BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

How Many Pounds of Meat Can We Expect From A Beef Animal?

Consumers who buy a live animal from a local cattle producer or 4-H member for custom processing are often surprised by the amount of beef they receive, the amount of freezer space needed and that they did not get back the entire live weight of the animal in retail cuts.  This article will discuss how to estimate how much meat you will receive when purchasing an animal to harvest.

Dressing Percentage is an important term to remember as it represents the portion of the live animal weight that transfers to the hot carcass weight.

Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Open House Online Webinar sponsored by Elanco

The 21st annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be Wednesday, August 26, 2020. The GSL Open House committee made the decision this year to transition the program to live webinar and will offer attendees to interact with presenters. Morning speakers from UNL and Elanco will update producers on beef quality assurance (BQA) programming in Nebraska, discuss why low-stress cattle handling matters, explain the benefits of third-party audits, and review beef sustainability. 

Utilizing Summer Annuals

Whether grazed, harvested for hay, or cut for silage, warm season annual grasses are the kings of forage production.  Common species like forage sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum/sudangrass hybrids, and millets grow best under warmer temperatures, with peak performance at 75-90°F.  All species are highly productive with sudangrass on the lower end producing 3-5 tons per acre and forage sorghum recording yields up to 11 tons per acre.

Leafy Spurge

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

Leafy Spurge 

a.k.a. - wolf’s milk, faitours-grass, tithymal
Scientific name:  Euphorbia esula L.
Family:  Euphorbiaceae – (Spurge family)

Is That Corn Crop Worth More as Silage or Grain?

Ongoing dry and drought conditions in many parts of the state are supporting hay and forage prices as we look towards this fall.

Nebraska Extension to Host Calf Health Management on Arrival Webinar Series

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will host the 2020 Calf Health Management on Arrival Webinar Series. The webinars will take place weekly beginning on Aug. 18.

The Calf Health Management on Arrival Webinar Series is designed to highlight management strategies relative to biocontainment, stress mitigation, nutrition, and treatment options that will set calves up for success. Each session will feature a presentation from an industry expert and a segment featuring a veterinarian or producer perspective.

Feeder Cattle Future Price Spreads: Opportunities to Hedge?

This article was originally published by In The Cattle Markets on July 20, 2020.

Changing Grid Premiums and Discounts Due to Underlying Changes in the Fed Cattle Industry

This article was originally published in the June 9, 2020 edition of In The Cattle Markets.

Pollinators and Nebraska Rangelands

Native rangelands are well known for their importance as a forage resource to beef cattle and other livestock. These same rangelands are also an essential resource for smaller six-legged foragers: insect pollinators. Insect pollinators include a diverse number of species of beetles, flies, wasps, butterflies, moths, and bees, many of which are found on rangelands in Nebraska. Pollinators are integral in maintaining healthy ecosystems and food security for humans.

Creep Feeding Calves

Keeping a tight grip on feed costs is a priority for every beef producer. Creep feeding calves can be a good return on investments in certain situations. Maintaining the calf’s efficiency at an early age is becoming much more critical with modern market requirements. The gross income of the cow/calf enterprises is partially dependent on the weaning weight of the calves. Outside of changing weaning date, there are management strategies that can  increase calf weaning weight.

Managing Cows through Dry Conditions

Hot, dry conditions in early summer have taken a toll on grass growth in much of the Great Plains this year. There are several options cattle producers may want to consider to conserve grass in these dry areas. Every producer should have a drought plan that includes trigger dates and a culling strategy, but once those top cuts are made, what feeding options are there for the core herd?

Options for Reducing Stocking Rates Due to Dry Conditions

Drought conditions are persisting in Wyoming, Colorado and Kansas and have expanded into portions of Nebraska (Figure 1), reducing range and pasture production. Although soil moisture has kept most of Nebraska out of drought, portions of the state are well below normal spring precipitation levels and above normal spring temperatures (Figure 2).

Annual Forages Planted in Middle to Late Summer can be Excellent Fall Feed

Dry conditions in many parts of the state are challenging producers to consider options for growing additional forage to provide feed for this fall and winter. In some parts of the state, less than 50% of long-term average precipitation has been received from the middle of April to the middle of June. This has severely impacted forage production from perennial dryland hay fields as well as yields from winter and spring annual forages.

