Changes in Carcass Grade Over Time

– Andrew P. Griffith, University Of Tennessee (previously published by Drovers online)

The beef industry, similar to other industries, is constantly attempting to be more efficient and create more value in the product produced. Most cow-calf producers concern themselves with reproductive efficiencies and pounds of weaned calf per acre of land. These two things are important because a cow-calf producer cannot afford to have very many cows fail to wean a calf, and these producers are in the business of selling pounds with a limited quantity of land. Similarly, stocker producers work to reduce morbidity and mortality rates while also trying to pack on as many pounds as possible with their forage and feed resources. Producers from both of these sectors also attempt to add value by instituting management practices that reduce risk to downstream cattle buyers.

The feedlot perspective is very similar to stocker and backgrounding operations with focus on feed efficiency and cattle health, but there is also interest in carcass characteristics. Regardless of the marketing method (cash, formula, grid, etc.), cattle will be priced based on the actual or expected yield grade (YG 1-5) and quality grade (Prime, Choice, Select, etc.).

Quality grade and yield grade are two aspects of beef production that may or may not be considered at the cow-calf and stocker producer levels. There are certainly Continue reading

The Effect of Cow Udder Score on Calf Performance

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Nebraska research shows hot carcass weights were lighter from bad uddered cows.

Scientists at the University of Nebraska (J. Beard, J. Musgrave, R. Funston and J. Mulliniks) used 812 cows and their udder scores to evaluate calf performance. Udders scores were recorded from a 1 (bad) to 5 (good) as reported in the Integrated Resource Management Guide (National Cattlemen’s Beef Association). They then separated the data into 2 groups of Bad Udders (1 and 2 scores) and Good Udders (3 or greater scores). There were 233 cows with Bad Udders and 1,742 cows with Good udders.

There was not a difference in Continue reading

Economic Greats – 93 Percent of Cow’s Weight Harvested

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension

As I was reviewing Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) records recently, cow Y1002’s record popped up.

Because of the weight of her calves at harvest (93 percent of her weight), she is one of the economic greats of the Dickinson Research Extension Center’s herd.

Y1002’s dam is half-Red Angus and half-Angus, and Y1002 was sired by an Aberdeen bull called Cadet Quartermaster. I would call Y1002 a frame score 3, 1,100-pound cow. Her weight has averaged 1,069 in the fall, but as she ages, she will put on some weight.

Y1002 has weaned a calf every year. Her 2015 calf (C5132), born on a late spring day, May 26, comes to mind as Continue reading

A Blast from the Past, Genetic Decisions, Yellow Fat and Niche Markets

– Dr. Roy Burris, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

It was 1974 and I had just started my career as a beef cattle researcher for Mississippi State University. I was part of projects on grazing systems and crossbreeding but was also starting a new project on finishing cattle in south Mississippi. We were in the process of building a research feedlot but I needed to get something going right away. Fortunately, at that time, finishing cattle on grass was receiving a lot of attention in the southern region. Since I had ryegrass and cattle, one of my first trials was “Finishing Steers on Ryegrass-clover Pastures with Supplemental Grain”. Some of the things that we learned then are still relevant 42 years later.

Steers were grazed for 150 days during the winter and received either (1) no grain, (2) one percent bodyweight (BW) of cracked corn throughout, or (3) cracked corn the last 64 days. Dr. Neil Bradley (UK) always said that it takes Continue reading

Beef AGRI NEWS Today, the May Podcast

In this month’s podcast of Beef AGRI NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about breeding season and the multitude of management considerations that come into play this time of year. (FYI, there’s likely an audio glitch that begins about 5 minutes into the podcast. Slide past it and the audio resumes properly for the balance of the recording.)

What Are Your Priorities?

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator

Calving season is underway to some degree for many producers. If you have not started your calving season, you likely will soon. Calving time is an exciting period for producers as they are seeing the results of their genetic choices and management decisions coming to reality. Warmer weather and green pastures will develop in the coming weeks. The calf crop will grow and develop quickly through the spring and summer months. While this is taking place, the producer will set the 2019 calf crop motion with the onset of the breeding season.

Before the start of this breeding season, I would encourage producers to critically evaluate the production goals for your herd. Do the type of cattle that you produce adequately target your chosen market? If you sell your calves as feeder calves in the fall, your goal should be to sell as many healthy feeder calves with excellent weaning weights as possible. If you retain ownership after weaning and finish your calves to harvest weights, your priorities will Continue reading

Expect to Hang Two-thirds of the Cow’s Weight on the Rail

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

I enjoy pondering over numbers collected from the Dickinson Research Extension Center beef herds.

One number I ponder over, for example, is cow size and how it relates to carcass size. Just like the industry, the discussion of cow size is complex, and pondering includes searching for ways or numbers that help me understand and ultimately explain the impact of cow size within the industry.

Ultimately, the producer decides what gate to open and what bull to buy, and entwines all the pieces into a cow-calf operation.

We do know that carcass size is very relevant because it is a driver of income. Recently, the center dispersed two cow herds due to the lack of feed. The long-term essence of these two herds was a targeted 300-pound difference in the Continue reading

Do Some Selection Tools Result in Unintended Consequences?

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D., Director, CAB Supply Development

You hear more about mature cow size and growth potential of calves, now that profit ebbs and flows with the cycle. We’ve written about mature size, but not much about how to use the relevant tools to change it. So now, let’s examine the strategies and tools available, and the unintended consequences of ignoring them.

Commercial breeders can draw on more selection tools than ever before to improve the next generation of cows to match the market and ranch environments. Genomic testing can identify sires in multi-bull pastures while indexing heifer genetic potential and sorting outliers for adaptability and docility. You could start with Continue reading

Finding the Right Cow Size is Not Simple

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

The beef industry has tremendous potential for growth within individual cattle.

But just because we can, does that mean we should?

Sound cattle management focuses on maintaining growth and efficiency and, in many operations, pushing for improvement. The fear of paths that may take an alternative route is real. Like life, management of alternatives with only a partial knowledge of the outcome amplifies concerns.

Without question, the incorporation of alternative management programs is Continue reading

A Cheap Bull May Be Just That

– Andrew P. Griffith, University of Tennessee

There have been several discussions recently concerning bull sales and expected progeny differences (EPDs) which is probably a factor of the impending breeding season. The discussions have ranged in topic and have included the timing of a bull sale, saturation of the bull market, bulls that should be steers, and matching EPDs to a herd of cattle or individual cattle to get the best end product from the dam. This is a wide range of topics, but they are all related to understanding the herd sire market and the intended market of the sire’s offspring.

Producers must first know and understand the Continue reading