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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.