Beef Tips

Author: Hannah Williams

September 2020 Feedlot Facts

“Feedlot Heifer Performance in 2019”

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

Each year, I summarize the data from the K-State Focus on Feedlots, in an effort to document annual trends in fed cattle performance. The Focus on Feedlots data for heifers from 2019, 2018 and 2017 is summarized in the table below. The number of heifers marketed decreased in 2019 with more than 26,900 fewer heifers being marketed in 2019 than 2018. Heifer in weights were slightly lower, averaging 704 lbs in 2019. Final weights of heifers were on average 7 lbs lower in 2019 at 1265 lbs, compared to 1272 lbs in 2018. Heifer days on feed increased to 175 days, an increase of 9 days relative to the 166 days reported in 2018. Heifer average daily gain was similar across years, but feed conversion increased relative to 2018 and 2017. Death loss increased to 2.01% relative to 1.75% and1.64% death losses reported in 2018 and 2017, respectively.

Total cost of gain increased in 2019 to $89.48/cwt. Heifer cost of gain was $5.11/cwt greater on average than that of steers, $84.37/cwt versus $89.48/cwt.

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

September 2020 Management Minute

“Talent Management”

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

The concept of “Talent Management” came up in a recent conversation. This is the strategy which an organization or business uses to hire, manage, retain, and develop employees for leadership roles. Many businesses lose exceptionally talented employees because their strengths and talents were not recognized. Additionally, an effective talent management strategy is a mechanism to groom and develop future leaders and managers. Managers play a key role in an organization’s talent management strategy, as they must identify talented, exceptional employees. Managers also serve as mentors, providing coaching and feedback to develop employees. Research conducted by the American Society for Training and Development documented that those organizations with the most successful talent management systems also asked managers to discuss the talents and skills of their most talented employees with other managers and leaders. Discussing the organizations most talented employees creates an internal talent pool that various departments can draw from to fill current positions. Do you have exceptional employees in your organization? What is your talent management strategy?

Are you at risk of losing your best employees? For more information, contact Justin Waggoner at jwaggon@ksu.edu.

Feedlot Steer Performance in 2019

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist, Garden City

Each year I summarize the data from the K-State Focus on Feedlots in an effort to document annual trends in fed cattle performance. The Focus on Feedlot data for steers from 2019, 2018 and 2017 is summarized in the table below. In 2019, participating feedlots marketed 291,127 steers, approximately 58,000 fewer steers than were marketed in 2018. Continue reading “Feedlot Steer Performance in 2019”

“Early Weaning….It’s About the Cow”

By Justin Waggoner, Ph.D., Beef Systems Specialist, Garden City

Many cattle producers are weathering an exceptionally dry grazing season and may be considering early weaning calves. Many discussions about early weaning focus on managing lightweight calves with the benefits to the cow and the ranch becoming lost in the discussion. Continue reading ““Early Weaning….It’s About the Cow””

August 2020 Management Minute

“Customer Service….More Important Than Ever”

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

Good customer service is essential to any business or organization. It does not matter if it is a restaurant or a tow truck service, having staff members who leave customers or anyone who encounters your business with that “wow, that was great” feeling directly influences the bottom line. Customer service has become more important than ever as more consumers are purchasing goods and services without ever crossing the threshold of a traditional storefront. So how do we generate those feelings with someone on the phone or in a chat box? Let us start with the basics. What is customer service? Customer service is simply defined as the assistance provided by a company to those who purchase the goods or services it provides. Now on to the tough part, how do we as business or organization provide that assistance? Susan Ward (www.thebalancesmb.com) offers a few simple things that businesses can do to improve their customer service experiences. First, answer the phone. Potential customers want to talk to a person and don’t want to leave a message. Second, don’t make promises you can’t keep. As the old saying goes, “say what you are going to do, and do what you said you were going to.” Third, listen. Simply listening to what a potential customer’s need is important, there is nothing worse than listening to a sales pitch for something you don’t want. Fourth, be helpful even if you don’t make the sale, today. The service provided today has the potential to turn into something much larger in the future. Fifth, train your staff to go the extra mile by providing additional information about the product or other items commonly purchased with said goods. Lastly, empower your staff to offer something extra without asking permission, especially in those circumstances when the “customer is always right.”

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

July 2020 Management Minute

“Change”

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

“Change is inevitable” and often creates a sense of unease for many individuals. However, we have faced an unprecedented amount of change in the past few months. We have changed how we work, how we live, how we buy groceries, and many other things. Some of these changes have been small and some have been large. Why do we fear change? Change is not always bad, but experts agree that most employees within an organization express some degree of fear and resistance to change. The reality is that the fear of change within an organization is created because employees simply do not understand why the change is happening. A 2018 article in the Harvard Business Review https://hbr.org/2018/10/dont-just-tell-employees-organizational-changes-are-coming-explain-why offers suggestions on communicating change in the workplace.

 Keep employees informed with regular communications. Communication is essential to successfully navigating change. Communication should be clear and consistent and focus on the purpose of the change (the why).

 Empower leaders and managers to lead and model the change. Leaders and managers often face more pressure/resistance from employees than administration. Providing managers with additional training or resources equips them to drive and model the change.

 Involve employees in the change. Employees must take ownership of the change for it to be successful. Creating ways for employees to provide feedback and engage them in the process makes employees more likely to support the change.

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

Heat Stress Resources for Cattle Producers

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

The first weeks of June often bring summer-like temperatures to the southern Great Plains and with those first hot, humid days comes heat stress. Recent market conditions have created a scenario when there are greater inventories of heavier cattle on feed in many feedyards. The convergence of these two factors prompted our KSU Beef Extension Team to host a webinar highlighting the current weather outlook and how to prepare for heat stress events. The webinar was recorded and may be accessed www.KSUBeef.org. Continue reading “Heat Stress Resources for Cattle Producers”

Do’s and Don’ts Upon Returning to Work

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

Many businesses and organizations are now beginning to reopen after several weeks of modified operations or closures. A recent article – https://agrilifetoday.tamu.edu/2020/05/01/returning-to-work-post-covid-19/ – highlighted several items that both employees and managers should consider when returning to work. Continue reading “Do’s and Don’ts Upon Returning to Work”

May 2020 Feedlot Facts

“Protein Sources for Growing Cattle”

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

One of the outcomes of the recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation that unexpectedly affected many cattle feeding operations throughout Kansas and the Midwest was a sudden reduction in the availability of distiller’s grains. As many Americans heeded “stay at home” orders, demand for fuel, oil, and ultimately ethanol fell resulting in price declines that forced many ethanol plants to scale back production. The cattle feeding industry has relied heavily on distiller’s grains as the primary source of protein in both growing and finishing rations for many years. Distiller’s grains comprise 10-30% of many cattle rations depending upon the nutrient composition and price of other commodities. The reduced supply of distiller’s grains forced many cattle producers to look at traditional sources of protein, such as soybean meal, cottonseed meal, alfalfa and urea that many producers had not used for at least a decade. The prices of several common commodity protein sources (central, KS; obtained 4/28/2020) on a per ton and a cost per unit of protein basis are shown below. It is essential that producers evaluate protein sources on a cost per unit of protein prior to making purchasing decision. All of the traditional protein sources in the table were comparably priced on a cost per unit of protein basis ($0.44-0.49 /lb CP) with the exception of urea. However, urea must be used with caution, should not comprise more than 0.5 to 1.0% of the total diet on a dry matter basis, and it is generally recommended that urea be added into the ration using a premix or liquid to ensure that urea is appropriately mixed in the ration.

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

May 2020 Management Minute

“Return to Normal”

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

The outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the United States has affected the workplace in many different ways over the past few weeks. As many states and counties begin to ease restrictions, many employers in KS are now beginning to consider the necessary steps to “return to normal”. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has several resources for businesses posted on its website (https://www.coronavirus.kdheks.gov/). The resources on this page range from details on the current plan to re-open the state to how to properly clean and disinfect your business. As we transition back into the workplace, our “return to normal” will likely not be the normal we once knew and will likely create anxiety for both employers and employees. Experts suggest that one of the most important things employers can do to ease the transition is communication. Employers must communicate social distancing and cleaning protocols, as well as expectations regarding working remotely. Some employees may have safety concerns, especially if they or a family member falls within a high-risk category. Employers will likely have to make reasonable accommodations on an individual basis, which is challenging. However, there have been many challenges associated with this situation and most organizations/employers have demonstrated that they are more resilient than they ever imagined and that we will “return to normal” even if normal looks a little different.

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