Silage for Beef Cattle Conference Moves to Free, Online-Only Webinar Series

Nebraska Extension, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are hosting the third Silage for Beef Cattle Conference with one major change:  this year, the event will be a series of four, hour-long free webinars held from July 7 through Aug. 4, 2020.

Phragmites / Common Reed

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

Pinkeye in Cattle

Driving or riding through a pen or pasture of cattle is a favorite chore for many producers.  Making sure our cattle have plenty of clean water, access to feed or forage and monitoring herd health are important aspects of daily care.  When examining cattle, one important disease not to overlook is pinkeye.  Pinkeye is a highly contagious infectious disease that not only affects cattle in Nebraska but worldwide. The incidence and severity of this common disease can vary widely from year to year.

Nebraska Small Business Stabilization Grant

Nebraska, utilizing federal COVID-19 relief funding, has established a program to help businesses, including ranching, impacted by COVID-19.  The Department of Economic Development expects to award grants of $12,000 to eligible businesses, for a total of approximately $330,000,000.  The original window of application is relatively short with sign up going from June 15th, 2020 through June 26th, 2020.  As this is a developing opportunity changes will and often occur.  One such change is that applications of livestock producers has temporarily

Preparing for Summer Heat

As cattle feeders hold on to fat cattle until the opportunity to be harvested arises, it is important to prepare for periods of extreme heat by developing a heat stress management plan. The combination of hot temperatures, high humidity, and lack of air movement can result in severe cases of heat stress for cattle. When temperatures remain above 70°F during the night, cattle are unable to recover before the next episode of heat exposure. This can result in reduced intakes and gains, and in extreme cases, death.

Dealing with Blister Beetles

Blister beetles, from the family Meloidae, are sometimes referred to as oil beetles and found in all parts of the Unites States and Canada. Adult blister beetles vary in size and color but are recognized by the elongated, narrow, cylindrical, and soft bodies. In Nebraska, the three-striped, grey, and black blister beetles (Fig. 1) are the most common species. Blister beetles produce a chemical called cantharidin which is toxic to animals and humans. The male blister beetle secretes cantharidin and presents it to the female after mating.

Checking Water from Afar

For cattle producers who rely on wells in pastures and rangelands as a water source for their cattle, much time is spent checking water to make sure that windmills and submersible wells are delivering the water cattle need.   These water checks are often made daily or every other day to ensure water is available.  When problems occur with a water source cattle depend on, time is limited to get the problem fixed, haul water or move the cattle to another location where water is.  Timeliness of knowing there is a problem with a well or a tank that stores water is essential

Working Cattle and Managing Employees During COVID-19

Food production is essential, and that requires beef producers to carefully consider how COVID-19 infections may impact cattle work. It is important to remember how the virus is transmitted (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Managing Bull Fertility Prior to the Breeding Season

As we prepare for the breeding season or for those in the midst of the breeding season, it is important to think about how we can manage bull fertility and understand critical factors that can impact fertility. There are many factors that can affect sperm production; however, the main factors that can decrease sperm production are disease, fever, injury, and extreme environmental conditions. We must keep in mind that spermatogenesis, the production of sperm, is a 61-day process in bulls; therefore, it will take upwards of 60 days to have normal sperm again following an injury/insult.

Musk Thistle

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

Musk Thistle  
a.k.a. – Nodding thistle, Nodding Plumeless thistle 
Scientific name:  Carduus nutans L.
Family:  Asteraceae (Sunflower family)

Fermenting for Forages: Small Grain Silage

When the term silage is used, typically what comes to mind is corn silage. This is especially true in the Great Plains and Midwest where corn is king. Another silage that may be less known is small grain silage.

Fermenting for Forages: Finding the Right Moisture

Developing cattle rations without distillers products to provide moisture and protein is an issue on many producers’ minds.  One option this summer is to cut fall planted rye or spring oats, wheat, triticale, or barley for silage.   Small grain silage can add moisture and some protein to rations and help fill the gap before corn silage is ready to harvest this fall.

