BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

Updated Nebraska Cow Herd System Budgets Available Now

Practices, conditions, and prices change. Therefore, enterprise budgets must be updated at least annually. Several of the geographically representative Nebraska cow herd budgets produced by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln were updated over the past several months. Primarily, feed and cattle prices were updated, with three additional budgets completed.

Winter Supplementation of Beef Calves – When Supplementation Doesn’t Pay

Spring born calves are often weaned in the fall, supplemented through the winter at a low rate of gain, and then graze summer grass, taking advantage of compensatory gain until feedlot entry. Many producers assume providing minimal protein supplementation to target approximately 1.0 pound/day gain during the winter is the most economical system. However, research data would suggest this assumption is not the most economical management system.

Three-State Beef Conference: Long-term Planning for the Cow Herd

Area beef producers should make plans to attend the annual Three-State Beef Conference that is scheduled for January 11, 12 and 13, 2022 with locations in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska. The Three-State Beef Conference is designed to give beef cattle producers and others in the beef industry in Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska a regular update on current sire, cow-calf, and economic topics. All sessions will be held during the evening to help accommodate producers who work off the farm during the day.

Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. central time on January 18, 20, 25, and 27.

Participants should plan on attending each of the four workshop dates. The course requires participants to have an internet connection. 

Differences Between High-, Medium-, and Low-Profit Cow-Calf Producers: An Analysis of 2016-2020 Kansas Farm Management Association Cow-Calf Enterprise – A Review

This study by Dustin L. Pendell Ph.D. and Kevin L. Herbel can be found at the Kansas State University AgManager.info website. Review and summary by Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Educator.

Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) Benchmark Data – A Review

The 2021 North Dakota Livestock Research Report includes an article on the North Dakota State University CHAPS data recording software program that works with cow-calf producers to enter and store cow herd production information and then provides a framework to analyze and compare data to other herds in the program. The CHAPS program began in 1985 with the intent to help producers set goals and then manage herds to achieve these goals.

How to Develop a Custom Calving Agreement

Calving someone else’s cows or heifers can be a great enterprise for a beginning rancher, a method to reduce the overhead cost of facilities and equipment, and a strategy for marketing feed. Or, having someone else calve some or all of your cowherd can reduce labor and stress and allow for an operation to remain sustainable or expand if skilled seasonal labor is limited.

Having a simple and straightforward agreement in writing can be the difference between disagreement and disappointment and a satisfying experience for both parties involved.

Cow-Calf College to be held January 25th

Cow-Calf College is gearing up to be hosted January 25th at the Clay County Fairgrounds from 9:30 am to 3:00 pm in the Activities Building. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. This year’s program will be offered in a hybrid format through zoom and attendance in person. The focus of the 2022 Cow-Calf College will start with an in-depth look at eastern redcedar control in the morning, an update by beef cow-calf specialist, Kacie McCarthy and a special presentation by Tom Field focusing on ways to engage youth in the beef industry.   

LRP Insurance for Fed Cattle and Put Options: Farmer-Feeder Considerations

This article was first published in the November 2021 edition of RightRisk News

The Impact of Price and Management on Culling Decisions

The following is a summary of the webinar “The Impact of Price and Management on Culling Decisions” given on November 4, 2021, as part of the Center for Agriculture Profitability weekly webinar series housed in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. This webinar can be viewed here, with an accompanying podcast above.

Current Drivers and Atypical Seasonal Patterns in the Cull Cow Cutout

This article was first published by In the Cattle Markets on Dec. 7, 2021

Valuing Corn Stalk Bales

With dry conditions still plaguing much of the state, baling corn residue following harvest might be an optional roughage source if hay supply is getting tight. Crop input prices are also increasing with producers and landowners wondering what value should be put on baling corn residue?

2021 Virtual Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Conference presentations are now available for viewing

The Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Conference is considered to be the premier national event in beef cattle reproductive management.  This meeting has a long history of providing the latest information on the application of reproductive technologies and includes a range of topics under an annual set of themes related to cow herd reproduction.  The presentations from the 2021 conference held September 15th, 16th and 17th are now available for viewing at the Applied Reproductive S

It Costs How Much!?

