Daily Archives: April 18, 2007

Alfalfa Watch: Will April’s Chill Spell “Winter” Kill?

Alfalfa Watch: Will April’s Chill Spell “Winter” Kill?

Paul Peterson, University of Minnesota extension forage specialist

Hay and Forage Grower

Those balmy temperatures in late March sure felt good, but they may have gotten our alfalfa into trouble. Fortunately, however, while the weather progression from a warm, dormancy-breaking late March to a bone-chilling early April has provided reasonable cause for concern; early field observations are providing some comfort, at least for the moment.

The potential for winter injury is always difficult to predict, but we continue to try to do it anyway. Whether our predictions turn out right or wrong, perhaps there is benefit in getting us to think about it and into alfalfa fields to see how they’re progressing.


Stocker Cattle Forum: Pen Design

Stocker Cattle Forum: Pen Design


Pens should have good drainage and be able to minimize the amount of mud that accumulates. Amount of area required for calves varies because of annual rainfall and amount of drainage. In the western high plains, many lots can utilize only 200-300 sq. ft. per head. While a typical lot in Missouri should probably plan for at least 300-400 sq. ft. per head depending on drainage. Mud greatly increases the net energy for maintenance for cattle and increases their level of stress. Well-maintained mounds that provide 20-25 sq. ft. per head (400 to 800 lbs.) or 30-35 sq. ft. per head (800 to 1200 lbs.) will provide the calves with an escape from deep mud. Evidence suggests that cattle standing in mud up to their dewclaws have 5% poorer feed conversion than cattle in a mud-free lot on the same ration. If the mud gets as deep as to their hocks, feed conversion is 25% poorer.


Will flushing solve nutrition woes?

Will flushing solve nutrition woes?

by Rick Rasby, Extension beef specialist, University of Nebraska

Angus Journal

With breeding season just around the corner for spring-calving herds, producers will soon find out how well their nutrition program was for the cow herd, especially for the young females. Because young females are lactating for the first time, repairing their reproductive tracts and still growing, their postpartum intervals — the time from calving to first estrus or ovulation postcalving — are at least 10-15 days longer than that of mature cows. Quality of the diet both before and after calving is critical to minimize the postpartum interval.


Backgrounding Calves

Backgrounding Calves

Jeff Heldt, Ph.D., PAS



The term backgrounding is often used loosely, however it should be described as a process that adds value to both farm/ranch raised feeds as well as the cattle by “marketing” the feeds through the cattle. With that said, the profitability of backgrounding is determined by feed costs, feed efficiency, and marketing, just like any other phase of the beef feeding industry. Backgrounding can be incorporated into most any beef operation if they have the ability to confine cattle in manageable group sizes and if they have adequate on farm/ranch feed storage (hays, silages, grains, and supplements).

Calves that have been through a backgrounding program (commonly 45-90 days) are appealing to buyers because: 1) they know how to eat dry feed out of a bunk, 2) they know what a waterer is and how to use it, 3) their immune systems are “primed” if the correct rations are formulated and the proper vaccination protocols have been implemented. However, the calves should not be too “fleshy”. This typically concerns cattle buyers because too much compensatory gain has been taken out of the calves. Therefore, calves should be fed to gain about 1.5-2.5 lbs/hd/d to avoid an over fleshy problem.


Creating A Ranch Vision

Creating A Ranch Vision

By Burt Rutherford

Beef Magazine

We are, says Barry Dunn, at the tip of the tipping point.

 “What’s happening in this industry is absolutely unique in my lifetime,” says the Texas A&M-Kingsville executive director of the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management. “This is a big change for all of us.”

He refers, of course, to ethanol and the effect it will have on cattlemen everywhere. “What the industry is going through right now has been compared with two other major events in agriculture. One is the introduction of hybrid seed corn in the 1930s and 40s, and the other is the invention of the moldboard plow in the 1850s.”


BeefTalk: Life Does Not Come Easy

BeefTalk: Life Does Not Come Easy

BeefTalk: Return to Mother Nature BeefTalk: Return to Mother Nature

The cow business can weigh heavily on our shoulders.

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist

NDSU Extension Service

Perhaps the absence of sunlight may be dragging the day down. However, the knowledge that this will pass and brighter days are ahead certainly should reinforce the positive. Tramping through snow (dearly needed moisture), while attempting to get an assessment of the current calving scenario, is never easy.


Registration Open for Beef Improvement Federation Meeting in Colorado

Registration Open for Beef Improvement Federation Meeting in Colorado

Cattle Today

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The Rocky Mountains provide the backdrop for the annual meeting and 40th anniversary celebration of the Beef Improvement Federation. The meeting will be held June 6-9 in Fort Collins, Colo. It will focus on the future of genetic evaluation and improvement with a variety of presenters from around the country.

The meeting will take place at the Hilton Fort Collins. To register and for program details go to http://www.beefimprovement.org under the conventions tab. Pre-registration is due May 15. For information contact Willie Altenburg, 970/568-7792, willie@rmi.net or Mark Enns at 970/491-2722, Mark.Enns@Colostate.edu.