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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.