Daily Archives: April 23, 2008

Basic Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cows

Basic Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cows

Matt Hersom

University of Florida


Meeting the basic nutrient requirements of beef cows is a key component of meeting cow herd production and profitability goals for the beef cattle enterprise. Adequate nutrition is vital for adequate cow reproduction, cow and calf health, and growth of all classes of cattle. Nutrient requirements of cattle change throughout the year based upon stage of the production cycle, age, sex, breed, level of activity, pest load, and environment. All of the previous factors mentioned have an additive effect on the nutrient requirements of cattle. In all cases, specific adjustments to the standard nutrient requirements may be warranted. Therefore, it is imperative that cattle producers have an adequate understanding of the basic nutrient requirements of the cow herd to make informed and effective nutrition-related decisions.

In most production situations, the basis for cow herd nutrient supply is grazed or harvested forage. With the utilization of forage comes the need for seasonal supplementation strategies to compensate for forage quality deficiencies. Without knowledge of the cows basic nutrient requirements, effective and cost effective supplementation practices will be difficult to implement.


Summer mineral considerations

Summer mineral considerations

Rick Rasby

Angus Journal

Feed costs are the major costs in producing a weaned calf. The beef cattle industry has recently experienced its greatest profi ts per cow in history. However, in the last two to three years those returns have been reduced by 60% to 70%, even though fi ve-weight weaned calves in the fall have sold in the $125-per-hundredweight (cwt.) range. Feed costs, labor costs, fuel costs and machinery costs have contributed to the increase in cow costs. Mineral costs, especially phosphorus (P) costs, are expected to increase substantially this year. Mineral costs are not a major cost compared to other costs such as harvested feed costs, but as producers strive to remain competitive in a climate where costs continue to increase, they will need to push the pencil on every management decision.


Managing 2-Year-Olds

Managing 2-Year-Olds

Steps to help keep young cows in your herd.

Heather Smith Thomas

Hereford World

Just like with a toddler, the “terrible 2s” is a young cow’s toughest time. She’s nursing her first calf and still growing, and she needs enough nutrition and body condition to cycle on schedule after calving. If all these needs are not met, she may end up open or calving late the next year.

It can often be a challenge to get young cows rebred without losing ground in their calving schedule. Two-year-olds and some 3-year-olds need a little more care and management than mature cows. Experience proves a 2-year-old is the most valuable and expensive animal in the herd; she has not yet generated any income, yet a lot of money has been invested in her. So if she fails to stay in the herd, this is a significant financial loss.


Feeding Natural Cattle

Feeding Natural Cattle

Tyler A. Melroe and Erik R. Loe, Animal and Range Sciences Department, South Dakota State University

Some consumers are willing to pay a premium for “natural” beef products from production systems not utilizing implants, ionophores, or antibiotics. Producers marketing to these systems can attain substantial premiums. The term “natural” as defined by the USDA, is extremely loose, and all fresh beef qualifies as a natural product. However, “natural” is more strictly defined by the marketplace. Claims, which vary from company to company, are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and must be verifiable. It is generally accepted that cattle qualifying for natural programs have never received antibiotics or hormones at any time from birth to harvest.


Industry renews animal care commitment

Industry renews animal care commitment

Kansas Stockman

For decades, beef producers have known giving animals the proper care, handling and nutrition is not only the right thing to do, it also makes good business sense. After all, sound handling practices affect the well-being of cattle, individual animal health, herd productivity and profitability. However, these practices recently have come into question due to the animal mishandling case at Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Company of Chino, CA. Although, according to American Meat Institute President J. Patrick Boyle, this was an isolated incident and in no way represented the type of treatment cattle receive at processing plants on a daily basis, it has led the entire industry to review recommended handling procedures.


Overseeding Summer Sods With Winter Annuals

Overseeding Summer Sods With Winter Annuals

Alabama Extension Service

One of the most profitable forage management options available to Alabama cattlemen is overseeding or sod-seeding winter annual forage crops on the dormant sods of summer perennial grasses. This has been proven by research conducted by Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station personnel and verified not only by Extension demonstrations but also by hundreds of individual producers. Yet many cattlemen are overlooking this opportunity. There are more than two million acres of bahiagrass, bermudagrass, and dallisgrass pastures in Alabama, but only a small part of this acreage is overseeded.


When can my cows be put out onto pasture in the spring?

When can my cows be put out onto pasture in the spring?


Pastures should not be grazed until the 4-leaf stage or when the plants are at least 6 to 8 inches tall. If you have a high proportion of legumes in the pasture, do not graze until the plants are 8 to 12 inches tall. Grazing native range before the third leaf stage can result in the loss of over 60% of the potential forage yield.


