Agricultural Publications: Livestock
A biosecurity plan can reduce losses from diseases
Infectious diseases cost cattle producers millions of dollars each year through decreased performance, treatment costs and death loss. While not all losses can be avoided, many can be prevented with a good biosecurity plan.
A Bunch of Bull
A common thread among cow-calf producers is that they need bulls. This may be the most critical decision made by cow/calf producers. How do you make this decision? I'll share with you some of the steps I use when making the bull purchase decision.
A Little Preparation Goes a Long Way in Buying the "Right" Bull
Purchasing the "right" bull can be simple - if you make a plan before the sale and stick to it once you're there.
Adding value to the calf crop
To many producers, adding value means implementing management practices to maximize the price received for their calves on sale day. Some practices simply avoid discounts: dehorning; castration; breeding-in adequate frame and muscling; and managing away from extremes of body condition at sale time.
Adding Value to the Calf Crop
Profitable beef cattle operations are characterized by management decisions that take advantage of opportunities in the marketplace. In the cow-calf segment of the beef industry, many proven practices exist that increase the value of the calf crop.
AI Calving Distribution
Most cattle producers know that the textbook gestation length of beef cattle is 283 days. Most also realize that biology is variable, and predicting the exact day of natural birth in most mammalian species is very difficult to do.
An Intensive, Forage-based Stocker Cattle Demonstration
Stocker cattle grazing is a major enterprise in the Noble Foundation's service area. However, the term "stocker" may be an over-generalization.
An Ounce of Prevention May Lead to More Pounds of Live Calves From Heifers
With the current price of replacement cattle, we must maximize the number of heifers that become productive cows. What part does nutrition play in the birth of healthy calves?
And Now ... The Top Ten Winter Stocker Management Tips
These hints can help stocker operators have a more productive winter.
Answer Key Questions Before Choosing a Water Pump System
Every water pumping option has good and bad attributes. It will depend on your goals and requirements as to which system is the best. Here are some questions to ask yourself before choosing a system.
Are Flies Bugging Your Cattle?
Flies will be abundant by the time this article hits your mailbox. I already have noticed a large number of flies on livestock. If you have not already started a fly control program for this year, you are probably already behind the curve.
Are You 'Chasing the Silver Bullet'?
"Chasing the silver bullet" is probably the most common mistake made by professional stocker producers.
Artificial Insemination Can Work for Commercial Producers
Artificial insemination is one of the most effective tools available to enhance the productivity and profitability of beef cattle production systems. Even though this tool has been commercially available for more than 65 years, it is still dramatically underused in today's beef herds.
Auction Barn Premiums and Discounts in Oklahoma
As input prices continue to rise for cow-calf producers, it is increasingly important to maximize revenue when marketing calves.
Become a Beef Advocate
Providing industry members with the tools to respond to these positions, the National Cattlemen's Beef Association has developed a free, self-directed educational program called the Master of Beef Advocacy to equip cattlemen and women to be the voice of the cattle industry.
Beef Quality Assurance improves consumer experience
Beef Quality Assurance was developed over 25 years ago to help producers increase the quality of beef they produce by educating ranchers and their employees on the importance of proper management and adhering to industry-accepted guidelines.
Beef Quality Assurance Programs Benefit Producers, Consumers
BQA is a program that is nationally sponsored by the National Cattleman's Beef Association (NCBA). The program's mission is "& to maximize consumer confidence in and acceptance of beef by focusing the industry's attention on beef quality assurance through the use of science, research and educational initiatives."
BEEF. What does this mean to you?
If we reflect back fifty or more years, what did the term beef mean to most of the consuming public? Since I wasn't born, it's hard for me to know; however, I think beef was thought of as the premium red meat.
Belated Bull Preparation
When spring-calving season is over or almost complete, then the next breeding season is already beginning or just around the corner.
Bred Heifer Mythology
Most cow-calf producers believe three myths associated with the development of heifers into cows. I will discuss them briefly in this article.
On some ranches, hay feeding is caused by the calving season, regardless of the stocking rate. This is because cows in late gestation and early lactation have nutrient requirements that often dramatically exceed the nutrient content of available forage.
Cattle Handling Facilities
Cattle handling facilities are necessary for proper animal husbandry. Low stress cattle handling practices combined with good facilities will allow you to process cattle safely and efficiently.
Cattle Identification: What Will the Future Hold?
There is probably not a question as to if the United States will have a national identification system, but more of a question of when and how a national identification system will be implemented.
Often, producers will let lice populations decline naturally as cattle shed their winter hair, but the major damage has already been done by then.
Cattle Management Practices for Difficult Times
I can't remember a time when the grass has been as green, the cows have been as fat, ponds have been as full, and producers have been as worried about their future and the future of agriculture as a whole. The really frustrating part about the predicament we find in mid-2008 is that so many of the contributing factors are beyond our control. Seemingly, the only silver lining is that calf prices have stabilized and are staying relatively strong.
Cattle Processing Information Form
This form is for cattle producers involved in beef quality assurance. Includes form fields for animal condition, serial numbers, injections received and other data.
Cattle sorting skills facilitate management
Sorting cattle is one of the real arts of animal husbandry. Sorting can be done for many reasons and by many methods.
Composite Breeds and Composite Crossbreeding
Though the idea behind composite breeding systems has been around for decades, only recently has the practice attracted interest within the beef industry. The reason for this interest is simple. Composite crossbreeding is a functional, low-management alternative to traditional crossbreeding techniques.
Controlling Cattle Parasites
As we manage the cow herd into the fall and through the winter, our primary focus should be on health and nutrition. These two areas of management determine reproductive performance, which is the number one factor that affects profitability.
Creep Feeding Before Weaning
Historically, feeder calf prices decline as weight increases. That relationship of price to weight still exists, but it has narrowed considerably due to the high price of corn and feedlot cost of gain. Feedlots and the market are telling us to make calves heavier at home before selling them as feeder calves.
Creep Grazing Accesses in Electric Fences
Most of our rotational grazings employ one wire, high powered, low impedance, electric fences. This report is on the various creep grazing accesses we have tried with these fences and management of the creep grazing technique.
Critical thinking requires discipline. You must learn to resist peer pressure and salesmanship, learn to ask questions and gather information, and develop relationships with people who can help you evaluate your options.
Culling Cattle in Times of Drought
Agricultural specialists with The Noble Foundation in Ardmore, OK offer some tips to help cattle producers make the best decisions concerning their livestock during times of drought.
Culling Without the Bells and Whistles
Culling is the process of removing cows that no longer have a place in an operation. What criteria should the rancher use in making culling decisions?
Decisions During a Drought
Mistakes are commonly made when producers face a drought, we've outlined some helpful hints.
Determining the Value of Weathered Hay
The drought of 2011 is set to go down in the record books as one of the most severe in history. Most livestock producers in the Southern Great Plains have not been able to put up enough hay to meet their requirements in a normal growing season, let alone during a drought when they will have to start feeding hay earlier in the year.
Develop Replacement Heifers
By now, most managers of spring-calving herds have selected their replacements. Ideally, about 50% more heifers should have been selected at weaning time than will be needed as replacements.
Developing Heifers - Keys to Success
Often times cow-calf producers have a difficult time incorporating replacement heifers into the cow herd with a high degree of success.
Developing Heifers Properly is Key to a Productive Cow Herd
Due to current high cattle prices, many producers have intentions of retaining and developing heifers from their spring calf crop. Before undertaking this endeavor, consult an economist, or pencil it out yourself to determine the economic feasibility of raising your own replacement heifers.
Dewormer Efficacy in Oklahoma Stocker Calves
Internal parasites cost U.S. cattle operations an estimated $200 million annually. While several chemicals and formulations are approved to control worms in cattle, there have been recent reports of declining efficacy of some dewormers.
Does selecting related cattle increase calf uniformity?
Increasing uniformity of the calf crop is important to cow-calf producers because more uniform lots may receive higher sale prices at market.
Drought in 2006 Leaves Challenges for 2007 Calving
Low body condition scores (BCS) brought on by the 2006 drought have left an ongoing challenge for cattle production. Low BCS may bring conception difficulties for spring-calving herds.
Drought-induced Cattle Poisoning
Cattle producers should be on watch for two types of poisoning during drought. The potential for nitrate and prussic acid poisoning of cattle is most often associated with dry periods; therefore, livestock owners should take precautions, including forage testing. Often the first indication of a problem is one or more dead animals.
Drought-Induced Poisonings are Dangerous to Livestock
Cattle producers should be on the watch for nitrate and prussic acid poisoning during drought conditions.
Early Weaning During Drought Makes Sense
The drought of 2011 is turning out to be one of the worst on record. Most Texas and Oklahoma producers are looking for things that they can do to save what little forage they have and to conserve the amount of hay and feed they will need until green-up next spring.
Early Weaning is an Option
Above-average temperatures and low soil moisture have once again forced us to think about some drought management practices. Early weaning is one way to reduce the nutritional requirements of your cow herd and ultimately improve reproductive efficiency.
EPD Basics: What They Are and How to Use Them
Expected progeny differences (EPDs) are one of the most useful tools cow-calf producers have at their disposal, but they must understand what they are and how to correctly use them.
Evaluate Winter Cow Management Following Drought
Many areas continue to face hardships due to the lack of precipitation. This fall brings hope for the end of drought conditions, but the U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook suggests the drought will persist or intensify in many areas of the Southern Great Plains.
Everyone Needs a View From the "Cheap Seats"
It is my contention that sometimes we need that broader perspective that only can be obtained by sitting in the "cheap" seats that are positioned a little farther away from the action.
Feed Efficiency and How It's Measured
A sustainable beef industry is a balanced equation with ranchers and farmers producing a wholesome product that meets consumer demands, ensures animal well-being, stewards agricultural resources and enables operational profitability.
Feeding, Culling Are Main Drought Considerations
When you live in Oklahoma or Texas, drought management should never be far from your mind.
Fence-Line Weaning: What's All the Hype?
Recently, the opportunity arose to conduct a demonstration comparing calves that were weaned across from their dams (fence-line) to those that were completely removed from their dams and drylotted during the weaning process (traditional).
Fences Should be More than a Mental Barrier
Everyone has heard the expression "good fences make good neighbors." This has never been truer than in today's world.
'First Things First' When Purchasing Stocker Calves this Fall
I want to stress the importance of calculating a breakeven because this practice is far too often overlooked. What this article does pertain to is a very important component of assessing margin, especially for stocker cattle producers.
Fly Control is a Must
Flies cost the livestock industry hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
Focus To Accomplish More
The Noble Foundation Agricultural Division assists agricultural producers and land stewards in attaining their financial, quality-of-life and stewardship goals. Although a goal may be easily defined, accomplishing it can be complicated.
