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Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University

Opinion
Jul 17, 2015
Pounds, efficiency and quality are three simple words, but in reality, there is nothing simple about understanding these three words. Many producers see understanding pounds as simple: Produce the maximum possible. But living things do not do well at the extremes, so maximum brings additional problems.


Opinion
Jul 10, 2015
[Author’s note: This Beef- Talk concerns pounds of beef produced per acre utilizing two different types of cattle to help demonstrate what pounds of calf weaned per acre means. The information presented, at this point, is an example of production data reflecting pounds of calf weaned per acre.


Opinion
Jul 2, 2015
But even without major tweaking, at least for the center, those May-born calves are holding their own. Last year, the center’s beef herd may have started 100 pounds light, but the calves actually had an adjusted 205-day weight of 681 pounds.


Opinion
Jun 26, 2015
Growing up on a farm or ranch seemed to be the norm and something everyone did. At least that was the thinking for all those kids who grew up in the middle of the last century. Granted, not everyone wanted to stay on the home place, but regardless of where life led, the memories of those carefree days are real.


Opinion
Jun 12, 2015
A shepherd is one who cares for a flock. However, a shepherd does not necessarily just care for sheep because anyone can be a shepherd by caring for those around him or her and helping as needed. That caring and helping process also is a protection process.


Opinion
May 8, 2015
Agricultural producers often experience feelings of uncertainty that are sourced in many day-to-day issues. The biggest uncertainty is the weather. Those operations that push the limit for production will experience greater uncertainty than those that target production to the long-term average.
Opinion
Apr 24, 2015
The initial key to a good herd-health program is to develop a good working relationship with the local veterinarian and implement appropriate herd-health practices. More than likely, an early point to a herd-health conversation regarding good herd health is herd biosecurity.


Opinion
Mar 27, 2015
There is the question: Can profitable beef operations go broke? Absolutely, is the answer. Why? For one thing, the definition of profit is misused. And the longer the wrong numbers are applied to the word “profit,” the more likely an operation can get into financial trouble.
Opinion
Mar 27, 2015
There is the question: Can profitable beef operations go broke? Absolutely, is the answer. Why? For one thing, the definition of profit is misused. And the longer the wrong numbers are applied to the word “profit,” the more likely an operation can get into financial trouble.
Opinion
Mar 20, 2015
Some events in one’s life become stories because they have an impact on the future. These stories are used to teach and add wisdom to current conversations. Sometimes the discussion may stray, but if the facts are true, the story continues to add wisdom.
Opinion
Mar 20, 2015
Some events in one’s life become stories because they have an impact on the future. These stories are used to teach and add wisdom to current conversations. Sometimes the discussion may stray, but if the facts are true, the story continues to add wisdom.
Opinion
Mar 13, 2015
In fact, when one takes a look at data in the world of commercial production, gradual changes are noted, but radical change is not something that is evident within those commercial beef units. Production through decades is a better indicator of change than year-to-year changes.
Opinion
Mar 13, 2015
In fact, when one takes a look at data in the world of commercial production, gradual changes are noted, but radical change is not something that is evident within those commercial beef units. Production through decades is a better indicator of change than year-to-year changes.
Opinion
Mar 6, 2015
Often enough taxpayers who are audited in connection with their farming or livestock activities are questioned on the issue known in the tax law as the “material participation test.” Under this legal test, you are permitted to deduct losses against outside salary and wages only if, among other things, you “materially participate” in the activity.
Opinion
Mar 6, 2015
Often enough taxpayers who are audited in connection with their farming or livestock activities are questioned on the issue known in the tax law as the “material participation test.” Under this legal test, you are permitted to deduct losses against outside salary and wages only if, among other things, you “materially participate” in the activity.
Opinion
Feb 13, 2015
Alfalfa is an excellent choice to feed as a supplement to beef cows that are later in their pregnancy. Seldom do we think of hay as being a supplement, but the right high quality forage, such as alfalfa, certainly can be fed as a supplement to the lower quality forages generally available for the main ration of a beef cow.
Opinion
Feb 13, 2015
Alfalfa is an excellent choice to feed as a supplement to beef cows that are later in their pregnancy. Seldom do we think of hay as being a supplement, but the right high quality forage, such as alfalfa, certainly can be fed as a supplement to the lower quality forages generally available for the main ration of a beef cow.
Opinion
Feb 6, 2015
However, the cows still need to be fed. In fact, a common mistake that is made as the weather warms is to reduce the feed a little bit. In reality, yes, that extra feed for body heat may not be needed, but every day that a cow gets closer to birth, the more demanding the pregnancy becomes.
Opinion
Feb 6, 2015
However, the cows still need to be fed. In fact, a common mistake that is made as the weather warms is to reduce the feed a little bit. In reality, yes, that extra feed for body heat may not be needed, but every day that a cow gets closer to birth, the more demanding the pregnancy becomes.
Opinion
Jan 23, 2015
Dollars are the common denominator. Why be in the beef business without a return to labor and management? With current demand for replacement cattle indicative of a positive industry stance to maintaining and expanding the beef business, now is a good time to ponder some fundamental costs of the business.
Opinion
Jan 23, 2015
Dollars are the common denominator. Why be in the beef business without a return to labor and management? With current demand for replacement cattle indicative of a positive industry stance to maintaining and expanding the beef business, now is a good time to ponder some fundamental costs of the business.
Opinion
Dec 29, 2014
At the center, values for the current bulls are entered into a simple spreadsheet to allow for easy tracking. The breeding inventory and registration numbers from this past breeding season included five bulls. Their year of birth and registration numbers are: 2013-born bulls, 2790504, 2790544, 2800373 and 2800393; and 2012-born bull, 2669482.
Opinion
Dec 19, 2014
For example, using the center’s Red Angus bulls, the breeding inventory from this past breeding season included five bulls. Their year of birth and registration numbers are: 2013-born bulls, 1617778 and 1617805; 2011-born bulls 1473021 and 1473096; and 2010-born bull 1393949.
Opinion
Dec 12, 2014
I am going to say this three times: A producer does not need to know all the mathematics, justifications or scientific “who done it” aspects of breed association expected progeny differences (EPDs). These EPDs are available to all purebred and commercial producers, so use them.
Opinion
Nov 14, 2014
Even though cow numbers are down, keeping cows that are not likely to produce a worthy calf next year is fruitless. Culling really is a process of drawing a line in the sand, and those cows that cannot cross the line are sent to market. At the Dickinson Research Extension Center, the line is a combination of managerial chute-side judgments and data.
Opinion
Sep 26, 2014
That is a difficult question producers must answer. Just how many more is not an easy number to grasp because most beef operations actually try to keep their carrying capacity or stocking rates stable. Stocking rate, or the cow/calf pairs that inhabit the ranch, are set based on the carrying capacity of the particular type of land.
Opinion
Sep 19, 2014
For many, the bulls are left on pasture and rounded up with the cows and calves as fall progresses. Throughout the summer, various bulls are moved around or brought home. In some cases, they are injured. In other cases, they simply won’t stay in the pasture.
