BeefWatch Articles from January 2024

BeefWatch Articles from January 2024

Determining how much forage a beef cow needs per day

During calving season cow/calf producers are typically feeding harvested forages. A frequent question from producers is "how much will my cows eat on a daily basis"? Producers want to meet the cows' nutrient requirement, but sure don't want to over-feed expensive forages. With the dry conditions this past summer and harvested forages at a premium, closely estimating the amount of feed needed to get through the winter and early spring will be important to contain cost.

How to use night feeding to increase daytime calving

A simple management strategy—feeding cows at dusk—could increase the number of calves born during the day. It’s easier to watch cattle and see if intervention is necessary while it’s light out. Producers can also keep an eye on calves and make sure they’re getting a healthy start during the day when it’s warmer and easier to manage both cows and calves.

Pasture & Forage Minute: Winter hay worries about magnesium deficiency (tetany) & nitrate poisoning

Grass tetany and nitrate poisoning are issues that we typically associate with animals grazing.  However, both issues can be a problem in winter when animal diets are limited by what they are fed.  Is your herd safe from possible hay worries? 

Tetany occurs when an animal’s diet doesn’t have enough magnesium to meet nutritional needs.  Complications with milk production and increased magnesium demand can make this imbalance even worse during lactation. 

Pasture & Forage Minute: Pasture lease considerations

As pasture grazing leases are getting finalized for the 2024 season, it is important to make sure that some of the key details are clear and in writing. 

Traditionally, pasture leases are for 5 or 6 months from April or May through October.  Specific starting and ending dates can be used, but there could be exceptions based on spring weather conditions or if there were drought conditions the previous year that might warrant delaying turn-out to allow some recovery of grasses. 

2024 Beef Feedlot Roundtable Series

The 2024 Beef Feedlot Roundtable Series is an event that you won’t want to miss! We encourage feedlot owners, managers, employees, and allied industry to join Nebraska Extension February 13-15th as we dive into a series of timely topics covering feedlot management.

Dealing with Stress from Winter Weather Woes

The start of 2024 has had some major challenges for many across the state from Arctic polar temperatures, blizzards, and snow squalls. Now there are discussions of ice jams, rain and potential flooding that may occur over the next few weeks. The entire slogan of “Nebraska isn’t for everyone” is really holding true.

Pasture & Forage Minute: Reviewing last year and planning for this year

Too much cold and snowy weather can make even the most eager winter enthusiast look forward to spring.  Once we dig out and are able to catch a breath, taking some time to review last year can help us when looking ahead to 2024.

Certified Angus Beef & Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance collaborate on meeting featuring John Cook, Nebraska volleyball coach

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Volleyball Head Coach John Cook will be the guest speaker at the February Nebraska BQA workshop in Ashland, Neb. The free educational workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Round the Bend Steakhouse and will include a Certified Angus Beef ® brand lunch, giveaways, and optional YQCA training for kids.

Cow Herd Report Card III: Calving distribution & pounds of calf weaned per acre

Calving distribution and pounds of calf produced per acre are measures of performance and efficiency of the cow-calf enterprise. Calving distribution will impact total pounds of calf weaned. Calves born the first 21 days of the calving season will be heavier at weaning compared to calves born the second or third 21 days of the calving season.

Heifer percent mature body weight at breeding: What does it mean for pregnancy rates and calf performance?

This article is a research summary of the 2024 Nebraska Beef Report, Impact of Heifer Percent Mature Body Weight at Breeding on Heifer Performance, Calf Production, and Subsequent Pregnancy Rates.

To remain in the herd, it is crucial for a replacement heifer to conceive and maintain pregnancy. However, since females within a herd offset input costs with a live calf born each year, focus should not only be placed on pregnancy rates as a yearling, but subsequent pregnancy rates as a cow.

What are replacement heifers worth in 2024?

Not every cow is going to be profitable, even when calf prices are high. It is important to consider the quality of cows as well as their costs. Paying too much for good cows is as bad as paying little for horrible ones. Producers who intend to be profitable must consider closely the relationship of current and future costs, to current and future revenues, and cow longevity and productivity. 

Staying safe in cold weather and how to recognize, treat and prevent hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot

As wintry, cold weather hits with sub-zero temperatures, there's not much room for error in cold weather preparedness. Cattle producers can't just stay indoors when the weather gets cold. However, since a producer's most valuable assets are the humans who have to be out in the cold, it's important to recognize when it's time to take a break and warm up, or adjust the work, equipment or gear to make sure the people are prioritized in cold weather. 

Winter weather challenges for bulls can affect breeding season

Livestock producers know winter can be a challenge for their cowherds, and Karla Wilke, Nebraska Extension cow-calf/stocker specialist, reminds them not to forget about their bulls in their winter management plans. 

“Bulls are one of our bigger investments in the cow herd, and 90 percent of the cows are still impregnated through natural service with a bull rather than artificial insemination,” Wilke said. “So, they also require year-round maintenance.”  

Make Plans to Attend the 2024 Three-State Beef Conference

The annual Three-State Beef Conference gives beef producers and others a chance to spend an evening learning from top researchers and industry leaders. This year topics include corn residue grazing, heifer development and managing cows for longevity and profitability.

The conference features three presenters who travel to three states over three days, Jan. 16-18, discussing their research findings and practical ways to apply them.

Winter cattle yard preparation checklist

This checklist is not comprehensive, but is a place to start for preparing for winter weather in a cattle yard. 

Click here for a printable .pdf checklist. 


Finding a balance between biggest and best: Moving a cowherd toward optimum productivity

The use of genetic selection tools by cattle breeders has resulted in significant changes within the majority of major breeds over the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the overwhelming genetic trend for milk, weaning weight, and mature weight over that time has been for more. Without question, the use of Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) has enabled this change. The question at hand, however, is “have we selected towards that which is optimal?”