What does it cost to run a cow on your operation? How do you calculate the costs? How do you value raised feed, labor, equipment, as well as replacement females grown on the ranch? These questions are frequently asked when the conversation of annual cow costs comes up.

Women in Agriculture's Love of the Land Conference to be Presented Virtually

Nebraska Extension's Women in Agriculture Program will host the Love of the Land Conference for female farmland owners and tenants looking to improve their business management skills, Dec. 9, via Zoom. 

Industry experts will present workshops covering lease agreements, rental rates, crop and livestock insurance and more.  

Allan Vyhnalek, a farm and ranch succession educator with Nebraska Extension, will welcome attendees with his keynote address, “For the Love of the Land, and Your Effective Relationships, It is About Communication.” 

Cost and Value of Gain for Retained Feeder Cattle in Nebraska

The fall run of feeder cattle is underway across the United States. Producers are now left with the decision to retain or sell weaned calves. A financially sound business decision is one where what it costs me to put on weight is less than what the market is willing to pay me to put it on. While that decision is straightforward, some limiting factors can impact these calculations.

The Third Quarterly Report on Levels of Negotiated Trade by Region Under the Industry’s 75% Rule

Last year, several pieces of legislation were introduced in the U.S. Congress, with the principal aim of increasing the level of negotiated cash trade.[1] The cattle industry responded to proposed legislation by creating a voluntary framework, known as the 75% rule, that includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation. The overarching objective is similar to the introduced legislation – to increase the frequency and price transparency in all major cattle feeding and packing regions.

Returning to the Farm or Ranch

Returning to the Farm, Dec. 10 and 11 in Columbus, is for families who are in the transition process of bringing more family members back to the farm. This event will give families the tools and resources to have a successful transition with more family joining the operation.

Bringing a young person into a farm/ranch operation presents challenges. However, the business operation can accomplish numerous goals by:

What to Consider When Selecting Replacement Heifers

Replacement heifers are one of the most important groups we can manage in the cowherd; therefore, managing our heifers from weaning to breeding will be a very important time for developing females that remain in the herd for years to come. Weaning can be a time to identify replacement heifer candidates that may potentially join the herd.

Principles for Attracting and Retaining Quality Ag Employees Webinar – A Panel Discussion

Help-wanted signs are everywhere. Hiring is so difficult that many are calling this the “Great Resignation.” Agricultural businesses in Nebraska are not exempt from this challenge; competition for available workers comes from area industries, and the labor market is tight.

Pasture Rangeland Forage Insurance Sign up Deadline has moved to December 1

The USDA Risk Management Agency recently announced that it has moved the sign up deadline back to December 1 from the historic date of November 15 for Pasture Rangeland Forage (PRF) Insurance.  Producers now have an additional two weeks to work with their crop insurance agents to make insurance plans for the 2022 year.  The PRF Insurance program uses a rainfall index model based on weather data (precipitation) collected and maintained by the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center to determine losses and trigger indemnities.

2021 Cover Crop Grazing Conference

Nebraska beef producers and corn growers can enhance both entities of their operation through attending the inaugural 2021 Cover Crop Grazing Conference scheduled for November 16th, 2021. This conference will take place at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center near Mead. Registration and the first trade show session will begin at 9:00 a.m. and last for one hour.

Reducing Yucca in Rangeland

Yucca plants, which are also called soapweed, can be quite common on rangeland in western and central Nebraska.  In some areas, they can be quite thick and significantly reduce grass production. There are ways, though, to reclaim those grazing lands.

Once established, yucca plants can increase on drier rangeland sites.  They produce a deep taproot that competes aggressively for the limited water in these soils.  With sharp leaves protecting the plant, cattle rarely eat it during summer. 

