BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

What to Expect from Alternatives to Corn Silage

Drought has limited pasture availability and forced many producers into feeding total mixed rations (TMR) to cows. Including silage in a TMR can reduce ration cost, improve the energy content of the diet, and add moisture, which can serve as a ration conditioner. However, high commodity prices have encouraged many grain farmers to plant corn for grain rather than silage. Silage can also be made from small grains such as rye, wheat, oats, triticale, or barley, or from summer annual forages such as forage sorghum, sorghum-sudan or pearl millet.

Adequate Nutrition for Breeding Season Success

We ask a lot from our cows come breeding season. We expect her to be providing adequate nutrients for calf growth (lactating), we expect her reproductive tract to repair and return to estrus prior to the start of breeding. All these expectations are within 90 days after calving to maintain a yearly calving interval.

Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Open House

The 23rd annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 24, 2022. 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.

Supplementing Yearlings in the Summer Grazing Season: Is it Worth it?

Forage quality and yearling rate of gain decline throughout the summer, particularly in cool season grasses. Strategically supplementing yearlings with dry distillers grains in the second half of the summer as the grass quality declines will increase average daily gain (ADG), but will it increase returns?    

Impact of Production on the Final Product

Quality is a prediction of the expected palatability of a carcass. Quality grade is based off animal maturity and marbling. In addition to these factors, other characteristics such as color, texture and firmness of the final product are considered by those making purchasing decisions. Differences in these characteristics can be impacted by several different things and often tie back to the life of the animal. It is often noted that the combination of genetics and environment can impact the phenotype, or physical characteristics, of an animal.

Determining Value of Beef Through Grading

When a beef animal is harvested, the value of the carcass and the resulting cuts are determined based on the grades of the carcass. Quality grading and yield grading is monitored by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS). Unlike inspection, which monitors food safety and is mandatory for meat products being sold in the United States, grading is a voluntary program and is used to determine the marketability of the product.

Weighing Risk and Reward of Annual Forages

This planting season, early dry conditions followed by late wet conditions in some areas have caused some fields to be designated prevented planting acres. To go along with this, high feed and forage prices and less than ideal pasture conditions due to previous years’ drought are allowing the opportunity for producers to think outside the box. After all, an influx of prevented plant acres provides freedom to produce annual cover crops to counter-balance current forage prices.

Keep Summer Cattle Marketing Current

Feedlot managers understand that heat stress reduces intake.  This effect is more marked in cattle that are closer to their finishing weight, and during the first heat event of the season as cattle are not acclimated to heat yet. 

Technical Note: Where are my cattle at? – Part II: Virtual Fencing

In recent years, a modern technology, “virtual fencing,” has emerged into the market and has been gaining growing interest from the livestock producers, particularly in the cattle sector. Virtual fencing technology has been studied in some European countries and Australia where grazing beef and dairy cows are predominant. More research is currently being conducted in the USA to better understand how virtual fencing might fit within cow-calf and yearling operations as a tool for grazing management.

2022 Nebraska Grazing Conference

The 2022 Nebraska Grazing Conference will be held August 9 and 10 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, NE with a program bridging grazing lands conservation and management.

Strategic Deployment of Heat Abatement Strategies

The following is a list of strategies to reduce the impact of heat stress on cattle in the feedlot with suggestions for sequential deployment. Strategies listed under preparation are intended to be deployed early within 10 to 14 days of the initial heat event forecast. Strategies listed under remediation are intended to be deployed as the heat event proceeds.

2022 Summer Stocker/Yearling Meeting and Tour June 23 in Imperial

Nebraska Extension will host a stocker/yearling systems summer meeting and tour Thursday, June 23 in Imperial, Nebraska. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. MDT and the program will kick off at 9:00 a.m. MDT at the Crossroads Wesleyan Church, Imperial.  Lunch is sponsored by Merck Animal Health, followed by a tour of Wine Glass Ranch in the afternoon.

Increasing Labor and Equipment Costs are Pressuring Cow-Calf Cost of Production

In working with cow-calf producers and discussing unit cost of production, labor and equipment costs are often the second largest expense category identified after grazed and harvested feed. Expenses related to labor and equipment have increased dramatically over the last several years and especially in the last 18 months. Competition for labor is high and those with the necessary work ethic and skills frequently find industries outside of agriculture offering wages and benefits difficult to compete with and be profitable.

Technical Note: Where are my cattle at? – Part I: GPS Sensors

Global positioning system (GPS) technology has been implemented into the agriculture world in numerous ways. It is a satellite navigation system based on real-time geolocation and time information. GPS data can be a useful tool to maximize production, manage more efficiently, and reduce costs. Farmers have proven the positive benefits of integrating GPS technology in their operations, such as tractor guidance, planting, application rates, and yield mapping.

Coping with Effects of High Feed Prices and Possible Drought in 2022

Presently, despite timely rains in certain areas of Nebraska, the threat of drought for the summer of 2022 is not dissipated.  Prediction models of precipitation for May to July place most of Nebraska counties at leaning below normal probability with probability of temperatures likely above normal.  Weather conditions and continued high grain and forage prices will result in greater annual cow costs in 2022.  

Meeting Water Needs of Cattle in the Feedlot

Various factors affect water intake; but temperature, humidity and feed intake are the main drivers. Additionally, the first heat events of the season (late May and early June) are the most stressful on cattle: cattle are generally reaching finishing weight and condition, they are not acclimated to heat, and they have not shed their winter coat. This transition also catches managers and staff off guard as they are focused on late-winter yard management.

Two Programs Offered for Sheep, Goat, and Beef Producers in June

SDSU Extension, Kansas State Research and Extension and Nebraska Extension will host a series of Diversifying with Small Ruminants workshops June 7 in Salina, KS, June 8 in O'Neill, NE and June 9 in Chamberlain, SD. The program will go from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and lunch will be provided.

This program was developed due to interest by cattle producers looking at adding sheep to their beef operation.  We will discuss things to consider when looking at such a move and producers will discuss what they have learned from adding sheep.

Tools for Adjusting Stocking Rates during Drought

While areas across Nebraska have received some precipitation, much of the state remains in moderate to extreme drought. Following recommended trigger dates for necessary management changes, now is the time assess current precipitation accumulation, cool-season forage growth, and seasonal forecasts.

Feeder Cattle Interest Rates, Grazing Land Values Pose Hurdles for Producers

This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" on May 9, 2022.

Is Plant ID Necessary for Grassland Management?

Livestock feed is often the greatest annual cost to producers, making grasslands and grassland management an important component of the livestock industry. Profitable and effective grassland livestock management begins with understanding the forage resource, including identifying the plants in the pasture. To manage grassland profitably, managers must be able to identify what plants are there, understand their nutritional value, what plants livestock prefer to graze, and how grazing and other factors impact each plant.

Protecting Farms & Ranches from Wildfires

Wildfires affect America’s farm and ranches, damaging and destroying homes, barns, agriculture production facilities, crops and livestock.  Recently we have dealt with a major fire in Furnas and Gosper counties.  Below are some tips to help avoid or minimize fire damage to your property.

Aminopyralids: Restrictions for Grazing, Compost and Manure

The prices of synthetic fertilizers have increased significantly over the last year, leaving growers and even homeowners facing the decision of finding alternative sources of nutrients.

Limit Feeding with a Bale Feeder, Bunk and a Bucket

Drought conditions are challenging producers to be creative as they think about options for maintaining the cowherd through the summer with limited summer pasture forage projected to be available.  Several research studies conducted at the University of Nebraska have shown that cows can be managed effectively utilizing a limit fed ration. In a limit fed ration, the nutrient requirements of cattle are met with a diet that is less than the actual amount of dry matter that the cattle would eat if they had full access to all they could eat.

What are my Options when I Am Out of Grass?

As the drought that has plagued the western Great Plains for over a year spreads across the Midwest, producers are making hard decisions about cowherd management. Drought is no stranger to most cow-calf producers so most have a plan for culling decisions related to about 20% of the cow herd. When drought threatens the grazing resources for the other 80%, difficult decisions have to be made. The first question that must be answered is should I feed them or sell them.

