BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

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.   

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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%.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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.  

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.

Calving Season – Not the Time to Skimp on Nutrition

The 2020 drought across the Great Plains has made hay scarce for many producers. Additionally, the pandemic has affected oil prices which in turn has impacted ethanol production and subsequently reduced the supply of distillers grains, a supplementation staple for many beef producers in the region. This tight feed supply may have resulted in pregnant cows entering the calving season with little to no extra body condition reserves.

Will Seasonality Patterns for Beef Export Sales and Commitments Hold in 2021?

This article was first published by In the Cattle Markets

Trade occurs when price differences between the two locations are large enough after accounting for transportation cost, exchange rates, tariffs, etc. Exports vary throughout the year since prices reflect current and future supply and demand situations. Seasonality in cattle production, meat demand, and market disruptions are some examples of why wholesale beef prices increase and decrease within a year.

Winter Interseeding Legumes

From a forage perspective, winter is typically a time for using the resources we have on hand and planning ahead to next year’s growing season.  However, there may be some opportunity to take this time to improve your pasture with some alternative legume seeding options.

Improvements to Livestock Risk Protection Insurance Implemented in January 2021.

After remaining relatively unchanged since inception in 2002, several enhancements and improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program have taken place over the last 18 months.  Several changes that affect the cattle industry took effect on January 20, 2021.

They include:

Sandhills Rangeland Monitoring Cooperative (SRMC) Hosts Rangeland Monitoring Webinar February 25th

The SRMC is a collaborative project between UNL Extension, USDA-NRCS, and cattle producers in the Sandhills of Nebraska. The SRMC conducts and evaluates monitoring data on a growing number of ranches in the Nebraska Sandhills, connecting ranchers, range managers, scientists, and the public in a network of knowledge exchange relating to rangeland health and management.

Managing for Heterogeneity on Rangelands in the Nebraska Sandhills

The Nebraska Sandhills is one of the most intact grasslands in the Great Plains of North America. The topography and soil substrate of the Sandhills has limited farming development and allowed for this region to be one of the prime native working landscapes for cattle production in the United States. While range managers use the Sandhill’s nutrient rich forage for grazing to support livestock, pride is also taken in the abundant wildlife and plant habitat this ecosystem provides.

How Valuabull?

The spring bull sale season is underway.  Catalogs are being studied, EPDs and individual animal performance numbers are being compared, and choices are being made as to which bulls will be the next herd sires. One of the primary drivers in the choice of which bull will be bought is the bull’s price. The perceived breeding value and the expected value of a bull’s offspring are evaluated by the potential purchaser and compared to the bull’s price. As long as the perceived value the bull is expected to bring to the operation exceeds the bull’s cost then the bidding continues.

Calving Management and Reducing Calf Losses in Beef Herds

Factors Causing Calving Difficulty 

February 2021 Beefwatch Webinar Series Registration Now Open

The BeefWatch Webinar Series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. 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.

Considerations for Maintaining Condition in our Breeding Bulls during Winter

For bulls coming out of the breeding season, body weight loss may have occurred, and we need to make sure that we get bulls back in condition before the next season. Also, with the weather starting to change, starting to think about how we are going to manage our breeding bulls through the winter to prepare them for the next breeding season will be important. This will be a good time to evaluate body condition and ensure that bulls have adequate protection from harsh weather.

The Livestock Indemnity Program Year-end Updates

This article is a summary of the December 10, 2020 Cornhusker Economics article titled: “The Livestock Indemnity Program: A Case for Managing Risk with Good Recordkeeping.”

Annual Cow Costs – The Big Three

When looking at annual cow costs and doing an economic analysis, three categories tend to make up the largest percentage of total costs:  feed, labor/equipment and cow depreciation.  Other expenses occur, such as breeding expense and veterinary costs, but they tend to be significantly less than the “Big Three.” To conduct an economic analysis, break the ranch into enterprises to understand where value is being created and costs are occurring. Land ownership, hay production, cow-calf and replacement heifer development are four of the major enterprises on many ranches.

Unit Cost of Production Workshop Valentine, Nebraska February 3 and 4

A two-day workshop this February will provide hands-on learning for cow-calf producers to learn how to calculate unit cost of production (UCOP). The meeting will take place February 3 and 4 (Wednesday and Thursday) at the Niobrara Lodge, 803 E Highway 20, Valentine, NE, from 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. CST.

The Likelihood of Regional Triggers Under the Industry’s Proposed '75% Rule'

This article was first published by In the Cattle Markets.

The New Face at Nebraska BQA

Jesse Fulton

Adding Sheep to a Cattle Operation in central Nebraska - A Producer’s Perspective

Multi-species grazing can be an option to more fully utilize grazing resources. In this month’s BeefWatch Producer Perspective Podcast, Jim Jenkins from Custer County, Nebraska discusses why he made the decision to add a band of sheep to his operation and the opportunities he sees for sheep to complement cattle in Nebraska.

Topics discussed include:

January 2021 Beefwatch Webinar Series Registration Now Open

The BeefWatch Webinar series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. 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 

Making Dollars out of Decisions: Three State Beef Conference

In a joint effort, Nebraska, Iowa, and Missouri Extension are hosting a free three day webinar series in January to address how producers can capture the economic value of decisions. Each webinar will begin at 7:00 PM Central Time and will last for about an hour. Registration includes all three webinars.

Cornstalk Residue Grazing with Weaned Calves, Dry Pregnant Cows or Pairs – What Supplementation Do They Need?

With approximately 9.8 million acres of corn yielding an average of 182 bushels/acre, cornstalk residue can be an accessible and economical winter grazing forage option for producers in Nebraska. Historic research at the University of Nebraska has suggested cattle select mostly dropped corn, husks, and leaves. The total digestible nutrients (TDN) of the selected diet can be variable, but tends to range from 50-60% TDN.

Livestock Facility Inspections: Do I need one? If so, what should I expect?

Inspections collect information about livestock facilities and are how the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) determines whether the facility is in compliance with regulations. There are two different kinds of inspections for livestock operations. Initial inspections help NDEE determine whether a permit is needed. Routine inspections allow the NDEE representative to make sure permitted operations are in compliance with their permit.

What facilities need to be inspected?

Winter Tetany in Beef Cattle

Grass tetany is considered a problem that usually occurs when cattle or sheep are eating lush, spring grass or annual cereal forages such as rye, wheat or triticale; but, it can also occur when cattle are being fed harvested forages.

Annual Beef Heifer Replacement Forecasts for the 2020 – 2021 Production Season (Summary Briefing)

What is a respectable beef replacement heifer value for the coming 2020-2021 production season? The weather and COVID-19 gave the beef industry a wild ride this past year and may affect the decision to buy or sell replacement animals for the upcoming year.

December 2020 Beefwatch Webinar Series Registration Now Open

The BeefWatch Webinar series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. 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

Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center - Meet the Faculty

Since its dedication in 1990, the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center has served as an information source for the beef industry. With its primary focus in beef cattle production systems, it provides training of veterinary and graduate students, veterinary practitioners, beef producers and industry stakeholders.

Do You Know the Difference Between 9% and 7% Crude Protein Hay?

When feeding harvested forages to the cow herd, you need to know what you have in order to know what to feed. This is vital when faced with some of the challenges we have seen in the past couple years such as flood, excessively cold and harsh winters, and drought. Over-feeding spends money unnecessarily and can deteriorate your bottom line. Underfeeding results in thin cows, which can lead to calving issues and disappointing conception rates.

Common Mullein and Cheatgrass Control in Rangeland

On October 7th, two articles on rangeland weed control were published on CropWatch which may be of interest to Nebraska ranchers.

Beef Profit Tips Programs for 2020

During the fall and winter of 2020 Nebraska Beef Extension Educators will host six Beef Profitability Workshops to help the beef producer 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 seventeen years.  Please pre-register to the local extension office 3 days prior to the meeting.

2020 Traveling Road Show to focus on Protecting the Last Grasslands

The Nebraska Grazing Lands Coalition (NGLC), Nebraska Extension, Nebraska Cattlemen, and Sandhills Task Force will be hosting the 2020 Traveling Road Show at four locations in November. This year’s road show will focus on winning strategies for woody encroachment featuring Dirac Twidwell, UNL Associate Professor in rangeland and fire ecology. 

Dirac Twidwell is a Science Advisor for the USDA NRCS, Great Plains region, and a national science team member for a new Great Plains Grasslands Strategy under the Working Lands for Wildlife Program.

Leading Farm and Ranch Employees Virtual Seminar Series to be Held in December

Finding, hiring and retaining quality employees are major challenges for agricultural business in Nebraska. Competition for the available workforce comes from area industries, and the labor market is tight.

Nebraska Extension will host a virtual seminar series in December (Dec. 8, 11, 15 and 18) designed to help agricultural employers learn techniques and leadership practices to help motivate and empower employees.

Things to Consider before Harvesting a Market Animal at Home

Many people are looking for opportunities to buy market animals to harvest at home, which has led to many questions about the best way to complete that task. Prior to making the decision to try home harvest, there are a few important things to consider:

1.  Food Safety:  Can you properly cool the carcass and keep it clean to ensure meat safety?

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.  What value should be put on baling corn residue?

Figuring out the true value of corn stalk bales can be a bit tricky, but breaking down the costs can help it make sense.  First, look at the value of nutrients removed from the field that will need to be replaced by fertilizer.  Stalks this fall will contain between $3-5 worth of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and sulfur per ton. 

Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) Round 2 and Beef Cattle Producers

The application process for the second round of national relief payments from the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) has begun. Local United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agencies are accepting applications through December 11, 2020. These payments will provide livestock producers some relief from production risk, as well as market losses, related to the fallout from continued shutdowns across business sectors.

2020 Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Webinar Series

The Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) meeting is considered the premier national event in beef cattle reproductive management.  It has a long history of providing the latest information on the application of reproductive technologies and includes a range of topics related to cow herd reproduction — such as nutritional interactions, management and male fertility.

Crop Residue Exchange Links Available Residue with Cattle Producers

The Crop Residue Exchange (http://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu) is a free online tool designed to link cattle producers to crop producers with available grazing resources. The Exchange makes it possible for crop producers in Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota to list fields of crop residue they have available for winter grazing and for cattle producers to connect with them. 

November 2020 Beefwatch Webinar Series Registration Now Open

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension will host the 2020 BeefWatch Webinar Series. The second installment of webinars will take place weekly beginning on Tuesday, November 3.

The BeefWatch Webinar series is designed to highlight management strategies in grazing, nutrition, reproduction, and economics to increase cow/calf and stocker production efficiency and profitability. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered.

Grazing Alfalfa in Fall or Winter

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Alfalfa needs 6 weeks of growth, uninterrupted by grazing or haying
  • Fall grazing should maintain 8 inches of stubble height; Winter grazing should maintain 4 inches of stubble height
  • Bloat risk can be reduced by making sure livestock are full prior to grazing
  • Feed additives such as poloxalene and ionophores can limit bloat risk, but require regular consumption to be effective

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