Tax Implications If Liquidating a Beef Herd

After calving and going to spring grass this year the word drought was used quite often. With other States to the west of Nebraska liquidating cows from the herd it sounded like it could hit Nebraska. Different portions of Nebraska were in different severity of drought this year and questions were raised about the tax implications to consider when liquidating cows.

Cow-Calf Management with Limited Perennial Acres – Workshop Series

Managing cow-calf pairs with limited perennial acres will be the topic of discussion in Alma, Nebraska on December 6 and Wayne, Nebraska on December 8, 2021. Drought is a reoccurring plight that frequently reduces perennial forages available for grazing while conversion of pasture ground to crop ground continues to reduce available pasturelands. Increasing costs of production and high taxes make diversifying income and increasing the use of land necessary to get the most out of every acre.

Grazing Corn Residue Can Be an Economical Winter Feed Source for Cows

Part of the winter feed expense equation is deciding whether standing forage can be grazed, or hay must be fed. In dry years, winter grazing may be reduced or unavailable, and the value of what is available can increase. Winter feed not usually considered may offer an alternative, affordable option. UNL’s Feed Cost Cow-Q-Lator (available at cap.unl.edu/livestock/tools) offers a way to compare feed options.

Heavier Feeder Cattle Placements Amid Meat Processing Plant Issues

Current Market Situation

Preparing for Cattle Transport Saves Time, Money and Stress

With fall upon us, many producers are beginning to plan shipment of this year’s calf crop or moving cattle from summer pasture to crop residues, fall/winter pastures, or to a dry lot. Each and every year, millions of head of cattle are transported from point A to point B. During this time, our bumper-pull trailers, gooseneck trailers, or cattle pots are giant billboards for the cattle industry.

Exercise Caution when Grazing Cattle on Drought Stressed Cornstalks

Cornstalk residue is a tremendous resource for fall and winter grazing; however, this year care needs to be taken in grazing drought stressed cornstalks due to the potential of high nitrates in the feed.

Cattle prefer and will select the grain as well as leaves and husk first which tend to be lower in nitrates. Because drought stressed corn is smaller and stunted, it is more likely that cattle will eat lower into the stalk where nitrate levels may be high. Nitrates are usually more concentrated in the bottom third of the stalk in the corn plant.

Where is Value being created in your Ranch Operation?

For many ranch operations multiple enterprises are a part of the overall business.  In addition to the cow-calf enterprise, land is owned, replacement heifers are developed, hay is harvested, and often, yearlings are wintered and grazed through the summer before being sold. Breaking the whole ranch into enterprises and identifying where value is being created and costs are occurring can show where opportunities exist to change and improve the profitability of the ranch business.

Questions to Ask When Developing Winter Cow Care Agreements

Watch the Sept. 2, 2021 webinar, "Considerations When Developing Winter Cow Care Agreements," for a more in-depth look at creating good agreements for all parties.

Crop Residue Exchange Links Cattle Producers with Available Feed Resources

With dry conditions in much of the western half of the United States, reports of livestock producers looking for fall and winter forage are accumulating. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Crop Residue Exchange (http://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu) is a free online tool designed to link cattle producers to other producers with available grazing resources.

How Far is too Far to Transport Cows to Winter Cornstalks?

There are times feed in the local area is scarce or expensive. This may happen during a time of drought or other natural or manmade disaster. With the help of UNL’s modified Feed Cost Cow-Q-Later it was straightforward to make some comparisons among methods of feeding cows and with some additional information estimate comparison costs among feed sources, including transporting cows. With the current drought conditions in many parts of the Western US, we felt it was worth the effort to develop the tool and provide some commentary on what we found about those costs.

Range Beef Cow Symposium XXVII coming to Rapid City, South Dakota

The Range Beef Cow Symposium (RBCS) will be held in person November 16-17, 2021 in Rapid City, SD. The RBCS has been held every other year since 1969 and is hosted by South Dakota State University, Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, and University of Nebraska beef cattle extension.

