BeefWatch Archive

Beefwatch Archive

To read articles prior to September 2017, please visit the article archive on UNL Announce.

Systems Approach to Maintaining Health in High-Risk Calves

This is the first session of a four-part webinar series on calf health management on arrival. Dr. John Groves shares a systems approach to maintaining health in high-risk calves. Dr. Groves provides a virtual demonstration of how he works with clients on penning cattle to minimize health risk.

Windrow Grazing Annual Forages to Extend the Grazing Season

In many areas of 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.   

Limit Feeding Cows Corn as an Alternative to Hay

Feed costs make up the largest expense in a cow-calf operation. While hay is often used to feed cows through the winter, current prices make corn a competitive option to feeding hay. Considering corn has a higher energy content than hay, the cost of feeding hay is often higher than corn on a price per pound of energy basis. For example, corn priced at $3.30/bushel ($118/ton) equates to approximately $0.08 per pound of total digestible nutrients (TDN) while hay priced at $100/ton is nearly $0.11 per pound of TDN. 

Forage Testing Can Save Dollars

As cow-calf producers strive to reduce feed costs by finding different avenues to increase grazing days, many still have to use harvested forages in their year-round feeding program.  Sampling and testing forages for quality can make designing a feeding program easy and economical.  Nutrient concentration can vary considerably in feeds especially forages.  Protein in alfalfa hay can range from 10-25% on a dry matter basis and grass hay will contain between four and 18 percent protein.  Using book values to balance rations can result in many times over or under feeding ce

Keeping an Eye on Body Condition in Fall Calving Cows

With much of the eastern and western borders of Nebraska in a drought, producers with fall calving cows need to be especially mindful of body condition on fall calving cows. In Nebraska, most fall calving herds actually start calving sometime in August. This allows producers to take advantage of late summer grass as a forage resource with ample protein and energy for the newly lactating cow. However, the hot dry conditions this year have left many pastures not only short on dry matter tonnage, but also short on the nutrient density required to maintain the lactating cow.

Keep it Tight; Store Hay Right

Setting the Stage 

Even before storing, producers can give hay a better chance to make it from the field to the cow with as little loss as possible. Baling at correct moisture levels will lead to proper curing without additional heat, mold growth, and dry matter loss. Bales should maintain moisture levels below 20% for this to happen. 

Selecting Replacement Heifers Based on Birth Date and Age of Dam

Two research studies at the University of Nebraska by Dr. Rick Funston, beef reproductive physiologist at the West Central Research and Extension Center, suggest that the key information needed to identify heifers most likely to be successful as replacements is known the day the heifers are born.

Selecting and Developing Replacement Heifers

Fall is the time of year when many cow-calf producers make their replacement heifer selections and begin planning for the development of those heifers into bred females. The following are tips for selecting and developing replacement heifers.

Selection

The following are suggestions for replacement heifer selection from Dr. Jim Gosey, Beef Specialist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. The first thing Dr. Gosey suggests is removing heifers that are:

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. 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. Producers have options for pregnancy determination that vary in price and difficulty- transrectal palpation, transrectal ultrasound, and a blood test.

Don’t risk abortions this winter: Double check your cow herd vitamin A supplementation plans

Pasture mature and brown early due to drought?

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