BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

Deadline approaching for UNL’s paid Timmerman Feedyard Management Internship

From genetics to feed and management, everything the beef industry works toward comes together in the feedyard. 

Students in the University of Nebraska—Lincoln’s Timmerman Feedyard Management Internship see how all those things interact and ultimately produce the beef that feeds millions.

For Immediate Release: Resources available for producers affected by central Nebraska wildfires

Cattle producers in central Nebraska affected by recent wildfires are invited to attend an informational meeting to learn about resources available to help them recover. The meeting is Tuesday, March 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the West Central Research, Extension and Education Center in North Platte and will include a free meal sponsored by Nebraska Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster. Please RSVP to the Lincoln Logan-Logan-McPherson County Extension office.

Adjusting stocking rates, weed management and fire break recovery after a fire

Q: Should I adjust stocking rates for my burned pasture/rangeland?

A: Rainfall in May and June will be most critical and should be the guiding factor affecting stocking rate decisions. With adequate rainfall, adjustments to stocking rate are not necessary. Research from the Great Plains shows that dormant-season fires do not reduce above-ground herbaceous production. In fact, plant regrowth following fire is considerably higher in quality which could lead to increased animal performance.

Wildfire Response Continues in Central Nebraska

Resources Available for Those Impacted 

Grazing Management Following Wildfire

Spring wildfires that occur on range and pasturelands will happen when there is the right combination of high winds and low humidity.  That has been the case here in 2024 and that threat will continue until we have new, green grass growth later this spring.  Although the immediate aftermath of a fast-moving fire can look quite devastating, our perennial pasture grasses are resilient and will recover, especially since they are still dormant.  Spring is also a time when many prescribed burns are conducted for the purpose of Eastern red cedar control.  Of course, adequate m

Managing and developing young beef bulls

There are as many ways to feed and develop young beef bulls as there are seedstock producers. There are various reasons that bulls are managed and fed the way they are. Whether bulls are developed on the ranch, in a commercial facility, or at a central bull test, they are usually fed to gain 2.8 to 4.0 pounds daily from weaning to one year of age.

Engaging Agriculture: Extension hosting multistate emergency preparedness workshop series for rural families

An upcoming four-part extension workshop for women in agriculture will focus on emergency preparedness for rural families. The program will be held at numerous locations across Nebraska and Indiana. The series will focus on farm and ranch emergency management, first aid, fire protection, and hazardous materials. Workshops will be held from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. CT on March 5, 7, 12 and 14.

Bull selection criteria and cost

The spring bull sale season is underway. Producers are studying catalogs, comparing EPDs and individual animal performance numbers, and choosing which bulls will be the next herd sires. This article includes a link to a spreadsheet producers can use to figure actual bull costs, and addresses some of the things producers should consider before heading to the sale. Hint: It's more than just the lunch menu.

Bull evaluation & selection

Spring sale season in the Great Plains is in full swing. This is when seedstock producers get to showcase their program's progeny, and buyers can acquire bull power for the upcoming breeding season. The primary purpose of buying bulls is to improve herd genetics through an outside seedstock producers’ breeding program. Since nearly all herd improvements over time are a deliberate effort through purchased bulls or modern technologies such as artificial insemination, genetics are instilled in a herd through new bulls.

Tips for managing calving in muddy conditions

Mud conditions in calving areas can lead to health concerns in both the cow and calf.  Mud and moisture prevent the hair coat from insulating and maintaining body temperature, leaving newborn calves vulnerable to hypothermia.  Mud also increases the energy requirements for the cow and may lead to decreases in body condition score (Nickles, et al. 2022).

Webinar Revisit: Preventing calf scours and using the Sandhills Calving Method

In this webinar Dr. Halden Clark talks about preventing calf scours and how to use the Sandhills Calving Method. The key to preventing scours in calves is reducing their exposure to the pathogens that cause scours, and coming up with a system to keep newborn calves in clean, dry areas whenever possible.

Producer Question: What do I need to know about coccidiosis?