Field Bindweed

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

Cattle and the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Payments

The USDA recently announced more details on the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) aid payments. In total, $19 billion is included in the aid package, $16 billion in direct payments to producers and $3 billion in commodity food purchases. Payment details are a bit complicated depending upon whether producers sold their commodities during the time period from January 15 to April 15, 2020.

Live Cattle Basis Due to Covid-19: Deviations and Convergence

A Fundamental Review on Basis

Basis is defined as the cash minus futures. Cash market reflects today's supply conditions and price. Futures market reflects upcoming supply and demand conditions. If it is anticipated that there will be a period of increasing supplies, futures prices will decline to reflect that information. Likewise, periods of time with expected decreasing supplies, future prices are expected to increase.

Pre-COVID-19 Market Conditions Persist & the Stocker Industry Can Dampen the Damage

The effects of COVID-19 on the livestock market are well known and felt. Some effects include depressed futures and cash prices, unusual basis patterns, decreased packer bids and sale barn volume, packing plant closures, consumer hording of meat products, and shifting food service products for retail consumption. All these effects occurred as market participants grappled with everchanging government and industry policy which reduced consumer demand and resulted in bottlenecks and increasing supply gluts upstream.

Has COVID-19 Impacted Price-Weight Relationships and Value of Gain?

This article was originally published by In The Cattle Markets on April 28, 2020.

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.

Guidance on the Prevention and Spread of COVID-19 for Farmers, Ranchers and Agricultural Workers

The Central States Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (CS-CASH) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center is providing guidance on the prevention and spread of COVID-19 for farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers. Precautions include eliminating exposure, finding ways to reduce person-to-person contact, using administrative authority to establish new work guidelines as necessary, and making use of all appropriate Personal Protective Equipment.
 

What is your Competitive Advantage?

One of the ways that beef producers can be successful in their business is to identify what their competitive advantage is in relation to their competition.  What is it about your product, skills, reputation, business structure, location or service that sets you apart from others?  What gives you a “leg up” on the competition?

Will Feeding Silage to Lactating Cows Give my Calves Scours?

Many cow-calf producers in Nebraska have become accustomed to using distillers grains as a source of both protein and energy to help meet the nutritional needs of lactating cows from calving until green grass is available. Due to the ongoing distillers shortage, many producers are considering including corn silage in the ration to help alleviate some of the energy shortfall in their hay resources. However, concerns have been expressed that silage in the diet will result in diarrhea or scours in their calves.

COVID-19 Branding Guidelines

Branding is the social event of the spring signaling the end of winter and the long hours of calving, and the beginning of greener pastures ahead. Friends and neighbors come from far and wide to help out and relive the cherished tradition.

As the US continues to limit the spread of COVID-19 by closing offices and promoting social distancing and working from home, agriculture does not stop. The work must go on. Although calves must be branded, not taking precautions can mean the difference between life and death for some loved ones.  

It is Canada thistle, not Canadian thistle . . .

Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potentially invasive species prior to or just as the establishment of the invasive is taking place.  An Integrated Pest Management plan (IPM) can be developed to manage, contain and eradicate the invasive species before it can spread further.  This will avoid costly, long-term control efforts.

Flies on Pastured Cattle

As livestock producers prepare for another grazing season, thoughts are often directed towards grass conditions, animal conditioning, and fence repair. An additional very important consideration should include what type of flies will impact their pastured cattle, and what method of fly control will work best for their management system. Livestock fly control should be viewed as having a positive economic impact on livestock operations. In Nebraska and elsewhere, there are three fly species that economically impact pastured cattle; horn fly, face fly and stable fly.

Flooded Sandhills Subirrigated Meadows and Upland Sites

Meadows cover approximately 10% of the land area in the Nebraska Sandhills. These meadows have both subirrigated and wetland ecological sites that are an important forage resource (hay and grazing) for many ranches in the Sandhills. Meadows typically provide 2 to 3 times more forage than associated Sandhills uplands. Meadows are also vital to the biodiversity and hydrology of the Sandhills with many native wildlife and plant species found in these subirrigated and wetland areas.