The RBCS is a great place not only to hear the latest updates on topics of interest to the beef industry, but is also a great place to network with producers, industry leaders, and the vendors who make it happen.

Safely Grazing Frosted Sorghums

The first light frosts are still a few weeks away in Nebraska. However, planning for these events should be considered by beef producers grazing plants in the sorghum family. In addition to sorghum, plants such as sudangrass, and milo or grain sorghum fall under this same level of risk as colder temperatures draw near. Following a freeze, these forages can be highly toxic with prussic acid. Drought, pasture clipping, and overgrazing are other events that can cause increased levels of prussic acid. 

Developing Heifers to Fit Their Production Environment

This article was originally featured in Progressive Cattle.

As producers begin selecting replacement heifers, a commonly asked question is, “What is the best method for developing heifers?” Considering the expenses involved in developing replacements, determining the most cost-effective system for a specific production environment is important for both long-term profitability and longevity of those females.

What to do with High Nitrate Forage?

Given the drought conditions in some locations this year, many producers may be asking themselves how to handle the annual forages they have standing in the field that may not have grown as much as would be expected under normal conditions. These drought stressed forages can be high in nitrates and may be potentially toxic to cattle.

Feeding Elevated Levels of Corn Silage to Reduce Liver Abscesses

This article was originally featured in the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.

Making Soybeans as Hay or Silage

Some parts of the state are not getting the moisture for their soybean crop so the decision to salvage them for hay or silage may have to be made. Soybean hay or silage can have feed values very similar to alfalfa; but it is very important to put it up properly.

The first thing is not to get in a big hurry because August rains could make a crop. Harvest soybean forage when leaves start to turn yellow; just before they drop off. It’s especially important to harvest before a freeze to prevent rapid leaf loss.

Test, Don’t Guess - sampling and testing hay

Fall is here and the weather reminds us of the changing of the seasons. This is the time of year when many producers are hauling hay home for the winter as well as pricing and purchasing hay. There is a tremendous range in hay quality depending upon level of maturity, fertilization, growing conditions, harvest circumstances and storage methods. Accurately sampling and testing hay is the only way to get a real understanding of the nutritive value of feed.

What Are Video Auctions and CME Futures Telling Us About Fall Feeder Cattle Prices?

The feeder cattle market has experienced a significant amount of price variation between March and July. There has been upward price pressure from historically strong retail meat demand and meat exports to China. While there have been positive price movements for feeder cattle, most of the downward price pressure has come over the uncertainty of forage production and higher grain prices.

Webinar Planned on Winter Cow Care Agreements

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will host a webinar that examines the development of winter cow care agreements at noon on Sept. 2.   

Do not let Pinkeye Decrease Efficiencies in Summer Grazing

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.

Managing Summer Calving Herds During the Breeding Season

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.

Using Livestock Risk Protection Insurance to Protect Profits

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. 

They include:

Managing Early Weaned Calves

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.

Ensuring Beef Quality Assurance to Beat the Heat

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

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.

Choosing a Method for Pregnancy Diagnosis

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.

2021 Nebraska Grazing Conference

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.  

The Second Quarterly Report on Levels of Negotiated Trade by Region Under the Livestock Industry’s 75% Rule

Last year, several pieces of legislation were introduced in Congress, with the principal aim of increasing the level of negotiated cash trade.[1] 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.

How Stocker-Yearling Cattle Complement a Cow-Calf Operation in the Sandhills - A Producer’s Perspective

Stocker-Yearling cattle can complement cow-calf operations by providing flexibility in utilizing grazing resources. In this month’s BeefWatch Producer Perspective Podcast, John Ravenscroft from Cherry County, Nebraska discusses how the Three Bar Cattle Company utilizes home raised and purchased calves to grow as stocker-yearlings to complement their cow-calf operation.

Topics discussed include:

Blue-Green Algae Impacts on Cattle

Hot, dry weather is impacting part of the state which in turn is impacting the water quality for grazing cattle.  In some pastures, the only water source available are ponds and dugouts which can contain hidden dangers to the cattle.