Forage allowance determines stocking
Why is forage allowance important? Forage allowance is related to the more familiar variable - stocking rate.
From the Farm: April, 2001
Costs of treating sick cattle have always been a concern for producers. At the Noble Foundation Pasture Demonstration Farm, we have been using a relatively new implant device from Ballistic Technologies that can shoot an antibiotic bullet into cattle from fifty feet away.
From the Farm: June, 2001
Warm weather brings insects and the need to control them on the farm. We have come up with two portable cattle rubs that are effective.
From the Farm: March, 2002
Hot wire is a farm and ranch management tool that can be used to solve recurring problems such as water gaps or high travel areas.
From the Farm: October, 2001
Bulk feed purchases can help ranchers keep production costs down. This article examines three bulk feed delivery systems used on Noble Foundation farms.
Get Bull Management Problems Under Control
We often think about the bull as the means of introducing new genetics into a beef herd. However, management of the bull (or lack of it) after purchase is often the "Achilles Heel" of cattle production. Failure to pay attention to important management practices affecting the bull often results in reduced calving rates, increased calf mortality, and loss of uniformity and marketability.
Getting the Most From Your Heifers
Many livestock producers reduced cow numbers in 2006 because of the drought and were hesitant to restock early in 2007. The abundant rainfall last summer, however, cleansed memories and renewed optimism, and we began to add back numbers later in the year in the form of heifers.
Good Hay - A Good Deal This Winter
High feed prices have many cattlemen concerned about what to feed this winter. Many think that hay is overpriced and all supplements are too expensive to feed. If this is your situation, now is the time to develop a least-cost winter feeding program.
Google Drive provides producer record keeping, analysis
Records provide the knowledge necessary to make informed and objective decisions. This is why accurate, detailed and accessible records are such a vital part of any successful business, including agricultural production.
Graduate Student Program at the Noble Foundation
Graduate students are able to closely interact with both Noble Foundation personnel and producers working with our consultation teams. Their research is dedicated to addressing production, economic or quality-of-life issues that are vital to our mission.
Great Resources Available on the Web
The Internet is a tremendous source of information about nearly anything – this is a review of some of the Foundation's, and others', best sites.
Guidelines for Culling Cows
For most cattle producers, culling cows is not an easy task. However, some culling needs to be done each year to maintain optimal productivity.
Have You Learned the Lessons of the 2006 Drought?
The bottom line in this and every drought is to protect the forage resource and maintain the productivity of the cow herd. We can never cheat the basics. Many costly lessons are being learned during this drought.
Hay Feeder Design Can Reduce Hay Waste and Cost
The cost of hay doubled between the spring and late summer. With these increased prices, have you considered the cost of the hay wasted due to the type of hay feeder you use?
Hay Quality After Rainfall
Haying has been a real challenge with the frequent rains we've experienced. The consensus among the Agricultural Division's consulting teams is that most of the hay put up so far this summer has had at least one rain fall on it before baling.
Hay! How Can You Save Money?
Hay costs can be a significant expense in cow-calf operations. Management practices can help you maximize your hay dollar.
Herd Health: More Than a Vaccination Program
A herd-wide health program for all classes of animals is essential for at least two reasons: first, only healthy animals can perform at their genetic potential; second, every producer is responsible for doing his or her part in generating a safe, wholesome, quality commodity for the eventual consumer.
Heterosis... Hype or Legit?
Now, it seems every publication you read or every expert you hear is talking about heterosis. So, you ask, "What's this fancy word 'heterosis,' and can I capitalize on it in my herd?" Well, simply put, heterosis is hybrid vigor.
Hierarchy of Nutrient Use by Beef Cattle
Each class of beef cattle has defined nutritional needs and uses the total nutrients consumed each day in a certain order of priority.
How Big is a Scoop?
Because "scoop" is a relatively ambiguous term, it is critical to know how big your scoop is when feeding horses.
How Does Your Herd Measure Up?
Evaluating a cowherd's performance calls for more than weaning weight numbers - this article can help producers tally other numbers to keep in mind and also gives national averages to compare against.
How Many Open Cows Will You Feed This Winter?
With the end of the spring breeding season coming to a close, it's time to start planning the next step for the cows in your herd - pregnancy evaluation. Pregnancy evaluation in cattle is an important and valuable management tool. Checking the pregnancy status of your cow herd allows you to make timely culling decisions and focus your resources on the sound, reliable breeders in the herd.
How Will Cold Fronts Affect Your Cowherd's Energy Requirements?
In winter, keeping warm is the largest part of a cow's maintenance requirement, and her energy needs in the face of a cold weather event depend on wind chill and if the front is wet or dry.
Implants and Implant Strategies
Research has repeatedly proven the benefits of implanting cattle. Generally, a low-potency implant administered to suckling calves at first working (about four months of age) will increase weaning weights by 7.5-10 percent.
Implants for Wheat Pasture Stockers
The Noble Foundation conducted a study to evaluate various implants for use in stockers grazing wheat and rye pastures. Implants are comprised of hormones compressed into pellets that are placed under the skin of the animal's ear to stimulate additional weight gain and efficiency.
Improving Fertility of the Cow Herd
Improving reproductive efficiency is not an easy task, but I cannot imagine any other area where financial rewards are greater. There is an old saying that goes something like, "A dead calf has a very poor growth rate." I think that we can extend this concept to an "un"-conceived or unborn calf.