“Eating Local” Has Little Effect on Warming, Study Says

“Eating Local” Has Little Effect on Warming, Study Says

Mason Inman

National Geographic

Being a “locavore” and eating foods grown near where you live may not help the environment as much as you might think, according a new study.

When it comes to global warming, focusing simply on where food comes from will make only a small difference, the study’s authors say.

“In terms of the average American diet, ‘food miles’ are not so important as what you’re eating,” said study leader Christopher Weber of Carnegie Mellon University.

On average, food racks up about 1,000 food miles (or 1,650 “food kilometers”) traveling from farms to processing or packaging plants before reaching Americans’ dinner plates, the study estimates.


Managing beef cattle-Spring Calving

Managing beef cattle


Glasgow Daily Times

Some things for beef cattle producers to consider while managing their herds:

First off, about our spring calving cow herds.

– Continue to watch cows and calves closely. Identify calves while they are young and easy to handle. Commercial male calves should be castrated and implanted. Hopefully, registered producers have weighed their baby calves at birth. At least, write down the calf’s tag number, birth date, birth weight (if available), calf’s dam number, calf sire and calf sex.


Cattle Feed Byproducts: Steam-Flaked Vs. Dry-Rolled Corn

Cattle Feed Byproducts: Steam-Flaked Vs. Dry-Rolled Corn


Processing corn can improve feed conversion, and steam-flaking is the most intensive and most common method of processing for feedlot rations. According to Owens and Gardner (2000, p. 3), “Cattle fed steam-flaked grains gained more efficiently and had heavier carcass weights than those fed dry-rolled, high-moisture, or whole-grain diets. These efficiency improvements can be attributed to increased starch availability of steam-flaked grains.”

A recent survey by Vasconcelos and Galyean (2007) indicated that 65.5% of the responding feedlot consulting nutritionists recommended steam-flaking as the primary corn processing method for the feedlots they serviced. Producers in the Southern Plains generally use steam-flaked corn as the primary energy source, with large-scale U.S. feedlots using it almost exclusively. Feedlots in the Northern Plains are more likely to use dry-rolled corn (Corah and McCully n.d., Lawrence 2007). As discussed next, several recent feeding trials indicate that the heavy reliance on steam-flaked corn in U.S. beef feedlots may limit overall consumption of distillers grains.


Verification Paying Dividends For Cow-Calf Producers

Verification Paying Dividends For Cow-Calf Producers

Kansas Livestock Association

More than 150 cow-calf producers surveyed by Global Animal Management reported earning an average of $10 more per hundredweight for source- and age-verified calves. Conducted in January 2008, the survey included responses from participants with herd sizes ranging from less than 50 head to more than 5,000.

About 95% of those currently verifying the source and age of calves believe providing this documentation, along with health certification, will be important to the sale and export of cattle in the future. A full 75% of non-users see source and age verification as important to selling cattle in years ahead.


Maximize Success Through Good Yearling Bull Management

Maximize Success Through Good Yearling Bull Management


Using bulls as yearlings is an excellent way to get an additional year of use from bulls, reducing the per-cow bull depreciation cost.

Kent Barnes, Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service area livestock specialist, said there are several management tips that cattle producers can use to maximize the success of yearling bulls.

“Run yearling bulls only with other yearling bulls on a set of females,” he said. “Yearlings who run with older bulls may be physically abused to the point that they settle very few cows.”

Control winter grazing costs

Control winter grazing costs

Carl Stafford

Culpeper Star Exponent

Farmers are all talking costs right now as their fuel, feed and fertilizer among other things have seen dramatic changes in cost compared to this time last year. During last week’s Culpeper Madison Feeder Cattle Association (CMFCA) graded sale, I had the opportunity to visit producers from six counties and they all shared stories of big increases.

A discussion with one producer revealed some interesting production cost experiences that are useful for others to consider. The retail value of hay has been established for many by personal experience in the market.

You have either bought or sold some hay and know firsthand what it’s worth. I hear prices per ton ranging from under $100 to over $200.


Cattle Health: What Is Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF)?

Cattle Health: What Is Malignant Catarrhal Fever (MCF)?


Malignant catarrhal fever (MCF) is a generalized viral disease of domestic cattle and buffaloes and many species of wild ruminants characterized by high fever, profuse nasal discharge, corneal opacity, ophthalmia, generalized lymphadenopathy, leukopenia, and severe inflammation of the conjunctival, oral, and nasal mucosas with necrosis in the oral and nasal cavities sometimes extending into the esophagus and trachea. Occasionally central nervous system (CNS) signs, diarrhea, skin lesions, and nonsuppurative arthritis are observed.