BeefWatch Articles from All

BeefWatch Articles from All

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.

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.

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.

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. 

How colostrum works, why calves need it, and what to do if they aren't getting it

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.

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.

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?

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.

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 AgManager.info 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.

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.

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.

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 cap.unl.edu/livestock/tools) offers a way to compare feed options.

Heavier Feeder Cattle Placements Amid Meat Processing Plant Issues

Current Market Situation

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.

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 (http://cropresidueexchange.unl.edu) 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.

Feeding Elevated Levels of Corn Silage to Reduce Liver Abscesses

This article was originally featured in the Wyoming Livestock Roundup.

Making Soybeans as Hay or Silage

Some parts of the state are not getting the moisture for their soybean crop so the decision to salvage them for hay or silage may have to be made. Soybean hay or silage can have feed values very similar to alfalfa; but it is very important to put it up properly.

The first thing is not to get in a big hurry because August rains could make a crop. Harvest soybean forage when leaves start to turn yellow; just before they drop off. It’s especially important to harvest before a freeze to prevent rapid leaf loss.

Test, Don’t Guess - sampling and testing hay

Fall is here and the weather reminds us of the changing of the seasons. This is the time of year when many producers are hauling hay home for the winter as well as pricing and purchasing hay. There is a tremendous range in hay quality depending upon level of maturity, fertilization, growing conditions, harvest circumstances and storage methods. Accurately sampling and testing hay is the only way to get a real understanding of the nutritive value of feed.

What Are Video Auctions and CME Futures Telling Us About Fall Feeder Cattle Prices?

The feeder cattle market has experienced a significant amount of price variation between March and July. There has been upward price pressure from historically strong retail meat demand and meat exports to China. While there have been positive price movements for feeder cattle, most of the downward price pressure has come over the uncertainty of forage production and higher grain prices.

Webinar Planned on Winter Cow Care Agreements

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Center for Agricultural Profitability will host a webinar that examines the development of winter cow care agreements at noon on Sept. 2.   

Ensuring Beef Quality Assurance to Beat the Heat

The summer heat is bearing down across the nation. With the summer heat comes the concern for animal welfare, specifically towards cattle in feedlots. With rising temperatures and high humidity, cattle are more prone to heat stress. This concern increases when winds die down reducing air movement.

When cattle experience heat stress, producers may see reduced intakes and gains. However, in extreme cases, cattle can succumb to the detrimental effects of the heat stress they are experiencing. 

Choosing a Method for Pregnancy Diagnosis

Previous research has shown the benefit of pregnancy diagnosis and how it adds to a producer’s bottom line. Keeping one cow over winter can cost $100-$200 in feed and supplements so removing open cows can help decrease winter feed costs. Options for managing non-pregnant beef females are discussed in a BeefWatch article appearing in this issue. Pregnancy diagnosis is a very valuable tool in the beef industry and it is grossly underutilized. Only about 20% of producers employ some sort of a pregnancy diagnosis in their herd.

2021 Nebraska Grazing Conference

The 2021 Nebraska Grazing Conference is back as an in-person event after going virtual in 2020 due to the challenges of COVID-19. This year’s conference will be held Aug. 9-11 at the Younes Conference Center in Kearney with a program that bridges grazing lands production and conservation.  

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

Last year, several pieces of legislation were introduced in Congress, with the principal aim of increasing the level of negotiated cash trade.[1] The cattle industry responded to the proposed legislation by creating a voluntary framework, known as the 75% rule, which includes cattle feeder and packing plant triggers based on levels of negotiated trade and marketplace participation.

Do not let Pinkeye Decrease Efficiencies in Summer Grazing

It is no secret that rainfall and humidity aid in the quality and quantity of summer forage production. However, these two factors also contribute to the fly populations. Not only do large fly populations cause irritation that creates devastating production losses, but also spreads infectious bovine keratoconjunctivitis (IBK) or pinkeye. Pinkeye is a highly contagious disease that promotes inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva portions of the eye. The occurrence of pinkeye increases in the spring and peaks in the summer months before decreasing in the fall.

Managing Summer Calving Herds During the Breeding Season

Many producers have moved from spring to summer calving to avoid death loss from inclement early spring weather and to see a reduction in labor and winter feed costs. Just as there are upsides to changing timing of calving, there are also downsides, which may include reproductive challenges and decreased calf weaning weight. It is important to understand the change in management practices when converting to a summer calving herd.

Using Livestock Risk Protection Insurance to Protect Profits

In an effort to improve participation, several enhancements and improvements to the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) insurance program for cattle have taken place over the last three years. 

