When you breed or turn out bulls with heifers or cows, you have certain expectations. Ideally, you want each of them to become pregnant, deliver an unassisted, healthy calf, and raise it to half its mommas weight six months later.
These ideas are pretty much universal, but lets consider your cowherd. Across the country, cattle are getting better based on trends in daily gain, efficiency and quality grades. For decades, the improvements were uneven, giving up beef quality for better performance on the ranch or feedlot.
If theres one thing beef production cant be, its too predictable. We deal with erratic weather and markets, so dependable profit hangs its hat on cow and calf performance that follows a steady and improving trend line.
When you count your blessings, remember to include the ones disguised as challenges. Some of them you decided to take on as calculated risks; others intruded on your farm or in your life, but turned out to be mixed blessings.
In reality, animal identification has been around since animals were domesticated and will continue as long as we own animals. As soon as the new family dog arrives at home, the discussion turns to naming the new pet, along with the purchase of a collar and tags.
Nows the time many people save money on spring-calving cows. They have just weaned the calves, or perhaps weaned them several weeks ago, so that the cows are in pretty good shape. That would usually be at least body condition score (BCS) 5 to 6, depending on where they live and how much money the owners plan to save on feed.
Get em in the truck, slam the door, wait for the check. How much planning goes into your cattle marketing? Across the country, it varies from long-term contract holders to those who cut out a few head now and then to pay bills. Either extreme can leave money on the table.
Demand for beef is down. Can you blame the recession? Not entirely, but its a darned inconvenient coincidence. Its hard to argue that beef quality was too low, because production of every class of premium beef has been trending up for some time.
Cows cant do math, but their owners should at least do some counting. From financial balance sheets to stocking rates, a precise inventory is a must. Beyond that, you need cows that are worth owning. Cows that matter, that count because of what they can profitably produce.
While your calves are frisking in the sun, the last thing on their minds should be the first thing on yours. The fact that your cows gave birth to calves creates a wellspring of opportunity that can trickle along toward sale day or grow to a profitable river.
Most North American cowherds calve in the ?spring,? very broadly defined as January to May because folks contending with wind chill don?t want to admit they calve in the winter. Spring continues for the first three weeks of June, but we tend to call that summer calving.
These are penny-pinching times. Thermostats and consumer spending are down. People are traveling less and doing without frills. Cattlemen often embrace this conservative spirit, even in the good years. We know that the cattle cycle turns, and favorable prices can only last so long.
As the trailer door clangs shut on a disappointment, there’s time
for a final explanation: “You are a good-looking cow. Your sire
is the most popular, balanced-trait bull we could find. We paid more for
your momma than any other animal on the farm, and you were our son’s
prize 4-H project. But it’s data that counts. With the lowest