#socialdistancing: Create Physical Distance but Stay in Touch

You do not have to go far on social media to find farmers in tractors or families out with newborn calves with the hashtag “social distancing” and the caption “I’ll be engaging in social distancing this spring, like I do every year!”

Heifer CONSULT Available for use by Beef Cow-calf Producers

Heifer CONSULT (Collaborative, Online, Novel, Science-based, User-friendly, Learning, Tool) is designed to help beef cow-calf producers improve the reproductive success of their heifers and young cows.  If a producer is not satisfied with the current reproductive success of replacement heifers and/or first-calf heifers, this CONSULT will help identify problem areas and provide possible solutions. Please work closely with your veterinarian to create the best heifer development program for your herd.

Best Management Practices for Livestock and Farm Operations to Stop the Spread of a Virus (like COVID-19)

Continuing production in a pandemic situation requires that people in agriculture carefully consider how COVID-19 infections may impact the operations in which they work.

Prescribed Burning for Cedar Tree Control – A Producer’s Perspective

Cedar tree encroachment on pasture and rangelands is a tremendous challenge for farmers and ranchers in the state of Nebraska.

General Management Considerations to Increase the Proportion of Early Calving Heifers and Cows

Artificial insemination (AI) is the most powerful tool cow-calf producers have to improve beef cattle genetics. Still, they have been slow to adopt this technology due to the time and labor of heat checking and a market structure that until recently did not reward genetic improvement. However, markets are now rewarding improved genetics (e.g. premiums) and improved fixed time AI (FTAI) protocols make it easier for the cow-calf producer to use AI.

Simple Synchronization of Cows - One Injection, One Time through the Chute, and Bull Breed

Have you wanted to have more calves born earlier in your calving season, but did not want to deal with the increase in labor, cost and facilities to utilize estrus synchronization and artificial insemination?  The protocol shown (Figure 1.) can increase the number of cows coming into estrus early in the breeding season, with one time through the chute, one injection, and breeding using only natural service.

Estrus Synchronization and the Breeding Season - Resources to Review for 2020

For most producers the spring breeding season is still a ways off, but now is a good time to review estrus synchronization protocols and develop a plan for this year.  There are several Extension resources that can be helpful in preparing for the upcoming breeding season.

Targeted Grazing to Manage Cheatgrass

While Mother Nature has been giving us small tastes of spring, then pulling right back, the reminder that pasture green up is just around the corner shouldn’t be ignored. One of the earliest species we see greening up is cheatgrass (also called Downy brome, Bromus tectorum). This invasive species is found throughout Nebraska but is most prevalent on rangelands in the western portion of the state. Early spring is a good time to begin planning for cheatgrass management.

Ranch Equipment - Needed or Nice to Have?

For a cow-calf enterprise, the second largest expense after grazed and harvested feed is often overhead expenses related to labor and equipment.  In ranching, an overhead expense is one that doesn’t change very much based on the number of cows that are in production.  For example, the pickup, tractor, ATV, trailer, feeding equipment, and working facilities used to care for 150 cows would also likely be adequate to care for 500 cows.  On a cost per cow unit basis, spreading that equipment cost over 500 cows versus 150 cows drastically reduces the equipment cost per cow. 

Considerations for Successful Estrus Synchronization Programs

With spring calving in full swing, it is a good time to start thinking about if your cows are prepared for breeding season. Making sure your cows are in a good body condition score prior to calving is one of the most important steps to ensuring your cows stay on track to rebreed whether you plan to turn bulls out, synchronize, AI, or a combination. If you plan to utilize synchronization to tighten your breeding season, there are a few things you should consider.

Good Year-Round Nutrition and Adequate Body Condition Score (BCS)

What Should My Pastures Look Like? Interpreting Rangeland Monitoring Data

Conducting rangeland monitoring is an important task to help managers understand how rangeland management practices affect plant communities and soil health. A network of knowledge exchange between cattle producers and scientists can help this data become more meaningful and useful in an adaptive rangeland management framework. The Sandhills Rangeland Monitoring Cooperative (SRMC) is a new collaborative project between UNL Extension and cattle producers in the Nebraska Sandhills.