They include:

Managing Early Weaned Calves

Early weaning is typically defined as weaning before calves are 150 days of age. In extreme cases beef calves may be weaned at 45 days of age, but more commonly early weaned calves are over 90 days of age. Early weaning may be advantageous in times of drought, when cows are in a confinement system, or as a body condition management tool for very young or old cows. Once weaning has occurred, the cow, now without the demands of lactation, can be maintained on poor quality forage and little to no supplement.

How Stocker-Yearling Cattle Complement a Cow-Calf Operation in the Sandhills - A Producer’s Perspective

Stocker-Yearling cattle can complement cow-calf operations by providing flexibility in utilizing grazing resources. In this month’s BeefWatch Producer Perspective Podcast, John Ravenscroft from Cherry County, Nebraska discusses how the Three Bar Cattle Company utilizes home raised and purchased calves to grow as stocker-yearlings to complement their cow-calf operation.

Topics discussed include:

Blue-Green Algae Impacts on Cattle

Hot, dry weather is impacting part of the state which in turn is impacting the water quality for grazing cattle.  In some pastures, the only water source available are ponds and dugouts which can contain hidden dangers to the cattle.

Blue-green algae also known as cyanobacteria blooms are caused by excess levels of nitrogen and phosphorus.  These nutrients are commonly introduced from runoff or soil erosion from fertilizer and manure.

Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Open House sponsored by Elanco

The 22nd annual University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) Open House will be held on Wednesday, August 25, 2021. This year’s Open House will be a hybrid format with our traditional in-person event held at GSL along with being live streamed online webinar. The online webinar will only cover the morning sustainability topics. 

Quality of Forage and Impacts on Intake and Animal Performance

As we progress into summer, forage quality can rapidly change depending on factors like rainfall, temperature, etc.  A good example of the dynamic interaction of rainfall and forage quality is shown in Table 1. In the Sandhills, 2002 and 2018 were drastically different in total precipitation; however, forage quality driven by forage growth and maturity in terms of crude protein were very similar in a drought or wet rainfall year.  Understanding these relationships is important in making proactive management decisions.

Cattle Markets React to USDA Reports: Implications for Risk Management

This article was first published in the June 2021 issue of The Nebraska Cattleman magazine.

Managing Risk with Annual Forages

Annual forages are a useful tool to help manage risk. From a crop management standpoint, they can be used to manage erosion risk and build more resilient soil profiles. From a livestock management standpoint, annual forages can provide a valuable source of additional feed resources. They can serve an important role in a cattle producer’s drought management plan and overall strategy for controlling feed costs.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Poisonous Pasture Plants

While generally not as problematic in Nebraska compared to other western states, poisonous plants can exact their toll on livestock enterprises, and many times the losses are unrecognized. 

Past BeefWatch Articles and Webinars to Help with Drought Related Decisions

Are you getting enough rain?  What management decisions do you have in place if it stops raining? Below are some past BeefWatch articles and BeefWatch webinars that may help you with management decisions related to drought.

Helping Cattle Cope with Summer Heat

Ready or not, summer heat has arrived. Cattle have had little opportunity to become acclimated to summer conditions this year, so helping cattle cope is critical. The combination of hot temperatures, high humidity, and lack of air movement can cause severe cases of heat stress for cattle. This can result in reduced intakes and gains, and in extreme cases, death. 

Cattle Risk Management Workshops Offered in Five Nebraska Communities

Nebraska Extension’s efforts to assist farmers and ranchers to achieve profitable outcomes continue with a series of workshops that will offer strategies and tools to reduce risk exposure associated with cattle production.

In June and July, Extension specialists and educators will conduct “Managing Cattle for Profit in 2021” in Thedford, North Platte, Alliance, Norfolk and Ainsworth. 

2021 Summer Stocker/Yearling Meeting and Tour

Nebraska Extension will be hosting a summer meeting and tour focused on stocker/yearling systems on June 30th near Nenzel, Nebraska. Registration will begin at 9 a.m. MDT and the program will kick off at 9:30 a.m. MDT at the Nenzel Community Building.  A meal will be served at noon, and a tour of Three Bar Cattle Company is planned for the afternoon.

The Beef Industry Believes in BQA and So Should You!

Greetings beef producers. To continue building on previous Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) related articles, I want to talk about how the beef industry is making moves to use BQA as the gold standard of animal welfare, and how that is good news for you. Consumers care about the welfare of food animals whose product may eventually end up on their table. This leads consumers to ask questions about how their food is raised, in this instance, beef. In order to provide consumers with answers, many restaurants, food service, and retailers adopt and implement animal welfare programs.

Implants Equate to Efficiency in Stocker Cattle

This spring as the grass continues to green up yearling cattle will find their way to the pastures of the great plains for summer grazing. Cattle are stocked on grass pasture this time of year due to its additional nutritive quality that equates to gains, relative to dormant pastures, prior to entering the feedlot. One economically justifiable way to make stocker cattle more efficient on grass is by administering implants. Utilization of implants in stocker cattle can increase average daily gain by 5-20%, improve feed efficiency by 5-15%, and improve lean tissue deposition by 5-12%.

New Drought Center Dashboard Steps Ranchers Through Key Questions

When faced with developing drought, ranchers often have questions. How severe is this drought? How long could it last? Is this as bad as the last drought we experienced, or is it the worst one? What are the chances it rains enough to produce normal forage over the coming weeks or months, and how much rain would be needed for a “normal” grazing year?

Forage Production, Beef Cows and Stocking Density and Their Implications for Partial Herd Liquidation Due to Drought

This article was first published in the May 11, 2021 edition of “In the Cattle Markets.”

Are Livestock Producers Willing to Pay for Traceability Programs?

The following is a summary of the webinar “Are Livestock Producers Willing to Pay for Traceability Programs?” given on February 4, 2021, as part of the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Farm and Ranch Management team’s weekly webinar series. The webinar can be accessed at https://farm.unl.edu/webinars.

Tips for Managing Free Choice Mineral Intake

Free choice mineral mixes are commonly used to provide the mineral that grazing cattle need. However, ensuring that cattle are getting enough mineral without overconsuming can be a struggle. Being on either side of the spectrum can be costly either in reduced performance due to deficiency or in increased feed cost due to over consumption.  An extra 1 oz per cow per day can cost $4 to 8 per cow per year. If your mineral mix is designed to meet the cows needs at 4 oz per day, intake above this only adds unnecessary cost.

Beware of Stocking Rate Creep

Is your average cow size greater than it was ten or twenty years ago? As breed genetics and harvest weights change, the cows grazing pasture today tend to be larger than they were 10 or 20 years ago. Larger cows eat more, and if an operation is running the same number of cows today for the same amount of time on the same amount of rangeland as 10 or 20 years ago, the stocking rate has increased. But has the forage production increased to match the stocking rate? 

Impact of Higher Grain Prices on Feedlot’s Decision to Feed Distillers Grains

The historical demand from China and domestically low stock-to-use ratios has led to the most recent run-up in grain prices. The direct impact of higher grain prices is that it increases the cost of gain (COG) for feedlots. In other words, it costs more dollars to put on the same amount of weight. Higher COG generally creates incentives for feedlots to place heavier feeder cattle and to ship cattle at lower finished weights. These two incentives combine to require less feed and effectively limit the impact of higher feed costs.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Selecting Summer Annual Forages

Are you planning to plant a summer annual grass, maybe to build hay supply or have some extra grazing?  Which one will you plant? 

It can be confusing because there are six different types of major summer annual forage grasses.  These include: sudangrass, sorghum-sudan hybrids, forage sorghum (which we often call cane or sorgo), foxtail millet, pearl millet, and teff.  Each one has its own strengths and weaknesses.  So, base your choice primarily on how you plan to use it.

Controlling Horn Flies on Pastured Cattle

With temperatures starting to warm, fly season is not far away, and now is the time to evaluate your 2021 horn fly management plan. Was your fly management program successful last year? If the answer is no, what were possible factors that might have directed your program in the wrong direction. Understanding the horn fly’s habits, life cycle, impact control methods and products will help design an effective control program.  

Budget Templates Updated for Sheep and Goat Enterprises

Enterprise budget templates were recently updated for producers’ use to estimate sheep and goat revenue and expenses and consider projected breakeven scenarios. Using a west central Nebraska representative sheep flock with 250 ewes and a 70 head meat goat herd, the budgets are prepared for producers to use as guides when entering their own information using an Excel spreadsheet format.  

Net Return Distributions When Metaphylaxis Is Used to Control Bovine Respiratory Disease in High Health Risk Cattle

Metaphylaxis (administration of FDA antimicrobial, generally via injection, to high-health risk cattle upon arrival) is used to help manage bovine respiratory disease (BRD). The use of metaphylaxis is known to decrease the mortality and morbidity of cattle in feedlots. Producers managing high-health risk cattle with metaphylaxis must choose the type of cattle to purchase in conjunction with the price paid and the antimicrobial to use.

The Role of the Odor Footprint Tool in Livestock Nuisance Litigation

The following is a summary of the webinar “The Role of the Odor Footprint Tool in Livestock Nuisance Litigation” given on Jan. 21, 2021, as part of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Department of Agricultural Economics Extension Farm and Ranch Management team’s weekly webinar series. The webinar and accompanying podcast can be accessed here.

Pasture and Forage Minute: Spring Turn-Out to Pastures

The time for turn-out to our primary summer pastures is coming soon.  A couple of important questions are what date to turn-out, and which pastures should be first?

Where are your priorities and How does your operation stack-up to the competition (Benchmarking)?

Benchmarking a cow-calf operation by comparing it to other similar operations provides producers a tool to look at ways they can improve their businesses. This summary looks at 31 commercial beef cow-calf operations with 100 or more cows. The information comes from the 2019 FINBIN database maintained by the University of Minnesota for the states of Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Management Strategies for Minimizing Early Pregnancy Loss

As we approach the breeding season, cows and heifers are faced with a variety of stressors from the metabolic pressure of providing for a calf to changes in environment. Stress during early pregnancy is well documented to cause embryonic death and loss of pregnancy. However, making strategic management decisions during the fragile 2 months after breeding can help minimize those losses.

Feed, Ship or Sell – Three Options to Reduce Stocking Rates

Current drought conditions across many parts of Nebraska are prompting cattle producers to consider options for reducing stocking rates on rangeland and pasture as we look forward to this spring and summer. There are three main options to reduce stocking rates: supplement/substitute feed, ship cattle to non-drought areas and sell cattle.

The Role of Water Intake in Rumen Development of the Nursing Calf

Calving season is wrapping up for some producers, in full swing for others, and just getting started for others. While the focus is definitely on making sure milk intake, particularly colostrum, is adequate for the young calves; it is also time to be thinking about water intake.

Why Should You Become BQA Certified?

In a previous article, I left you with a quick overview of the history of the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program and the importance of the program today. In this article, I want to continue the discussion on BQA and discuss what exactly the BQA program has done to benefit the industry, and why it is important for producers to implement its guidelines on their operations.

Selecting an Optimum Breeding Season Length

Decisions in livestock production are never simple, but rather complex. Each decision or change in management results in multiple changes or outcomes downstream of the resulting change. One example of this would be changing breeding season length. The duration of breeding season is often discussed with two production goals in mind, 1) creating a consistent calf crop and 2) increasing pounds of weaned calf. Both of which can be done by having a shorter breeding season and then shortened calving period, which is a positive and beneficial goal and change.

Nebraska Range Short Course: June 21 - 24, 2021

The Nebraska Range Short Course is scheduled for June 21 to 24, 2021 on the campus of Chadron State College. The short course is sponsored by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Chadron State College, and the Nebraska Section of the Society for Range Management. It is designed to provide individuals who have a background in ranch, natural resource, or wildlife management an opportunity to increase their knowledge in many topics associated with the field of range management. 

Bull Management – It’s a Year-round Commitment

Just purchased a new bull? Keep in mind the longevity of a bull in the herd has a lot to do with the management and care he receives year-round. Learn more on maintaining body condition, nutritional needs, evaluating fertility, managing social dominance, providing proper female:bull ratios, caring for the bull in the “off season”, and more in this newly released NebGuide G2332 Breeding Bull Management, It's a Year-Round Commitment.

Will Record Cold Temperatures Bring Bigger Calf Birthweights?

The relationship between average daily air temperatures during the last trimester a cow is pregnant and calf birthweights has been documented in research done by the University of Nebraska from 1992-1998 (Climate Affects Calf Birth Weights and Calving Difficulty).

Managing Postpartum Anestrus in Beef Cows for a Successful Breeding Season

As calving season is kicking off for many producers, we need to start thinking about how to manage cows during the early postpartum phase for a successful breeding season. Due to calving distribution, one thing to worry about is late calving cows and how limited breeding season lengths can be challenging for them. Therefore, effective planning for reproductive health and limiting the impact of anestrus will ensure that cows are set up for the breeding season.

Nebraska Extension to Host Beefwatch Webinar Series on Drought Management

In March, the BeefWatch Webinar series will focus on planning for and managing during a drought. Each session will feature industry experts and plenty of opportunity to interact to get your questions answered. More information about the BeefWatch Webinar Series can be found on our webpage: https://beef.unl.edu/beefwatch-webinar-series

Each webinar is free and will begin at 8:00 PM Central Time.

New Extension Land Link Program Connects Land Seekers with Retiring Landowners

A new Nebraska Extension program will work to connect new and beginning farmers and ranchers with retiring landowners who are interested in transitioning their land to a new owner.

Nebraska Land Link is now accepting applications from interested land seekers and landowners, with the goal of providing land access using lease agreements, lease-to-own arrangements, buy-sell arrangements or other creative methods that are mutually beneficial for both parties.

Federal Livestock Insurance Market Performance and Use in Nebraska

This article was first published by The Nebraska Cattleman magazine.