BeefWatch Archive

Beefwatch Archive

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

Strategic Culling for Cowherds to Cope with Drought or High Feed Costs

The US drought monitor is indicating that drought conditions for central states, including Nebraska, remain in 2022.  Seasonal outlook for the remainder of summer in Nebraska and western states is characterized as drought tendent.  Persistent drought pressured forage and grain prices and deteriorated pasture conditions.  Concurrently, the January US beef cow inventory declined from a peak in 2017 of 31.2 million cows to 30.1 million cows in January of this year.  Implications of lower beef cow inventory on supply of feeder calves are already evident in the marketplace: f

Without Trust, How Does a Family Function?

Many of us that work with farm families hear stories like this: the son is home from college to start his career on the farm. He visits with his parents on a change during action or management. The son identifies a field to be converted to “no-till,” and while he goes into town for parts, his father starts disking the field. In cases like this, the son will feel like he has not been trusted to make decisions. Lack of trust among family members can be a huge issue for any family moving forward, especially if they are working on farm/ranch succession plans.

Managing Early Weaned Calves

The current map from the U.S. drought monitor (Current Map | U.S. Drought Monitor ( has all but a small corner of Nebraska listed as abnormally dry to extreme drought. This ongoing drought has been affecting parts of the state since 2020, forcing beef cattle producers to make drought related management decisions. One of the options often proposed to help reduce pressure on drought stricken pastures is early weaning.

Manure Application Following Silage

With silage harvest coming up quickly, manure application will soon follow. Because silage is often the first crop to come off the field, it allows for earlier manure application and thus an earlier cleanout of pens before winter. As that manure application plan develops, include best stewardship practices for optimum rates and preferred application methods in final decisions. But, wait, what do those things mean?

Flexible Leases, Price Risk Management Can Offer Relief Amid Poor, Expensive Pasture Conditions

May marked the beginning that pasture and range conditions are released by USDA-AMS in their weekly crop progress reports by state. This gives the industry its first barometer of how bad the drought could be this year across the United States to the overall industry and to specific geographic areas. The USDA-AMS reports pasture and range conditions in five categories: very poor, poor, fair, good, and excellent.

When Drought-stressed Pastures Look Dormant in July

As the drought that has plagued the western U.S. since 2020 hangs on, much of Nebraska is currently experiencing moderate to severe drought. July tends to be a busy time for production cows, resulting in high nutrient demands, which further exacerbates the limitations of drought-stricken grass.

Drought-stressed Corn: A Feed Opportunity

Many areas of Nebraska and surrounding states are experiencing drought and lack of water for irrigation. What are the alternatives and considerations when grain harvest won’t be a viable option?

When harvesting drought-stressed corn to feed, consider: 

What to Expect from Alternatives to Corn Silage

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

Adequate Nutrition for Breeding Season Success

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