Beef Tips

K-State’s Winter Ranch Management Series Set for February

The seminar series will focus on management and profit strategies for beef producers and allow producers to ask questions of their local, district and state extension specialists.

 MANHATTAN, Kan. – Strategies to mitigate environmental factors impacting reproduction is the theme of the 2019 Kansas State University Winter Ranch Management Seminar Series. Hosted at four sites across the state of Kansas the meetings will feature presentations and comments by extension educators on profit-enhancing strategies. Continue reading “K-State’s Winter Ranch Management Series Set for February”

Tally Time – Resolve to get a Personal Assistant for your Cow/Calf Operation in 2019

By Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist, Colby, KS

Most of our farming and ranching enterprises would welcome a little more help from time to time.  That additional help can be hard to find or find with the skills desired.  In other cases, hiring help may put too much strain on the budget.  One-way cow/calf producers can make the time they do have go a bit further is by using an electronic personal assistant called the Management Minder.  It keeps track of key dates and activities as they relate to managing the herd and shows them to you on an electronic calendar.  Reminders automatically pop-up on your smart phone based on your inputs. There is some investment of time initially to set it up, but from that point on, it’s on the job working for you.  You can find the Management Minder at www.KSUBeef.org/managementminder. Continue reading “Tally Time – Resolve to get a Personal Assistant for your Cow/Calf Operation in 2019”

Counting the Cost of Silage Losses in your Operation

By Mike Brouk, ruminant nutritionist

Silage is often the base forage for the diets of growing cattle and the cow herd.  This past year, due to the drought, thousands of acres of drought-stricken corn and sorghum were harvested as silage.  A hidden cost of silage is associated with the shrink due to fermentation, storage, and feedout.  Total shrink from harvest through feeding can result in the loss of 5 to 40% of the dry matter harvested.  This is generally a hidden cost on most operations due to the lack of accurate records to measure shrink.  However, a few basic principles can help reduce losses. Continue reading “Counting the Cost of Silage Losses in your Operation”

Management of Mold and Quality Issues of Late-Harvested Forages

By Sandy Johnson, Extension Beef Specialist, Colby, Steve Ensley, DVM, K-State Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, and John Holman, Agronomy, Garden City

In some areas of Kansas, summer moisture produced good tonnage of forage sorghum and other forages intended for winter livestock feeding. Heavy windrows extended drying time and some forage that was on the ground for weeks received both rain and snow. As a result, much of that forage had evidence of mold. In heavy windrows, the mold may have only been on the top and bottom of the windrow with the center well preserved. In other cases, and especially in thin windrows, the hay may be moldy throughout and the leaves and stalks nearly black. In some reports, mold was bad enough to turn equipment black during baling. Continue reading “Management of Mold and Quality Issues of Late-Harvested Forages”

December 2018 Management Minute

“Reflection with a Purpose”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Although it does not seem possible, the New Year will soon be upon us. This is a great time for individuals and organizations to reflect back on the events of the past 12 months. However, the value of reflection dramatically increases if it is used as a tool to evaluate not only where you or the organization has been but also where it is headed in the future. A few basic questions can be used to guide the process of “Reflecting with a Purpose”

What did you or the business succeed at?
What were your failures?
What was learned from those successes and failures?
What would you like to do more of or what generated positive outcomes for the organization?
What should you stop doing?

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu.

November 2018 Management Minute

“Winter Safety in the Workplace”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Winter will be upon us shortly and many agricultural workers work in the elements, which brings a new set of seasonal workplace hazards. Falls, slips and trips are one of the most common causes of workplace injuries (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). Although falls and slips can occur anytime, extra precautions are required during the winter months. Hypothermia is real, especially for those who work in the elements. Safety experts suggest that clothing should be layered to retain body heat. However, how and what type of layers those clothes are made of is important. At least three layers is recommended; cotton or other breathable synthetic fiber should be the first or base layer. Wool or down is suggested for the middle layer, and the third or outer layer should be comprised of material that will block the wind (nylon outer shell found on many ski-jackets etc). Portable heaters are often used as heat sources in many shops and barns. Portable heaters are one of the most common causes of carbon monoxide poisoning and fires. If heaters are used in confined spaces, keep in mind that ventilation is required to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. Additionally, the areas where heaters are used should be checked for combustible materials.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu.

October 2018 Management Minute

“Preferred Employer”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

If only 70% of our cows settle in a given breeding season, and we need to cull the other 30% for infertility, how much selection pressure can we implement based on other production traits such as weaning weight, marbling, calf feedlot performance, or any number of other valuable traits? Zero. But if you have a 90 or 95% weaned calf crop, you can cull cows based on production traits of interest and make substantial improvements in your genetics.

The same is true for your workplace. If you have the kind of workplace people are looking to leave when the next opportunity arises, good employees with ability, intelligence, and ambition are going to grab the next bus out of town for better pay, better working conditions, or simply a better growth and career opportunity. What you are stuck with are the people who cannot leave because no one will have them.

The goal of any progressive organization should be to be the preferred employer in the region or in the industry. That employer will attract the best and brightest people around who want opportunity and want to work in a positive environment. Word will travel through your satisfied team members who will want to bring in more likeminded individuals to be on their team.