Opinion
Sep 5, 2014
Instead of sustainability, what we really may need is an organized response to everpresent change. As cattle producers, how we respond to the environment is key to our survival. The world is covered with water and plants. How we use the plants depends on how consumers look at their plates.
Opinion
Aug 8, 2014
Perhaps the word “aggressive” is too harsh, but there certainly is an interesting relationship that is created when the person who owns or leases the surface of the land meets the person who owns the other side of the coin, which is known as subsurface or mineral rights.
Opinion
Jul 25, 2014
For those who do math, what is $713 minus $537? The answer is $176. Good numbers, especially for the cow/calf producer because the $713 indicates the amount of cash that cows have been able to generate after adjusting for replacements. The $537 indicates the recent costs to keep a cow for the year.
Opinion
Jul 18, 2014
For example, I picked up a pamphlet that had the 2013 net returns per acre for several crops in western North Dakota. Based on cash-rented land, there was a spring wheat net return of $55.65 per acre, $77.32 for winter wheat, $28.35 for corn as grain, $93.
Opinion
Jun 27, 2014
At the Dickinson Research Extension Center, seven long, yearling bulls needed to leave. They were neutered and weighed in at 1,179 pounds after a summer on grass. Last fall, they were sent to the feedlot and weighed 1,636 pounds after 88 days on feed. They gained 5.
Opinion
Jun 13, 2014
At the same time, the news media was discussing the need for grass-fed beef. This probably was the source of the question and, if one ponders, one can see why future generations will get confused. As producers, the word beef conjures up images of cattle and associated production and marketing scenarios.
Opinion
Jun 6, 2014
As calving winds down and calves are settled with their mamas, the inevitable day will come when the calves need to get a round of vaccinations. It is much like the old days when the school made the announcement that the county nurse was coming along with a bag full of needles.
News
May 30, 2014
One of my first farm visits as a new county Extension Service agent years ago was to visit a producer in distress because of several dead cows. The dead cows were dotted around the pasture and lying in abundant spring grass. Grass tetany was evident..
Opinion
May 16, 2014
The yearling heifers also need to be processed, the replacements sorted off and the remaining heifers spayed and sent to grass. Replacements basically are preselected because the breed type is monitored and fit into the center’s crossbreeding program..
Opinion
May 9, 2014
Bulls that are needed are not always affordable, and sometimes scheduling conflicts get in the way. Interestingly, of the last four bulls the Dickinson Research Extension Center purchased, three were purchased through the process of electronic bidding.
Opinion
May 2, 2014
The cows seem content, and one may even notice a producer or two out and about checking the cows. Generally, there are strips of hay spread across the pasture or side of the hill to make sure the cows have adequate feed during this critical part of their life.
Opinion
Apr 25, 2014
Are you at 60 percent? As each operation reviews its herd calving history, a cow is expected to start cycling following birth and prior to the bull arriving in the pasture. Ideally, a cow should cycle within 80 days of calving and then settle with next year’s calf.
Opinion
Apr 18, 2014
If the weather can impact calving, the phone will ring and people will want to know how calving is going. For years, I was able to detail the daily struggles and offer words of encouragement. Today, the conversation concerns the needs of others because the Dickinson Research Extension Center will not start calving until May 10.
Opinion
Mar 28, 2014
One needs to plan, implement, evaluate and replan to stay in touch. That was the essence of the integrated resource management program that was very successful with the help of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and the cooperative efforts of the land-grant universities across the U.
Opinion
Mar 21, 2014
Nutritionally, the calf is actively, maybe even aggressively, growing in utero while absorbing the nutrition the cow is consuming and preparing for those first moments of daylight. That daylight will happen when the pregnancy terminates with parturition and, I hope, a live, nursing calf will greet the producer in the near future.
News
Mar 14, 2014
The second level represented those producers who specialized in expanding the population of breeding males and females. Their principle source of income was selling sires and replacement females to the commercial producer.
Opinion
Mar 7, 2014
The Dickinson Research Extension Center is using purebred Simmentals, so we would click on “Purebred Simmentals” to see the 2014 purebred Simmental percentile table, then print the table. The table for other breeds will be about the same but may have different labeling on their respective websites and tables.
Opinion
Feb 14, 2014
Performance in the beef business is evaluated by reviewing the overall herd. If there are indications that overall herd performance needs to be addressed, the first step is to compare the herd’s performance with a benchmark to gauge what is normal.
Opinion
Jan 31, 2014
Catching fish does not always require the use of live bait. In fact, the use of lures of many types and sizes has led to the many storefronts filled with fishing gear. If one is keen on enjoying fly fishing, the artificial fly would more than likely be named and cherished.
Opinion
Jan 24, 2014
After living through the summer of 2012, a farmer in my area might be tempted to plant longer season corn. That year it warmed up early, was a hot dry summer that stretched well into fall. The 117-day varieties out-performed the 112-day ones that are common in central Nebraska.
Opinion
Jan 17, 2014
Given the recent cold wave across the country, walking across cold snow is notable. There are several types of snow. The fashionable snowflake is poetic, so we smile at the beauty, shape and the mild weather required to gently layer the land. Soon to follow is Jack Frost, those beautiful ice crystals on a cool but not cold morning.
Opinion
Jan 10, 2014
Buying bulls is like making soup. You put in a bit of this and a bit of that and in the end, you have good soup. Likewise, a piece of this and a piece of that and you assemble a good bull. Unlike the soup you make from scratch, the bull already is made, but you have to find him.
Opinion
Dec 27, 2013
Having had to break into the office door because the lock was frozen shut reminded me that not all things work well in the cold. Those who have experienced cold firsthand do not need to be reminded. For others who can skirt the harshness of winter, in this case early winter, one only needs to take a short walk to be reminded.
Opinion
Dec 13, 2013
Having worked cattle for years and too many sheep to count, one develops a feel for the rogue cow or calf. Maybe it is just a quick look or an intense stare. There also are those animals that you know are not going to have a good cohabitation experience.
Opinion
Nov 22, 2013
Last week, one set of 72 beef cows came off the pasture and was brought home to the Dickinson Research Extension Center ranch headquarters. The cows’ trip through the chute was fast. Their average weight was 1,482 pounds, with a condition score of 5.3..
Opinion
Nov 8, 2013
An important consideration in audits is Factor No. 4 of the IRS Regulations. This factor is called, “Expectation That Assets Will Appreciate in Value.” The term “profit” in IRS Regulations encompasses appreciation in the value of assets such as land and/or livestock used in the activity, and was discussed in an early case, Engdahl v.
Opinion
Oct 25, 2013
Properly managed forage supplies have the potential to increase rib-eye area in long yearling steers by 25 percent. Occasionally, data comes across the desk that causes one to sit back and say: Wow, could you repeat that? Yes, properly managed forage supplies have the potential to increase rib-eye area in grass steers by 25 percent.
Opinion
Oct 11, 2013
Good supplementation programs will help meet these needs. However, as the summer slowly shifts to fall, finding adequate protein is more of a challenge. In general, as cattle graze, there is an expectation that producers match the season of the year with the nutritional requirements cattle need.
