Adapting to New Challenges in the Beef Cattle Business

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Is now the time to look at upgrading facilities?

In the ever-changing world of beef cattle production, recent years have brought new challenges for us as producers. While we’ve seen record-high prices, the rising costs of inputs have also become a significant concern. Every spring, I typically become optimistic with the anticipation of a successful calving season, pastures greening up, and the beginning of a new growing season.

While traditional concerns such as grazing management, nutrition, and reproduction remain important, it’s crucial to acknowledge and address emerging challenges. Pest control and disease outbreaks pose continuous threats to herd health and productivity. Flies have long been a nuisance, and the emergence of new tick species only adds to our concerns. Additionally, reports of avian bird flu have caught our attention, prompting us to remain informed and follow scientific information closely.

As beef producers, we’ve always had to adapt to the ever-changing conditions nature throws our way. Some factors are within our control, while others require us to adjust our approach. In this article, my intention isn’t to dwell on the negative, but rather to emphasize the importance of being observant and proactive in our cattle management this year.

As beef producers, one area that warrants our attention is our working facilities. They don’t have to break the bank, but they do need to be functional. Efficient and well-designed working facilities are needed for effective disease management and pest control in our beef cattle operations.

By investing in enhancements like properly designed chutes, crowd pens, and holding areas, we can minimize animal stress, decrease the risk of injuries to both our cattle and us, and enhance the accuracy and efficiency of our management practices. Additionally, having facilities for isolating animals that require treatment not only saves time but also helps prevent the potential spread of diseases within our herd.

As producers, focusing on pasture improvements can greatly benefit our beef cattle operations. Well-maintained pastures provide nutritious forage for our animals, supporting their health and productivity. By investing in pasture improvements such as soil fertility management, weed control, and rotational grazing infrastructure, we can enhance our pastures, ultimately leading to healthier cattle.

As producers, we shouldn’t overlook the importance of water as a vital nutrient for our cattle. Having access to clean and reliable water is crucial for their health and well-being. Implementing well-designed water systems that offer continuous access to fresh water prevents dehydration, especially during hot weather conditions. Additionally, a comprehensive mineral program tailored to the specific nutritional requirements of our herd is essential for promoting overall health and growth.

These are just a few reflections I’ve had while assessing our own operation. I encourage you to take a close look at yours and consider making changes that will enhance profitability, safety, and the overall health of your herd. Increasing the frequency of scouting or watching your herd closely can help identify issues early and prevent potential problems. Here’s to wishing each of you a successful season ahead.