Selection Criteria for Home Raised Beef

Many rural consumers are switching from multiple trips to the grocery store or local butcher shop to bringing their own cattle in for custom processing. Provided the consumer has access to large areas of available freezer space as well as the ability to afford the upfront cost, this may be an economic way to supply a family with high-quality protein. Following is a guide to selecting the proper animal to feed out for harvesting freezer beef.

Nebraska Range Short Course June 20 - 23, 2022

The Nebraska Range Short Course is scheduled for June 20 to 23, 2022 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.

Feed Availability on Cost of Gain and Manure as a Source of Feedlot Revenue and Crop Fertilizer

This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" on April 5, 2022.

AI Season is Just Around the Corner

Some spring calving herds are starting to gear up for the breeding season by utilizing either natural service, artificial insemination (AI), or a combination of both.  According to a recent NAHMS survey, 84.85% of operations utilize natural service only and 10.3% utilizing AI and exposure to bulls. The implementation of estrous synchronization has the potential to shorten your calving window, concentrates labor, allows for more uniform management of cows, and can create a more uniform calf crop.

Protein is not Protein is not Protein

Protein is often the first limiting requirement when selecting diets and designing supplementation strategies for cows and growing cattle. Age and stage of production impact how much protein an animal requires. Understanding the different types of protein can help tailor supplements to meet protein requirements economically and effectively.               

Preparing for the Breeding Season

Calving season is wrapping up and transitioning into breeding season. Like any other segment of beef production, breeding protocols require decisions and preparation to ensure we meet the goals of the operation.  

Pushing the Boundary: New Collaboration Aims to Increase Ranch Resilience in the Great Plains

Today’s farms and ranches require decisions to be made throughout periods of elevated risk and uncertainty. Managing operational efficiency, grass banking, and destocking herds are all commonly used to stabilize returns during drought conditions and market extremes.

However, the compounding effects of extreme weather, market volatility, and rising input costs have re-focused attention on management alternatives that offer a broader set of resources to use when developing or implementing grazing management plans.

Corn Costs and Cattle Placement Weights

This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" on March 2, 2022.

Farmer/Rancher Generational Transition Workshop April 21 in Whitman and April 22 in Ainsworth

Family-owned operations make up 98% of U. S. agriculture. Transitioning the ranch from one generation to the next, or even from one operator to another can be complicated. Research from Oklahoma State University1 evaluated the probability of success for various agricultural transition plans. Family-owned businesses successfully transferred from the first generation to the second generation 30% of the time. However, success rates declined in subsequent generations.

How Valu-Bull are Breeding Soundness Exams?

We may be finishing the calving season, but it is never too early to be thinking about the breeding season. With the breeding season comes getting those bulls scheduled for their breeding soundness exam (BSE) and ensuring your bull battery are satisfactory breeders.

What You Need to Know to be a Bottle Calf’s Mama

In the beef industry, the goal is to have each newborn calf paired up with a good cow who has adequate milk and plenty of maternal instincts. Unfortunately, there are times a calf ends up without a mother and becomes a bottle calf.

BQA Award-winning Producers Help Tackle Consumer Trust Objectives

Among its six committees, the Beef Checkoff’s “Consumer Trust Committee” supports programs that grow consumer trust in beef and beef production through greater adoption and understanding of industry best practices. The Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program is the industry’s library of information on best practices and serves as a hub for disseminating this information to cattle producers.

Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. central time on April 18, 20, 25 and 27.

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

Horn Flies: Impact and Control Options for Pastured Cattle

As temperatures warm, pasture fly season is just around the corner. The horn fly, has been and continues to be a major fly pest of pasture and rangeland cattle across the U. S. During a warm spring in Nebraska, horn flies can be seen on cattle as early as the third week of April. Historically, horn flies appearing during this period may perish from cold fronts arriving later in the month, or in early May. Even with challenging weather conditions, the horn fly can adapt to these conditions by shortening the number of days to complete its life cycle.