Opinion
Oct 4, 2013
That was Steve because he was the one who “obtains from the earth the bread and the meat.” Walking along, the source was the land and all that can be produced from that land. Not only producing but marketing the produce face to face to those who needed an evening meal.
Opinion
Sep 27, 2013
Are they all here? It never seems to fail that when the crew goes out to gather the cow/calf pairs, we are short one. The obvious response is: Any dead ones? The crew looks wry-faced and reasserts that they can tell a dead calf, so no, they did not find a dead calf!.
Opinion
Aug 23, 2013
Perhaps one is somewhat handicapped in the beef business without a marketing background. Marketing information is continuous and certainly needed. There are processes that allow producers to cover market risk, and given the center’s recent $300 losses in feeding cattle, one comes to appreciate those risk processes.
Opinion
Aug 16, 2013
The Dickinson Research Extension Center (REC) had three pens of yearling steers. One pen (A) was harvested when the steers were 18.1 months old. The next pen (B) was harvested when the steers were 21.4 months old and the last pen (C) was harvested when they were 22.
Opinion
Jul 19, 2013
The points made in the saying are very true. Anyone who has a fence certainly must ponder why all the effort is being made in keeping a fence. Frost notes the difficulty of maintaining a fence as the forces of nature beat upon the structure.
Opinion
Jul 12, 2013
One item that always sticks in my mind was a demonstration at one of the incident command trainings that center personnel attended. Sheri, the presenter, asked for someone to come forward to participate and started handing tennis balls to Sam, the volunteer.
Opinion
Jul 5, 2013
Perhaps a discussion in broader terms would provide some background. Cattle are no different than other living creatures. They are a highly refined and well-organized package of living cells. These cells each have a function and must and will do what is expected for the lifetime of the cow.
News
Jun 28, 2013
Do not assume a good, solid handshake and slap on the back means top dollar was achieved in marketing this year’s calves. Public auction barns and other competitive markets certainly will do their best to get the best value for the calves presented. However, producers need to do their part as well.
Opinion
Jun 21, 2013
The same as having cardiac pads available in human environments, cattle operations should have quick access to a veterinarian for consultation and care in this situation. The two probable causes that came to mind were ketosis (sometimes confused with milk fever at calving) and hypomagnesaemia tetany (commonly called grass tetany or grass staggers).
Opinion
Jun 14, 2013
The unpruned plant probably will look long and scraggly with a few flowers on it. The pruned plant will look robust and full of new leaves and additional flowers. Good gardeners spend all summer snipping, pinching and pruning their selected plants to make them more vigorous, full and gorgeous.
Opinion
May 31, 2013
The ranch discussion focuses on the occasional problems. Problems always will crop up, but when work, time off and sleep are balanced, people make better decisions. Those improved decisions make for fewer complications and better outcomes, so there is a better work environment.
Opinion
May 24, 2013
The flashback put me in the seat of an International 806 tractor with no cab, pulling a John Deere combine with a long-forgotten model number. The field was an average field of barley with the windrows running west to east. A strong wind was blowing from the west and the day was a typical hot, late-afternoon harvest day.
Opinion
May 17, 2013
As the calving season winds down, check the calving book. Count the number of cows that calved within 21 days from when the third mature cow calved. After that, check the number that calved the next 21 days and the next 21 days. Keep counting until you get to the end of the calving book.
Opinion
May 10, 2013
Missed breeding opportunities are expensive because the next opportunity only comes around again in three weeks. Bulls need to have structural soundness and physical stamina to breed and conceive calves on a daily basis throughout the breeding season. No excuses need be made for questionable bulls.
Opinion
May 3, 2013
The contrast was stark, but there was a beautiful point. Life survives. In the world of beef production, baby calves need to survive inclement weather with minimal intervention. The desire to survive, seek that first drink and dry place to bed down, and to bond quickly with mother are desires that come from genes that kick in at birth.
Opinion
Apr 26, 2013
We know that calf death will occur. However, that does not mean we accept the death of a calf. Instead, we see it as a challenge to our management abilities. The recent cold spells and spring snows are a challenge for those who chose to have their cows calve early or, for all practical purposes, at the traditional calving time.
Opinion
Apr 12, 2013
Regardless of current net returns, the goal of increasing net returns in the cattle operation is always commendable. For those who are struggling with negative net returns, the increase should move the cow/calf operation in a positive direction and provide enough additional dollars to remain in business.
Opinion
Mar 22, 2013
In anticipation of this spring’s summaries of agricultural enterprises provided by the North Dakota Farm Management Program (NDFM, at ndfarmmanagement.com), I have been reviewing previous numbers. Data also are available on the FINBIN website at finbin.
Opinion
Feb 22, 2013
To start, producers can sit down and review their own records. However, if history means anything, the evaluation of records is not simple, so the producer ends with the records set aside because numerous production articles and catalogs seem more interesting.
News
Feb 15, 2013
The cattle business is a fairly conservative business that is operated by fairly conservative people. As risk-takers in a highrisk environment, those in the cattle business have learned that conservative management seems to keep the operation around longer.
Opinion
Feb 8, 2013
The bull-buying season certainly is here, and I hope those who need some good replacement bulls are busy shopping. Like a good ice pond with way too many ice houses loaded with fishermen, who gets the fish (in this case, the bull) takes luck and good planning.
Opinion
Jan 25, 2013
The process is long, but continuous, just like herd selection. Selection, in the short term, ends with the purchase of a bull. In reality, the newly purchased bull will add genes to the breed and ultimately make a genetic contribution within the herd and very likely within the breed as a whole.
Opinion
Jan 18, 2013
When I started teaching a course on genetics several years ago, the textbook name was “iGenetics: A Mendelian Approach” by Peter J. Russell. This fall, I am teaching the same course. However, the text is now “iGenetics: A Molecular Approach” by Peter J. Russell.
Opinion
Jan 4, 2013
As far as the heifers go, we have a 96 percent pregnancy rate, but only 85 percent are predicted to calve by June 15. Some would say feelings have limited value when culling cows or replacement heifers. However, there always is that gut twinge when sending a well-grown, well-haired heifer to market.
Opinion
Dec 28, 2012
The bull’s genes were measured and presented as data at the time of sale. By utilizing that data, bulls may be sorted and selected with considerable accuracy. However, the data does not stop with the purchase of the bull. Breed associations constantly are updating their databases and fine-tuning the expected prog eny.
Opinion
Dec 7, 2012
Even as the cattle went through the chutes, the feeling was good. Interestingly, the cows seemed to be bred steadily until about midway through the second cycle and then tailed off quickly. One could say the cows were almost all bred by a cycle and a half.
Opinion
Nov 23, 2012
For many, the cows and calves head home, and then the calves are sorted for market. The busy-ness of it all is mind-boggling at times. The pens are stretched to the max, and there is not enough time to get every animal fed and watered on a normal schedule.
Opinion
Nov 16, 2012
However, perhaps some momentary thought should be given to managerial practices that have proven through the years to be sound practices. The problem is, when the obvious payment for calf processing disappears, then the logical conclusion is why even do it.
Opinion
Nov 9, 2012
Next year’s planning is under way. Everything is upbeat, and the cows and bulls even get a blue ribbon. Eighty-four percent of the cows are projected to calve in the first 21 days of the calving season next spring. This means that the cows cycled and the bulls got them bred.