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria blooms are caused by excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.  These nutrients are commonly introduced from runoff or soil erosion from fertilizer and manure.

Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Open House sponsored by Elanco

The 22nd annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. 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. The online webinar will only cover the morning sustainability topics. 

Quality of Forage and Impacts on Intake and Animal Performance

As we progress into summer, forage quality can rapidly change depending on factors like rainfall, temperature, etc.  A good example of the dynamic interaction of rainfall and forage quality is shown in Table 1. In the Sandhills, 2002 and 2018 were drastically different in total precipitation; however, forage quality driven by forage growth and maturity in terms of crude protein were very similar in a drought or wet rainfall year.  Understanding these relationships is important in making proactive management decisions.

Cattle Markets React to USDA Reports: Implications for Risk Management

This article was first published in the June 2021 issue of The Nebraska Cattleman magazine.

Managing Risk with Annual Forages

Annual forages are a useful tool to help manage risk. From a crop management standpoint, they can be used to manage erosion risk and build more resilient soil profiles. From a livestock management standpoint, annual forages can provide a valuable source of additional feed resources. They can serve an important role in a cattle producer’s drought management plan and overall strategy for controlling feed costs.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Poisonous Pasture Plants

While generally not as problematic in Nebraska compared to other western states, poisonous plants can exact their toll on livestock enterprises, and many times the losses are unrecognized. 

Pasture and Forage Minute: Grazing with the Weather

Precipitation and temperature play major roles in pasture productivity, and knowing how to adjust grazing to match current conditions is key.  Are you shifting your management to meet recent weather?

Past BeefWatch Articles and Webinars to Help with Drought Related Decisions

Are you getting enough rain?  What management decisions do you have in place if it stops raining? Below are some past BeefWatch articles and BeefWatch webinars that may help you with management decisions related to drought.

Helping Cattle Cope with Summer Heat

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. 

Cattle Risk Management Workshops Offered in Five Nebraska Communities

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. 

Beware of Stocking Rate Creep

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? 

Impact of Higher Grain Prices on Feedlot’s Decision to Feed Distillers Grains

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.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Selecting Summer Annual Forages

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.

2021 Summer Stocker/Yearling Meeting and Tour

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.

The Beef Industry Believes in BQA and So Should You!

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.

Timing is Key for Managing Common Mullein Invasion

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.

Implants Equate to Efficiency in Stocker Cattle

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%.

New Drought Center Dashboard Steps Ranchers Through Key Questions

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?

Forage Production, Beef Cows and Stocking Density and Their Implications for Partial Herd Liquidation Due to Drought

This article was first published in the May 11, 2021 edition of “In the Cattle Markets.”

Are Livestock Producers Willing to Pay for Traceability Programs?

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.

Tips for Managing Free Choice Mineral Intake

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.

Controlling Horn Flies on Pastured Cattle

With temperatures starting to warm, fly season is not far away, and now is the time to evaluate your 2021 horn fly management plan. Was your fly management program successful last year? If the answer is no, what were possible factors that might have directed your program in the wrong direction. Understanding the horn fly’s habits, life cycle, impact control methods and products will help design an effective control program.  

Budget Templates Updated for Sheep and Goat Enterprises

Enterprise budget templates were recently updated for producers’ use to estimate sheep and goat revenue and expenses and consider projected breakeven scenarios. Using a west central Nebraska representative sheep flock with 250 ewes and a 70 head meat goat herd, the budgets are prepared for producers to use as guides when entering their own information using an Excel spreadsheet format.  

Net Return Distributions When Metaphylaxis Is Used to Control Bovine Respiratory Disease in High Health Risk Cattle

Metaphylaxis (administration of FDA antimicrobial, generally via injection, to high-health risk cattle upon arrival) is used to help manage bovine respiratory disease (BRD). The use of metaphylaxis is known to decrease the mortality and morbidity of cattle in feedlots. Producers managing high-health risk cattle with metaphylaxis must choose the type of cattle to purchase in conjunction with the price paid and the antimicrobial to use.

The Role of the Odor Footprint Tool in Livestock Nuisance Litigation

The following is a summary of the webinar “The Role of the Odor Footprint Tool in Livestock Nuisance Litigation” given on Jan. 21, 2021, as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management team’s weekly webinar series. The webinar and accompanying podcast can be accessed here.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Spring Turn-Out to Pastures

The time for turn-out to our primary summer pastures is coming soon.  A couple of important questions are what date to turn-out, and which pastures should be first?

Pasture and Forage Minute: The Right Stocking Rate

Stocking pastures with the right number of animals is one of the cornerstones of proper grazing management.  It’s tempting to take the easy route and keep using the same rate year after year.  After all, if it’s not broke, why fix it?  But over time, could this approach do more harm than good? 

Range and Pasture Weed of the Week – Knapweed, Spotted and Diffuse

This article is a summary of Nebraska Extension Circular EC 173, Noxious Weeds of Nebraska Spotted and Diffuse Knapweed and the Extension Circular EC130, 2021 Guide for Weed, Disease, and Insect Management in Nebraska.

Where are your priorities and How does your operation stack-up to the competition (Benchmarking)?

Benchmarking a cow-calf operation by comparing it to other similar operations provides producers a tool to look at ways they can improve their businesses. This summary looks at 31 commercial beef cow-calf operations with 100 or more cows. The information comes from the 2019 FINBIN database maintained by the University of Minnesota for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Management Strategies for Minimizing Early Pregnancy Loss

As we approach the breeding season, cows and heifers are faced with a variety of stressors from the metabolic pressure of providing for a calf to changes in environment. Stress during early pregnancy is well documented to cause embryonic death and loss of pregnancy. However, making strategic management decisions during the fragile 2 months after breeding can help minimize those losses.

Feed, Ship or Sell – Three Options to Reduce Stocking Rates

Current drought conditions across many parts of Nebraska are prompting cattle producers to consider options for reducing stocking rates on rangeland and pasture as we look forward to this spring and summer. There are three main options to reduce stocking rates: supplement/substitute feed, ship cattle to non-drought areas and sell cattle.

The Role of Water Intake in Rumen Development of the Nursing Calf

Calving season is wrapping up for some producers, in full swing for others, and just getting started for others. While the focus is definitely on making sure milk intake, particularly colostrum, is adequate for the young calves; it is also time to be thinking about water intake.

Why Should You Become BQA Certified?

In a previous article, I left you with a quick overview of the history of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and the importance of the program today. In this article, I want to continue the discussion on BQA and discuss what exactly the BQA program has done to benefit the industry, and why it is important for producers to implement its guidelines on their operations.

Breeding Season Planning Resources

The breeding season will soon be underway for spring calving herds.  Understanding the factors that contribute to a successful breeding season in heifers and cows can help cow-calf producers effectively manage for this event.  Whether producers are utilizing natural service or estrus synchronization programs with artificial insemination, the beefrepro.org website offers numerous resources that will benefit planning and management.

Selecting an Optimum Breeding Season Length

Decisions in livestock production are never simple, but rather complex. Each decision or change in management results in multiple changes or outcomes downstream of the resulting change. One example of this would be changing breeding season length. The duration of breeding season is often discussed with two production goals in mind, 1) creating a consistent calf crop and 2) increasing pounds of weaned calf. Both of which can be done by having a shorter breeding season and then shortened calving period, which is a positive and beneficial goal and change.

Nebraska Range Short Course: June 21 - 24, 2021

The Nebraska Range Short Course is scheduled for June 21 to 24, 2021 on the campus of Chadron State College. The short course is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Chadron State College, and the Nebraska Section of the Society for Range Management. It is designed to provide individuals who have a background in ranch, natural resource, or wildlife management an opportunity to increase their knowledge in many topics associated with the field of range management. 

Mineral and Vitamin Considerations When Drylotting Cows

Managing cows in a drylot can be a way to maintain the herd when forage production is reduced due to drought or as a part of a system when pasture is unavailable for other reasons. When cattle are managed in a drylot over an extended period of time, minerals and vitamins that need to be supplied can vary significantly from those needed when cows are grazing.  The most common vitamins and minerals to be impacted by deficiencies or antagonisms when feeding production cows in confinement are Vitamin A, Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), Copper (Cu), Manganese (Mn), and Zinc (Zn).  

Invasive Plants Watch List Priority: AbsinthWormwood

Absinth wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is a Nebraska Invasive Plants Watch List priority that is spreading rapidly and making a big impact to Nebraska grasslands. Infestations of absinth wormwood have been traced back to contaminated hay brought in from out of state following the 2012 drought. In some other areas, gravel containing seed was imported from infested areas. States including North Dakota, South Dakota, and Colorado have listed absinth wormwood as a noxious weed.

Bull Management – It’s a Year-round Commitment

Just purchased a new bull? Keep in mind the longevity of a bull in the herd has a lot to do with the management and care he receives year-round. Learn more on maintaining body condition, nutritional needs, evaluating fertility, managing social dominance, providing proper female:bull ratios, caring for the bull in the “off season”, and more in this newly released NebGuide G2332 Breeding Bull Management, It's a Year-Round Commitment.

Managing Postpartum Anestrus in Beef Cows for a Successful Breeding Season

As calving season is kicking off for many producers, we need to start thinking about how to manage cows during the early postpartum phase for a successful breeding season. Due to calving distribution, one thing to worry about is late calving cows and how limited breeding season lengths can be challenging for them. Therefore, effective planning for reproductive health and limiting the impact of anestrus will ensure that cows are set up for the breeding season.

Nebraska Extension to Host Beefwatch Webinar Series on Drought Management

In March, the BeefWatch Webinar series will focus on planning for and managing during a drought. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered. More information about the BeefWatch Webinar Series can be found on our webpage: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-webinar-series

Each webinar is free and will begin at 8:00 PM Central Time.

New Extension Land Link Program Connects Land Seekers with Retiring Landowners

A new Nebraska Extension program will work to connect new and beginning farmers and ranchers with retiring landowners who are interested in transitioning their land to a new owner.

Nebraska Land Link is now accepting applications from interested land seekers and landowners, with the goal of providing land access using lease agreements, lease-to-own arrangements, buy-sell arrangements or other creative methods that are mutually beneficial for both parties.

Federal Livestock Insurance Market Performance and Use in Nebraska

This article was first published by The Nebraska Cattleman magazine.

Registration Opens for 2021 Nebraska Ranch Practicum

Ranchers interested in learning about the latest cutting-edge research in range livestock production from the University of Nebraska–Lincoln are encouraged to register for the 2021 Nebraska Ranch Practicum offered by Nebraska Extension.

Extension Study Seeks Ranchers’ Input on Grassland Conservation Programs

A newly launched survey by Nebraska Extension seeks ranchers’ input on the design of grassland conservation programs in the state. The survey, a partnership among Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen's, Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, and the University of Nebraska, is a targeted effort to get feedback directly from the ranchers in the state.  

Will Record Cold Temperatures Bring Bigger Calf Birthweights?

The relationship between average daily air temperatures during the last trimester a cow is pregnant and calf birthweights has been documented in research done by the University of Nebraska from 1992-1998 (Climate Affects Calf Birth Weights and Calving Difficulty).

2021 Feedlot Roundtable Webinars

The 2021 Beef Feedlot Roundtable presentations are now available on the Beef Webinars page.

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot management at Nebraska Extension’s 2021 Beef Feedlot Roundtables via webinar in February and March.

Grazing and Forage Management During and After Drought

Winter is a good time of year to begin making grazing and forage plans for the upcoming season. Of course, there can be a tremendous amount of uncertainty on what type of growing conditions we will see in the spring and summer. This is especially true if we had droughty conditions the previous summer or little fall and winter precipitation.