Beef Tips

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Options for managing cows through the winter with limited forages

by Jaymelynn Farney, beef systems specialist, Parsons, KS

Drought-stressed pastureThe drought that plagued most of the state through the previous winter and this summer was a perfect storm that has some operations concerned about forages for this winter.  There are areas that have limited pasture growth and even with some of the recent rains, the rain may be too late or insufficient to change the pasture situation.  Through last winter, around the nation, there were producers that fed more hay than typical and that has used up a significant amount of hay reserves.  Given all these factors, cattle producers need to find alternative feedstuffs to maintain current cow numbers.  This article will address a few things to think about when trying to stretch forages. Continue reading “Options for managing cows through the winter with limited forages”

Drought challenges linger despite welcome rains

By Bob Weaber, extension cow-calf specialist

drought-stressed pasture after rainFor many producers in Kansas, the last couple of weeks have brought much needed rain to our rangeland and helped fill ponds on which we depend for watering livestock.  Much of central and northeast Kansas received 2 – 10 inches of rain over the Labor Day weekend.  Undoubtably, the rain was welcomed by many and does much to relieve the short surface water supplies. The spring and summer of 2018 will be remembered by many cattle producers due to the hot and dry conditions that persisted. The lack of rain resulted in subpar forage production for both cool and warm season grasslands. As a result, cattle producers will face a wide range of lingering effects of the drought over the coming months and perhaps years.

The lingering effects of a drought can be broadly classified into cow nutritional effects, cow reproductive effects, calf performance effects and rangeland/forage effects. All will take time for recovery but in each case, careful management can hasten the progression of recovery. Continue reading “Drought challenges linger despite welcome rains”

Tally Time- Use of parentage testing in commercial operations

by Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist, Colby, KS

One of the options now available to producers with multi-sire pastures is to identify offspring parentage.   Research using parentage tests have shown us the wide range in number of offspring sired by bulls in these setting.  Despite economic difference between offspring of sires, for most commercial producers determining parentage of all offspring it is not currently cost effective.  However, it may pay to determine parentage in certain situations. Continue reading “Tally Time- Use of parentage testing in commercial operations”

Managing Footrot in Beef Cattle

by A.J. Tarpoff, DVM, MS, extension beef veterinarian
Red Angus Females

During the summer months many producers run into issues with lame cattle. The effects of lameness may show itself by decreased fertility, weight loss, decreased performance, and increased labor and medicine costs. It has been estimated that 88-92% of lameness in cattle stems from the foot. Several issues could be the culprit, but we will review some of the common causes and treatment considerations. Continue reading “Managing Footrot in Beef Cattle”

Considerations for use of drought-stressed corn for cattle

by Jaymelynn Farney, beef systems specialist, Parsons, KS

Throughout Kansas, there are areas of extreme drought and even in areas that show adequate moisture on the drought monitor, rain has been very “spotty” so some corn is beginning to look tough.  Luckily, cattle are one potential option to salvage some value if the corn crop does not look like it will yield.  Continue reading “Considerations for use of drought-stressed corn for cattle”

Tally Time – BIF meeting provides more evidence: you can’t manage what you don’t measure

By Sandy Johnson, extension beef specialist, Colby, KS

The recent Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) Conference marked the organization’s 50th meeting, and this landmark provided a good opportunity for reflection.  Over the years, BIF has sought industry cooperation in applying science to improve beef cattle genetics.   When the first performance data was collected, a hot topic was if anything other than visual phenotypic selection was appropriate for the industry.  While phenotypic evaluations for traits not easily measured are still part of selection, collection of data and development of EPDs have allowed the industry to make significant changes in animal performance. A key role that BIF has played is the standardization of performance records and procedures to do so. Continue reading “Tally Time – BIF meeting provides more evidence: you can’t manage what you don’t measure”

Performance of Early-Weaned Calves

By Justin Waggoner, beef systems specialist, Garden City, KS

Under normal production circumstances calves are typically weaned at 180-220 days of age, however under circumstances where forage supply is limited or cow body condition is lacking weaning calves at 180 days of age or less may be one of the easiest ways to reduce cow nutrient requirements and improve cow body condition. Many cattle producers express concerns over the thought of weaning 350-450 lb calves during the heat of the summer and believe that early-weaned calves will not perform well in a dry lot environment. In a recent study (Bailey et al. 2013) conducted at the K-State Agriculture Research Center-Hays, 243 spring-born calves were weaned at 113 ± 17 days of age and were limit-fed a common diet to achieve target average daily gains of 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 lbs per day during an 84 day receiving period.

Continue reading “Performance of Early-Weaned Calves”

Early weaning calf health considerations

by A.J. Tarpoff, DVM, MS; extension veterinarian

Early weaning of calves during a drought can have many benefits to the cow herd such as improved body condition of the cows, improved rebreeding rates, increased forage availability, and possibly improved calf performance. However, increased management is essential for the young calves, and several factors should be considered before this decision is made.

Continue reading “Early weaning calf health considerations”

Monitor Ponds for Blue Green Algae

by A.J. Tarpoff, DVM, MS; extension veterinarian

Blue green algae blooms are an issue that usually gets discussed this time of year. Calm, sunny, dry, and hot days of summer create ideal conditions for blue green algae to thrive in our livestock ponds. Blue green algae occurrence is sporadic making its threat unpredictable. Despite its name, these blooms are not algae, but a cyanobacteria. Some of these cyanobacteria produce and release dangerous toxins that are of major concern for our livestock.

Continue reading “Monitor Ponds for Blue Green Algae”

Differences Between High-, Medium-, and Low-Profit Cow-Calf Producers: An Analysis of 2012-2016 Kansas Farm Management Association Cow-Calf Enterprise

By Dustin L. Pendell and Kevin L. Herbel, Ag Economics

The economic returns to beef cow-calf producers vary considerably over time (Figure 1) due to a number of factors, including the cattle cycle. The record high average return in 2014 was a result of a drought and strengthening beef demand. Although beef demand has been relatively strong in 2015 and 2016, herd expansion has led to larger supplies, lower cattle prices and lower returns to the cow-calf enterprise. The 2012 to 2016 Kansas Farm Management Association summary of data from cow-calf enterprises has lessons for producers given the wide range of variability inherent to this industry. Continue reading “Differences Between High-, Medium-, and Low-Profit Cow-Calf Producers: An Analysis of 2012-2016 Kansas Farm Management Association Cow-Calf Enterprise”