When to Start Grazing: Don’t Rush It!

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Ag and Natural Resources, Morgan County

Pastures have been under extraordinary stress the past year. Now is not the time to stress them additionally with early and intense grazing!

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I put spring calving cows on stockpiled grass in early March to calve with the hope of not having to feed any more hay. Many years this works but not this year, grass is just starting to grow. The stockpile is about gone and I have started feeding them some more hay but hope to move the group with the fall calving cows this weekend. I then plan on starting a fast rotation around many of the paddocks and hay fields which is actually later than many years.

I suggest we don’t rush things this year as we have a couple issues going on. First, as I mentioned, growth is slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from Continue reading

Colostrum; Do I need a Replacer or Supplement?

Stan Smith, Fairfield County PA, OSU Extension

Most know that calves are not born with any immunoglobulins, which help provide protection from disease. Immunoglobulins are supplied by the cow via colostrum, or first milk, and calves only have a 24 hour window to ingest these molecules through the lining of their gut before that window closes.

Occasionally due to the death of the cow at birth, or perhaps other calamity, new born calves aren’t able to receive adequate colostrum from the cow. In this event, colostrum can be provided to the calf in a few different ways including through purchased colostrum replacers, or supplements. The question is often asked, “which is best, or even Continue reading

Posted in Health

Is Creep Feeding Beef Calves Profitable?

– Devin Broadhead And Matt Stockton, University Of Nebraska Extension

For creep feeding to be profitable, the costs of the added weight gain must be less than the value of that gain. (Wyatt Bechtel)

Successful beef calf producers continually search for ways to improve their operation and bottom-line. Creep feeding calves to increase their market weight is one strategy. To be profitable, the costs of the added weight gain must be less than the value of that gain. Many factors contribute to a calf’s weaning weight, i.e. nutrition, genetics, age at weaning, environmental conditions and so forth. A three-year study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory (GSL) using spring calving cows tested the effects of creep feeding on calf weaning weight and productivity. This report uses biological information in an economic analysis to determine profitability during the time of the study.

Conceptually, creep feeding provides increased nutrition to growing calves, which increases their weight at weaning. More pounds of calf to sell at weaning increases revenue, but does it increase profit? Past research has shown that supplementation (creep feeding) directly to growing calves significantly effects their Continue reading

Consider Economics of Spring vs. Fall Calving Season

– Jason Bradley, Agricultural Economics Consultant, Noble Foundation

Have you ever stopped and thought about the reasons why you manage your cattle herd the way you do? Can you justify your calving season?

You could calve in the spring and market calves in the fall. Or maybe you calve in the fall and market in the spring. Perhaps you have a continuous calving season throughout the year.

What to Consider When Choosing a Calving Season

I’m not going to try to convince you that you should be using one calving season over another.

There are endless things to consider when you are looking at how and when to market your yearling cattle, including Continue reading

How Might New Trucking Regulations Impact Cattle Prices?

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

I received a question recently concerning the impact of trucking regulations on cattle prices in Tennessee if livestock haulers have to begin using electronic logging devices (ELDs). For clarity, there is an 11-hour driving limit following ten consecutive hours off duty and a 14 hour on duty limit. These regulations did not change with the institution of ELDs.

If and when livestock haulers must begin using ELDs with the established service hours, this will increase the cost of shipping cattle from locations farther than an 11 hour drive from their final destination. It is reasonable to expect that Continue reading

Impacts of the Cold Wet Winter

-Stephen R. Koontz, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics – Colorado State University

The returning to normal of U.S. federal government reports and data sources are revealing the impact of the cold and wet winter on the fed cattle production. As pointed out in last week’s ITCM, cattle on feed inventories are very high: 11,678 thousand head in the seven major states. This is above last year’s 11,630 thousand head and average of the prior five years for February 1 of 10,781 thousand head. The inventory of long-fed cattle – cattle calculated to have been on feed over 120 days – is also substantial. This inventory is 3,993 thousand head, is well above last year’s 3,558 thousand head, and the average of the prior five years for February 1 of 3,500 thousand head. There are a lot of cattle to be marketed through the end of March and into April and May. Slaughter volumes reported in the weekly Livestock Slaughter report do not communicate that this is happening. Total cattle slaughter is up modestly. Within total cattle, cow slaughter is higher some weeks by 10 thousand head, fed heifer slaughter is up some weeks 10-20 thousand head, and the largest portion – that being fed steer slaughter – is even with the prior year or softer. April marketings will be an important indicator of the potential strength of the cattle markets through the summer. Weak marketings will suggest a backlog of animals.

The Livestock Slaughter reports are also revealing the Continue reading

It’s Time to Get Serious About Reproduction and Genetics

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in the Expo 2019 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

The first quarter of any calendar year is an important time for most commercial cow-calf producers. If it has not started already, calving season will begin soon. Shortly after the onset of calving season, decisions must be made in regards to breeding season. Management choices in the areas of reproduction and genetics made during this timeframe can certainly influence a cow-calf operation for years to come.

Regardless of whether you use a natural service sire or artificial insemination in your breeding program, there is little justification for a lengthy breeding season. A 60-day breeding season is an ideal goal to shoot for and I would recommend nothing longer than 90 days. If you are currently involved in a longer breeding season, there are valid economic and management reasons to make a change. It requires a little discipline, some rigid culling, and a willingness to use technology and other resources available.

Nearly every management decision associated with the cowherd is simplified with a shorter calving season. Herd health, nutritional, and reproductive management are Continue reading

Reproduction Benchmark Goals

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

The Tennessee Forage and Grassland Council meeting that was conducted in Jackson this week turned out to be a very informative meeting with good discussion. There were several questions asked with several related to reproduction. Many times, producers do not know if they are hitting the mark with pregnancy rates, calving rates and weaning rates because they only have their information in which to compare.

As a benchmark, cow-calf producers should be shooting for at least a 95 percent pregnancy rate, a 94 per-cent calving rate, and a 90 percent weaning rate. These reproduction benchmarks are a good mark to shoot for in the near term. After meeting these benchmarks, producers should be trying to exceed these points if it is not costing an exorbitant amount in dollars and labor. A few practices that will help achieve these benchmarks include a short defined calving sea-son, pregnancy evaluation shortly after the breeding season, and a strict culling regiment.

The Impact of Nutrition on Reproduction

During the Ohio Beef School webinar last month, Dr. Alvaro Garcia Guerra discussed the challenges of getting cows and heifers bred, regardless if by artificial insemination or natural service. In particular Dr. Guerra offered insight into the impacts of nutrition on heifer development and conception rates of heifers, as well as the impact nutrition has on days to return to estrus and conception rates of lactating females.

That presentation, The Impact of Nutrition on Reproduction, is embedded below:

What To Do When Calves Are Born Weak

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

“Weak Calf Syndrome” is a term applied to any calf born alive but is slow to stand and may or may not attempt to nurse. Calves born to dams that experience weight loss during the final 50-60 days of gestation are at high risk of being weak. An energy deficient diet fed to late gestation cows leads to prolonged labor, dystocia (difficult birth), poor quality and quantity of colostrum and decreased milk production. Many of the newborn calves presented to the UKVDL in recent weeks for necropsy have had no milk within the digestive tract. With excellent management, some weak calves will survive but most will die shortly after birth. If they survive, many experience sickness, decreased growth rates and lower weaning weights. The following is a summary of known factors involved in weak calf syndrome and how to best Continue reading