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.


Selecting a Custom Feedlot

Selecting a Custom Feedlot

Ropin’ the Web

Many producers want to retain ownership of their calves through to slaughter, or want to feed out purchased calves. Unfortunately, producers may lack the feeding or marketing expertise to make this happen. An alternative to doing it yourself is to use a custom feedlot. When choosing a custom feedlot there are numerous factors to consider. This factsheet is designed to help you work through the process of finding the right custom feedlot for your needs.

Feeding Expertise and Performance Records

Commercial feedlots specialize in starting and feeding cattle on high concentrate finishing rations. Rations vary from region to region, but all feedlots feed a diet that’s high in grains or grain byproducts. In all cases, the manager should have experience feeding high concentrate diets to slaughter cattle.

Many feedlots use the services of a private or feed industry nutritionist to formulate rations and provide technical advice on feeding management. When researching potential feedlots, ask about the feedbunk management and cost per pound of gain. This allows you to do comparisons against industry standards.


Timing of Artificial Insemination

Timing of Artificial Insemination

 Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University

Traditional methods to determine when to inseminate beef cows depend on accurate detection of heat.  A common practice used to inseminate cows is the AM/PM. rule. With this method, cows detected in estrus in the morning are inseminated in the evening, and cows first exhibiting estrus in the evening are inseminated the following morning. Twice daily visual observation of cows and tail marking do not allow precise detection of the onset of estrus.  OSU researchers have examined the length of heat and number of mounts that occur in beef cattle using an electronic heat detection system called HeatWatchTM.  Cows were in heat 17 – 18 hours in the summer time and about 14 hours in the winter.  They were mounted about 70 times in winter but only 44 times in the summer.  There is tremendous variation among cows around these average numbers.  


ATVs gain as horse alternatives

ATVs gain as horse alternatives


Los Angeles Times

TEJON RANCH, Calif. — At dawn, John Lacey and four hired hands head out on horseback from the Fish Creek Corral to perform one of the American West’s most venerable pastoral rites: corralling a herd of bellowing steers scattered across thousands of hardpan acres.

Lacey, a rail-thin third-generation rancher, leads the way atop Notch, the sure-footed 10-year-old mare he prefers for such chaotic chores. Over his 68 years, he has relied on a succession of horses chosen for their good looks, athletic ability and plain old cow sense.


Beef’s wide price premium to pork could lead to volatile market

Beef’s wide price premium to pork could lead to volatile market

By Curt Thacker .

Agriculture Online

KANSAS CITY (Dow Jones)–U.S. wholesale beef prices last week reached 3 1/2-year highs and hold near-record wide premiums to pork, which could lead to increased volatility for both sectors in the coming weeks.

Some analysts, meat brokers and livestock market managers predict the wide differences in beef and pork prices could result in a corrective move on the part of both categories to return the relationship to one that is more in line with historical norms. However, there is uncertainty about when and to what degree the adjustments could occur.


Cattle Feeding: What Is Feed Bunk Management?

Cattle Feeding: What Is Feed Bunk Management?


My definition of feedbunk management is to deliver a consistent, nutritious, fresh ration in a manner that maximizes (or nearly maximizes) feed intake and minimizes waste and spoilage. Therefore feedbunk management includes not only feed delivery decisions, but also feed mixing, nutrient balancing, feedstuff quality control and characteristics, feed processing, and other factors related to feed presentation. Feed delivery decisions (feed calls) are essentially an estimate of the amount of feed a pen of cattle will consume. Factors such as cattle size, weight, breed, ration, weather effects and health must all be taken into account. Also the effect of a given feed intake on intake at subsequent feedings must be accounted for.


Last horse slaughter plant might close

Last horse slaughter plant might close

By Blackwell Thomas

SPRINGFIELD — The doors to the country’s last horse slaughter plant would be closed for good under a proposed ban lawmakers are expected to consider today.

Cavel International operates the plant in DeKalb, which slaughters about 1,000 horses a week before shipping the meat around the globe for human consumption.

Already staggered by a federally-ordered shutdown last month, Cavel would be knocked out of the business in Illinois for good under the ban.


Cloned cows to help diabetics

Cloned cows to help diabetics

The Age (AU)

Argentine scientists said on Tuesday they had created four cloned and genetically modified calves capable of producing human insulin in their milk, a step they said could cut the cost of treating diabetes.

The newborn Jersey heifers – who the scientists have named Patagonia 1, 2, 3 and 4 – will start producing the human hormone when they reach adulthood, said the biotechnology company behind the project, Bio Sidus.


Last Call for Ethanol

Last Call for Ethanol

ZP Energy

The decision to add ethanol made from corn to our gasoline, may turn out to be a huge mistake made by our decision makers who some say should know better. The negative effects of mixing ethanol with gasoline are numerous, and the effect of using corn to make fuel puts our food security at a terrible risk.

First of all, the production of ethanol is being subsidized by the Federal Government. It is not a profitable enterprise for the producers any other way. Corn prices, due to this effort have risen dramatically and now corn sells for $3.50 per bushel. This leaves a profit margin for the makers of ethanol that is very very small.

If corn goes higher, the ethanol producers will need a bigger subsidy to continue operation or go out of business. So, your tax dollars are being used to make a fuel that if one investigates properly, should never be mixed with gasoline.