In the Grip of Drought, Producers Turn to By-Product Feeds
Lack of rain has caused cattle producers to scramble for any means possible just to hold on to their cattle. If we are trying to stay positive, then one good thing that has come out of all this is we have had to stretch conventional thought paradigms and incorporate some pretty unorthodox thinking. An example of this revolves around supplementing alternative feedstuffs to mature cows.
Information Key in Designing Supplemental Feeding Program
Lack of forage (quantity and quality) is the cause of many cattle being in less-than-desirable body condition going into the winter - the next few months are going to be critical, regardless of whether your cows calve in the fall or spring, due to bull turn-out and calving season rapidly approaching.
Integrity Beef: A Model for Cow-calf Producers
Integrity Beef is a terminal beef cattle program. It assists producers in the production and marketing of ranch-raised stocker/feeder cattle that are preconditioned and have superior growth potential.
Interesting Times for Cattle Economics
There is an old Chinese curse that says, "May you live in interesting times." The current era in the livestock industry is about as interesting as most of us can stand. I believe we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. The cattle industry of tomorrow will almost certainly look different than it has in recent years.
Internal Cattle Parasites in 2012
Traditional internal parasite control in cow herds has often been in conjunction with other trips through the chute, such as first calf-working in the early summer and at weaning in the fall. In recent years, however, producers have trended away from the routine of convenient deworming in favor of a more deliberate, strategic approach.
Introduction of the eCattleLog
The popular CattleLog publication has gone online.
Invest Time in Buying Good Hay
There are many advantages to buying hay, but one of the drawbacks is finding hay that meets your expectations of quality - here are a few hints to assure that the hay you buy is a good value.
Is It Time to 'Ramp Up' Your Cattle Management?
These recommendations help commercial cow-calf producers make better decisions internally and produce a more consistent, desirable product.
It's Time to Consider Winter Feeding Strategies
The National Drought Monitor Web site indicates the area is in either extreme or exceptional drought. As if not having adequate good-quality water for cow herds isn't bad enough, there is little to no available standing forage going into winter at a time of record-high hay prices.
It's Time to Develop a Hay Feeding Strategy
Nutrition, namely hay and concentrate feed, accounts for about 40 percent of operating costs in a cow-calf production system. This fact causes some producers to try to cut cost of production by cutting corners in the area of the nutrition program. It doesn't take long to figure out you don't want to skimp on nutrition; however, you can be more efficient if you put together a strategy for feeding hay this winter.
Knowledge Is Key
Beef cooperatives and alliances have the power to make the producer a knowledge-based price negotiator in the market.
Learn Livestock's 'Hierarchy of Nutrient Use'
We get a lot of calls this time of year about winter cow nutrition and body condition. Cow body condition is a relative term used to describe the level of fatness or fleshiness. Some of the pieces of the puzzle vary with the class, but the basics don't vary and the mystery is not very deep.
Tips for the successful use of liquid supplements.
Livestock Industry's Biosecurity is Everyone's Responsibility
The livestock industry's biosecurity is not the sole responsibility of the federal and state governments - all entities related to animal agriculture must be educated on disease prevention, identification, treatment and containment.
Livestock Water Guidelines
Water is one of the most important nutrients for livestock.
Low-input Heifer Development
The traditional recommendation for developing replacement heifers is to feed them to achieve 65 percent of their mature weight by the beginning of the breeding season.
A common misconception is that "low-stress" must mean "no pressure." That is absolutely false. Cattle, like all other animals, respond to appropriate application and release of pressure.
Make the Upcoming National ID System Work for You
Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that a national animal identification system is coming in the near future. There are several issues to think about related to a national ID system.
Making More With Fewer Cows
Cattle producers in the Southern Great Plains had to reduce cow numbers in 2011 due to the most severe drought in decades. Replacement cow prices are at an all-time high in 2012, and most pastures are still in poor condition, making it difficult for many producers to restock to former levels.
Management "Tune-Up" Tips
Fall is the time of year that we see a lot of activity when it comes to cattle movements and management. Calves are weaned and/or sold, but they usually find a new home that doesn't include "Momma." Perhaps it is prudent to review some management factors related to this change.
Shrink is most often measured from the time an animal leaves its origin until the animal is weighed at its destination and is usually the result of time off feed and water and the stress of handling and hauling. Temperature extremes, weather changes, changing environment, feed changes, and even the animal's disposition effect shrink.
Stress comes in many forms including weather (rain, snow and wind), weaning, processing and shipment. Though some stress may be necessary for the production and marketing of cattle, there are steps that can be taken to reduce the impact on the animal.
Managing Your Marketing Decisions
With weaning time fast approaching, the question becomes how to maximize income from the calves you have produced. Consider adding value to calves through pre- and postweaning management, as well as possible marketing alternatives.
Manure scoring determines supplementation needs
By October, winter is just a few pages away on the calendar. With the change in season and forages entering dormancy comes the need to pay closer attention to your supplementation strategy to ensure cows do not lose body condition.
Milk...It's What's for Dinner
A calf will always prefer its mother's milk first and will consume all she produces each day. Creep feeding won't help the cow, but it still can be an option for some producers.
Mind Your Own Business
Cow-calf production is a business. Continued success depends on sound business decisions based on accurate and appropriate information.
Mineral Supplementation Can Affect Beef Cattle Performance
The value of mineral supplementation is either discounted or overlooked by many beef cattle producers. Mineral supplements make up a small part of the total diet, but can play a big role in the overall performance of beef cattle.
Minimize Calving Difficulty by Knowing What to Look For
Anyone who's been through even one calving season has most likely dealt with calving difficulty.
Monitor and Manage Heat Stress
Heat stress can greatly impact cattle producers through decreased milk production and subsequent calf growth, decreased reproductive performance in cows and bulls, and decreased stocker and feeder performance. It has been estimated that heat-related events in the Midwest have cost the cattle industry over $75 million in the past 10 years.
Mother of the Year
Consider using some form of a crossbred cow in your operation. No single breed excels in all aspects of beef production.
NAIS Premises IDs Now Available
The livestock industry has been and is still moving toward the National Animal Identification System, or NAIS - here is an update on the current status.
National Animal Identification System Will Be Voluntary
If you are a beef producer or have ties to the beef industry, I bet you can remember where you were when bovine spongiform encephalopathy officially was discovered in the United States. The exact date was Dec. 23, 2003.
NBQA Goals Hit Close to Home
Significant progress has been made since the first National Beef Quality Audits, but a review of the 12 current NBQA goals shows that the industry can do more.
Necropsy is a Valuable Tool in Disease Management
When an animal dies, the most useful and inclusive diagnostic tool available to livestock producers is the necropsy - a post-mortem examination performed by an experienced veterinarian.
Needle management contributes to beef quality
How many times do you reuse needles when doctoring calves? Properly managing needle use is a key component of ensuring that the beef we produce is safe and wholesome.
New animal identification rules aid disease traceability
The USDA has initiated the Animal Disease Traceability Program to track interstate livestock movement. The new rule replaces the previous unpopular version of the National Animal Identification System and pertains to all livestock, including cattle, horses, sheep and goats.
By now, we are all very aware of the effect of drought on available forage and hay in the southwest. There are other hidden effects that may not be felt until next winter. One of these is increased risk of nitrate poisoning.
Noble Foundation Is Investing in the Future
Noble Foundation internships are providing career-enhancing opportunities for students and valuable information for agricultural producers.
Nutritional Management: A Tale of Two Seasons
Advantages of a controlled calving season include more uniform nutrition for the cow herd and less need for supplementation.
Oklahoma Gold: Benefits and Costs
When I was attending the TCU Ranch Management Program in the 1970s, Mr. John Merrill referred to basic facts or truths about production biology as "hitching posts" because they don't change.
Oklahoma Green Gold
Oklahoma State University researchers have developed Oklahoma Green Gold - a new supplementation strategy for stockers on cool-season annual pasture.
Online calculators help make management decisions
Noble Foundation consultants have developed a series of online decision support calculators to help farmers and ranchers. The latest allows producers to determine the feasibility of purchasing an overhead feed bin and truck-mounted feeder.
Opportunity from Adversity
Hard times are a regular part of agriculture: drought, market lows, ever-increasing input costs, etc. Those who survive periods of extreme adversity adapt and emerge more knowledgeable, progressive, and committed.
Optimize Nutrition with Forage Reserves, Supplementation
Most climatologists say that 2007 is a wet year during an extended drought. Let's hope they're wrong, but what if they're not? How do we fully capitalize on our good fortune this year? One way is to optimally utilize forage reserves with a complementary supplemental feeding program.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 90 percent of all beef herds have fewer than 100 cows.
Performance of Bull Versus Steer Feeder Calves
When selling feeder calves, it is understood that bull calves will often receive a discount over steer calves. Buyers justify this discount by claiming that post-arrival castration of bull calves will result in decreased average daily gains due to increased stress, disease susceptibility and days on feed.
Plan Replacement Female Purchases
For many different reasons, producers often purchase rather than raise their replacement females.
Plan Your Breeding Season to Achieve Greater Profitability
Everything we do throughout the year has an impact on a ranch's overall profitability. One thing that directly impacts the bottom line is the time of year that your calves are born. An annual plan should be in place well before bull turnout time.
Planning for winter feeding becomes complicated in 2013
Many producers haven't restocked to pre-drought cow numbers, and the welcomed rains have resulted in excess forage. When frost arrives this fall, there will be abundant standing forage in many areas, but the quality will be more extreme than we typically encounter.
Planning Your Winter Feeding Program for Profitability
How would you like to save $15 per cow on your winter feeding bill? What if I told you it could easily be done by making one timely change in what you are feeding your cows grazing on native grass pasture?
Pond Water Quality Survey
The amount of water animals consume is affected by many physiological and environmental factors, one of which is the quality of available water.
Postseason Breeding Bull Management
Most ranchers in Texas and Oklahoma will have already turned their bulls out to the cow herd for the breeding season or will be preparing to do so. With this in mind, we should be looking ahead to managing the bulls once the breeding season is over.
Preparing for Animal Emergencies
Assembling a good first aid kit in advance of a situation can be the difference between a minor or major emergency. It really doesn't matter if you are designing a kit for horses or cattle - the basics are still the same.
Preparing Livestock for Winter
We have a tendency to balance winter rations for cows in two phases: non-lactating, in the middle third of pregnancy (dry); and then post-calving, in peak lactation (wet). Using nutritional requirements for the average weight of the cow herd, it's simple to come up with two feeding regimes; one for before calving and one for after calving.
Prevention Should be Primary Focus with Calf Scours
Calf scours is one of the most frustrating experiences in a cow calf operation.
Prioritize This Spring
Reproduction is the most important concept that profit-driven producers should keep in mind when designing herd health and nutrition programs.
Producer's perspective: Is it time to restock?
Spring rains have resulted in green pastures for many and the question on everyone's mind - is it time to restock? This decision is difficult and unique to each operation. Cattlemen from Oklahoma and Texas share their thoughts on this topic.
Producer's Perspective: Winter Supplementation
During winters in Texas and Oklahoma, grass quality decreases to the point that most cattle producers have to provide supplemental feed for their cattle.
Rain Effects on Hay
Weather has created challenges for hay production in both 2006 and 2007. Last year, in 2006, little hay was put up on the southern plains because of drought. The first half of this year brought abundant rainfall, with June being one of the wettest months on record in many parts of Oklahoma and Texas, but these wet conditions create new challenges that we should be aware of as either producers or consumers of hay.
Ranchers Can Manage Calving Seasons
When cows have calves has a tremendous influence on the profitability of a cattle operation.
Rapid Receiving and Pasturing of Stocker Cattle: Stress Control and Veterinary Practices
Seven years of research with the primary emphasis on buying, receiving, and early pasturing of stockers for a month.
Replacement cow traits affect producer success
Many producers who reduced cow numbers in the recent drought years are considering adding females to their herds again. At current replacement female prices, we have to do everything possible to enable the cows to cover their initial cost over time and to set them up for success.
Replacement Heifer Management
An effective replacement heifer development program requires more time, labor, and resources than does the mature cow herd. However, if managed efficiently, heifer development can be profitable.
Replacements Key to 'Smart' Restocking
Since ranchers are traditionally optimistic, we now are thinking about restocking before the next growing season. Buying replacements that maintain or increase herd uniformity should be a primary focus of this effort.
Residual Feed Intake and Profitability
Most cattlemen have felt the impact of rising input costs over recent years. Although prices moderated or fell at the end of 2008, perhaps one of the most noticeable increases last year was feed prices.
Now, it looks like an early spring, and right or wrong, many producers are beginning to think about rebuilding their cowherds. If you are one, it's none too early. There are many things to consider.
Rethinking Nitrate and Prussic Acid "Quick" Tests
Nitrate and prussic acid quick tests are not meant to be quantitative. At best, a quick test only indicates whether or not potentially dangerous levels of accumulation might exist in a sample.
Review Pasture, Corral Handling Basics
Keep these tips in mind when handling cattle in the pasture and corrals.
Sale Barn Surveys Show Trends in Premiums, Discounts
Three sale barn surveys conducted by the Extension service in Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas have attempted to determine the premiums and discounts received by feeder calves with various characteristics - and while the absolute numbers vary somewhat, trends are evident.
Selected Oklahoma Livestock Auctions
A directory is designed to help farmers and ranchers find a livestock auction that meets their needs.
Selecting the "Right" Bull
Selecting the "right" bull can potentially contribute more to the genetic improvement and profitability of a cow-calf operation than any other management practice.
Shrink Can be Managed
Many factors are involved in weight loss, or "shrink," of cattle during the marketing process. Shrink is the difference between the animal's body weight prior to sale handling and the actual sale weight.
Simmer Down Your Cow Herd
A trait exhibited by a cow herd or individuals within a herd that saves time and money is referred to as a "convenience trait." Examples are polledness, parasite resistance, heat tolerance and calving ease.
Simple steps add value to calves
Pick up any livestock-related publication these days and you'll probably find an article on adding value to your calf crop.
Small producers should manage bulls during breeding
By the beginning of April, most cow-calf producers in the Southern Great Plains are a few weeks away from the start of the breeding season and are wrapping up routine preparation of bulls before turn-out.
Some Thoughts on Selecting the Cow Herd
When making selection decisions in the cow herd, producers should not forget the simple concept of relative economic value. Reproductive traits are considered ten times more important than product traits and five times more important than production traits.
Source and Age Verification Can Add Value to Calves
Participation in a USDA-approved QSA or PVP is strictly voluntary, but it does provide the opportunity to add value to your calves - producers should review the available programs? procedures/guidelines and determine which program is best for them.
Spring Calving Cows Nutritional Needs
A spring calving cow experiences two periods of increased nutritional need which are significant and must be accommodated or her performance for the rest of the year can be negatively affected. One of these periods, of course, is at calving.
Spring Clean Your Breeding Program
Spring is in the air, and hopefully green-up on native and introduced pasture is occurring and your winter forage is adequate until summer pastures are ready to graze. However, there are a few spring-cleaning issues that you may want to consider for your livestock operation.
Stacking technologies increases stocker profitability
Implants and ionophores are both proven technologies for stocker cattle production. However, some producers have asked what happens when these technologies are "stacked" together. Do these technologies retain their full efficacy when they are used simultaneously?
Start at the Beginning ... Conception
Regardless of how well you manage the herd during calving, suckling phase, weaning process, or beyond, conception rate is the primary factor in a successful cow/calf enterprise.
Summer is here! I don't think that's news to anyone but perhaps we need a reminder about some things that go along with summer.
Supplement Conversion Ratio
Most cattle producers are familiar with the term "feed conversion." It is simply the amount of feed an animal consumes as compared to the amount of body weight gained, expressed as a ratio.
Supplemental Fat May Help Cows Rebreed
Adding fat to the diet of a cow before calving and/or before breeding can have some substantial benefits.
Supplemental Feeding is simply supplying nutrients that are lacking in an animal's primary diet.
Supplementing and Stretching Forage Resources
During periods of limited forage supplies, managing these resources to best meet animal requirements is one of the most important things a cow-calf producer can do. It is critical that producers evaluate the best way to supplement and stretch their forage resources to remain viable in this industry.
Surviving Drought-High Feed Costs and Low Cattle Prices
The basic management principles that enable us to survive bad times are the same as those that enable us to thrive in the good times.
Switchgrass as a Dual-Purpose Grazing and Bioenergy Crop
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 set U.S. renewable fuel standards requiring the production of 16 billion gallons of ethanol from cellulosic biomass feedstocks by 2022. Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum L.), a native warm-season perennial grass, was evaluated by research funded through the United States Department of Energy as a primary cellulosic feedstock to achieve this goal. Switchgrass was identified because of its high biomass potential, perennial life-form and adaptability to marginal soils (McLaughlin and Kszos, 2005).
Take Care of Your Heifers and They Will Take Care of You
About the end of every year, beef producers have sold the last calf crop and have a few weeks or months of relative calm before calving season starts. It is easy to become complacent about the cow herd and the replacement heifers, but if you don't take care of them now, they will not be able to take care of you in the future.
Take Steps to Solve Bull Management Problems
A bull is kept around for one thing - to sire calves. But for many producers, bulls also cause problems.
Texas' New Cattle TB Status Affects Regulations
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS) recently changed Texas' status concerning cattle tuberculosis. People who own cattle in Texas or routinely purchase or sell cattle in Texas need to be aware of the current information on the changes.
The Advantages of Crossbreeding
Selecting replacement females is challenging, especially when you consider that decisions made now will impact your operation for many years. As commercial cow-calf producers evaluate the opportunity to expand, it is important to review the value of crossbreeding.
The Advantages of Crossbreeding: Producing Replacement Females
The cost of replacement females for a cow-calf operation is significant. Selecting replacement females is challenging, especially when considering that decisions made now will impact an operation for many years.
The Concept of Entropy
I first heard about entropy in a freshman chemistry class. The professor explained how all things tend to move toward disorder unless energy is exerted to re-establish order. At the time, I thought this concept was interesting but of no real practical value. I have since come to realize that I was very wrong.
The Importance of Monitoring Livestock Water Quality
Rains in early 2008 have resulted in green pastures and full ponds for many cattle producers. This could ease your worries about water supplies for the summer, but will you have enough good quality water to get through the year?
The Importance of the Breeding Soundness Exam
Cattle producers should seriously consider getting a breeding soundness exam. Before you jump to conclusions, let me explain!
The New U.S. Beef Consumer
Beef producers are aware of the increase in beef demand last year. U.S. consumers have changed significantly in the past decade, and beef is playing an increasingly important role in their meal selections.
The Noble Foundation Retained Ownership Program
The program was initiated in November as a pilot project to evaluate the feasibility of a multi-owner system. The program was designed to include both wheat pasture and feedlot phases.
The Noble Line Cattle Breeding Project 1999 Report
Outlines an aggressive breeding program to help producers, emphasizing the benefits of crossbreeding to maintain single uniform breed type.
The Spring Breeding Season is Fast Approaching
Bulls should be evaluated for breeding soundness at least 30 days before the breeding season. This will give you time to buy a replacement(s) if you have a bull(s) of questionable breeding ability.
The Value of Carcass Traits
What is the value of carcass traits when purchasing a bull? The answer is difficult to quantify because of all the factors involved, and it is different for every producer.
The Year 2000
Cow numbers peaked or were near their peak in 1975. Since that time, they have had an average annual decline of about 1 percent and a total decline of about 26 percent, but beef production (pounds on the market) has remained about the same. How has this happened?
There's Power in Information - Use it to Your Advantage
There is a difference between keeping information and using information. I have witnessed very few producers actually using the information they have kept to make management decisions.
These Cow Feeding Tips Could Help Save Money
Feeding tips to reduce labor, reduce feed costs or increase cow response to supplemental feeding.
Thin is not "In"
If your females have too much body condition to make up before the breeding season, there are some practices you may want to consider.
This is Why They Call it a Season!
Webster's dictionary defines season as "a period of the year characterized by or associated with a particular activity or phenomenon." Note that the definition says "period of the year," not all year.
Thoughts for the Spring Breeding Season
Some advantages of using a controlled breeding season.
Times and People Change: A New Approach to Herd Selection
In my early years, I tried to put new cooperators' commercial cow/calf enterprises on a long-term program of genetic improvement. That's how I was trained. Such a plan usually includes identifying current animal performance levels, defining desired genetic goals, and changing management to achieve those goals. It requires measuring appropriate performance traits in the herd to determine which need to be changed and which do not. Only then can the correct replacement heifers and bulls be selected to move the herd toward its genetic optimum.
Tips for Stockers and Replacements Heifer Development
Around the middle of July forage quality generally declines. When this happens, the performance of stocker cattle and/or developing heifers grazing those forages will also decline.
Tips to Protect Your Cattle and Property
Cattle rustling can conjure up different thoughts depending on who you are. Some imagine a scene from an old western where bandana-wearing cowboys gather up a herd of cows and drive them to a distant and secret location. Unfortunately, cattle rustling is still a serious issue.
