BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

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.

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. 

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.

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 (https://www.wlfw.org/yieldgap/). 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

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.

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.

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.

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

Introduction  

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:

Registration Open for Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle Symposium

In partnership with the University of Wyoming, the Beef Reproduction Task Force will host the Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) symposium at the Little America Hotel and Resort (2800 W. Lincolnway) in Cheyenne, Wyoming on Sep. 6-7th, 2023.

The event will run from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sep. 6, and 8 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Sep. 7. Producers, veterinarians, artificial insemination technicians, students and others interested in beef cattle production are encouraged to attend.

New Custom Rates for Livestock Services Published

A new report from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability features current rates for custom services related to livestock production in Nebraska. It reflects the results of a statewide survey that was circulated in early 2023 to those who either provide or pay for custom work related to livestock.

Options for Safely Using High-Nitrate Forage: Grazing, Silage and Haying

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. But with careful management, you can reduce the risk of grazing drought-stressed forages.

How to Increase Water Access for Feedlot Cattle in Hot Weather

The use of shades in feedlots has made a big difference in the effects of heat on fat cattle, but a few other strategies can help keep cattle cool, enabling cattle to keep gaining, even in the dog days of summer.

Considerations for Early Pregnancy Diagnosis and Early Weaning this Summer and Fall

With areas across the state either dealing with drought or wet conditions, cow management and limited forage resources may have producers considering options for early weaning and utilizing early pregnancy detection to help make culling and management decisions this year.

The Changing Cost of Cattle Transportation

There has been lots of commentary among consumers about gas prices as we unofficially head into summer. Nationally, regular gasoline prices had begun slowly to come off of their all-time highs of $5.01 per gallon in June 2022, to a new low of $3.09 per gallon in January 2023. Prices have risen steadily over the last several months, to $3.57 per gallon, as of the last week in May 2023. Higher gasoline prices tend to reduce travel as total costs for vacations and trips increase. Ultra-low-sulfur diesel has also come down from its high of $5.78 per gallon in June 2022.

What does summer pneumonia look like in calves, and what to do about it?

Though the stress of calving season is behind us, cattle producers have to stay vigilant, because things like nursing calf pneumonia and pinkeye can take a lot of the fun out of baseball games and county fairs. Let’s take a quick look at summer/nursing-calf pneumonia.

Barta Brothers Open House

The University of Nebraska is hosting an open house at the Barta Brothers Ranch on July 25th from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. The Barta Brothers Ranch is a 6,000-acre property donated to the University of Nebraska by Clifford and James Barta in 1996. The ranch has housed a variety of research projects over the years including studies on Sandhills’ biocomplexity and a 20-year-long grazing systems production survey. One of the newest research projects, commonly referred to as CAM (collaborative adaptive management), will be the primary focus of the open house.

Annual Forage Options for July or August Planting

If planting in July, warm season annual grasses are good options for forage production. They can be used to produce hay, silage, green chop, or grazing both during the summer or winter. However, if the desired use is winter grazing and the need is for high quality forage, then delaying planting until late July/early August and using cool-season winter sensitive species like oats may be a better fit. This article provides information on species selection and some key management considerations based on desired use.

Nebraska Grazing Conference

The 2023 Nebraska Grazing Conference will be held August 8 and 9 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney, NE.  This year’s conference features speakers highlighting Grazing Lands Conservation, Emerging Issues in Grazing Lands, and Precision Livestock Management. The featured banquet speaker for the Conference is Curt Pate.

How much water do cattle need and what water problems should cattle producers watch for?

Water quantity and quality is critical to cattle health and performance.  Hot weather and drought conditions can impact both water quality and quantity for cattle.  

2023 Nebraska Stocker/Yearling Tour Features Skavdahl Ranch Near Harrison

Click here for video from the 2023 Stocker-Yearling tour at the Skavdahl Ranch, near Harrison, Nebraska. 

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Sell cows or buy feed? That’s the question most ranchers face when drought hits. The best time to plan for drought is in a wet year, and one of the best ways to plan for drought is to build flexibility into a cattle operation.

Mapping is a Key Part of Spring Leafy Spurge Control Strategy

The bright yellow-green of leafy spurge can put a damper on the joy of spring green-up. The noxious weed is especially noticeable in early June. That’s also one of the best times to invest the time and money into controlling leafy spurge.

Unfortunately, a single treatment will not control leafy spurge once established, so continued monitoring and retreatment is needed. An effective strategy is pairing spring applications that prevent seed production with a fall treatment to control new growth.

Do Heifers Have More Potential Value Than Steers?

When going out to tag calves, most cow-calf producers would prefer to find a new bull calf rather than a heifer. This is logical given that the bull calf, which in most cases will become a steer, will weigh more, and bring more money per pound when selling at weaning than his heifer herd mates born at the same time. In the feedyard, steer calves grow faster, are more efficient and finish at heavier weights, providing greater pounds to sell at harvest. Steer performance justifies the premiums paid for steers over heifers.

The University of Nebraska and USDA – AMS Cattle & Carcass Training Center Event

Join us on June 15-16, 2023, for a free two-day training event on Emerging Technology in the Livestock and Meat industries and CME Live Cattle and Carcass Specifications and Deliveries. We encourage stakeholders (cattle producers, feeders, processors, and allied industries) to join who are interested in the official quality grading of feeder cattle, fed cattle, and beef carcasses in the United States.  This training event is collaborative with USDA – AMS and the Animal Science Department at the University of Nebraska.

Will the Proposed Cattle Implant Labeling Changes Impact Feedlot Performance?

This article is a follow-up to “Highlights of Feedlot Implant Labeling Changes Coming June 2023” published in the May 2023 UNL BeefWatch newsletter by Alfredo DiCostanzo.

Face Flies on Pastured Cattle

Face flies can carry pinkeye and eyeworms, and cause millions of dollars of economic damage every year.

One to five face flies per eye per day can cause serious ocular lesions that mimic the symptoms of bovine pinkeye. Mechanical damage, whether sustained by face fly mouth parts, dust, weed, pollen, or excessive sunlight, predisposes the eye for infection and increases epithelial discharges.

Pasture Grasshoppers

Much of Nebraska has had several years of below normal precipitation, which may allow grasshoppers to become a problem.

Cattle diseases that can make people sick, and how to avoid them

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), zoonotic diseases are pathogens that can be spread from animals to humans, leading to illness.  The CDC reported 59 zoonotic outbreaks in 2017, causing over 1500 illnesses and three reported deaths.  There are several different germs that have the potential to be zoonotic, with some more prevalent than others.  

Sizing and Siting a Shade Structure

With winter reluctantly fading in the rear-view mirror, those hot days of late spring and summer are not very far off for cattle operations here in the Central Plains.  It’s certainly not too soon to take another look at the role that shade can play in limiting heat stress in cattle.  Consider the recently published findings of two studies overseen by Dr. Terry Mader (now retired UNL feedlot environment extension specialist).

Keeping Stress in Check – Strategies and Tools that May Help

The weather impacts producers right and left. A storm can come up suddenly and be short-term, whereas a drought can build and persist long-term. Stress can be similar in nature. We can have acute, stressful moments when we get into town too late to pick up that important part to fix equipment before chores the next day.  Stress can become chronic when one bad thing happens after the other. Many have experienced the effects of drought, first with not enough rain for pasture and forage production leaving us short and having to spend extra money to find additional hay or forage.

Pasture Fly Resistance

Regardless of your choice of livestock fly control product and application method, plan for resistance. For example, many horn fly populations in Nebraska exhibit a level of resistance to synthetic pyrethroid insecticides.

Insecticide Impregnated Ear Tags Available for 2023

Insecticide-impregnated ear tags were first introduced in the late 1970s and have been used to reduce face fly and horn fly populations. Active ingredients in insecticide ear tags kill flies by direct contact. Small amounts of insecticide are released from the ear tag into the oils present on animal’s hair. The face, neck, topline and flanks receive the most product through natural grooming behavior. Interaction between cattle enhances the transfer of product between animals.

Garlic for Horn fly Control

Many livestock producers have shown a strong interest in using garlic to reduce horn flies on pastured cattle. Garlic is commercially available in a pre-mix mineral or can be purchased and mixed by the producer in mineral or salt, normally at a concentration of 2% garlic.

Packing Small Grain Silage When It Is Too Wet Can Be a Costly Mistake

Small grains are an excellent choice as a double-cropped forage for a spring silage crop. However, making good quality small grain silage takes careful moisture management.

Nebraska – the Beef State

Each May we celebrate National Beef Month. One of the great things to enjoy in the Beef State is the moment in which producers and consumers come together over a juicy steak. As delicious and nutritious beef recipes are shared in local newspapers and across social media, it is a great reminder that the beef industry has a large impact on Nebraskans far and wide.

Practice Tick Safety to Avoid Getting an Allergy to Red Meat

Spring is an appropriate time for tick education. Ticks may be active all year long if temperatures outside are above freezing, but May and June are the months when people pick up the most ticks. There are three tick species established in Nebraska that carry and spread diseases to humans and animals, including the lone star tick. Lone star ticks are widely distributed across the East, South and Central United States, extending across the southeastern portion of Nebraska (see figures at the end of the article).

Winter Wheat may have more Value as Forage than Taking it to Grain

Current cattle market conditions along with the price and short availability of hay has created a scenario where the growing winter wheat crop may have more value for producers for grazing or as a hay crop this spring than to harvest it for grain. The current market value of good quality prairie hay and alfalfa ranges from $180 to $270 per ton.  Hay stocks are short. Harvested feed costs at current hay prices range from $3.00-$4.00 per cow-calf pair per day. 

Highlights of Feedlot Implant Labeling Changes Coming June 2023

Note:  Mention of trade names and growth-promoting implant manufacturers in this publication is necessary as FDA approvals are specific to trade names and manufacturers. 

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is updating information to beef cattle producers concerning a group of growth-promoting implant products (implants) that do not specify on the labeling whether reimplantation is approved. Three important developments must be considered by all cattle producers:

Options and Resources for Beef Producers Making Ends Meet after Wildfire

Once again wildfires have plagued Nebraska rangelands. That rangeland will need a time of deferred grazing to recover. Some producers may have harvested forages available to feed while the rangelands recover. Annual forages may also be an option when native perennial forages are recovering.

Some producers may have access to pivots or other farming ground. Some of this ground may be established in introduced perennial forages, and traditionally used for hay, but could be grazed if another source of hay could be located, providing much needed deferment for recovering range.  

New Antibiotic Restrictions Just Around the Corner

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) guidance to the industry takes effect in June of 2023, but what does that mean for livestock producers?

Por qué el pastoreo antes de que el pastizal natural esté listo puede tener impactos duraderos y cómo limitar el daño

Resista la tentación de pastorear antes de que el pastizal esté listo y tenga cuidado si no hay otra opción. Las prácticas de gestión del pastizal usadas ahora pueden tener impactos duraderos.

New Nebraska Custom Rates Survey Related to Livestock Services

Many farmers and ranchers make inquiries to Nebraska Extension about prevailing rates paid for various kinds of custom farm services. In addition to the regular biennial custom rates survey, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability has launched a new survey designed to provide market rate information for the Nebraska livestock industry. Producers and operators that perform and provide custom services for others, or that utilize custom services and pay others, are invited to participate in the survey. 

Thin Cows and Limited Hay Resources: What are my options?

Drought conditions this last growing season, limited hay supply, and a wet winter have been very challenging to beef producers. This created a situation where many cows at this point were thinner than normal years.  In addition, we couple that with limited hay and lower-quality hay with the potential of having a late green up or delayed turn out to grass. With that in mind, we have to think about how to increase energy in the diet to meet the lactational requirements while gaining BCS and doing that past our traditional turn out to grass. 

Getting the Most Out of Grazing Cereal Rye and Other Winter-hardy Small Cereals

When grazed from early April to early May, forage quality of cereal rye, winter triticale, and winter wheat is similar. All three species can be very high quality. When managed correctly, growing calves can gain 3 to 4 lbs/day. Cereal rye can have greater growth during cooler conditions compared to wheat or triticale. This is the reason it can often provide earlier spring grazing. On the other hand, triticale retains its feed value better into late spring since it does not mature as quickly. This makes it well-suited for hay and silage, or for grazing well into June.

Preventing Grass Tetany in the Lactating Beef Cow this Spring

As spring nears and grass begins to turn green, producers are anxious to get cows out to grass. However, cool season predominate areas tend to have lush spring growth which can lead to grass tetany in cows. While there are treatments for cows caught quick enough, prevention is always the best policy.

Options for Estrus Synchronization this Breeding Season

A successful breeding season requires planning. Estrus synchronization is one tool that can benefit cattle producers if used correctly. Estrus synchronization can allow more females to be bred earlier in the breeding season and can shorten the postpartum interval in late-calving females, allowing them to become pregnant earlier in the calving season.

Winter Bull Management and What to Do if Your Bulls Get Frostbite on the Testes?

A recent BeefWatch article highlighted the importance of timing for a Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE) in our bull battery especially with the winter weather many of our producers have been experiencing. With that in mind, let us dive in a little deeper to how this harsh winter weather can impact bull fertility and how to address management for this next breeding season.

Krutsinger gift helps contribute to Beef Scholar Minor

In December, Carol Krutsinger made a $1 million gift to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture (NCTA) to develop the next generation of beef industry leaders.

Best Practices for Calf Processing and Branding

Calving is just underway across the country, which means calf processing and branding (if applicable in your area) is just around the corner.

For those who may not be calving already or those looking for good calving reading material, it is good to revisit some calving best management practices. Previous articles listed in BeefWatch do a great job highlighting specifics related to calving.

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.

To Pave or Not to Pave? A Slippery-Slope…

Cattle operations in many areas have had to manage their animals through significant snowfall that led to muddy conditions in holding areas, walk lanes, feedyard pens, and other high-traffic locations.  Poor performance, health challenges, and generally undesirable conditions for man and beast often followed.

Nebraska BQA Nearly Sweeps National BQA Awards

This year, the Nebraska Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program was the highlight of the Closing General Session “A BQA Celebration” at the 2023 Cattle Industry Convention.

Since 2009, the National BQA program has utilized the National BQA awards to recognized cattle producers across the nation for their BQA achievements. The program recognizes producers and operations from the following sectors: cow-calf, feedyard, marketer, and dairy. Additionally, the educator award recognizes an individual who has been dedicated to the BQA program throughout their career.

Scheduling Early Breeding Soundness Exams for Bulls Due to Extreme Winter Conditions

Nebraska and much of the Great Plains have experienced above normal snowfall coupled with extremely cold temperatures and high winds resulting in -20 to -60° F wind chills this winter. Extreme cold can result in frostbite to extremities in cattle including the testicles, which in turn can have a negative impact on spermatogenesis.

Filling Spring and Early Summer Forage Gaps Webinar March 16

Many cow/calf producers are short on hay and hoping for an early spring. This webinar will discuss some options for getting lactating cows fed until pasture is ready.

Early Herd Rebuilding Could Happen Through the Bred Cow Market

This article was first published by "In the Cattle Markets" on Feb. 13, 2023. 

Registration Opens for 2023 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 2023 Nebraska Ranch Practicum offered by Nebraska Extension.

Risk Management Workshops for Cattle Producers Set for March

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability and Nebraska Extension will host a price risk management workshop for cattle producers in Falls City, Holdrege and Kearney. Attendees will learn strategies designed to reduce risk exposure to achieve a profitable outcome in uncertain times.

Current issues facing the cattle industry will be discussed to help producers to make more informed decisions facing the industry.

Identifying Your Competitive Advantage

Livestock producers can enhance success by identifying and exploiting their competitive advantage in relation to their competition. What is special or unique about the product you produce, your skills, background, reputation, business structure, location or service that sets you apart from others?  What gives you a “leg up” on the competition?

Getting More Out of Fall Forage Cover Crops: Is Strip Grazing Worth It?

Nebraska Extension hosted a webinar called Getting More Out of Fall Forage Cover Crops: Is Strip Grazing Worth It? March 23, 2023. The webinar shared the results of on-farm research at five Nebraska locations, evaluating the value of strip grazing cover crops over two years. The webinar included producer perspectives on balancing labor needs and increasing harvest efficiency in fall cover crop beef cattle systems.

Nebraska Extension Seeking Producer Input on Mineral Supplementation Practices and Research and Education Needs

Nebraska Extension is looking to gather more information on cow-calf producers’ mineral supplementation practices. To better establish research and educational resource needs for beef cattle producers, Nebraska Extension has released a producer needs assessment survey targeting cow-calf producers.

What does the Drought of 2022 mean for Lactating Pairs in the Spring of 2023?

As of February, Nebraska remains in drought conditions despite much of the state receiving significant snowfall in December and January (https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/). The soil moisture profile is in a deficit due to months of below normal precipitation the last couple of years, which will have an impact on grass growth this spring.

Helping Cows Cope with Cold Stress

Cold stress increases a cow’s energy requirement and can pull down her body condition.  Thin cows can result in weak calves being born in the spring and/or poor breed up. Winter storms have already swept across the Plains, giving indications this could be a long, cold winter for cows already thin due to summer drought stress.

Windbreaks for Protection and Snow Diversion

Shelter for livestock during the winter months can influence the success of calving and a livestock operation. Protection from the wind and snow is not always readily available from natural topography or living windbreaks such as tree lines or shrub rows.

Managing Hypothermia in Newborn Calves

Plans for calving season should include how to identify and manage cold stress in newborns. In the 2007 National Animal Health Monitoring System report, 25.6% of operations reported weather as the main cause for death in calves less than 3 weeks old.  Preventing hypothermia is vital to survival in the newborn.

Translating and Applying Genomic EPDs

Expected progeny differences (EPDs) are a widely utilized tool in making genetic decisions centered around breeding objectives. With the progression of DNA technology, the industry has been able to incorporate genomics into the numbers that are used to calculate EPDs. Prior to inclusion of genomic information, we relied on pedigree-based relationships that operate on the averages. This assumes a 50% contribution from the dam and 50% contribution from the sire to the breeding value of the offspring.