In two short weeks we will be ringing in 2017 and putting 2016 to bed. Lots of changes have taken place this past year in the cattle markets, feed grain carryover stocks, US elections, world political landscape, etc. Like every new year, we get a chance at a “fresh” start. To do things differently. To do those things that we never get around to doing. To stop doing things that we should never have done in the first place. To do those things that we know we should be doing, but for some reason have not been able to get them done. To make the time to get what needs to be done… done. And to simply, do the right things. A New Year’s Resolution is defined as a firm decision to either do, or not do, something. It’s completely up to you.
I like to focus my blogs around timely nutrition and management topics for beef cow-calf producers whenever I can. My motivation is mainly to provide useful information that can help keep beef producers in business today and in the future. However, I thought I might take a break from that theme with a few observations related to the “Sustainability” term that keeps coming at us with increasing intensity.
I have been traveling a fair bit the last couple of months and participated in a number of activities and conferences that have discussed the future of beef production and the overall Beef Industry. Some of the topics have been more related to the near future and others a much more distant future, maybe not even in my life time. We all deal with change every day and realize that it’s outcomes can be viewed as positive, negative or pretty neutral.
Here is a quick list of reminders for management areas that can easily be overlooked or delayed to a point where you might experience reductions in calf gain, delayed breeding, or potentially open cows, all resulting in lost income opportunities.
Organic or Natural were terms that seemed pretty descriptive and easily understood years ago when describing nutritional supplements used in Livestock production. That was then and now they have seemed to take on lives of their own as they can now also be used to describe very detailed marketing programs resulting in value-added products in both crop and livestock production. With the broader use of both Natural and Organic, we have found confusion with livestock producers when matching supplements to meet not only their nutritional needs but also complying with any marketing programs that they are targeting for specific animals.
We have always been aware that whether it is more of a confined feeding situation or pasture type environment, respecting the landscape and surrounding resources where cattle are raised is important for future sustainability.
A dramatic change in the winter weather across the Northern part of the US has taken place over the past week or so as temperatures have plunged and ice fisherman can now more confidently go about their business. What began as a very mild start to the winter, has quickly changed to more typical temperatures we normally see for this time of the year. This got me thinking over the weekend that some timely reminders in how your cow herd is fed and managed might better help get your cows through to spring. So how does cold temperatures affect your beef herd?
I recently had the opportunity to attend the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Loveland, Colorado. This educational program is designed specifically for cow-calf producers grazing rangelands in Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota. There were over 800 producers, University faculty and students and beef industry representatives who attended with a variety of topics dealing with all aspects of economics, production management, genetics, reproduction, market/consumer trends and enterprise management.
My sons and I were on a mission this past long weekend with a road trip to North Dakota to hunt pheasants. It was their MEA (Minnesota Educator Academy) school break, or what we in the past called, “Teachers Convention”, and it is a great time to drive cross country and get out doors. This 670 mile trip took us from Mankato, MN to the North West corner of ND or about 7 miles from Canada and 40 miles from Montana.
With Labor Day behind us we are headed directly into the fall season. A preparation for your cow-herd winter nutrition program begins with knowing the forages that you have to work with. Now is a good time to inventory the forages available and determine how best to match them to your herd. Some factors to help manage through the winter are listed below.