Opinion
Oct 19, 2012
We are halfway through the fall semester, so students are busy learning. The reality of skipping class or slacking off is starting to show up for some. For others, the self-fulfilling rewards of better understanding how the world works is becoming evident.
Opinion
Oct 12, 2012
For more than 20 years of the CHAPS program, producers have encountered many challenges in the beef business. If the word “optimistic” is correct, the most optimistic year resulted in replacing cattle at more than 21 percent of the herd, while more conservative times are reflected in a low replacement rate of just less than 15 percent.
Opinion
Oct 5, 2012
However, here is something to keep in mind: If a typical beef producer marketed all the cattle last week that normally would be sold off the operation, approximately 50 percent of the check would be from the value of steer calves, 30 percent from the value of heifer calves, and 20 percent from the value of market cows and bulls.
Opinion
Sep 28, 2012
As cows and bulls are rounded up for fall sorting, some are sorted for sale, so it is very important to remember that cull cows and bulls are market beef and should be treated as such. Market groups need to be sorted and appropriately presented to the market.
Opinion
Sep 14, 2012
The point is this: The weather is nice and the cows are thin, so we need to feed them. Do not put off what is inevitable. Thin cows must be fed, and fall is a good time because the cows’ nutritional requirements are low, especially if the cows are dry, and the requirements are easier to meet.
Opinion
Sep 7, 2012
If one drives around much of the country, 2012 is a lot like 2008. The traditional summer hay is somewhat scarce in many areas and, in some areas, nonexistent. Maybe some solace can be found in the fact that we survived previous dry spells, so we also can survive this one.
Opinion
Aug 31, 2012
Although it is true feed must be edible, free of digestive problems and compatible with the beef cow, that still leaves a large selection of alternative feedstuffs. Regardless what one is feeding, the first step is figuring cost per unit of desired nutrients.
News
Aug 24, 2012
Let’s use corn, which is the No. 1 feed grain. We calculate the cost per unit of total digestible nutrients (TDN) and cost per unit of protein at various prices. To make the point, a quick scan on the Internet and a reputable feed table can be found to provide an approximate analysis for corn.
Opinion
Aug 3, 2012
The weather continues to make life interesting. I am tempted to say the weather makes life difficult. If that were true, life always would be difficult because, as long as the earth spins and continues its rotation around the sun, the weather never will be uninteresting or constant.
News
Jul 27, 2012
In the short term, heat impacts cattle performance because cooling down, or the dissipation of body heat, is critical for survival. High temperatures do not allow for a good mechanism to effectively dissipate a cow’s internal body heat production.
News
Jul 13, 2012
A slight adjustment backward by one week was made to better position the birth of the calves between May 1 and May 31. However, that brought up the question: Does late calving mean late weaning? If one listens carefully, many presenters will hedge. “That depends” is the most common answer.
News
Jun 22, 2012
Maximum gain, which is the maximum amount of beef produced on any given day by an individual steer, is no longer critical. If a 400-pound calf can gain 4 pounds per day, the calf would reach 1,200 pounds in 200 days or 1,500 pounds in 275 days.
Opinion
Jun 15, 2012
So how does one set goals? Some thoughts at various meetings bring some interesting concepts to the table. For instance, if one wants to market 1,300-pound live-grass steers by 2 years of age, the steers will need to gain 1.7 pounds per day to meet the challenge.
Opinion
Jun 8, 2012
In recent years, much discussion has been held regarding grass and beef production. The concept of integrating the two production activities seems like a no-brainer. If it was just the cows visiting with each other, that would be true. However, it is inevitable that people will get in the mix and that’s when the no-brainer starts getting complicated.
Opinion
Jun 1, 2012
“Those cows can’t catch me now that I don’t have all those heavy coveralls on!” Again, all is good. It has been just more than a year since the Dickinson Research Extension Center initially decided to furlough the bulls for a month by changing bull turnout from early and mid- June to the second week of July.
News
May 25, 2012
The first point that needs to be noted is that the beef business does not stand alone. The beef business, which is the business of producing food to feed people, is a subset of agriculture. Therefore, one needs to look at the big picture of agriculture.
Opinion
May 18, 2012
Well, what is, is. After a long and fairly nice winter, cattle are moving slowly to the cool-season grasses. Many have calves at their side, while others are waiting to calve. However, most of the cows have calved, so the cows and calves are in the process of being worked.
Opinion
May 4, 2012
In reality, producers should be preparing for less forage availability and implementing grazing strategies that will be in balance with what Mother Nature decides to provide this year. No one will know until summer’s end. However, by then, it is too late to be proactive.
Opinion
Apr 27, 2012
The old saying of thinking outside of one’s box is very real. If we only stay within our own box or environment, we do not really expand our thinking. With no expansion of thought, we never will know what the world could be. We may not want to tackle such a big question.
Opinion
Apr 13, 2012
This past year, depending on where an individual lives, has set records for warm, moistureless days. Last spring and summer, as those in the north country battled excess snow and spring rain, only the occasional southern drought article found itself on the list of things to read.
Opinion
Feb 10, 2012
In other words, large, medium and small types tend to have the same working parts and, for all practical considerations, in the same proportion as all members of the herd. That being said, the obvious constraints of larger or smaller cattle rest more with the management of the producer’s system than the actual size of the cattle.
Opinion
Jan 27, 2012
However, one thing about models is that, as new data comes in, the model simply repredicts. If the projections based on various assumptions do not hold true, then the assumptions can be changed and new projections created. This process really has no end and actually creates a lot of news and information that, in turn, drives managerial decisions.
News
Dec 30, 2011
A producer once called and was concerned that the banker was critical of the age of the cows in the herd. The producer was very successful in keeping older cows productive, but the banker felt the cows were too old.
News
Dec 2, 2011
Cattle reproduction is a very talked-about number. As noted for years, if not decades, success in the cow/ calf business is directly related to a producer’s ability to get the cows pregnant. The standard numbers referred to are relatively easy to calculate.
News
Oct 14, 2011
Starting in 1995, the Dickinson Research Extension Center noted the need to evaluate production costs and herd performance for late-spring (early May) calving in contrast to the traditional spring (late-March, early April) calving in southwestern North Dakota.
News
Sep 30, 2011
Cattle are no different from any other living thing. Rule No. 1 is that cattle must eat and meet their daily nutritional requirements. Occasional imbalances may be tolerated for short periods, but through the long haul, every cow, calf, yearling, replacement heifer, finishing calf and bull must eat.
Opinion
Sep 9, 2011
Back at the ranch, some of the Dickinson Research Extension Centers small grain hay, which is winter-seeded triticale and hairy vetch, will yield almost 5 tons per acre. The soft dough is around 12.5 percent moisture. For typical dryland production, those are some big numbers.
Opinion
Aug 5, 2011
Generally, the operational model is renewed, and the managerial motto that �if it worked before, it will work again� can be heard humming in the background. By this time, one should be asking if I am talking about resilience or if I have shifted to resistance.
Opinion
Jul 15, 2011
It was not that long ago (early April) that the Dickinson Research Extension Center decided to furlough the bulls for a month. As the breeding plans were being finalized and additional discussions were held, the bull turnout dates were set for mid-August.
Opinion
Jul 8, 2011
The cattle business has many components and is divided into various enterprises that individual producers opted to participate in. The cow/calf segment always has been the starting point, with subsequent divisions or new enterprises branching off the cow/calf business.
Opinion
Jul 1, 2011
The future of beef starts with beef systems that generate a per-cow gross margin of $600 and hold direct costs to less than $400 and overhead to less than $100 per cow. After all, the future is what we really desire to know. Unfortunately, much of the future remains hidden behind a wall that we are not given privilege to peek behind.
Opinion
May 27, 2011
The beef business hit some positive returns, according to the North Dakota Farm and Ranch Business Management Education Program (www.ndfarmmanagement. com) and FINBIN (www. finbin.umn.edu/) farm financial database from the Center for Farm Financial Management at the University of Minnesota.
Opinion
May 20, 2011
Numbers are sketchy, but perhaps that remains at the heart of the many issues in the beef business. Granted, there are numbers by the truckload for markets and feedlots. These numbers are utilized daily and help guide those involved in some portions of the beef industry.
Jan 21, 2011
One fundamental point often is overlooked among all the charts, trends and rhetoric about the beef business. The beef business does not exist without the business of the cow. The cow business is the foundation of the beef business. Without cows, there is no beef or beef business.
Opinion
Dec 23, 2010
The article titled Economics of Animal Agriculture Production, Processing and Marketing (Volume 21, No. 3, 2006), authored by Michael Boehlje, focused on issues we in the beef industry need to understand. Perhaps that understanding is the source of the continued discussion.
Opinion
Dec 17, 2010
If the future of beef is a concern, and it certainly seems to be based on the numerous reports on the decreasing cow herd, then who really is concerned? Having been to many meetings and then repeats of these meetings and actually repeats of the...
Opinion
Dec 3, 2010
The Dickinson Research Extension Center utilizes many bulls and always evaluates bulls at the time of purchase and periodically throughout their life span. Perhaps the most challenging evaluation is to ask if the bulls meet the current objectives of the breeding program or expected market for the calves.
Opinion
Nov 12, 2010
The call came late in the day after most people had left the office. Do you know who the calf carrying the electronic identification number 123123- 123123123 is? Would you have the calf in your database? These questions are asked often and involve the process of verifying a calf and crosschecking the database.
Opinion
Nov 5, 2010
A common marketing claim is the source and age verification of calves. As producers gather cattle to go to market, they have the option to provide documentation to a third-party verifier that their calves are eligible to be source and age verified. Seems simple, and many producers are offering their calves as sourced and aged.
Opinion
Oct 8, 2010
Fall is, depending on where one lives, the time to process calves. As producers, fall also is the last time we physically have the calf in our possession. We need to take the time to note or record the information we would like to have for each calf..
Opinion
Sep 24, 2010
Producers utilizing the CHAPS (Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System) record-keeping program through the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) have a cow pregnancy rate of 93.5 percent and will follow through in the spring by calving out 92.
Opinion
Sep 10, 2010
As those who are involved in the process of selling beef know, once a commitment is made, that commitment needs to be honored. With the tight supplies of beef and the need to plan long term, kinks in the supply chain can make for some very long days..
Opinion
Sep 3, 2010
If one stands by the fence and discusses calving, most producers are sympathetic to the late- calving cow. At least she has a live calf, is the general response. That is true, but the challenge is to move beyond acceptance and perhaps refocus and rethink this subtle, but real acceptance of late-calving cows.
Opinion
Aug 27, 2010
The Dickinson Research Extension Center has fed cattle for many years. For at least the last 14 years, the center has fed cattle in a commercial feedlot. Those cattle have performed well, but a struggle always remains between weaned-calf value, backgrounded-calf value and fed-calf value.
Opinion
Aug 6, 2010
The cattle business is very dynamic, so it is very easy to get lost in the shuffle. The current news or the latest color print catches our eyes and we start talking. Our conversations tend to be filled with lots of thoughts sprinkled with a few facts.
News
Jul 9, 2010
Realizing that the bulls did not read the planning manual is a typical and not that uncommon situation after all the long-term efforts are put in place. The bottom line is that the bull wont stay in the pasture. If there isnt a bull, there will not be calves.
Opinion
Jul 9, 2010
Realizing that the bulls did not read the planning manual is a typical and not that uncommon situation after all the long-term efforts are put in place. The bottom line is that the bull wont stay in the pasture. If there isnt a bull, there will not be calves.
Opinion
Jun 25, 2010
Agriculture is a fast-moving, high-technology business. The production and processing of agricultural products for our consumption is demanding. These demands are not getting easier as consumers increasingly become distant from production.
Opinion
Jun 18, 2010
Weaning weight has moved up and down through the years, which is more than likely due to environmental factors. However, the most recent data gathered by the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Associations Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System (CHAPS) program indicates a trend of increased 205-day calf weaning weight.
Opinion
Jun 11, 2010
Growing cattle generate dollars to cover the daily upkeep and contribute to the income pool at the end of the day. The fixed costs of the beef business must be paid, but fixed costs can only be met once the variable costs are paid, which takes growth..
Opinion
Jun 4, 2010
For the Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC), the spring calving season has been OK. The moisture is good, but not excessive, which is good for the grass and the pending cool-season crops. As usual, the warm-season crops are a flip of the coin right now, but we will see.
Opinion
May 28, 2010
If anthrax is diagnosed, the costs will increase. The expenses include proper disposal (preferably cremation) of those animals that die, isolation and antibiotic treatment for all animals displaying symptoms, subsequent vaccination of all the exposed animals and finally, herd quarantine.
Opinion
May 21, 2010
The Benjamin Franklin axiom that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is as true today as it was when Franklin made the quote. Although many use the quote when referring to health, Franklin actually was addressing fire safety.
Opinion
May 15, 2010
Several sets of cows have gone to cool-season grass. In fact, almost all the cows that are keepers at the center are on grass. Latercalving cows will sell at a pair sale in mid-May. This leaves cows that can maintain an early calving date within the herds expected calving season, which means pounds and dollars.
Opinion
May 7, 2010
Source and age verification has a bite to it. As producers, many of the management discussions are relatively painless. The discussion is free, and opinions often are welcomed. Sometimes a particular view of a subject can change when other opinions are brought to the table.
Opinion
Apr 23, 2010
While memories of the calving season are still fresh in your mind (and your calving book is your reference book of choice), now is the time to review this years calving distribution. Evaluate how your management is working.
Opinion
Mar 5, 2010
Time does not allow us to absorb everything in one setting. For example, it often is best to read one chapter at a time in a book so one can absorb as much as possible. Bull buying is like reading a good book. It is best to do it one chapter at a time..
Opinion
Feb 19, 2010
Producers simply do not round up rogue cows and calves, select a calf for harvest, and then invite the neighbors over for supper. Selection processes allow producers to get a feel for the genes a bull carries without having to gamble on the bulls outward appearance.
Opinion
Feb 12, 2010
That is a very relevant point. The art of livestock selection started centuries ago when producers realized that if they kept back a particular animal, the progeny of that animal tended to look like that animal. If both the sire and dam of the progeny were of a desirable type, then the offspring tended to be even more desirable.
Opinion
Jan 29, 2010
The weaning weight EPD reflects the pounds a bull is expected to contribute to his offspring when compared with other bulls in the breed randomly mated to cows within the breed. The real meaning of the number is the difference in genes that affect, in this case, weaning weight.
Opinion
Jan 22, 2010
The Dickinson Research Extension Center and the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) have rejoined forces to demonstrate and document a heifer development program. The NDBCIA and the center had a similar project in the late 1990s..
Opinion
Jan 15, 2010
The center sold 2-year-old replacement bred heifers and 3-year-old bred cows. The bred heifers marketed in late October weighed 982 pounds and averaged $721 per head. The bred heifers marketed in mid-November weighed 1,105 pounds and averaged $925 per head.
Opinion
Dec 31, 2009
As the year comes to a close, many thoughts come to mind. These thoughts are embedded with questions. What makes these thoughts unique for each person is a combination of time and place. Questions for older or younger people are anchored at a different point in time.
Opinion
Dec 11, 2009
Based on the average price, the most valued cut was 25 pounds of ribeye roll at $126.79. However, the range of reported values was a low of $118.81 to a high of $143.77. The second greatest value was 46 pounds of boneless chuck roll that brought $84.37. The range in reported values was a low of $76.
Opinion
Dec 4, 2009
Dickinson State University offers a course in solving cow/calf management problems. Students are challenged to review their own and cooperating North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association producer herds and develop improvement plans in each herd..
Opinion
Nov 30, 2009
Cattle are built to take most weather in strideas long as they stay in their region of origin and the weather stays normal. Northern cattle with winter hair coats are comfortable with temperatures down to 20 Fahrenheit (F), unless they get wet and the wind blows.
Opinion
Nov 13, 2009
There is a time to set aside the business of life and simply do. Even the best-run business, cattle or otherwise, cannot deny that, in the end, someone else is in control, regardless of who we are, and really does not ask for input.
Opinion
Oct 30, 2009
If one has ever dismantled an old home, lifting the floorboards can be quite interesting. Perhaps it is as simple as an old coin that rolled between the boards or a long-held stash of papers put there as a place to reside and eventually were boarded over.
Opinion
Oct 23, 2009
Fairness and other market positioning often are expressed as frustration or confrontation rather than organized planning. The outcome of the conversations is varied. However, the general summation usually leaves things as they are, a little frustrated, but willing to go.
Opinion
Sep 25, 2009
At one time, a tag and scale were all the tools needed to start a beef cattle production record system. The tag was placed at birth and the mother and birth date were recorded in the free notebook from the local livestock business.
Opinion
Sep 11, 2009
We expect our perception of the world to follow us, so that becomes the heart of our current dilemma. Recent news articles have been very pointed at a food industry that has tried and continues to try to meet the demands of a mobile, demanding client..
Opinion
Sep 4, 2009
A land mapping of ecosites in pastures is helping producers determine stocking rates. This mapping process identifies potential forage production for all the individual ecosites to determine the number of acres needed to provide the nutritional requirement for a cow for a month.
Opinion
Aug 21, 2009
In food production, things are never the same because many variables come into play on a daily basis. The other day I noticed the raspberry bushes were full of raspberries. Most would say that they are supposed to be. However, the real answer is that the raspberries are not supposed to be there because the birds always eat them.
Opinion
Aug 14, 2009
Four things beef producers might want to think about are food safety, seamless regionalized calf-tofeedlot health connectivity, implementation of improved RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, and value capture for the producer. Realized or not, these four points have a significant impact on the beef industry.
Opinion
Jul 31, 2009
Management generally implies input followed by discussion, decision and implementation. The amount of input generally reflects the seriousness of the topic. Recently, the Dickinson Research Extension Center discussed the allocation of cattle resources. Believe me, everyone sat up at the table.
Opinion
Jul 24, 2009
How does one capture value? That is not an easy question to answer. As a boy, I remember visits to the farm by some big city cousins who did not have the advantage of growing up on the farm. They wanted to help, and one particular point that stands out was the feeding exercise.
Opinion
Jul 10, 2009
Usually, when businesses buy and sell inventory, one of three things happens. Under option one, the item sells for more than it was purchased for and one has the opportunity to make money. The second is the break-even option. This is when an item sells for the same as the purchase price.
Opinion
Jul 7, 2009
The first set of cows averaged just more than 1,400 pounds at spring turnout on crested wheatgrass. They are part of a study involving cropping rotations and range systems harvested by grazing cow/calf pairs and early weaned calves. The second set of cows averaged 1,060 pounds when turned on crested wheatgrass this spring.
Opinion
Jun 29, 2009
The cattle business is a profession that requires considerable education and experience. In other words, the managerial inputs need to be well thought out so that the ramifications or consequence of doing or not doing something has the desired outcome.
Opinion
Jun 19, 2009
The beef business never has been short on opinions. Good opinions and the willingness to share those opinions are the core to any dynamic, independent business. For beef producers, independence is manifested in the concept, I need to get the work done.
Opinion
May 22, 2009
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.
Opinion
May 15, 2009
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.
Opinion
May 1, 2009
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.
Opinion
Apr 17, 2009
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.
Opinion
Apr 10, 2009
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.
Mar 6, 2009
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.
News
Feb 27, 2009
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.
Feb 13, 2009
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.
Opinion
Jan 23, 2009
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.
Jan 16, 2009
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.
Opinion
Jan 9, 2009
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.
Opinion
Dec 30, 2008
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.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Sep 5, 2008
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
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 29, 2008
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
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Aug 22, 2008
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. The
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jul 25, 2008
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
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jul 18, 2008
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
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
May 23, 2008
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
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Structural problems, poor performance and/or behavior were the reasons for culling three bulls at the Dickinson Research Extension Center the other day. The bulls were sold to two different buyers for a total of $3,831.35. After the trip to town, the bulls weighed 2,095, 2,085 and 2,145 pounds. They had weighed 2,210, and 2,210 and 2,270 pounds walking out of the lot three days earlier. The issue of shrink or fill is real. Given the volume and capacity of these bulls, the 5.5 percent shrink during the marketing process is somewhat typical. (I will save the shrink discussion for another
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
The phone rings. The producer answers and the voice on the other ends says, “We have a question on one of those calves you sold. Could you pull its record? We shipped it yesterday.” This reality check will be said repeatedly as the beef business moves into the future. Individual animal (and producer) accountability is arriving fast and the days of optical illusions may very well end soon. The Dickinson Research Extension Center experienced firsthand the illusions of the beef industry. Recently, the center attempted to source and age verify 21 purchased calves. More than 14 percent of the tags were
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
The annual bull buying season starts—time to bone up on EPDs While the development of expected progeny differences (EPDs) is complicated, the application of EPD numbers to bull-buying techniques is reasonably straightforward and simple. At this time of year, most producers are preparing for the future as they gear up to purchase bulls for their cow herd. These purchases, which start with solid relationships between the seed stock supplier and the commercial beef producer, have a huge impact on the future of the beef business. The livestock periodicals are filled with bull advertisements. The business of selling bulls is very competitive and
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
A review of a good sale catalog The procedure for buying bulls should be fairly methodical. While the process can be as encompassing as one wants, we can not forget that the genes are what is needed for herd improvement. The number of sale catalogs received can be overwhelming, but the future return on the time investment of reviewing catalog information is critical. Looks can be deceiving, so that is why homework is necessary. A good catalog starts out with a friendly welcome and factual information about the sale. This information is fairly common, but certainly is needed. Of critical importance is a
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Someone you should get to know—your waste management professional Change in the world of livestock is not new and comes in many forms. Today, the most obvious is the little spots that are starting to show up on the hillsides as spring calving gets under way. The spring sun certainly brings a new light to the operations and it doesn’t take much time for the newborn calves to take advantage of the weather. These are good changes because the inventory is growing again. Along with inventory growth comes the opportunity for additional revenue. Great news for producers, but you quickly notice
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Life does not come easy 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. There are times when reports of twins and triplets certainly boost the available calf numbers, but the loss of any calf is always significant. The greatest impact is standing over a lifeless calf wondering what else could have been done. This business we call the cow business and our
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
In the process of developing the weekly BeefTalk column, new thoughts came to mind. Lots 4425, 5478 and 6270 from the Dickinson Research Extension Center produced sound scientific data. This week’s column summarizes three years of feedlot performance from a set of smaller- framed, crossbred Lowline steers. Lot 4425 arrived Nov. 5, 2004. These 22 head of 2003 spring-born, grass steers (long yearlings) had an average pay weight of 945 pounds and an average frame score of 4.4. The lot averaged 85 days on feed with 2.85 pounds of average daily gain (ADG), a feed efficiency of 7.6 and a harvest
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
May is always a busy time. The fun of the approaching summer, the warm air, occasional rain showers, and cows and calves strolling through the thick, green, cool-season grasses makes one appreciate rural life. At this time of the year, grass and calves grow at astonishing rates. Unfortunately, we all can relate to those days when all the calves didn’t bounce up like they should. After arriving at the pasture, a
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Cave images just can’t compete with cell phone text  Insight into the cattle industry is keen, but, as a producer, the ability to make use of that insight and convert that understanding to real impact is critical. The American Angus Association sponsored an effort to help categorize the many varied forms of producer managerial thoughts to produce a document that would be an excellent starting point for further discussion and understanding of the business we often simply refer to as “beef.” The initial outcome of that effort was the publication “Priorities First: Identifying Management Priorities in the Commercial Cow-Calf Business.”
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
impetuous. In the world of beef, it is important to evaluate and ask if our priorities are in the right order. This is true in all businesses and beef is no exception. However, setting priorities is only part of the equation. The next step is to make sure one sets aside enough time to reflect on how to effectively accomplish life among the noted priorities. The facts are very straight forward for all of us. We need to realize that few of us really have adequate resources or unlimited opportunities. However, one common denominator all producers have is time. We all are given
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Grass is not free Summer in the beef business is turn out time. If we are not careful, some would conclude that it is the time of year when we don’t need to feed the cows. Summer would seem to be the time when cash costs are less and the pocketbook is not being called upon as frequently to pay the bills. The summer focus is the processing, hauling and storage of next winter’s feed. However, summer can be expensive. The costs of raising crops and forage are working their way into the system. The cow still is eating and those bites of
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Now is the time to plan for preconditioned calves The time is fast approaching in the annual cow/calf cycle when thoughts shift from production to marketing. Now is the time to start thinking about preparing calves for market. One might say this is old hat by now, but it really isn’t. The need to provide protection for calves, whether one weans them at home or sells them right off the cow, is a vital part of successful management. At the Dickinson Research Extension Center, the calves receive vaccinations for infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR), bovine viral diarrhea type I and II (BVD),
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
The Dickinson Research Extension Center is getting ready to ship some calves. A quick review of the vaccination efforts at the center notes that the calves were vaccinated for viral and bacterial invaders in the spring during branding. The calves will be vaccinated again prior to weaning and at weaning. The development of a vaccination program involves consulting with a veterinarian. The goal is to prepare calves so they will be better able to withstand the
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
The recent drought is only the last on a relatively long list of natural calamities that impact agricultural producers. Currently, not only do those involved have little to no moisture, but nature’s wrath and fire are literally burning what remains. The tragedy is exponentially confounded when what stored forage remains is burned. The response is critical, but the correct or even the most appropriate answer generally is not well-known. The bottom line quickly becomes survival, financial
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Is it ever too dry to grow a plant? Now that we’ve had a frost, it’s time to reflect on our previous growing season. With the prices being offered for crops, most producers have to ask themselves if they could have squeezed out a little more production. Ranchers involved in animal production can look over the fence and see what farmers (those more involved in plant production) are up to. The Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) used that principle when Roger Ashley, Extension Service agronomist, and Dickinson State University student Wesley Messer investigated the possibility of double-cropping. Ashley and Messer presented their findings
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
Opportunity comes with intensity Many opportunities exist within agriculture. Most are driven by the opportunity to make more money, but some are driven by the opportunity to do something different. In either case, the successful completion of the endeavor is not always positive. Frank Kutka, sustainable agricultural specialist at the North Dakota State University Dickinson Research Extension Center, attended a conference on goat production. Given my background in small ruminants, primarily sheep, it didn’t take long to engage in a good discussion about the conference and the world of smaller ruminants. Having taught the key management principles involved in small-ruminant production, the learning curve
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 20, 2007
The most recent addition to the lineup gets the nod. We all know that in a matter of days, the most recent becomes old. You now can do about anything you want with that small device in the palm of your hand. You can take a small stick device and manipulate the keypad in a way that the world knows who you are, where you are, and what you need. This is common among the new generation. The older generation is quickly getting acclimated. Therein is a great opportunity: new jobs and new expectations. In the beef world, the beef techie soon
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Nov 26, 2007