Assess your workplace and your people. Are you consistently attracting high-quality personnel or are you chronically trying to fill empty positions vacated by young, talented people with potential? Do your people give 110% because they love what they do and whom they work with, or is there a mad rush for the door at 5? Self-assessment plus vulnerability creates opportunities for growth. But without one or the other, you will be stuck in a quagmire of your own making.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu

September 2018 Management Minute

“Coaching in the Workplace”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Being a manager and managing people isn’t easy, especially when an employee or group of employees’ performance needs improvement. The goal of coaching is to improve the quality of the work of the employee or group and is not necessarily part of a disciplinary action (although it is often associated with it). Coaching in the workplace can be an effective way to address issues that limit performance. Below are a few tips from www.thebalancecareers.com on coaching in the workplace.

 State the issue or the problem directly. Keep the focus on the issue or problem and not the person.

 Involve the employee in the process. Asking the employee or group for help in creating a solution is a great way to show you have confidence in them.

 Identify what issues or road blocks exist that limit the employee or group’s performance.

The most common issues are time, additional training or resources.

 Come up with plan that identifies specific actions that need to be taken to address the issue by everyone involved (including the manager).

 Schedule time for a follow-up conversation. Feedback is essential, but should be positive.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu

December 2018 Feedlot Facts

“Mud Season….Again”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

Many locations in Kansas have experienced wet conditions this fall. Thus, I thought this article by Chris Reinhardt, former Extension Feedlot Specialist, was worth sharing.

Consider the humble Box Blade — As a feedlot nutritionist, you’d think my favorite piece of equipment or technology would be the steam-flaker, the feed mixer, or the small-ingredient inclusion system. No. I love the box blade.

Why? Because the nutritionist owns performance. BRD belongs to someone else, but when closeouts are chronically below expectations, the nutritionist often takes the heat.

As we come into a wet winter, lots can become muddy, and mud has devastating impacts on performance.

Cattle need a (relatively) dry, comfortable place to lie down. If excessive moisture has resulted in destruction of the mound, it’s time to run the box blade. Cattle that cannot rest do not perform.

Cattle should have 20-25 square feet of mound area on which to lie down. The top surface (5-10 feet wide) of the mound should be crowned side-to-side, and longitudinally the mound should also have a mild grade similar to the direction of the general slope of the pen, which is normally between 1 and 6%. The sides of the mound should have a slope of 1:5 to enhance drainage yet still allow cattle to lie on the surface.

The end of the mound should connect directly to the concrete bunk pad so that, especially during muddy conditions, cattle can move freely and easily between the mound and the bunk and water areas. This will encourage both feed consumption and resting behavior, both of which will enhance performance during and after inclement weather.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu.

November 2018 Feedlot Facts

“Forage Analysis: What Numbers Do I Need?”

By: Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist

One of the more common questions I receive with regard to analytical testing of forages and other feedstuffs is, “I have the sample, now what do I test for or what analysis package should I select?”

The basic components that nutritionists need to evaluate a feedstuff or develop a ration are dry matter or moisture, crude protein, an estimate of the energy content of the feedstuff (Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN)), Net Energy for Maintenance (NEm), Net Energy for gain (NEg), and the macro minerals, Calcium and Phosphorous. These are the most basic numbers that are required, but including some additional analyses in the report can give us additional insight into the quality of the feedstuff or improve our ability to predict animal performance, which is the primary reason we analyze feedstuffs. I recommend that the report include acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF). The amount of NDF in forage reflects the amount of cell wall contents (hemicellulose, cellulose and lignin) within the sample. The NDF fraction is often associated with the respective bulkiness of forage and is correlated with dry-matter intake of the forage or feedstuff. Therefore, the amount of NDF may be used to estimate the expected dry-matter intake associated with the forage. The ADF number represents the amount of cellulose and lignin within the forage and is correlated with the respective digestibility of the forage. In general, a higher ADF value is associated with forage that has a greater proportion cellulose and lignin and would likely be more mature. Additionally, the ADF fraction is used to calculate the energy estimates TDN, NEm, and NEg that appear on the report. There are a number of different mathematical equations that the testing laboratory may use to calculate these numbers, based on the type of sample (corn silage, alfalfa, grass hay, etc.). If the ADF is included in the report, the nutritionist can adjust or recalculate the energy estimates if necessary.

If the forage will be fed in combination with a byproduct feed such as wet distiller’s grain, including an analysis for sulfur can be beneficial if the forage will be used in a growing or feedlot ration. Additionally, if the forage is a known nitrate accumulator (forage sorghums, sudangrass) or may have been stressed due to drought, including a nitrate analysis should always be considered, especially if the forage will be fed to pregnant cows.

Most analytical laboratories have a number of different analysis packages which encompass the most common procedures or numbers that a nutritionist or producer needs to know about their feeds. These packages will typically include the basic procedures (DM, CP, TDN) and then add on specific analyses such NDF, or the Macrominerals (Ca,P, Mg, K, Na, Cl, S). Some laboratories may group analysis packages by the type of sample (forage vs. mixed ration) or production purposes (dairy vs. beef).

The objective of analytical testing of forages and feedstuffs is to improve our ability to meet the animal’s nutrient requirements and ultimately predict animal performance. The unequivocal best method of evaluating the quality of a feedstuff is feeding the feedstuff to an animal and evaluating performance over a set period of time, under a specific set of conditions. Since that would not be cost effective or timely, analytically evaluating feedstuffs in a laboratory is the next best thing and although it is not perfect, it is unequivocally better than the “this looks like really good stuff” method of evaluating feedstuffs.

For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu.