Corn silage can be an economical feedstuff in finishing diets, especially when corn prices are high. Feeding corn silage gives cattle feeders the opportunity to capitalize on maximum quality and tonnage of the whole corn plant, while stockpiling large quantities of feed. Considering forage prices, feedyards with bunker storage or flat storage should consider silage this year, even if only used as a roughage source.
The number of growing degree days remaining for the season will influence the amount of light test weight corn harvested this fall. The current standard test weight for corn is 56 pounds per bushel. When corn test weight is below the standard, it is often discounted in price, suggesting the feeding value is lower. However, research has shown that the feeding value of light test weight corn is often similar to normal test weight corn when included in various cattle diets.
Unemployment across the United States is at historically low numbers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Nebraska ranks in the top 25% of states in having one of the lowest unemployment rates. This low unemployment rate has created an environment where there is tremendous competition for agricultural workers. Potential employees have greater employment opportunities and therefore can be more selective about the job that they choose.
Dry edible beans such as pintos, great northern, and black beans are a very valuable commodity raised in western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming ranking Nebraska second, and Wyoming eighth in national dry bean production. However, hail and drought can easily reduce bean quality and the feasibility of harvest for the rigorous human consumption standards. So the question becomes, when dry edible beans are not suitable for human consumption, what options are available?
There are many questions regarding the differences between written and unwritten agricultural land leases for cropland and for pasture. This Q&A focuses on the status of hunting rights on leased crop or pasture land.
Who has the hunting rights for leased land with a written lease? A written cropland or pasture lease can specify who has hunting rights. If the written lease does not reserve hunting rights in the landlord directly or indirectly, the hunting rights would go to the tenant for the duration of the lease.
On July 17 when the Gering-Ft. Laramie canal breached, it left over 100,000 acres of irrigated crops in eastern Wyoming and western Nebraska without water. Without irrigation water and adequate rainfall, taking the corn to full maturity and grain production, may not be the best option for the crop.
Producers with a corn crop impacted by the canal breach may want to consider making corn silage out of this year’s crop. There are several things to consider when making the decision to make silage.
“What material should I use for my new silage pad?” is probably a question most producers ask once a decade at most, but it is an important decision for maintaining an efficient feeding program. Asphalt (e.g.
The Crop Residue Exchange continues to link cattle producers to available grazing resources. To date, a majority of the listings have been for available corn residue. Crop producers who have listed residue available for grazing in the past are encouraged to log in and update their listings on the Exchange for the upcoming fall and winter grazing season. Recent updates to the Exchange have expanded its geographical reach to include large portions of the states that surround Nebraska.
Many beef producers are preparing to wean, or at least thinking about it. After weaning and prior to winter can be one of the most economical times to improve the body condition score (BCS) of a spring-calving cow. Producers should look at weaning date within each year as a supplement strategy to put body condition back on cows before winter. If cows are thinner than normal, a producer may want to consider weaning earlier to give those cows a chance to gain body condition, especially with the younger females. Heifer and cow BCS at calving can impact subsequent rebreeding performance.
Two technologies that are available to producers to utilize to detect pregnancy in heifers or cows are blood tests and ultrasound. These two technologies can be utilized to detect pregnancy as early as 30 days post breeding. Early detection of pregnancy in beef heifers or cows provides producers with information that allows them to make timely management decisions. A recent article Choosing a Method for Pregnancy Diagnosis discusses the use of these two technologies.
A snowy/rainy spring gave way to above average rainfall for the summer in much of the mid-section of the country. While most of us know better than to complain about rain, the moisture has sure presented challenges for this year’s hay crop.
Abundant moisture resulted in rapid growth and maturity in forages. The continued rain delayed cutting the forage, adding to the maturity of the crop, and unfortunately, a lot of hay has been rained on between cutting and baling. This combination is most certainly going to result in poor quality hay, even if tonnage is adequate.
The 20th annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 21, 2019. In addition, the University of Nebraska Cow Symposium will be held on August 20th in Ord and 22nd in Norfolk. Both the GSL Open House and the UNL Cow Symposium are sponsored by Elanco. A variety of educational sessions, activities, demonstrations and exhibits are planned for the symposium.
Making silage is an effective way for many producers to best use the resources available to their operation. However, for some, spoilage and shrink can result in significant loss that can greatly increase the cost of silage fed and impact animal performance. Bagging of silage offers flexibility for operations of all sizes to produce silage while potentially reducing spoilage and shrink loss.
Recent findings published from the Nebraska Farm Real Estate Market Highlights 2018-2019 indicate changes in cow-calf and stocker monthly rental rates trended slightly lower when compared to 2018 (Table 1). Nebraska monthly grazing rates represent a typical fee for one month of grazing during the summer. Many leases run for a five-month grazing season subject to annual weather conditions.
Your lender informs you that your unpaid operating loan will not be renewed. What are your options? Loan foreclosure? Bankruptcy? One important option in Nebraska is farm credit mediation. This is when you and your creditor (or creditors) sit down with a trained mediator who tries to facilitate a compromise among the parties that avoids loan foreclosure and bankruptcy.
The seven-day forecast is calling for above average temperatures creating heat indexes that will reach critical heat stress emergency. Thursday and Friday (July 18 and 19) will be critical days across the state as little cloud cover is expected and wind speeds will be at or below 10 mph across the region.
Often times the terms baleage and haylage are used interchangeable in conversation due to the state or country of the farm/ranch or simply by the type of operation. So how are baleage and haylage different and why are they used?
Beginning and experienced grazers, land managers, policy makers, and those concerned with the utilization and conservation of our grazing lands are encouraged to register for the 19th annual Nebraska Grazing Conference Aug. 12-14 at the Ramada by Wyndham, 301 2nd Ave., Kearney. The conference is hosted by the Center for Grassland Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln
Beef producers know from experience that calving season is fraught with perils for baby calves. Calving difficulties, failure of cow and calf to bond, failure of passive transfer of immunity (colostrum intake by the calf), weather, mud, scours, and injuries are all threats during calving season. Often, once cows and calves are on summer grass, most of the calf-related risk and workload are in the rear-view mirror. It is still time for vigilance, however, because things like nursing calf pneumonia and pinkeye can take a lot of the fun out of baseball games and county fairs.
Understanding what market conditions are telling you together with risk management and marketing strategy are a key component to business success for stocker/yearling operators. This will be the main theme of a meeting and ranch tour scheduled for Friday, July 12 near Burwell. Registration is due by July 8.
The morning program will be held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Central Time at the Calamus Outfitters meeting facility northwest of Burwell. Dinner will be served at noon. In the afternoon, a tour of the Gracie Creek ranch is planned.
The abundant spring and early summer moisture we have received in Nebraska has been record setting in many areas and has resulted in hay meadows and fields being inundated with water. Even if the rain stops, for many producers, these flooded hay meadows and fields will produce significantly less this year, due to the damage caused to forage stands by the standing water. This sets up a scenario where many producers may find themselves short on hay for the upcoming winter of 2019-2020.
Settling insurance claims can be a daunting task. The first few items that come to mind are easy to remember and price out. The barn lost a roof, the pickup was totaled. Those are both examples of large singular assets that have substantial value. In the case of events such as floods, tornados, and other disasters the assets lost start to go much deeper. Do you remember all the clothing, tools, kitchenware, electronics, and other small asset items? While these are usually small dollar assets their total value can be quite substantial. Creating and m
The first year of data collection for the Beef Systems Initiative (BSI) is complete. This initiative, funded by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Nebraska, is a faculty-driven, interdisciplinary project that began in January 2015. It included faculty from several disciplinary groups in Agronomy and Horticulture, Animal Science, and Agricultural Economics with interests in integrated production systems. From these early discussions, a long-term systems project was developed and administered by the Center for Grassland Studies.
If planting in July, warm season annual grasses are good options for forage production. They can be used to produce hay, silage, green chop, or grazing both during the summer or winter. However, if the desired use is winter grazing and the need is for high quality forage, then delaying planting until August and using cool-season winter sensitive species like oats may be a better fit. This article provides information on species selection and some key management considerations based on desired use.
In this month's BeefWatch Producer Perspective Podcast, Russ Anderson from near Hyannis Nebraska discuss how the move from a March calving, terminal production system to a late April calving with retention of replacement heifers has impacted their operation.
The Range Beef Cow Symposium will be held November 18-20 in Mitchell, NE at the Scotts Bluff County fairgrounds. The format is slightly different this year. In the afternoon of November 18, we will be offering Beef Quality Assurance Certification and a Ron Gill stockmanship clinic. The more traditional program will start in the morning of the 19th. However, in the afternoon of both the 19th and the 20th, there will be demonstrations and hands on presentations offered 3-4 times throughout the afternoon.
On most ranches, average cow size has increased significantly over the last three decades as a result of genetic selection. These changes do not come without consequences to forage intake. If the per-head counting method has been used to plan and track grazing, stocking rates may have unknowingly increase over time caused by increased forage intake of larger cows. Just as a lineman on a football team will eat more than the punter, larger cows will typically consume more forage than smaller cows.
The severe weather of this last winter and spring has prompted many cow-calf producers to evaluate the potential of moving their calving date to a different time of year. The following are a list of ten things producers may want to think through as they evaluate moving of a calving date.
The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Panhandle Research and Extension Center will host a field tour on cheatgrass management research on Thursday, June 6.
The tour will be of the Panhandle Experimental Rangeland approximately 10 miles north of Scottsbluff on Hwy 71. It will start at 9 a.m. in the east parking lot at the UNL Panhandle Research and Extension Center, 4502 Ave I, Scottsbluff, and progress to the rangeland. The tour is expected to end at noon.
Several enhancements and improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program will take effect on July 1, 2019. LRP is an insurance contract offered by the USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) to help livestock producers protect against unexpected down swings in market price.
One change is that LRP insurance coverage for fed cattle, feeder cattle, and swine is expanding to include all 50 states. Several other changes will be of particular interest to Nebraska cattle producers.
Every few years we seem to be faced with reasons to dust off these tax laws, but it has been a long time since it hasn’t been for drought. In 2019, we are looking at how these apply to flooding in the Midwest.
A one-year deferral is available for all types of livestock (draft, dairy, breeding, and feeding) if you qualify for the following:
Where there is significant damage from flooding to pastures, hayland, or alfalfa, should the rental rate be adjusted for 2019? The answer lies in the characteristics of the individual situation. This article provides guidance on adjusting rental rates for flood-damaged forage and pastureland if needed.
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.
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.
Nebraska ranchers must make many decisions during a normal production year and now have even tougher decisions where they have experienced serious flooding in early 2019. Wide varieties of decision tools are available to help the rancher make the decisions. Some of the tools require a computer office suite, like Microsoft office, with a spreadsheet. Both of the below listed office suites, Libreoffice and OpenOffice, are free suites with spreadsheets. They also are available for PC or Mac operating systems.
The Crop Residue Exchange is an online engagement tool designed to increase accessibility to grazing resources. This online exchange was recently updated to now include the ability to list pasture for rent to livestock producers.
Current market conditions for wheat along with the price and short availability of hay in some locations is setting up a scenario where the growing winter wheat crop may have more value for grazing or as a hay crop this spring than to harvest it for grain.
Maintaining beef cattle in a dry lot is an alternative management system to traditional pasture or range beef production initially developed to offset the lack of pasture during drought conditions. Dry lot management continues to be used in situations when grazing is unavailable. There is one production issue that remains constant for any livestock producer in any management system, and that is flies. They are the face fly, horn fly, house fly, and stable fly depending upon the dry lot system utilized.
Crop and cattle prices have dropped, could you extract more profit by adding a hunting lease to your operation?
Hunting leases allow access to hunters for a certain period of time by cost per acre or lump sum. These leases let you specify which game species can be hunted, hunting rights for yourself, your guests, and immediate family. In fact, depending on the interest of lessee and your willingness, these leases can be customized to the satisfaction of both you and the lessee, as well as the agreed-upon price paid for the privilege of leasing.
As temperatures finally warm up and we get close to turning animals out to pasture, keep an eye out for possible weed issues that may arise during the growing season. Surveying and keeping a record of weed locations over the course of the year is something every producer should keep in the back of their mind as they travel across pastures getting fence and water ready and checking cattle.
After this spring’s blizzards and flooding, fence rebuilding is a priority for many livestock producers. In setting new fences, questions may come up regarding opportunities for financial assistance as well as neighbor responsibilities as outlined in Nebraska fencing laws. This article discusses a USDA cost-share program, Nebraska fencing law, and considerations as you assess the damage.
Livestock producers will soon be sending cattle to summer pastures. Horn flies are a perennial pest of pastured cattle since their introduction from Europe in the 1880s. The horn fly spends most of its time on cattle, mainly on the animal’s backs, sides and when temperatures are very warm, on the belly region. Both sexes of horn fly feed on blood, averaging between 28 and 38 blood meals per day, with each blood meal lasting about 10 minutes. When horn fly numbers exceed 200 flies per animal, cattle will become more stressed due to fly biting.
One of the greatest needs for ranchers after damage from flooding or a blizzard is the need to rebuild fences. This article will review Nebraska fence law, available assistance for replacing fences, and considerations as you assess the damage.
During the production year, livestock are faced with dynamic changes in nutritional and environmental stressors that create nutritional challenges. Many parts of Nebraska experienced high, early spring rainfall and tremendous forage growth, resulting in early maturing and low-quality forages.
The 2019 Nebraska Ranch Practicum gives ranchers cutting edge research in range livestock production from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Natural resources, livestock management, and economic reality are integrated throughout the Practicum.
As technology improves and continually moves forward, more and more information can be gathered remotely to make informed decisions on Nebraska's farms and ranches. Remote Sensing is the science of obtaining information about objects or areas from a distance, typically from drones, airplanes, or satellites. Since the 1970s, the Landsat satellite program has collected earth imagery data. Current satellites with this program take imagery and sensor data from earth's entire surface once every 16 days.
The start of the growing season will be here soon and it is time to finish up grazing and forage plans for the upcoming year. Rangeland and pasture production in 2018 was very good with many areas of the state seeing production 10 to 30% above average. This, of course, was the result of abundant and timely rains during spring into mid-summer. While long-range weather forecasts always have some uncertainty, the Climate Prediction Center currently indicates weak El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean.&nbs
For cow-calf producers, the last few months have been very challenging from a weather standpoint. This has left many first-calf heifers and cows in less than optimum in terms of body condition at the time of calving. Weather conditions have also significantly depleted feed resources available as many producers have had to feed earlier and more than normal.
Early Detection and Rapid Response (EDRR) is a concept to identify potential 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.
Is wet feed and hay salvageable? The first thing to ask is where did the water come from? If hay, silage, or grain was in contact with flood water that could have come in contact with chemicals from building or cities (any water from rivers or streams) federal regulations state that it should not be fed and should instead be disposed of. Feed that was in fields that ponded due to rain or snow melt maybe salvageable. However, if water came up through tiles into the field it could contain animal waste products, high chemical levels and other contaminants.
We will resume the feedyard extension webinar series this week, on Wednesday, March 27. It will be the first of eight feedyard extension webinars planned for 2019. The webinar will be broadcast live at 12:30 pm (central) and each topic will only last 10 to 15 minutes and will allow for questions.
Topic: Feedyard Assessments: How To Speakers: Brian Vanderlay and Rob Erich
The recent flood resulted in loss of feed stocks for herds. Currently, many fellow producers are stepping up to the plate and donating grass hay. For cows that had already calved, but lost their calf in the flood medium quality grass hay, fed free choice, will likely meet their energy and protein needs. However, cows that did not lose their calves in the flood and/or had not calved yet, their nutritional requirements will be much greater. To keep the cows and calves healthy and get cows rebred, meeting their nutritional needs is important.
After pastures have been flooded, taking precautions when turning out for grazing is important. Once the pastures dry out and receive adequate sunlight, the bacteria that were on the grass in pasture will be eliminated. However, the standing water that does not evaporate may be an issue depending on how much rain has occurred to dilute out the flood water. Thus, it is recommended that producers sample standing water in pasture a couple weeks before they want to turn out to see how much potential nitrates and coliform bacteria are present.
Spring growth of most perennial grass pastures and alfalfa stands in the western Corn Belt will likely be delayed due to consequences of excessive flooding and slowed growth from late cold soil and air temperatures. Spring planting of annual forages may be similarly delayed.
Given the recent weather events livestock losses are an unfortunate reality for livestock operations. In disaster situations, the first step in the disposal process is to document the deaths (take pictures of the ear tags and animal). The state of Nebraska allows for disposal of dead animals via several methods including composting, burial, rendering, landfill and incineration. Composting, burial or incineration must be performed on-site.
This winter has greatly impacted our livestock producers. We have received reports of livestock losses in February and early March and most recently, losses from blizzards and flooding. We have also been asked by various Farm Service Agency (FSA) directors about considerations for livestock losses where this winter could be considered an extreme and unusual situation.
The Livestock Indemnity Program (LIP), administered by the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA), provides compensation to eligible livestock producers who have suffered livestock death losses in excess of normal mortality due to adverse weather, including extreme cold, storms and flooding. With the extreme weather conditions we have been experiencing this winter, it is important livestock producers diligently document and report their death losses for possible LIP payments.
The University of Nebraska has conducted several years of cow-calf research examining and comparing the potential for different production systems in Nebraska. Recent research has examined feeding cows and cow-calf pairs in a dry lot during a portion of the year as an alternative to grazing grass pasture.
In beef production, we tend to overdue genetic selection with the mentality that “more is better” or “bigger is better” in efforts to increase production. In doing so, we tend to select for short-term traits such as growth and milk yield to increase calf weaning weight for the potential of increased profitability.
As spring nears and grass begins to turn green, producers are anxious to get cows out to grass. However, cool season predominate areas tend to have lush spring growth which can lead to grass tetany in cows. While there are treatments for cows caught quick enough, prevention is always the best policy.
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.
Brittle bone disease, or osteogenesis imperfecta, is a detrimental disorder in livestock. Calves with the condition commonly suffer multiple bone fractures in utero or at delivery, and if able to stand, have lax tendons. Depending on the cause, calves may also have blue coloration in what is otherwise the white of the eye and soft teeth. Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI) occurs in many species where it is more highly studied. In most cases, it is attributed to a new genetic mutation that occurred in the affected individual.
Shelter for livestock during the winter months can influence the success of calving and a livestock operation. Protection from the wind and snow is not always readily available from natural topography or living windbreaks such as tree lines or shrub rows. The presence of wind increases heat loss in livestock during the winter and can penetrate the hair coat allowing cold air to reach the skin, accelerating the loss of heat. Constructing windbreaks increases protection for livestock. Installing a windbreak needs to come with the end goal in mind.
Colostrum, or first milk produced by the mother after birth, is high in nutrients and antibodies. A newborn calf lacks disease protection because antibodies do not pass across the cow’s placenta to the fetus’ circulatory system. Antibodies in colostrum provide calves with their initial protection.
Calves need about two quarts of colostrum (or at least five percent of the calf’s body weight) within four hours of birth – ideally within 30 minutes – and one gallon within 12 hours.
What is a respectable value to pay for a beef replacement heifer for the coming 2018-2019 production season? Like many decisions, this can be complicated by many factors, but nonetheless, it is important to have a handle on to make the best production and business choices for continued success of the ranching operation.
Research findings and industry updates will be the focus of the Nebraska Extension Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 12-14.
Topics were selected to benefit feedlot managers, owners, employees, and those working in the allied industry.
One issue facing all producers is the ability to attract and retain employees. Because this is the biggest issue facing our feedyards, Dr. Scott MacGregor was invited to offer some options for feedyards to enhance employee retention and management succession.
One challenge farm/ranch operators have is to accurately find where to make changes to an operation to increase profits. Many have the records and numbers but don’t know where to start. A system of financial analysis developed nearly 100 years ago by an explosive salesman for DuPont Explosives Company is a useful tool for farm/ranch managers analyzing financial performance. It is a simple system that can point managers in the right direction when looking for the correct places to make operational improvements. This avoids wasting time and effort chasing unicorns.
Successful beef calf producers continually search for ways to improve their operation and bottom-line. Creep feeding calves to increase their market weight is one strategy. To be profitable, the costs of the added weight gain must be less than the value of that gain.
During the past two years, I have received several tick samples removed from horses. The first week of January, I received my first sample for 2019. Yes, one tick species thrives during Nebraska winters and that is the winter tick.
Finding, hiring and retaining quality employees are a major challenge for agricultural producers in western Nebraska. Competition for the available workforce comes from area industries, and the labor market is tight.
For some the calving season is almost upon us, while for others, the start of the calving season is still a few months away. The following are practices to consider in preparing for the upcoming calving season.
Efficiency and sustainability are important topics to beef consumers and the future success of the beef industry. These topics are also the theme of Nebraska Extension’s Ranching for Profitability session in 2019.
In January, Ranching for Profitability will be offered as a webinar that beef producers can join from any of 13 downlink locations across Nebraska, or from their home via the internet. A list of sites and registration information follows.
In recent months, the shortened supply of distillers grains has reduced the amount many producers have access to, and increased the price of that which is available. This has led many producers to evaluate what their supplement options are.
Can I just substitute corn for distillers grains for my bred cows?
Tri-State Cow/Calf Symposium will be held at the Wesleyan Church in Imperial Nebraska on February 8 with registration at 9:00 AM and the program starting at 9:30. The program was developed by Extension Educators and Specialists from Colorado State University, Kansas State University and the University of Nebraska. The emphasis of this symposium is Strategies for Success. Topics for the program include:
During the winter of 2019 Nebraska Extension will host 17 beef profitability workshops in Nebraska to help Beef Producers evaluate their operations to make them more profitable through the latest research information. Topics will vary depending on presenter and specific location. These workshops have been held across Nebraska for the past fifteen years. The cost is $15.00 but may vary from location depending on local sponsorship.
2019 Locations are as follows (no meal unless otherwise stated)
As supplementation costs continue to rise across Nebraska, producers are looking for economical ways to meet protein and energy requirements of their cattle. Hay produced on irrigated grass and subirrigated meadows can be a potential supplementation source throughout Nebraska.
I just got the forage test results back from the lab and the nitrate score was 3,000. Am I in trouble?
Every year I get multiple questions similar to this one. Unfortunately, with just this information I’m unable to give a useful answer. So – the first question I ask is “Was this reported as nitrates or as nitrate nitrogen?”
By early December, weaning of spring-born calves has wrapped up for most cow-calf producers. This is a good time of year to close the books on 2018 and analyze the business to see what it cost to produce a pound of weaned calf. Unit cost of production (UCOP) is a value based on a relationship in production or manufacturing between costs and units of product made or produced.
Cornstalk residue can be an economical source of forage for beef cattle in the winter. The leftover corn, leaf and husk are the most desirable parts of the corn plant to the animal. Modern farming practices and technology have probably decreased the amount of corn left in the fields for the most part, but the digestibility of the leaf and husk are typically between 45-57% total digestible nutrients (TDN). Assuming stocking rates are moderate and intake is not limiting, research has indicated this will maintain non-lactating pregnant cows.