A burden or opportunity? For the past six years, North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association producers have been involved with age- and source-verification research with North Dakota State University (NDSU) and numerous partners. This partnership led to a successful application to USDA to provide third-party verification for age and source by the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. The CalfAID program was named an official USDA-Agricultural Marketing Service Process Verified Program in 2006. Data collected is processed through the cow herd appraisal performance software for nearly 400 North Dakota cow/calf producers, with a typical herd size of 190 cows, as well
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Nov 12, 2007
Forward thinkers always needed in the beef industry Organizations come and go, especially organizations formed for a specific purpose. As that purpose or the need diminishes, so does the organization. Some organizations seem to have a purpose or function that extends through time. These organizations are made up of forward-thinking people who have an ability to keep the never ending complex world organized. One such group is the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA). I turned to the group for assistance when I was asked to testify before the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC). The request was for information related to a qualitative
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Nov 5, 2007
Buy a scale The beef industry has been producing beef since the first two cows were domesticated. We hope one cow produced a heifer to be kept as a replacement and the other cow produced a bull calf suitable for harvest. In the early days, calf size would have been noticed, if for nothing else, because of the number of people who could be invited over for pot roast. Through the years, weight and frame still remain critical to the success of a commercial beef operation. Through time, calves and cows got bigger in weight, muscle and frame. The current benchmarks for those
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Oct 29, 2007
Load’em up and bring those “doggies” home The fall of the year represents changing times. Colors change, the air becomes crisp, and the growing season comes to a close. It is time to move on. The grain harvest is an early indicator that the time to move from field to bin is here, but the real clincher is the movement of calves. Last week, the Dickinson Research Extension Center started bringing home the calves for weaning and sorting. In the end, cows go one way and calves the other. This activity is motivated by good management principles, which are driven by survival. Soon
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Sep 3, 2007
Animal identification slowly is becoming a maze that goes nowhere At one time, the process of tracking cattle was simple. Cattle did not move far and any transactions that involved swapping cattle were recorded to memory. In fact, prior to the concept of crossbreeding, cattle were moved only between the same types. This was a concept that was put in place by English animal breeder Robert Bakewell during the 18th century. Of course, there were cattle that were rogues, feral in nature, but these were considered inferior to well-bred cattle. Prominent societies were established to track cattle and record offspring and transfer
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jul 16, 2007
Back to the fungus Reviewing the cow/calf priority list (“Priorities First: Identifying Management Priorities in the Commercial Cow-calf Business”) that was summarized and authored by Tom Field, Ph.D., Fort Collins, CO, it is very obvious that the highest priorities for cow/calf producers are directly related to the purpose of the cow. That purpose, to annually produce a calf that will convert roughage from ruminant forage to nonruminant feed, is a very important part of the food chain. Whether food for other animals or food for humans, the conversion of forage by ruminants to protein for use in nonruminant diets certainly is important.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 26, 2007
Vaccinate and get ahead of the storm We seem to expect and accept some level of illness from the people we associate with and from the living things that are entrusted to our care. During certain times of the year, there seems to be a marked increase in sickness. Now seems to be one of those times. Blame it on the weather. The “cooping” phenomenon because of the weather causes everyone to remain in fairly close contact. In fact, one has the tendency to ask if anyone actually is feeling well. One of our children noted that a friend had chicken
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 29, 2007
The trick in a good beef-breeding plan is to stack the bull pen full of great EPDs. On most winter nights or even days, most cattle producers do not sit around and ponder the activity of blowfish, sometimes called puffer fish. No, this time of year, cattle producers find themselves paging through bull catalogs and dreaming of the perfect bull. The evening pictures bring about a certain amount of contentment to finish the day. The perusal of the estimated progeny differences (EPDs) rejuvenates some basic math skills, quickly sorting the best to the top. But what about blowfish? Blowfish have the unique
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Dec 4, 2006
  The future of beef—global competitiveness In the world of food production, beef is one piece of a very big picture. Today’s beef production plans need to include the rest of the world, which is very complex and sometimes volatile. Trade across borders means survival. Flynn Adcock and Associates opined in “Consumer Issues and Demand,” published by the American Agricultural Economics Association’s online Choices magazine (www.choicesmagazine.org, Volume 21, No. 3, 2006), that three global forces impacting us are “animal disease outbreaks and discoveries, income growth in developing economies and trade liberalizations.” The faces and expressions of these forces are hard to decipher
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Oct 30, 2006
Do not cut out tags The other day I was visiting with a producer who wanted carcass information on the calves he sold. His frustration was directed at the failure of the system. None of the performance data from his calves was coming back to him. He tagged his calves with electronic identification (EID) tags and followed all the appropriate steps, but nothing happened. The principal reason was the electronic ID tags in his calves had been cut out when the calves arrived at the feed yard. Sometimes the message needs to be very blunt: “Do not cut out electronic identification tags,
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Oct 22, 2006
Attending the North Dakota Stockmen’s Association annual meeting in Fargo, ND, was good. The meeting, as with all meetings, picked up the flavor of the region, a fact of life throughout the world. It seems beef meetings are filled with good humor, with much of it directed at chickens. Unlike many ethnic stories, there is no offense taken to a good chicken joke among the beef folks. In this case, egg laying Ginger was the center of attraction. Ginger starred in the movie “Chicken Run,” a funny movie by Aardman Animations involving a flock of chickens bent on not becoming chicken pie.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jul 10, 2006
Around mid-June to early July, Mother Nature usually kicks summer into gear. The first noticeable symptom in the upper Great Plains is an increase in temperature and a decrease in moisture. It’s a thin line in determining if a drought is in progress, or if one is simply experiencing good haying weather. There is a concern surfacing, however, that livestock feed may be in short supply. Panic may be too harsh of a word, but some producers do panic.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jun 19, 2006
There is nothing more serious in the cattle business than buying a bull. Much time is spent evaluating available information, such as performance data and pedigree, to assure that the right bull is brought home. Not everyone will use the right information (a personal bias), but when the gavel strikes the podium, the bull has a new owner and home. The process essentially has bonded the bull to the new operation. There is always the need to look over the fence as the bull settles into the new surroundings.
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
May 23, 2005
The beef business could be called a very static business in some respects. Granted, the world of politics certainly keeps life interesting and the daily markets are far from constant. However, in the big picture, individual beef operations do not change much from year to year. The cows usually calve at the same time and the pasture choice seldom
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Apr 18, 2005
The Dickinson Research Extension Center has been actively evaluating the many processes involved in the electronic tracking of cattle. The early prognosis is simple: The industry is not ready for the implementation of a uniform, nationally recognizable numbering system for individual animal identification as called for in the U.S. animal identification plan. This same plan, developed by the national identification development team, also identified the need for a uniform premises identification system. The implementation of the premises allocation process and subsequent utilization of the premises number seems to be on track. The center had excellent
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Mar 14, 2005
The Dickinson Research Extension Center is evaluating the process involved with tracking cattle. The results have not always been positive, but the data collection continues. The effort is important because the beef cattle industry needs information to assist with decisions relative to age and source verification. The data could be important in implementing a tagging system and a mechanism for tracking cattle as they pass through the many different enterprises involved in raising beef cattle. The center has accounted for the location of 89 percent of the CalfAID calves tagged last fall. The remaining calves are slowly being accounted for, but calf
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Feb 28, 2005
"You hold the world in your hands" is an apt description of the beef business. It is evident during the winter beef cattle meeting circuit. There is discussion about tracking cattle, premises-to-premises movement of animals, or going all the way and actually tracking individual animals. The meeting probably will get a little spicy if you add to the discussion the movement of cattle across international borders. I was asked the other day what I think of all this discussion. No quick point came to mind, but I did think of the producers I know and pondered what they must think. The answer
Cattle Market & Farm Reports, Editorials
Jan 14, 2005
The discussion remains heated on animal identification. As the winter picks up and the meeting season clicks along, a very common request is for more information on what is new in the world of cattle electronic identification. The Dickinson Research Extension Center is deep in the throws of the animal identification issue. The DREC actively was placing electronic IDs (EIDs) in calves this past fall. Currently, the tracing process is getting started and the total results are still in the future. Numerically, the center physically tagged 3,323 calves and 944 cows at 28 different work sites for an average of 152 cattle


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