Beef Tips

February 2019 Management Minute

“Corporate Culture”

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

Corporate or organizational culture is one of “buzzwords” in today’s business community. Although it is not a new term by any means (originating in the 1960s), it has undoubtedly received more attention, as tech giants have created unconventional employee centered environments. So what does corporate or organizational culture mean, and what is the role of a leader or manager in an organization’s culture? Many different sources define corporate culture as the shared beliefs, values, standards, systems, policies and perceptions held by employees. Informally the culture of company may be characterized by asking the company’s employees a few questions. What words best describe the organization? What behaviors or efforts are rewarded? What is the company’s No. 1 priority? In some cases, two very different cultures may exist within an organization: a formal corporate culture, i.e. mission statements, core values statements and an informal corporate culture (views of the employees). Corporate culture is generally thought of as progressing from the top down, where leadership initiates and stewards the corporate culture by hiring and promoting individuals who represent/embrace the corporate culture. More importantly, managers and leaders must model the corporate culture in their interactions with both customers and employees. Corporate culture may be healthy or unhealthy. Is the culture of your organization positively contributing to the business? As a manager, does the corporate culture align with your values and beliefs? Are you incentivizing and rewarding employees for doing the right thing?

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

February 2019 Feedlot Facts

“Body Condition Scoring: A Herd Management Tool”

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

Body condition scoring is one of the most valuable management tools at the disposal of the cattle manager. This one number gives producers a direct indication of an individual cow’s previous plane of nutrition and future reproductive capability. Although the individual body condition scores are important, we don’t necessarily manage individual cows, we manage groups of cows. Thus, it is important for us to look beyond the individual scores and look at the distribution of body condition scores within the herd. If we have a herd (Herd 1) with an average body condition score of 5 that is essentially characterized by the classic bell curve, with a few thin cows (3.5’s), the bulk of cows in the middle (4’s and 5’s) and few over-conditioned cows (7’s) everything is good. Alternatively, we could have a herd (Herd 2) with an average body condition score of 5 that is essentially the result of a few thin cows (3’s) and some over conditioned cows (6’s and 7’s).

Body condition scoring also has more value when it is done on the same group of cows at multiple times during the production year. If Herd 2 was scored at calving and had been previously scored at weaning and had an essentially normal distribution (similar to Herd 1), we need to ask ourselves what happened. Did we change anything? Although these examples are somewhat extreme, they illustrate that we have to look beyond the individual body condition scores of cows at one point during the production year to get the most of body condition scoring.

K-State has several resources on body condition scoring available on the web that may be accessed at https://www.asi.k-state.edu/research-and-extension/beef/feedandwater.html, including the quick reference guide to body condition scoring shown below.

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

 

January 2019 Management Minute

“What’s Your Mission?”

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

Have you ever given any thought to what your organization, farm, feedlot or operation is really about? Do you have a mission statement, a set of core values that you believe your organization or operation embodies? Previously, I used to think that mission statements and core value statements were idealistic and a waste of thought. However, my attitude has changed. These statements provide the organization with a foundation, a clear objective that serves to guide the organization as it makes decisions that hopefully move the organization forward into the future. Regardless of the size of the enterprise, putting some thought into what an organization or business is really about has value. These statements do not have to be long or dramatic. I recently visited a family livestock operation in which the sign on the front lawn (along a major highway) simply said “Our Family Feeding Yours.” This simple statement tells everyone that drives by that this is a family operation that is foremost engaged in the process of sustaining not only themselves but other people. So challenge yourself a bit and ask yourself, “Why do you (or your business) do what you do?” What is your mission?

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

January 2019 Feedlot Facts

“Supplementing Cows During Cold Weather”

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

The New Year often brings with it some of the coldest months of the year. Most cattle producers know and appreciate that cold weather increases nutrient requirements. However, the real question is what should producers feed or supplement when the wind blows and the mercury barely registers on the thermometer. Cattle are most comfortable within the thermonuetral zone when temperatures are neither too warm nor cold. During the winter months cattle experience cold stress anytime the effective ambient temperature, which takes into account wind chill, humidity, etc., drops below the lower critical temperature. The lower critical temperature is influenced by both environmental and animal factors including hair coat and tissue insulation (body condition). The table below lists the estimated lower critical temperatures of cattle in good body condition with different hair coats. In wet conditions cattle can begin experiencing cold stress at 59°F, which would be a relatively mild winter day. However, if cattle have time to develop a sufficient winter coat the estimated lower critical temperature under dry conditions is 18°F.

Cold stress increases maintenance energy requirements but does not impact protein, mineral or vitamin requirements. The general rule of thumb (for a cow in good body condition, BCS = 5 or greater) is to increase the energy density of the ration by 1% for each degree (Fahrenheit) below the lower critical temperature. The classic response to cold stress in confinement situations is an increase in voluntary intake. However, it has been documented that grazing beef cows may spend less time grazing as temperatures decline below freezing, which reduces forage intake, and makes the challenge of meeting the cow’s nutrient requirements even greater. In many cases, feeding a greater amount of low-quality hay will replace grazed forages but may not provide sufficient energy. Therefore providing additional energy by feeding a relatively higher-quality hay or fiber-based supplement (DDGS, Corn gluten feed, or Soybean Hulls) may be required. If fiber-based energy sources are not available, small amounts (2-3 lbs) starch-based concentrates may also be used as energy supplements.

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

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.