Drought Planning Trigger Dates

A dry year last year and little moisture so far this year has led to depleted soil moisture conditions for much of the state. With National Weather Service forecasts showing a likely warmer than normal summer for Nebraska, combined with current low soil moisture, we do need to think about planning for dry conditions through the growing season. (See Figures 1-3)


Pastures and Drought: Response and Impact

Few producers will complain about dry weather during calving.  Not having to worry about wet calves or fight the mud is definitely a blessing.  However, with a dry fall and open winter for much of Nebraska, the threat of drought going into the 2022 growing season may be cause to dust off and reevaluate our operation’s drought plan.

Relieving Stress around the Branding Pen

Spring calving brings the promise of working calves, and in some areas of the state, branding season. Following is the challenge of gathering enough help at the right times to ensure proper vaccination, castration, and the other complements to our herd health programs. Priorities during this event typically include people safety and minimization of cattle stress.

How Much Copper Do You Need in Your Mineral?

Copper (Cu) deficiency in cow/calf herds has been associated with increased rates of diarrhea and reduced calf growth.  Forages do not provide enough copper to meet the needs of beef cows and calves, thus supplementation is needed. However, it is important to note that both under and over supplementation can have negative effects on calf performance.

Protein Supplementation in Corn Silage-Based Diets – A Review

This article is a summary of the 2022 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report, Impact of Urea on Corn Silage Growing Cattle Diets.

With current feed prices and the majority of the state experiencing dry conditions, producers may be evaluating alternative feed options for this year. Understanding differences in protein content and degradability of various feeds is important when determining the most cost-effective option while meeting cattle nutrient requirements.

Considerations for Beef Producers When Adding Small Ruminants to Their Operation

Beef producers may need to consider several items before adding small ruminants to their operation. Producers adding small ruminants to their operation have found that they could follow an old recommendation of adding a ewe or doe per cow without adjusting their stocking rate while improving their pasture utilization by 10-20%. Below are considerations when adding sheep or goats to a beef operation.

Matching Price Risk Management Tools to Market Situations

Much work has been done on illustrating the benefits and performance of price risk management tools available to livestock producers. These tools include futures and options available through the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), video/cash contracts, basis contracts, and more recently Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance offered through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (USDA-RMA).

Increasing Capacity for Care in the Face of Calving Season

As cattle producers, some of our modern challenges have been a shrinking labor force and aging cattlemen. These hurdles can reduce our capacity for care. The term “capacity for care” is used to describe the maximum population of animals that a given workforce with a given set of skills, equipment, and facilities can care for at a certain stage in the animal production cycle (e.g., calving season).

Consider Price Insurance for Your 2022 Calf Crop

This article was first published in "Nebraska Cattleman" magazine's February 2022 issue.

Several enhancements and improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program over the last couple of years have made it much more user-friendly for cow-calf producers to purchase price protection for the fall calf crop earlier in the year. These changes include:

Don’t Panic! Preparing for Calving Season is Simple and Easy*

It’s the most wonderful, busy time of the year! No, Christmas is almost two months past. We are entering spring calving season! This is the time we get a first look at the outcome from the long thought-out decisions made on sire selection.

Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options

The next session of “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” Nebraska Extension’s four-part record-keeping course, will be held virtually from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. central time on March 15, 17, 22 and 24.

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

Colostrum 101

The number of calves in North America that fail to receive adequate colostrum ranges from 11%-31%.  This article will review key points on colostrum management to ensure calves are set up for success from the beginning of life.

Estrus Synchronization and the Breeding Season - Resources to Review for 2022

For most producers the spring breeding season is still a ways off, but now is a good time to review the most current 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.

Registration Opens for 2022 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 2022 Nebraska Ranch Practicum offered by Nebraska Extension.

Comparison of Partially Confined and Traditional Cow-Calf Systems – A Review

This article is a summary of the 2022 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report “Comparison of Partially Confined and Traditional Cow-Calf Systems”. Zac E Carlson, Levi J. McPhillips, Galen E. Erickson, Mary E. Drewnoski, and Jim C. MacDonald were collaborators on this research study and report.  The report is summarized by Aaron Berger, Nebraska Extension Beef Educator.