Nebraska Range Short Course June 22 - 25, 2020

The Nebraska Range Short Course is scheduled for June 22 to 25, 2020 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.

What to Do During a Distillers Grains Shortage

The Domino Effect

Using Goals with Ranch Decision Making - A Producer’s Perspective

Clearly identifying ranch goals and using those with decision making can help ranch families identify which enterprises they should be engaged in. 

Evaluating and Preparing Bulls in Advance of the Breeding Season

Although the breeding season for many herds is still a few months away, it is time to be evaluating bull body condition. Body condition is just as important in bulls as it is in cows. Research has shown that bulls in a body condition 5-6 have better semen quality than those in a 4 or 7.

Five Ways to Reduce Unit Cost of Production in a Cow-calf Enterprise

Unit cost of production is a ratio where costs in the numerator are divided by the units produced in the denominator.

 

There are five ways to reduce unit costs of production in a cow-calf enterprise.

Economics of Yearling Systems – A Review

This article is a summary of the 2020 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report, “Economics of Yearling Systems.” 

Registration Opens for 2020 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 2020 Nebraska Ranch Practicum offered by Nebraska Extension.

Is the Price Right?

With many producers utilizing annual forage/cover crops and prevent plant acres, the amount of “non-traditional” forage options on the market have increased this past year.  As long as we keep an eye out for potential nitrate issues, sorghum/sudangrass, milo, or small grains like oats, rye, and wheat can all make great forage options as hay or silage.  Whether you are looking to buy or sell these products, answering the question, “Is the price right?” can often be a difficult undertaking.

Consumers Pay Organic Premiums – Chicken is King and Beef Lags

Local” and “Organic” are two forms of production that have received considerable public attention in the last 10 years. The label of “Local” and “Organic” are noticeably vague and at times can cause confusion among consumers. The USDA has no specific definition of the “Local” label but work to promote locally grown products.

Value Added Fed and Feeder Cattle Practices: Are they Paying?

A lot of time is spent on analyzing trends and movements in the quality and yield grade of slaughtered cattle and for good reason. These premiums indicate whether the market is willing to pay for producing a higher quality product. As producers respond to these premiums or discounts the relative share of quality graded cattle changes. For example, as the Choice-Select spread widens there is a greater incentive to feed cattle longer.

Foreign Animal Disease: Implications for Traceability

Two statements commonly spoken by market analysts and producers are: 1) beef is a differentiated product and 2) global beef supply impacts domestic prices. These are so frequently quoted that we might forget how these two statements imply modifications in local risk management and production practices. So, how do these statements apply to a hypothetical Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) situation in the United States (US)?


FMD Implications for US Beef Supply

A Calf’s Most Important Meal: Colostrum

Colostrum is the "first milk" produced after calving. It has a different composition than milk as it has an important role in being the first meal a calf receives. Colostrum is more nutrient dense than milk and contains antibodies essential for calf health.

2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables in Bridgeport, Lexington, West Point

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot nutrition and health at Nebraska Extension's 2020 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 18-20 in Bridgeport, Lexington and West Point.

Wet Bales Can Tip the Scales

The past few months, we’ve been focusing quite a bit on the issues that can arise when hay gets a bit too wet: combustion, mold, and Maillard reactions.  One often overlooked issue that can arise from wet hay is just the moisture itself. 

Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP)

Nebraska USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) is reminding livestock producers of an approaching deadline for the Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP). Producers who filed a LIP Notice of Loss with FSA for livestock losses due to natural disaster in 2019 have until Monday, March 2, to supply appropriate supporting paperwork and complete the application for payment, if they haven’t done so already.

Sugar Beet Pulp Shortage and Alternative Energy Sources for Beef Cattle

The adverse weather conditions experienced by most agriculturalists in 2019 certainly impacted sugar beet production. The reduced volume of sugar beets available for sugar production has impacted the amount of the by-product, sugar beet pulp, available for beef cattle diets this winter.

Sugar beet pulp is often used in gestating cow diets in the winter to increase the energy density of a forage based diet. The highly digestible fiber in sugar beet pulp gives it a total digestible nutrient or TDN value of 85-90%. The crude protein value is approximately 10%.

Asking “Why?” with Systems Thinking: A Powerful Tool for Problem Solving

Beef production from conception to consumption is a complex, biological system where cause and effect are often distant in time and space.   For example, things that occurred to a calf while it was developing inside of a cow, can impact that animal throughout its life all the way to harvest. This can make it challenging to identify and address the actual source of a problem when it is observed.   To better understand and address the source of problems, consider asking the question “why?”  

Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference is Feb. 20-21

The annual Nebraska Women in Agriculture Conference will celebrate 35 years Feb. 20 and 21 at the Holiday Inn Convention Center in Kearney.

Workshops and presentations will offer tools and information to help women better manage risk, improve their farms and ranches and become more successful operators and business partners.

Beef Profit Tips for 2020

During the winter and spring of 2020, Nebraska Beef Extension Educators will host 7 beef profitability workshops in Eastern Nebraska to help beef producers evaluate their operations to make them more profitable through the latest research information. Topics will vary depending on the presenters at each location. These workshops have been held across Nebraska for the past sixteen years. The cost is $15.00 but may vary from location to location depending on local sponsorship. There will not be a meal unless otherwise stated.

2020 Locations are as follows: 

Sharing Animal Agriculture’s Sustainability Story

Animal agriculture often endures criticism from our neighbors and consumers relative to sustainability. But when it comes to management of carbon and nutrients, animal agriculture has a positive story to share.  Many environmental and sustainability organizations promote the importance of a “circular economy” for increasing sustainability.  Farmers should help our neighbors and consumers recognize agriculture’s long term practice of implementing this circular economy.

Manure: Waste or Valuable Agricultural Resource?

manure piled

Stories about manure often illustrate two opposing sentiments. Is manure a “Waste” that pollutes our water resources and creates undesirable nuisances for communities?  Or, is manure a “Resource” that reduces the demand inorganic fertilizers and improves the health of our soils? 

Principles for Care and Management of the Cow and Calf at Calving

In this roundtable podcast, the veterinary team at the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center discusses calving principles that producers can use to enhance their care and management of both cow and calf.

Winter Nutrition: Are You Staying Ahead or Getting Behind?

As winter progresses, winter nutrition and increased environmental stress on cows may concern many cow-calf producers. Winter nutritional management affects not only the profitability of a beef cowherd, but also the future performance of the cow and her offspring. With that in mind, building a nutritional program for a cow-calf system requires understanding nutritional requirements, knowing the “stress periods” that can happen, and knowing the quality and quantity of your forage resources. 

Differences Between High-, Medium-, and Low-Profit Cow-Calf Producers: An Analysis of 2014-2018 Kansas Farm Management Association Cow-Calf Enterprise – A Review

This study by Whitney Bowman, 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.

West Central Cattlemen’s Day Series Offered at Seven Locations

Nebraska Extension will be hosting a series of winter meetings for cattle producers in seven locations across western Nebraska. The program is designed to help producers evaluate management practices that could improve their bottom line. Extension Specialists and Educators will discuss a variety of topics including heifer development, nutritional considerations during cold weather, benchmarking and measuring costs, considerations for retained ownership, parasite control, and more.

Dates and locations include: 

Manure: Waste or Valuable Agricultural Resource?

Is manure a Waste or Resource?

Stories about manure often illustrate two opposing sentiments. Is manure a “Waste” that pollutes our water resources and creates undesirable nuisances for communities?  Or, is manure a “Resource” that reduces the demand for importing greenhouse gas intensive inorganic fertilizers and improves the health of our soils? 

Burning Your Bottom Line: How Hot Hay Changes Forage Quality

Hay put up too wet can lead to a number of issues, most notably mold and heat.  Moisture keeps otherwise dormant microbes and fungi active, decreasing forage quality and creating heat.  Too much heat can actually create a risk of combustion. 

New Cow-Calf Budgets Available for Nebraska

As a part of the UNL multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative and a complementary project funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), five geographically identified Nebraska producer panels were formed to provide input and feedback on University research and extension projects involving integrated beef systems. These panels have met a combined eight times over the last two years. One of the tasks being worked on is the development of representative cow-calf enterprise budgets for typical cow-calf herds in different geographic regions across the state.

UNL Beef Roundup Webinars January 21 and 28

Nutrition, profitability, and health are the themes of the 2020 University of Nebraska-Lincoln Beef Roundup hosted by Nebraska Extension on Tuesday, January 21, and Tuesday, January 28, at 6pm MST (7pm CST). This series features topic experts from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Kansas State University. Each evening features two presentations that can be viewed from any location with internet access or at several locations across Nebraska. Sites and registration information is listed below.

Nebraska Extension Offering Land Application Training in January and February

map showing manure benefits
Which field benefits the most from manure? Participants combine personal experiences and management principles to identify preferred fields for receiving manure.

Livestock producers with livestock waste control facility permits received or renewed since April 1998 must be certified, and farms must complete an approved training every five years.

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Beef Economics Team Annual Beef Heifer Replacement Forecasts for the 2019 – 2020 Production Season (Summary Briefing)

What is a respectable value of a beef replacement heifer for the coming 2019-2020 production season? This can be a complicated choice, but a vital one that requires some clear thinking. It is important to have a handle on this value since future prosperity partially depends on it. Pay too much and future profits and net worth will suffer. Non-participation in the market is not likely to be an option since cow numbers are necessary to maintain productivity.

Use the Numbers (correctly) this Bull Sale Season

This bull sale season, profit-minded cattle producers will utilize expected progeny differences (EPD) and economic selection indices when selecting their next group of bulls. These tools are far more accurate at predicting the average difference in offspring than visual appraisal or actual weights. This is beyond contestation.

Soybean Stubble for Cows

After soybeans are harvested, cows sometimes are put out on the residues to graze.  Some bean residues are even baled.  But how good is this feed? 

We’re all familiar with the usefulness of grazing corn stalks, but I see more and more residue from soybean fields grazed every year.  Cows seem to like licking up what’s left behind after combining.  But frankly, I’m a little concerned that some folks may think their cows are getting more from those soybean residues than what truly is there.

Are You a Great Person to Work For?

In a recent conversation with a ranch owner, he said they were once again looking for an employee for their operation.  It was also mentioned that employee resignations seem to be a pattern.  He then said, almost tongue in cheek, “I couldn’t be part of the problem with this situation, could I?” 

Early Low Temperatures May Impact Sugar Beet Quality

Temperatures dropping below 15 degrees in early October may have put some sugar beets in western Nebraska at risk of decaying at the crown. When decay begins in the beet before it can be processed, it makes the beet unacceptable for sugar production for human consumption.

Do Your Herd and Your Bank Account a Favor - Test Your Hay!

Every year I get calls for help with balancing rations and most don’t have a hay analysis. All hay of the same species is NOT created equal.  For instance, smooth bromegrass hay can range from 48 to 58% total digestible nutrients (TDN) with crude protein (CP) ranging from 6 to 11% CP. This can be the difference between a growing heifer losing 0.25 lb/d or gaining 0.37 lb/d. If you were targeting the heifer gaining 1 lb/d you would need to supplement between 1.5 and 3 lb/d of dried distillers to reach this goal.

Improving the Bottom-line of Breeding: Three State Beef Conference

In a joint effort, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa Extension are hosting three meetings to address how to set up an economical and successful breeding season. The registration fee is $25 per person. It includes a meal and a copy of the conference proceedings.

Presentations include:

Pre-calving nutritional strategies: Am I staying ahead or getting behind?
Dr. Travis Mulliniks, Range Cow Nutritionist, University of Nebraska

2019 Women Managing Agricultural Land Conference

Female agriculture landowners, farmers and ranchers, and industry professionals looking to increase their business management skills are encouraged to register for the 2019 Women Managing Agricultural Land conference.  The conference will be held Dec. 11 at Nebraska Innovation Campus, 2021 Transformation Drive in Lincoln.

“Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options”

Making decisions for your farm and ranch can be stressful. However, having good financial records can help make the decision making process easier.

Cattle Risk Management Workshop Offered on December 9, 2019

Nebraska Extension will be hosting a risk management workshop for cattle producers on Monday, December 9, 2019 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. CT at the Tumbleweed Cafe meeting room. Cattle producers will learn strategies designed to reduce risk exposure to achieve a profitable outcome in uncertain times. Topics covered during the workshop include marketing tools available to protect against unfavorable price declines, programs for protecting against weather related forage losses, and current issues facing the cattle industry. 

Considerations for Temporary Fence Around Cropland

Grazing crop residues is a great way to reduce winter feed costs. However, producers may run into one major issue with crop land – how does one keep cattle contained especially if the fence is only to be temporary?

Manure Transfer from Permitted Livestock Operations

In this webinar, Dr. Amy Millmier Schmidt discusses manure transfers from permitted concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs).

Timing Manure Application to Avoid Neighbor Nuisances

In this webinar, Dr. Rick Koelsch discusses ways to minimize odor nuisances associated with manure application.

2019 Grazing Cover Crops Workshops

The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition, Nebraska Extension, and Green Cover Seed have teamed up to present cover crop workshops at four locations in Nebraska.

Featured speaker Shane New is a regenerative agriculture focused entrepreneur from Holton, Kansas who, with his family, operates New Family Farms. His topics include: knowing how to take economic values from your operation; why are you doing it if you are losing money; do we really know what foods should taste like; and how to change the way you see.

Frequently Asked Questions about Grazing Corn Residue Fields with Excessive Downed Corn

Putting cows out on corn fields with a lot of corn is a recipe for acidosis (grain overload), abortion, and possibly death, if their rumen bacteria are not properly prepared. Cattle that become acidotic for even a short time can have reduced performance long term due to damage to the rumen wall. Therefore, taking the time to avoid acidosis is very important.

 

How do I know how much corn is in the field?

Register Now for Range Beef Cow Symposium XXVI - November 18-20 in Mitchell, NE!!

You won’t want to miss RBCS XXVI! This year Under Secretary of Agriculture for Marketing and Regulatory Programs, Greg Ibach will be here to discuss domestic and international marketing of U.S. beef. Jim Robb from the Livestock Marketing Information Center will give the traditional market outlook. Wacey Kirkpatrick, a rancher from South Dakota will explain using price protection for the cow/calf producer. Dr.

Helping Cows Cope with Cold Stress

Cold stress increases a cow’s energy requirement and can pull down her body condition.  We think many cow/calf producers experienced this last year.  While we don’t know what mother nature has in store for us this year, it is good to think ahead and have a plan. A good start is to evaluate body condition score (BCS) now, and if cows are not at a 5 to 5.5 BCS, then taking steps to improve BCS before cold weather hits can help reduce the impacts of cold weather on the cows.

Manure Rules not just for Large CAFOs

Have you ever been overwhelmed by the amount of manure regulations in Nebraska? Or anywhere? Let’s make it a little easier to digest.

The good news is that Nebraska regulations related to manure do not change very often. In fact, the current regulations have been in effect since October 2011. So everyone can better follow the rules, let’s break it down into something that is a little easier to follow.

Take Home Message:
The ultimate purpose of all manure regulations is to keep water free from contamination.

The Science Behind 50-degree Soil and Nitrogen Application

This article was originally published on the “Manure Scoop” by Dan Andersen on September 11, 2015 and has been modified and published here with his permission.

What to Do with Wet Hay

With the wet weather this year, putting up quality hay and keeping it protected from the elements has been a challenge.  While some weathering of bales is to be expected, those that were put up a bit wet, have been sitting in water, or were otherwise saturated need some special considerations. 

Tips to Improve Cow Performance While Consuming Low-quality Forages

Low-quality range pasture and cold wet winter left cows in thinner than normal condition coming into spring this year. The challenges of last summer and winter may have resulted in lower than average pregnancy rates in replacement heifers and young cows this fall, which may be due to the impact the cold and snow had on body condition. Much of the precipitation patterns through the winter continued into the spring and summer creating a challenging 2019 haying season. Widespread heavy rainfall across much of Nebraska made the haying season challenging, and in some areas, nearly impossible.

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