Top 10 Things You Can Do to Make Calving Season Easier
For cattlemen, spring means calving season is approaching. For some, this time of the year is just another day at the office, because they have taken the necessary steps to ensure as few problems as possible. For others, this article might help reduce some potential problems.
Trade Show Highlights New Electronic Identification (EID) Developments
The National Cattleman's Beef Association convention offers what may be the premier trade show associated with the cattle industry. One of the things that really caught my attention was the number of companies offering various means of cattle identification and information management.
Trichomoniasis: A New Look at an Old Disease
One of the diseases you don't want your bull to get, let alone to bring home to your cows, is Trichomoniasis.
Understanding and Interpreting Noble Foundation Forage Tests
Information on interpreting the results of Noble Foundation forage tests and applying them on your operation.
Update: Ag Division Livestock Research and Demonstration Projects
I want to take this opportunity to provide a brief update on some of the research and demonstration projects that are ongoing in the Agricultural Division – there are currently 55 projects underway.
Using a Whole Corn-Based Diet to Maintain Cows
Before initiating a corn-based feeding program carefully consider management requirements. Some of major concerns are discussed in this article.
Using Goats for Vegetation Management
Many cattle producers spend a large amount of money each year to control undesired plants. Enter goats.
Using the e-CattleLog
The Noble Foundation's free listing service for cattle and cattle-related services has a new look and a new category hay for sale.
There is much more to achieving a protective immune response from a vaccine administration than just poking a needle in a calf.
Watch Your Bulls During the Breeding Season
Bulls need to be managed all year, but especially during the breeding season. Don't turn them out and forget them.
Water Availability and Distribution for Livestock
A water deficiency reduces animal performance, such as milk production, more quickly and severely than feed or mineral deficiency. Both quantity and quality of water are important.
Water is the Most Important Nutrient
Nutritionists and producers alike often take for granted the most important nutrient, the one required in the greatest amount by any class of livestock - water.
Water Points in Rotational Stocking
The intent of this article is to discuss various management considerations of water points for beef cattle in a multi-paddock rotational stocking unit.
Water Quality for Livestock
A safe water supply is essential for healthy livestock and poultry. Contaminated water can affect growth, reproduction, and productivity of animals as well as safety of animal products for human consumption.
What Should You Feed Your Cows This Winter?
For a few obvious (and some not so obvious) reasons, this same question gets asked frequently. As with most questions involving agriculture, the answer is "it depends" - and it primarily depends upon the following key areas: Product Specifics, Availability and Price.
What We are Learning from the Retained Ownership Program
If market pressures remain the same, our information suggests that it is much more beneficial for producers to strive to improve growth rate than carcass measurements.
What's a Good Bull Really Worth?
Because 80 percent of herd improvement is directly attributable to bull selection, determining what you can pay for a bull depends on more than finding the lowest price.
When Considering A.I., Be Prepared
These tips will help you be better prepared in the future if you elect to use A.I. in your cattle operation.
When does Making Hay become Feeding Hay?
Sometimes the mindsets behind making and feeding hay are as different as night and day - so before making and feeding hay can be considered synonymous, factors like nutritive value and storage have to be kept in mind by buyers and sellers.
When It's Hot It's Hot and When It's Not, It's Still Hot!
Heat is generated inside cattle as energy and is released during digestion due to "burning" at the cellular level through exertion and normal bodily functions.
When Opportunity Knocks, What Will You Do?
Producers should consider taking advantage of the opportunity to buy and develop a younger bull instead of paying top dollar for a two-year-old.
Where Is The Beef?
Common concerns of many involved in the "Beef Industry" are "What is our current status?" and "Where are we going?" I am not sure that anyone can address these concerns fully; however, we should gain insight into them by exploring who cattle producers are and who is guiding the industry.
Who is Dating Your Cows?
As we head towards spring, we are thinking about bulls. Purchasing a bull for your herd is just like hiring a new employee. Ever wondered about the bull you've hired?
Why Are We Supplementing our Livestock?
Livestock producers spend a great deal of money putting up hay and buying feeds to see their stock through the winter. What if we didn't have to haul hay and feed all winter? There are cost saving incentives built into managing on a year-round basis.
Why Test for Cattle Persistently Infected With Bovine Viral Diarrhea Virus?
By now, most cattle producers have at least heard the "buzz words" PI and BVDV. If you've picked up just about any trade publication, been to an industry meeting or talked to a Noble Foundation livestock specialist, you've probably seen or heard the terms before - persistently infected (PI) bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV). Yet, there are still some who have not received, or don't fully comprehend, the message.
Windbreaks reduce cattle energy demands
Cattle will naturally seek windbreaks in the winter. In cold weather, cattle require additional energy to maintain body temperature, and wind chill further increases energy demands.
One thing we should remember during this difficult time in the cattle production cycle - nutritional needs of cattle have not changed even though the economic picture has. We should not expect cattle to "get by" on less because we have less money!
Winter Pasture Utilization As A Protein Supplement
Winter pasture can be used as a protein supplement for wintering beef cows when proper grazing management is used. A cow will consume up to ten times her protein requirement when allowed to graze full time.
You Cannot Starve a Profit Into a Cow
Most producers are trying to survive the winter by stretching forage and feed resources. This can be accomplished with careful thought and consultation with a nutritionist to ensure that each cow's nutrient requirements are still being met for the stage of production it is in. If corners are cut to save money now, it can have long lasting repercussions.
You Get What You Pay For
Things to keep in mind if you are considering the use of by-product feeds.