Crop Residue Availability in Comparison to Perennial Pasture

New Antibiotic Restrictions Soon to Become Reality

In 2017 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began implementing the Guidance for the Industry #213 otherwise known as the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Implementation of the VFD focused on veterinary oversight of medically important antibiotics delivered to livestock via feed and/or water, leaving a significant loophole for those products that were available over-the-counter (OTC) by other dosage forms.

Prosperous Start for Newborn Calves

A main economic driver of a cow-calf operation is the number of calves weaned per cow exposed. Two subsequent drivers are weight and phenotype. For these reasons, outstanding calf health is a directly correlated variable to calf growth and performance. This article will review management strategies that have been shown to be helpful for improving newborn calf health.

Silage for Beef Cattle Conference: Small Grain Silage Set for March 17th

Attend in-person or online to learn how to reduce costs and improve feed quality of small grain silages.

Nebraska Extension, Lallemand Animal Nutrition and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach are hosting the fourth Silage for Beef Cattle Conference on March 17, 2022. This year the focus is on how to get the most out of small grain silages.  Registration is free and producers have the option to either stream the conference online or attend in-person at the Eastern Nebraska Research and Extension Center in Ithaca, Neb.

Feedlots Towards Estimated National Herd Contraction

This article was first published by In the Cattle Markets on Jan. 18, 2022.

The Value of Hay as Fertilizer

This time of year, many producers are feeding cows hay.  Have you ever stopped to think about what the dollar value of the nutrients in the hay are worth as fertilizer once they have been processed by the cow?

Mature cows at maintenance should excrete 100% of the nutrients they consume in terms of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. 

Cow Nutrition Considerations at Calving and Early Lactation

This article was originally featured in Progressive Cattle.

2022 Beef Feedlot Roundtables in Bridgeport, North Platte, West Point

Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot price reporting, health, labor and sustainability at Nebraska Extension’s 2022 Beef Feedlot Roundtables Feb. 22-24 in Bridgeport, North Platte and West Point.

Planning for Spring Annual Forages

While we are still early in the new year, it is time to start planning and thinking about any spring annual forages that we might plant.  Part of the process may be anticipating a need for extra feed or booking seed early for possible discounts. 

University of Nebraska Lincoln Extension Beef Team Annual Beef Heifer Replacement Forecast for 2022 Production Season

What is a respectable beef replacement heifer value for the coming 2022 production season?

Current Drivers and Atypical Seasonal Patterns in the Cull Cow Cutout

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

Updated Nebraska Cow Herd System Budgets Available Now

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

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

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

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

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

Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Develop a Custom Calving Agreement

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

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

Cow-Calf College to be held January 25th

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

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

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

The Impact of Price and Management on Culling Decisions

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

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

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

Valuing Corn Stalk Bales

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

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

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

It Costs How Much!?

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

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

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

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

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

Cost and Value of Gain for Retained Feeder Cattle in Nebraska

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

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

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

Returning to the Farm or Ranch

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

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

What to Consider When Selecting Replacement Heifers

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

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

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

2021 Cover Crop Grazing Conference

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

Reducing Yucca in Rangeland

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

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

Tax Implications If Liquidating a Beef Herd

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

Cow-Calf Management with Limited Perennial Acres – Workshop Series

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

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

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

Heavier Feeder Cattle Placements Amid Meat Processing Plant Issues

Current Market Situation

Developing Heifers to Fit Their Production Environment

This article was originally featured in Progressive Cattle.

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

Preparing for Cattle Transport Saves Time, Money and Stress

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

Exercise Caution when Grazing Cattle on Drought Stressed Cornstalks

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

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

Where is Value being created in your Ranch Operation?

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

Questions to Ask When Developing Winter Cow Care Agreements

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

Crop Residue Exchange Links Cattle Producers with Available Feed Resources

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

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

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

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

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

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

Safely Grazing Frosted Sorghums

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

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.