Coccidiosis is caused by a microscopic protozoan parasite. The parasite invades intestinal cells and destroys the cells while multiplying, causing diarrhea in the process. Coccidiosis in cattle is characterized by straining and bloody diarrhea. The organism is widespread - almost all cattle become infected at some time in their lives, although many never show signs of illness. Illness is more common in concentrated livestock operations because there is more opportunity for the environment to become contaminated in large numbers, and for calves to be exposed to large doses of the parasite.

Understanding and Preventing Calf Scours

Neonatal calf diarrhea, or scours, is a common concern among cow-calf producers.  Understanding why scours occurs is the first step in preventing the problem.  

2024 Beef Feedlot Roundtable Series meetings scheduled across Nebraska

University of Nebraska—Lincoln’s beef program will be presenting the latest feedlot-related research findings in meetings across Nebraska in February. Anyone interested is welcome to attend the meetings Feb. 13, 14 and 15 in Bridgeport, Gothenburg and West Point, respectively. “With precision technology and the tools we have available, we can offer producers more scientifically-supported, specific information than ever before,” said Dr. Jessica Sperber, UNL Feedlot Extension specialist and organizer of the event.

Weekly Weather Outlook and Update: February 8, 2024

Light precipitation possible through Saturday

Webinar Series: Fundamentals of Feeding the Cow

Feed costs are often the biggest expense for cow-calf producers in Nebraska. Understanding how the cow’s nutrient requirements change throughout the year and how to cost-effectively meet those requirements with the feed resources available can have a big effect on the bottom line.  

Resources for managing mud in feedlots

On Monday, Feb. 5 we hosted a discussion between UNL Feedlot Extension faculty and producers. A recording of that discussion is available here

Tips for dealing with wet, muddy winter conditions in cattle feedyards

In unexpected warm, wet winter conditions cattle face challenges accessing feed, water, or a place to lie down.  Muddy conditions affect requirements for maintenance, according to this UNL study.  Even if feed intake is not affected by muddy conditions (cattle can reach the bunk and water trough and consume a full ration daily), mud depths of less than 9 inches increase maintenance requirements up to 80%.  This means that cattle consuming a finishing diet containing 1 Mcal NEm/lb will require nearly d

Keys to a 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, and—ideally—profitability. 

Market Journal: Weather Outlook Feb. 2, 2024

What should Nebraskans know about the weather for the next few weeks? Nebraska Extension Ag Climatologist and "Market Journal" Chief Meteorologist Eric Hunt tells us in the Feb. 2, 2024 episode of Market Journal.

Market Journal: Cattle Market Update & Outlook with Don Close

The Cattle Inventory Report comes out twice a year. It contains the inventory numbers for all cattle and calves across the United States. Many look to this report for an indication if cattle producers are finally able to hold on to some heifers for breeding season. Market Journal caught up with Terrain's Chief Research and Analytics Officer, Don Close.

Calving Cows on Cornstalks – Nutritional Considerations

Cornstalk residue utilization is a great way for producers to integrate crops and livestock. Maintaining cows on residue can be an economical choice, but additional feed costs will be necessary when lactation increases the energy demands of the cow.

Determining how much forage a beef cow needs per day

During calving season cow/calf producers are typically feeding harvested forages. A frequent question from producers is "how much will my cows eat on a daily basis"? Producers want to meet the cows' nutrient requirement, but sure don't want to over-feed expensive forages. With the dry conditions this past summer and harvested forages at a premium, closely estimating the amount of feed needed to get through the winter and early spring will be important to contain cost.

How to use night feeding to increase daytime calving

A simple management strategy—feeding cows at dusk—could increase the number of calves born during the day. It’s easier to watch cattle and see if intervention is necessary while it’s light out. Producers can also keep an eye on calves and make sure they’re getting a healthy start during the day when it’s warmer and easier to manage both cows and calves.

Pasture & Forage Minute: Winter hay worries about magnesium deficiency (tetany) & nitrate poisoning

Grass tetany and nitrate poisoning are issues that we typically associate with animals grazing.  However, both issues can be a problem in winter when animal diets are limited by what they are fed.  Is your herd safe from possible hay worries? 

Tetany occurs when an animal’s diet doesn’t have enough magnesium to meet nutritional needs.  Complications with milk production and increased magnesium demand can make this imbalance even worse during lactation. 

