Managerial changes require a review of both the positive and negative. Previous discussion on changing the calving date has resulted in two major points: reducing the cows winter feeding costs and lowering the death loss among newborn calves. Both significantly affect the bottom line.
North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) members have recorded an average daily gain of 2.52 pounds for calves on summer pasture. This means the 70,000 calves measured through NDBCIAs Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS) program cumulatively gain on a daily basis 176,400 pounds, 1,764 hundredweight, or roughly 88 tons.
The beef industry is struggling with data and data tracking. This statement, while met with a wide range of pro and con reaction, does point to the fact that there is slippage occurring. There is a lot of very good data collected, processed and utilized within the beef industry.
The other day was difficult. The discussion centered on the horse industry as the Dickinson Research Extension Center was reviewing program costs. As the horse program was discussed, the updated costs were noted. Based on a five-year average, the annual cost (direct and overhead expenses) for maintaining a producing mare and nursing foal was $764.
The pass is open is an expression that is used by residents and travelers in mountainous areas. This year, the saying, the interstate is open would ring a bell, especially given all the changes in travel agendas in the past three to four months.
There was a pleasant view as I went to the auction barn the other day. The semitrailer truck was sitting in the parking lot with a load of alfalfa hay. Under many situations, no one would really notice, but the long, drawn-out winter has many producers checking their hay inventory as frequently as the weather forecast.
Calving time is imminent. This is easy to see as the cows settle into the final weeks of gestation. Cows are a bit slower to get up. Their movement is not as decisive and the placement of feet is more careful. There is a noticeable decrease in the willingness to jockey for the pecking order.
A troubling event occurred this past week at an auction barn. There was a feeling of ?not wanting,? but also a feeling of ?that is the way it is.? The auction barn is known as a social center and a place to sell cattle. People share stories and experiences that go along with an industry that is speckled with considerable individualism.
Last week, the report card on bull S48 was to keep him for the 2009 breeding season. This periodic review is used on all bulls at the time of purchase and periodically throughout a bulls life. The first evaluation of older bulls is for soundness, because putting resources into a bull that has limited breeding capacity is impractical.
The coffee chat is filled with many opinions about how to buy bulls. The art of buying a bull requires an open mind, homework, and a vision for the future of a producer?s cowherd. For example, we turn to the nutritionists if we want to get a better understanding on how cattle can utilize peas in rations.
The commonsense process of buying bulls has not changed much. The requirements are simple. The bull needs four decent legs, a bit of appropriate muscle indicative of the product, and a functioning reproductive system. Cost usually determines which bull one brings home.
The report from the human side of the chute was not very good. We had 32 open heifers that were pastured together and exposed to one bull. The bull had passed the breeding soundness exam. He was at least interested in the heifers at the time of turnout. Once we had the news, the bull was brought in for a recheck.
The market talk was casual until the producer leaned over and said, We just marketed a 90.8 percent calf crop with an average weight of 560 pounds at 189 days of age. The room grew quiet. Are you sure? a neighbor asked. Yep, but I was just average. Maybe someday I can manage my way to the upper third, the rancher replied.
Wintering cattle requires feed. The current tight inventories of feed suggest that cow culling should be deep. Yet, once the culling is done but the bales still don’t add up, the time is right to contact a good beef cattle nutritionist. The nutritionist can help develop a "least cost" ration. When developing the least-cost ration, feedstuffs may need to be purchased. One needs to be careful and review all options. Through the years, most of us have witnessed the detrimental effects of underfeeding or the results of overfeeding. The important point is that the nutrient value of feed is what
Pregnancy check now for better management
Trucks have been bringing in hay at $5 a loaded mile, so the hay yard is filling up slowly and expensively. The gates and locks have been spruced up.
This year, hay values are pricey. As a result, most ranchers are standing at a fork in the road. Do they buy hay or sell cows?
Producers need to review all of the options. The preferred alternative is trying to meet the nutritional needs of the cowherd with hay.
Hay prices definitely are forcing the review of other feed options. Purchasing feed based on a dollar cost per pound
Now that hurts!
The hay yard is empty for many producers and the traditional June hay was scarce or nonexistent. As the staple for cattle, the amount of hay one wanted to make has been replaced with the amount of hay needed to sustain the herd.
Early indications suggest an upward shift in prices. Last year’s hay was abundant and visible from the road, at least in the case of the Dickinson Research Extension Center.
A quick check of the records confirmed that the center purchased 318 tons of hay at an average price of $61.65 per ton. That will change this year.
Cow size—Effects of cow size on pasture management
The effect of cow size and expected production from pasture management directly impacts expected outcomes that translate into income. This relationship was discussed in recent BeefTalk articles.
A drought, at least in western North Dakota, initiated the discussion. The Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) established two different groups of cattle based on body weight, calculating inputs and potential outcomes.
The two groups (herds) of cattle were weighed. The first herd had 52 cows that averaged 1,216 pounds (856 to 1,395 pounds) and the second herd was 50 cows that averaged 1,571 pounds (1,350 to 1,935
Cow size—calf value
The mushroom season this spring was short. The area is still short on feed and the cow size question remains unanswered.
Like all discussions, the temptation is to set aside the challenges of yesterday and replace them with immediate thoughts. Unfortunately, questions are not answered, and yesterday’s challenges eventually will become tomorrow’s problems if unanswered.
Now is a good time to continue the cow size discussion. The stocking rate question simply will become a question of purchasing hay.
The logical approach is twofold. The first approach is trying to meet the immediate needs of the current set of mother cows. The
Cow size—How much more does the big cow eat?
The green forage tends to be seasonal, while the grazing of seeds and dry grass is the non-growing season staple. Regardless of the season, a cow’s nutritional requirements need to be met. The challenge is making sure our production expectations are in tune with what Mother Nature provides.
Our pastures and feed piles may be limited as we struggle to balance feed and cattle. When seasons are as now, the lack of rain (or other environmental restraint) highlights the need to plan.
The quick and easy answer is to sell cattle. However, the astute