August 8-9, in Kearny, NE. may have noticed a difference from previous proceedings. This year “TechCorner” was added to the exhibition, highlighting new and emerging products in precision livestock management (PLM) such as virtual fencing, data management software and smart water monitoring. In addition to PLM exhibitors, Wednesday morning’s programs were focused primarily on precision grazing management, of which the virtual fencing (VF) technologies were spotlighted in presentations and panelist discussion.

Strip grazing annual forages in the fall: Is it worth the effort?

After about 5 years of fall cover crop grazing, one thing became apparent: the amount of grazing achieved when we gave cattle access to the whole field from the start did not appear to be determined by the amount of forage that was in the field. This was because the weather seemed to determine how much trampling loss occurred. In wet years, we harvested less than 15% of the forage, and on average, we captured about 30%.

Welcome to the Feedlot: Best Practices for Managing Newly Received Feeder Calves

As we near the feedlot fall run, and cattle are newly received into the feedlot, there are key considerations to keep in mind to achieve best cattle performance. The goal of a receiving strategy is to make the transition from calf origin into the feedlot or backgrounding yard as seamless as possible. The first 14 days upon feedlot arrival are critical in calf development and set the performance trajectory of the calf for the remainder of the feeding period. The main goal at receiving is to help with any bovine respiratory disease (BRD) concerns and improve upon the health of the calf.

Pricing Corn Destined for Feeding as Silage, Snaplage, Earlage or Grain

Grain production regions allow cattle producers to harvest grain crops as grain (dry or high moisture) or green chop to be preserved as silage for cattle feeding (feed crop).  Corn grain production is particularly well suited for this purpose.  Harvesting the ears and shank (earlage) or husk, grain, cob, and shank (snaplage) represent options intermediate to harvesting grain or chopping the whole plant. 

Feedlot Cattle Handling Practices

Stockmanship and low-stress cattle handling is a topic that receives a lot of attention. Even the latest report of the National Beef Quality Audit (2022) identifies cattle handling as an area for “focused improvement,” due in part to the persistence of bruising.

Fall Cattle Lice Treatments

Treating cattle for lice when it’s convenient—usually during preconditioning and preg-checking—isn’t necessarily the most effective approach.

While late summer and early fall endectocide (drugs that kill both internal and external parasitic insects) treatment may work on most internal parasites and horn flies, lice may escape.

Understanding Cattle Health Concerns on Cornstalks

Grazing corn residue is common practice in the Midwest and a quality resource for cattle producers to utilize.  While the forages available can provide the necessary nutritional requirements, there are a few health conditions that need to be planned for prior to turn out.

Best practices for vaccinating cattle, handling vaccines, and caring for animal health equipment

Fall weaning and transportation can be a high-stress period for calves that may be transitioning from one operation to another. As animal care providers, it’s our job to take that into consideration and do all we can to reduce the stress load on these animals.

Winter Rate of Gain & Implant Strategy of Stockers Influences Hot Carcass Weight

This article was originally featured in Progressive Cattle and is a summary of the 2023 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report, Timing of Implant Use in the Backgrounding System.

Reviewing Cow-Calf Share and Cash Lease Agreements

The trend in cattle prices over the last year has been dramatically toward the upside. Prices have risen higher and faster than many market analysts thought possible for 2023. These changes in market value are having an impact on beef cow share and cash lease agreements in determining what is “fair” to both cow owners and those who are leasing the cows.

For a cow owner, the following are the four major drivers that determine what is "fair" in terms of a cash lease or percentage of the calf crop the cow owner should receive. Those factors are:

More than 419,000 Tons of Rangeland Production are Lost Annually in Nebraska to Woody Encroachment

Did you know that Nebraska’s grasslands lose over 419,000 tons of forage production every year due to woody plant encroachment? When woody plants like eastern redcedar spread and take over grasslands, they displace grasses and broadleaf plants and reduce forage production by up to 75%1 (Fig.1). New rangeland monitoring data shows that tree cover increased by over 402,000 acres in Nebraska’s rangelands from 1990-2019 ( This means less forage for livestock and wildlife needs.