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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We still are pondering the future of the beef cow and visiting and revisiting old and new thoughts. If one references the world production of beef, our beef production is just one piece of a very big picture.
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.
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...
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.
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.
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.
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..
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.