July is a time for many of us to let ruminants be ruminants by allowing our cow herd to graze without poking or prodding and at the same time give us a chance to either catch up on other things or to take a much deserved break, maybe even a vacation. In some regions of the country haying or putting up some sort of winter stored feed supplies. can take up a big part of the summer. While much of the CRYSTALYX® supplementation takes place in the fall and winter season, there are a number of product applications that take us year round.
I’ve been last for most of my life…alphabetical, height, foot races, etc. It’s rare that I get the last word, though not for a lack of trying. So I’m honored to be the last blog post of 2013.
My colleagues and I try to find thought provoking, timely and useful topics to discuss with you each week. The most obvious topic for the last day of the year would be a retrospective, but that one has been claimed. So here are my thoughts for 2014.
As we are nearing the end of the 2013 calendar year, it is nice to reflect on how good the year has been to the Beef Cow-calf and Stocker industry. Weather conditions have started to return to more normal moisture patterns and are replenishing grazed forage supplies across the country with a few scattered exceptions. The other unfortunate weather event is the untimely early winter storm, Atlas that resulted in large cattle losses primarily in Western SD. Cattle producers and the Beef industry in general has responded quickly in establishing relief funds to help get those hardest hit, back up and going again.
Everyone loves calving in the Spring and watching newborn calves bouncing around the pastures. It provides a sense of new beginnings for that particular calf crop with great expectations of how they will perform over the summer grazing season. I would argue that weaning is as important, or even more critical as a period of new beginnings for the calf crop. Calves must now perform on their own without any assistance from their mother. From a cow-calf producers stand point with all that has been invested up to this point, you will want to make sure calves are able to transition to stockers, feeders, replacement heifers or young bulls without any set-backs in growth or compromised health status. After all, for most producers, pay day is just around the corner.
As we move into fall, harvest is in full swing, the drought is letting up, pastures are coming back and stocker prices are high. While your style of winter grazing will vary depend on your geography, the opportunity to boost gains is the same. Winter grazing is a low cost way to keep stockers and develop heifers, however, why not put a few more dollars to your bottom line by supplementing with an ionophore.
Feed grains and commodity prices are high and the latest words of wisdom echoing throughout the industry indicate that cow-calf and stocker operators should look at all possible options to maximize performance from their forage programs. There are numerous ways to manage your forages as well as supplemental inputs. These can vary considerably by geographic regions, cattle type, grazing and climate conditions or land resources that you have available. I have put together a list of five ways to help you get the most from your forages. Our team of bloggers will be looking at expanding on these areas over the next five weeks to help you more fully evaluate ways to maximize returns to your beef cattle operation.
Most producers can’t wait for green grass to appear in the Spring and cattle to be turned out on pastures soon after. The demands for supplemental nutrition and feeding programs go by the wayside and thoughts turn to farming activities, breeding cows, making hay, etc. It is a great time to be in the cattle business as your herd does what it does best, turn forages into lean red meat or breed up for next year’s crop.
I recently had a visit with a 20+ year veteran of the livestock premix business. He told me his customers seem to be just as profitable, or more so, when feed costs are high. I’m sure that statement would open up a lot of argument, but there may be some interesting perspectives before jumping to any conclusions. One of which may be that fine tuning and optimizing nutrition for the best return on investment would make sense when profit opportunities are highest (high market value of cattle) or when managing overall high input costs.