Beef Tips

Forage analysis: What Numbers Do I Need

By Justin Waggoner, Beef Systems Specialist

One 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.

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A System Approach to Cattle Handling Facility Design


By A.J. Tarpoff, Beef Extension Veterinarian

Cattle handling facilities are an excellent investment for the future of an operation. A well designed handling facility allows the operator to work more efficiently saving time and reducing animal (and handler) stress. Design planning must incorporate an operation’s needs, available space, and budget to create a functional system.

Many designs available from purchased books or the internet focus on a single portion of the facility system. An example of this would be either a tub design or a Bud box design.

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The start of the third trimester, the most underappreciated day of the year

By Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist

Each of us have special dates we celebrate on an annual basis — birthdays, anniversaries and other special holidays. For the cow herd, notable dates might include the start of calving or breeding season and weaning. An undervalued date in cow-calf production is the start of the third trimester.

Off the top of your head and without calculating back from calving, do you know when the third trimester starts for your replacement heifers or cows? I’m guessing it’s not on many people’s radar. If you have a March 1 calving herd with replacements calving before cows, the third trimester starts for both in November.

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Tally Time: Management Minder outlines your production year

By Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist

Technology has been developed that makes many things in our lives much easier. Some of you may remember when you were the “remote control” when your Dad was watching TV. Now, new homes have heating, alarm and lighting systems throughout that can be controlled remotely with a smart phone. Cattle producers use electronic IDs to automate many data collection activities. Computer applications seem to only be limited by our imagination.

Our beef extension educational efforts have often pointed out timely management topics. For example, now is the time to sample harvested forages and get an analysis of the quality. Some of those items would relate to time of year, while others would depend on the individual operation’s calving and breeding dates. So, while those suggestions are timely for most (we hope), they certainly do not fit everyone.

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October Management Minute

“Are Your Position Descriptions Saying the Right Things?”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

In 2015, Millennials surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the American workforce according to various sources. The question then becomes how you as employer or manager reach the most qualified members of this generation for your open positions. All position descriptions should be concise, including the job title, a summary of the general responsibilities and the minimum qualifications and skills required for the position. However, millennials are generally looking for more. This generation views themselves as part of a “greater good” and want to make the workplace, the community and the world a better place. Adding a brief description of the “why your company does what it does” and how this position contributes to that “why” is a great addition to a generic job description that appeals to the “greater good” this generation is looking for. Generational research indicates that millennials are also interested in the opportunity to learn and grow within a position. Given that this group is relatively new to the workforce, statements such as “5 years of previous experience preferred or required” are unattractive to those that meet the minimum requirements or have the skills but limited work experience. Millennials are generally viewed as an educated and well-connected generation that wants to know “what else they can do outside of work.” So if your organization is involved in community organizations, providing links to more information about those activities or the community might also be appealing. The ultimate goal of a job description or posting in the digital era is to generate that second “click” that leads the right person to apply for your position.

September Management Minute

“Millennials make up the Majority of the Workforce”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

There are approximately five generations currently in the American workforce. These generations are somewhat loosely defined across different sources as 1) WWI and WWII generation (born ~1901-1926); 2) Mature or silent generation (born ~1928- 1945; 3) The Baby Boomers (born ~1946-1965) 4) Generation X (born ~1965-1980); 5) Millennials (born ~1980-2000) and 6) Generation Z or Centennials. All of these groups have defining characteristics, and ideals that make them unique. Recently (2015), Millennials surpassed the Baby Boomers as the largest of the generations in the American workforce according to various sources. So what are some defining traits of Millenials? This generation is generally viewed as an educated, very tech savvy group. They were raised in an environment where information via the Internet was readily accessible. In addition, they view themselves as part of a “greater good” and want to make the workplace, the community and the world a better place. This group tends to be task driven as opposed to 8-5 oriented when working, and view the balance between work and life as essential component of any position. Thus flexible work schedules or flex time in an employer are more attractive than a structured work schedule. It is obvious that not all of these traits mesh well with our traditional sense of the workplace. However, this generation is a big part of our workplace and, yes, they were most likely the kids that got a trophy or a ribbon for pretty much everything.

August 2017 Management Minute

“Five Generations in Today’s Workplace”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

I recently learned that there are approximately five generations currently in the American workforce. I would add that since farmers and ranchers don’t often retire and the kids start doing chores at an early age there could possibly be up to six generations involved in the day-to-day activities of a farm or ranch. These generations are somewhat loosely defined across different sources as:

1) WWI and WWII generation (born ~1901-1926)
2) Mature or silent generation (born ~1928-1945)
3) The Baby Boomers (born ~1946-1965)
4) Generation X (born ~1965-1980)
5) Millennials (born ~1980-2000)
6) Generation Z or Centennials

All of these groups have defining characteristics and ideals that make them unique. There is tremendous amount of differences between these generations, if we consider that Granddad may have been raised in a world with limited electrical conveniences, and the millennial grandson, has never experienced a world without computers or mobile hand-held communication devices. Have you given any consideration to the different age groups or generations that currently make up your workforce? Have you updated your policies, procedures or verbal expectations to include modern means of communication such as texting? For example, if a family member or an employee is going to be late is it acceptable to send a text. If it is a more formal organization, what about training materials? Millennials and the Generation Z’s (coming soon) likely prefer and are more engaged in something they can watch over printed material.

July 2017 Management Minute

“Tell Me Something Good”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

I recently came across an interesting statistic attributed to the Gallup organization that suggests that 75% of us are at some level of disengagement with life.

That essentially means that 25% of those surveyed were satisfied (happy) with where they were at in life. Does this carry over into the workplace?

Absolutely. Clint Swindall of Verbalocity Inc., a personal development company, breaks it down a bit further, “There are three types of people in an organization: 32 percent who are engaged, 50 percent who are disengaged and 18 percent who are actively disengaged. The actively disengaged people are called the ‘Oh No’s’ because they dread being asked to work. The engaged people are called the ‘Oh Yes’s’ because they will do whatever is asked of them with enthusiasm no matter what the task is.”

As humans it is really easy for us to get caught up in the negativity around us. Let’s face it…it is really difficult for most of us (75%) to see the opportunity in a given situation whether it is in our professional or personal life. What do you discuss at work or at home at the dinner table? Do you discuss the good stuff that happens during your day or the things that could have been better?

So the bigger question is what do we do about it? Clint Swindall, suggests that we replace the traditional greeting of “How are you?” with “Tell me something good.” I can assure you that you will receive some really odd looks the first time you try it. However, some people will be more than willing to share something good about what is going on at work or at home. It will take some time but maybe some of those “Oh No’s” will become “Oh Yes’s” in the workplace.

October 2017 Feedlot Facts

“Weaning: Help Your Calves Make the Transition”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist

Weaning is our opportunity as cattle producers to prepare calves for the next phase of the beef production cycle. Weaning represents a transition and how well we prepare calves for the transition is essential to the outcome.

The goal of weaning is to produce a healthy calf that is comfortable without its dam, readily consumes feed and has successfully acclimated to a new environment. One of the essential transitions a calf has to make during weaning is the transition from mother’s milk and grazed forage to grazed forage and supplement, hay and supplement, or a ration containing novel feeds delivered in a bunk.

Feeding both cows and calves a small amount of the supplement or weaning ration prior to weaning, in the weaning pen or pasture can be used to help acclimate calves to both the feeds and the environment. Additionally, feed intake of weaned calves is often low (1 to 1.5% of bodyweight, dry basis) immediately following weaning.

Calves also have relatively high nutrient requirements. Thus, the weaning diet must be nutrient dense to meet the nutrient requirements of the calves at the expected intakes previously mentioned. Unfortunately, the dry feeds calves are often most familiar with (typically grass hays) are not necessarily nutrient dense. At the K-State Agriculture Research Center, Hays, KS, a feeding management protocol for weaning calves has been developed that works well for transitioning weaned calves to a total mixed ration.

The protocol is summarized in the table below. Essentially, high-quality grass hay and the weaning ration are offered each at 0.5% of the calves’ current bodyweight, dry basis, on the day of weaning. The weaning ration is placed in the bottom of the bunk and the hay is placed on top. The amount of the weaning ration is steadily increased, while the amount of hay offered remains constant. In addition, on day 4 the hay is placed on the bottom of the bunk. Over a period of 7-10 days the dry intake of the calves is steadily increased and should reach approximately 2.2-2.5% of the calves bodyweight by 10-14 days following weaning.

*Remove any uneaten feedstuffs before feeding current days ration For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at

September 2017 Feedlot Facts

“Silage Harvest is Underway; Be Safe”

by Justin W. Waggoner, beef systems specialist


One of the busiest, most fast paced operations that occur this time of year is silage harvest. Cutters and choppers in the fields, trucks racing from the field to the pile or bunker, multiple tractors pushing and packing silage. The speed at which we can harvest silage today is amazing, but we should never allow the speed at which one can accomplish a task to compromise safety. Below are a few things to think about during this year’s silage harvest.

  • Don’t become complacent. Stay aware of the surroundings. Let’s face it there are a lot of highly repetitive operations in putting up silage. One of the No. 1 factors that lead up to an accident is almost always complacency or lack of situational awareness.
  • Truck drivers should always slow down when approaching houses and intersections on all roads, every time. Those houses along the road belong to our neighbors and friends, some of which have children. The increased traffic on gravel roads creates dust, and the crops are tall, both of which reduce visibility at intersections. Our neighbors should not fear going to their mailbox due to our silage trucks.
  • People (especially children) should never be allowed near a drive over pile or bunker silo during fill ing. If people have to approach the area, get on the radio  to inform the drivers/operators. Those on the ground in the area should always wear a bright-colored-orange safety vest.
  • Never fill higher than the top of the bunker wall. This happens more than it should and creates a dangerous situation from the day the silage is packed until it is removed. The pack tractor cannot see the edge of the bunker well if at all. The silage does not get packed well (which leads to poor silage) and the edge of the silage is unstable and more likely to collapse. Don’t do it.
  • Be aware of steep slopes. To reduce the risk of tractor roll-over, a minimum slope of 1 in 3 on the sides and end of piles should be maintained.
  • Never inspect or make repairs to equipment near the bunker or pile. Equipment should be removed from the area as soon as possible. Repairs almost always involve people on foot and potentially people who may not be familiar with silage activities and the associated risks.