Pasture & Forage Minute: Pasture lease considerations

As pasture grazing leases are getting finalized for the 2024 season, it is important to make sure that some of the key details are clear and in writing. 

Traditionally, pasture leases are for 5 or 6 months from April or May through October.  Specific starting and ending dates can be used, but there could be exceptions based on spring weather conditions or if there were drought conditions the previous year that might warrant delaying turn-out to allow some recovery of grasses. 

2024 Beef Feedlot Roundtable Series

The 2024 Beef Feedlot Roundtable Series is an event that you won’t want to miss! We encourage feedlot owners, managers, employees, and allied industry to join Nebraska Extension February 13-15th as we dive into a series of timely topics covering feedlot management.

Dealing with Stress from Winter Weather Woes

The start of 2024 has had some major challenges for many across the state from Arctic polar temperatures, blizzards, and snow squalls. Now there are discussions of ice jams, rain and potential flooding that may occur over the next few weeks. The entire slogan of “Nebraska isn’t for everyone” is really holding true.

Pasture & Forage Minute: Reviewing last year and planning for this year

Too much cold and snowy weather can make even the most eager winter enthusiast look forward to spring.  Once we dig out and are able to catch a breath, taking some time to review last year can help us when looking ahead to 2024.

Certified Angus Beef & Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance collaborate on meeting featuring John Cook, Nebraska volleyball coach

University of Nebraska-Lincoln Volleyball Head Coach John Cook will be the guest speaker at the February Nebraska BQA workshop in Ashland, Neb. The free educational workshop will be held on Saturday, Feb. 24, at the Round the Bend Steakhouse and will include a Certified Angus Beef ® brand lunch, giveaways, and optional YQCA training for kids.

Cow Herd Report Card III: Calving distribution & pounds of calf weaned per acre

Calving distribution and pounds of calf produced per acre are measures of performance and efficiency of the cow-calf enterprise. Calving distribution will impact total pounds of calf weaned. Calves born the first 21 days of the calving season will be heavier at weaning compared to calves born the second or third 21 days of the calving season.

Heifer percent mature body weight at breeding: What does it mean for pregnancy rates and calf performance?

This article is a research summary of the 2024 Nebraska Beef Report, Impact of Heifer Percent Mature Body Weight at Breeding on Heifer Performance, Calf Production, and Subsequent Pregnancy Rates.

To remain in the herd, it is crucial for a replacement heifer to conceive and maintain pregnancy. However, since females within a herd offset input costs with a live calf born each year, focus should not only be placed on pregnancy rates as a yearling, but subsequent pregnancy rates as a cow.

What are replacement heifers worth in 2024?

Not every cow is going to be profitable, even when calf prices are high. It is important to consider the quality of cows as well as their costs. Paying too much for good cows is as bad as paying little for horrible ones. Producers who intend to be profitable must consider closely the relationship of current and future costs, to current and future revenues, and cow longevity and productivity. 

Staying safe in cold weather and how to recognize, treat and prevent hypothermia, frostbite and trench foot

As wintry, cold weather hits with sub-zero temperatures, there's not much room for error in cold weather preparedness. Cattle producers can't just stay indoors when the weather gets cold. However, since a producer's most valuable assets are the humans who have to be out in the cold, it's important to recognize when it's time to take a break and warm up, or adjust the work, equipment or gear to make sure the people are prioritized in cold weather. 

Winter weather challenges for bulls can affect breeding season

Livestock producers know winter can be a challenge for their cowherds, and Karla Wilke, Nebraska Extension cow-calf/stocker specialist, reminds them not to forget about their bulls in their winter management plans. 

“Bulls are one of our bigger investments in the cow herd, and 90 percent of the cows are still impregnated through natural service with a bull rather than artificial insemination,” Wilke said. “So, they also require year-round maintenance.”  

Make Plans to Attend the 2024 Three-State Beef Conference

The annual Three-State Beef Conference gives beef producers and others a chance to spend an evening learning from top researchers and industry leaders. This year topics include corn residue grazing, heifer development and managing cows for longevity and profitability.

The conference features three presenters who travel to three states over three days, Jan. 16-18, discussing their research findings and practical ways to apply them.

Winter cattle yard preparation checklist

This checklist is not comprehensive, but is a place to start for preparing for winter weather in a cattle yard. 

Click here for a printable .pdf checklist. 


Finding a balance between biggest and best: Moving a cowherd toward optimum productivity

The use of genetic selection tools by cattle breeders has resulted in significant changes within the majority of major breeds over the last 30 years. With a few exceptions, the overwhelming genetic trend for milk, weaning weight, and mature weight over that time has been for more. Without question, the use of Expected Progeny Differences (EPD) has enabled this change. The question at hand, however, is “have we selected towards that which is optimal?”

On RFD-TV: Greg Ibach discusses beef efficiency and environmental impact

Livestock production has long been a cornerstone of American agriculture. That is certainly true in Nebraska, which is known as the beef state. During the Global Climate Summit earlier this month, world leaders recommended reducing worldwide meat consumption in order to help mitigate agriculture’s environmental impacts. But the research paints a more complicated story. Greg Ibach, from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, joins RFD-TV to discuss. 

Beef news and upcoming webinars from the Nebraska Center for Ag Profitability

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitability is based in the Department of Agricultural Economics. It facilitates faculty research, conducts extension outreach related to agricultural profitability and farm and ranch management and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture.
Here's the latest from CAP that relates to beef producers. 

    Husker team receives $5M grant to reduce methane emissions from cattle

    A Husker research team has received $5 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to research more sustainable dairy and beef production.

    Hands-on calving workshops scheduled in Sidney, Curtis

    Nebraska Extension is hosting hands-on Calving Workshops at Sidney and Curtis, Nebraska in January featuring Becky Funk, DVM and Extension Specialist, and Lindsay Waechter-Mead, DVM and Extension Educator. Topics will include calving equipment and proper use, techniques for managing dystocia, when to call for help, and hands-on demonstration and training using a life-size model cow and calf.

    What to know about feeding road ditch hay to cows

    The year was dry, forage is limited, last winter’s feed shortage is frozen into your memory, and you have cows to feed. With these thoughts in mind, maybe you harvested hay from the roadside—“ditch hay”— and will be feeding that hay soon. There are several things for you to think about and keep in mind as you feed the hay.

    Fundamentals of Feeding the Cow Webinar Series

    Feed costs are often the largest category of expense for cow-calf producers in Nebraska. Understanding how the cow’s nutrient requirements change throughout the year and how to cost-effectively meet those requirements with the feed resources available can greatly influence an operation’s bottom line. 

    Join the Nebraska Extension Livestock Systems Team

    University of Nebraska Extension is seeking a Livestock Systems Educator for Northwest Nebraska.  The position will serve Sheridan (5th Cow/Calf County in Nebraska), Dawes, Sioux, and Box Butte counties.  The region covers 1.5 million acres of agriculture land which includes 1.2 million acres of rangeland.

    Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Insurance summary of sales and performance history

    This article was first published in RightRisk News in October 2023.

    'So You've Inherited a Farm ... Now What?' workshops scheduled

    The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will present a series of workshops in central and eastern Nebraska for those planning and involved in farmland succession who want to learn more about the best strategies for managing and owning this asset and how it may impact the transition plan.

    Returning to the Farm 2023 - CANCELED

    This event has been canceled. We apologize for any inconvenience.

    How to cook prime rib and other beef roasts

    Put roast in oven, insert oven thermometer, remove 1 to 3 hours later. EAT. Enjoy any leftovers for 3 to 4 days in such menu items as sandwiches, soups, salads and casseroles. What could be easier?

    Virtual workshop series to cover tax basics, strategies for Midwestern women in ag

    An upcoming virtual workshop series for Midwestern farm and ranch women will teach the basics of tax planning for agricultural operations. Hosted by women in agriculture extension programs at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Kansas State University, and Purdue University, the three-part series will be held from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Central time on Nov. 28, Dec. 5 and Dec. 12.

    Fall 2023 Nebraska Farm Income Update

    Nebraska’s farm income is projected near $7.8 billion in 2023, according to a new report from the Rural and Farm Finance Policy Analysis Center (RaFF) at the University of Missouri, produced in conjunction with the Center for Agricultural Profitability at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

    The report, “Fall 2023 Nebraska Farm Income Outlook,” indicates that Nebraska’s stronger 2023 farm income projection is driven largely by higher livestock prices and recovery in ending year inventories and values.

    Range Beef Cow Symposium December 13-14, 2023

    The Range Beef Cow Symposium (RBCS) has a new website

    This year Colorado State University will be hosting the RBCS at the Ranch in Loveland, CO.

    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.

    Helping Your Child Feed Their 4-H or FFA Market Steer

    Now that fall is here, and most spring-born calves are being weaned, 4-Hers and FFA students across Nebraska are looking over the calf crops and picking out market steer prospects for the 2024 county fair.  Calves are carefully evaluated against a list of criteria, selected, and brought home.  Now what?

    Investigating the cause of cattle abortions: When to involve your veterinarian and what happens next

    It’s fall, and for cow/calf producers throughout the region that often means it’s time to preg check. Confirming pregnancy in the herd is an important milestone in the overall cow/calf production system, but there’s still a lot that needs to go right before you’re admiring next year’s weaned calf crop. Unfortunately, reproductive losses can still happen between confirmation of pregnancy and calving. Beef producers and veterinarians often refer to any death loss before calving as an “abortion”, but in reality, true abortions only make up a portion of this loss.

    Higher Inputs and Interest Rates Impacting Cow Costs

    As the 2023 calendar year winds down, this is a good time for spring calving herds to look at what it cost them to produce a calf in the past year. What did it cost to run a cow on your operation this year? 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.

    High fed cattle prices but narrow margins—a few strategies

    Looking back at late November of 2014, when the negotiated fed steer price reached an all-time high, $172.06/cwt, makes one wonder why—today, at fed steer prices at least $10/cwt higher, margins are still narrow.  A 1,550-lb fed steer is worth $155 more today than one finished in late November 2014.

    While cattle placed against current live cattle marketing might have a wider margin for profit, cattle placed in October of 2023 will have a narrower margin of profit.  Why?

    Nebraska Extension Provides New Cover Crop Grazing Conference Nov. 7

    Nebraska beef producers and corn growers can enhance their operations by attending the 2023 Cover Crop Grazing Conference. Scheduled for November 7, the conference will take place at the Eastern Nebraska Research, Extension and Education Center near Mead.

    The conference kicks off with registration, refreshments and a trade show at the August N. Christenson Building at 8:30 a.m.  Educational programs are from 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and include a producer panel session and live field demonstrations.  

    Corn Silage Feed Out

    Be safe, get the daily amount and leave a smooth face. These are the key factors when it comes to feeding out corn silage.

    Silage is a conservation technique that relies on anaerobic fermentation to primarily convert plant carbs into acetic and lactic acid, and those acids will then preserve the rest of the material for future use. Because the ideal point of corn silage harvest is at black layer, by now (November) all silages would have almost sixty days since they were chopped and stored.

    How to Meet your Cow’s Nutrient Needs when Feeding Hay this Winter

    1.  Collect a representative sample of your hay with a probe.

    Sampling is the largest source of error and doing it right is important to ensuring you get an accurate estimate of the feed value of your hay. Make sure to keep different “lots” of hay separate. Guidelines for sampling can be found here.

    Will the next farm laborer please stand up?

    This article was first published in Beef Magazine.

    What to know about grazing frosted forages

    The first frost may be welcome for its fly-killing ability, but for cattle producers running cattle on annual forages, a few management steps this time of year can make sure that first frost doesn't have the same effect on cattle grazing milo, sudangrass and sorghum varieties. 

    Manure Stockpiles: Mind Your Manners

    Manure stockpiles must be built following some regulations, but where those regulations end, manners should remain. I suspect that just about everyone reading this article has been told on more than one occasion, “Mind your manners!” Or, perhaps as a parent, it’s this very simple instruction that you now give to your kids as they head out the door to spend time with someone outside the household. Continue reading on the UNL Water website.

    High culling continues to impact beef market

    This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" in September 2023.

    The annual fall feeder run is about to begin. Given cattle prices, forage conditions, and the economy the question of whether heifers will be retained to rebuild the beef cow herd remains uncertain. Consider these factors that give pause to whether this expansion will occur with as much momentum we might think. Continue reading on the Center for Ag Profitability website.

    Strip grazing annual forages in the fall: Is it worth the effort?

    After about 5 years of fall cover crop grazing, one thing became apparent: the amount of grazing achieved when we gave cattle access to the whole field from the start did not appear to be determined by the amount of forage that was in the field. This was because the weather seemed to determine how much trampling loss occurred. In wet years, we harvested less than 15% of the forage, and on average, we captured about 30%.

    Marketing calves with blemishes

    Calves with blemishes are usually cut off when taken to a sale barn and sold for a reduced price.  What can a producer do with these calves to add value? 

    First, let’s look at what determines price.

    More than 419,000 Tons of Rangeland Production are Lost Annually in Nebraska to Woody Encroachment

    Did you know that Nebraska’s grasslands lose over 419,000 tons of forage production every year due to woody plant encroachment? When woody plants like eastern redcedar spread and take over grasslands, they displace grasses and broadleaf plants and reduce forage production by up to 75%1 (Fig.1). New rangeland monitoring data shows that tree cover increased by over 402,000 acres in Nebraska’s rangelands from 1990-2019 ( This means less forage for livestock and wildlife needs.

    Ag lenders offer insight on conditions for Nebraska livestock producers

    In 2017, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources (IANR) and Nebraska Extension made a commitment to implement a multidisciplinary Beef Systems Initiative (BSI) to develop and support implementation of beef production systems in Nebraska. In addition to the BSI, a parallel project funded by the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) implemented a study of the best practices for incorporating beef cattle onto cropping systems while improving ecosystem services to ensure sustainability.

    Reviewing Cow-Calf Share and Cash Lease Agreements

    The trend in cattle prices over the last year has been dramatically toward the upside. Prices have risen higher and faster than many market analysts thought possible for 2023. These changes in market value are having an impact on beef cow share and cash lease agreements in determining what is “fair” to both cow owners and those who are leasing the cows.

    For a cow owner, the following are the four major drivers that determine what is "fair" in terms of a cash lease or percentage of the calf crop the cow owner should receive. Those factors are:

    Trading manure and crop residues, considerations for a fair trade

    With harvest around the corner, you might be considering trading manure for cornstalks or vice versa. In many ways, it’s easier to pay cash for either product, but there are advantages to trading. This article will focus on what kinds of things to consider to be sure any deal made is a fair trade.

    Winter Rate of Gain & Implant Strategy of Stockers Influences Hot Carcass Weight

    This article was originally featured in Progressive Cattle and is a summary of the 2023 Nebraska Beef Cattle Report, Timing of Implant Use in the Backgrounding System.

    Best practices for vaccinating cattle, handling vaccines, and caring for animal health equipment

    Fall weaning and transportation can be a high-stress period for calves that may be transitioning from one operation to another. As animal care providers, it’s our job to take that into consideration and do all we can to reduce the stress load on these animals.

    Understanding Cattle Health Concerns on Cornstalks

    Grazing corn residue is common practice in the Midwest and a quality resource for cattle producers to utilize.  While the forages available can provide the necessary nutritional requirements, there are a few health conditions that need to be planned for prior to turn out.

    Fall Cattle Lice Treatments

    Treating cattle for lice when it’s convenient—usually during preconditioning and preg-checking—isn’t necessarily the most effective approach.

    While late summer and early fall endectocide (drugs that kill both internal and external parasitic insects) treatment may work on most internal parasites and horn flies, lice may escape.

    Feedlot Cattle Handling Practices

    Stockmanship and low-stress cattle handling is a topic that receives a lot of attention. Even the latest report of the National Beef Quality Audit (2022) identifies cattle handling as an area for “focused improvement,” due in part to the persistence of bruising.

    Pricing Corn Destined for Feeding as Silage, Snaplage, Earlage or Grain

    Grain production regions allow cattle producers to harvest grain crops as grain (dry or high moisture) or green chop to be preserved as silage for cattle feeding (feed crop).  Corn grain production is particularly well suited for this purpose.  Harvesting the ears and shank (earlage) or husk, grain, cob, and shank (snaplage) represent options intermediate to harvesting grain or chopping the whole plant. 

    Welcome to the Feedlot: Best Practices for Managing Newly Received Feeder Calves

    As we near the feedlot fall run, and cattle are newly received into the feedlot, there are key considerations to keep in mind to achieve best cattle performance. The goal of a receiving strategy is to make the transition from calf origin into the feedlot or backgrounding yard as seamless as possible. The first 14 days upon feedlot arrival are critical in calf development and set the performance trajectory of the calf for the remainder of the feeding period. The main goal at receiving is to help with any bovine respiratory disease (BRD) concerns and improve upon the health of the calf.

    Thinking of backgrounding calves this fall?

    Cattle prices have responded to lower cattle inventory.  If you are keeping up with cattle production news media, nearly every week, someone declares how much feeder calf prices have increased since last year.  Sales of 500- to 600-cwt feeder calves are getting close to $300/cwt.  Expecting a gross revenue of $1,600 or more for feeder steer calves this fall is not out of the question.  Yet, with increasing costs of maintaining a cow, some cow-calf producers may wonder:  to increase revenue in 2023, is it worth it to retain calves for feeding during a backgrounding o

    What do stocker and cow-calf producers think of Virtual Fencing?

    Producers that attended the Nebraska Grazing Conference (NGC) August 8-9, in Kearny, NE. may have noticed a difference from previous proceedings. This year “TechCorner” was added to the exhibition, highlighting new and emerging products in precision livestock management (PLM) such as virtual fencing, data management software and smart water monitoring. In addition to PLM exhibitors, Wednesday morning’s programs were focused primarily on precision grazing management, of which the virtual fencing (VF) technologies were spotlighted in presentations and panelist discussion.

    Knowing, Growing and Grazing Grass Webinar Series: October 23, 26, 30, November 2, 6, 9

    Would you like to grow your grass knowledge and better understand range and pasture resources? Nebraska Extension will host a six-session webinar series on Monday and Thursday evenings beginning October 23 through November 9 from 7:30 - 8:45 p.m. CT that will explain the basics of knowing, growing and grazing grass. 

    Topics will include:

    •           Identifying key grass species you want more of in your pastures.

    Protecting Farms & Ranches from Wildfires

    Wildfires affect America’s farm and ranches, damaging and destroying homes, barns, agriculture production facilities, crops, and livestock.  Below are some tips to help avoid or minimize fire damage to your property.

    Making Silage from Late Season Hail Damaged Corn

    The first step in dealing with hail damage is to contact your insurance agent, so that you know what is required to meet obligations for hail or revenue insurance.

    Corn Silage as a Feed Source for Beef Cows this Winter

    As you prepare to inventory feeds for feeding the beef cow this winter, corn silage may be an option. In last month’s BeefWatch, the article, “Is That Corn Crop Worth More as Silage or Grain?” walks through the calculations to determine price of corn silage standing in the field, chopped and packed in the silo, and corn silage delivered to the bunk. If the price of corn is $5.00 per bushel, corn silage delivered to the bunk with 10% shrink is $60.83.

    Will you Capitalize on Increasing Cow Value?

    What a difference a year makes when it comes to cow prices!  Whether it is weigh up cows at $1.10 per pound or young bred heifers and cows pushing $2,500 - $3,000 per head, the recent rise in prices has been dramatic. Many cow-calf producers will sell calves this fall and make a solid profit. For areas that have received rain and forage is available, this will encourage retaining of heifers and the rebuilding of cowherds that have been reduced due to drought. The motivation of many will be to keep and acquire as many bred cows as possible to produce more high dollar calves.

    Windrow Grazing Annual Forages to Extend the Grazing Season

    In many areas of central and eastern Nebraska, drought conditions have resulted in reduced forage production on rangeland and pasture.  This is resulting in a shortage of feed for many producers and a need for forage between now and when cornstalks are available for grazing.  Windrow grazing annual forages allows producers to cut the crop at an optimum time for quality and increase harvest efficiency through strip grazing the windrows.   

    Feed Prices Favor Limit-Feeding Stockers a High Energy Diet

    For cattle producers that are set up to feed calves in a bunk, limit-feeding a high energy diet may be a cost-effective option for growing calves this fall and winter. While limit-feeding is not a new concept, current forage prices relative to grain/co-products may make it an attractive alternative to feeding high roughage growing diets. For instance, hay priced at $200/ton with a total digestible nutrients (TDN) value of 52% equates to approximately $0.22 per pound of TDN.

    Resources for Helping Cattle Deal with Heat Stress

    While we can’t control the heat, there are some things we can control to help cattle through it. 

    Drought-stressed Corn: A Feed Opportunity

    Some areas of Nebraska are experiencing drought and lack of water for irrigation. Depending on the field situation and the availability of silage cutters and transportation logistics, harvesting corn and taking the crop insurance may be the most viable option, especially when most plants have at least partial ears. The following resource may be helpful when considering corn for grain or silage.

    Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Open House

    The 24th annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 23, 2023. 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 as a webinar.

    Why Consider Drylotting Cows this Fall?

    This fall as pastures continue to recover from drought in previous years, some producers who traditionally pasture their cattle are considering feeding cow-calf pairs in confinement. Drylotting can be a feasible way to allow pasture recovery, while feeding grain, forage, and crop stover to pairs. A few of the many advantages of a drylot system include closer observation of the herd, low weaning stress, and providing opportunity to bunk break calves prior to weaning.

    What Will You Do with Profits?

    Cow-calf producers are looking at the potential for significant profits for 2023 due to high calf prices. This income may give cow-calf producers the rare opportunity to invest capital back into the ranch.

    The following are options, in no particular order, to consider when thinking about and planning for investments into the ranch or cow-calf enterprise.

    Is That Corn Crop Worth More as Silage or Grain?

    Ongoing dry and drought conditions in many parts of the state are supporting hay and forage prices as we look towards this fall. Perennial dryland hay production in many parts of Nebraska has been less than average. Forage production on rangeland and pasture in central and eastern Nebraska is, in many situations, significantly less than average. This diminished production is going to result in less fall and winter grazing.   

    Don’t Get Caught Off Guard, Be Prepared to Beat the Heat

    Summer is officially here, and temperatures are beginning to heat up across the nation. With increasing temperatures, special attention is needed when it comes to mitigating heat, especially those animals being housed in a dry lot. While some only consider temperature when assessing the effects of heat, other environmental factors such as humidity, air movement, and solar radiation contribute to the heat load cattle experience.

    What are Your Options with Wet Hay?

    Top 5 Takeaways

    • Wet bales are at risk for combustion; store appropriately and check temperatures. Anything above 170°F is high risk.
    • Mold may produce mycotoxins, so roll out and let animals select good portions of moldy bales. Make sure other clean feed is available.
    • Protect yourself from respiratory issues while working with moldy bales by using a dust mask.
    • Hay testing is especially important when hay quality and safety are concerns.

    Why Larkspur is Dangerous for Cattle and How to Manage It

    As a result of this year’s wet weather in areas of Nebraska, ranchers and land managers can expect some changes in weed species abundance in range and pastures. Larkspur is one weed that’s showing up and causing some problems. At the Panhandle Research, Extension and Education Center in Scottsbluff we have had more phone calls and in-person visits from ranchers regarding larkspur management in the last month than we have in the previous five years combined.

    Storing Wet Distillers Grains in the Summer for Fall and Winter Feeding


    Wet distillers grains (WDGS) are a good source of energy (108% TDN) and crude protein (30%) (dry matter basis). Therefore, they are a popular commodity for beef cattle supplementation. 

    Pros and Cons of Fall-planting Winter and Spring Small Grains

    Using small grains as a dependable fall or spring forage source will depend on several factors, including production potential based on planting date, availability of moisture and adequate fertility, season of production, and winterhardiness. All small grains can produce forage, so the options are: