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2013 was a great year for most all cow-calf and stocker producers

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. 

Even a number of our youth groups who have been actively participating in the CRYSTALYX® Earn to Learn™ fund raising program have taken it upon themselves to donate a good portion or all of their funds to the Storm Relief efforts.   With this kind of initiative the least we could do at CRYSTALYX® was to help increase the contribution totals by matching what they earned.  A recent event held at the Range Beef Cow Symposium in Rapid City, SD earned $1,150 from CRYSTALYX® discount card sales for the Storm Relief Fund as a result of efforts from the Phillip, SD FFA chapter and matching funds from CRYSTALYX®.  There are more of these opportunities to come, so look at participating if you see a program near you!

Once you get past the weather you have to really be thankful of the opportunities that the cattle market has brought this past year.  All time high calf and feeder cattle prices have provided unprecedented profitability for cattle operations running on grass.  Feed prices that were high earlier in the year have since subsided and even the feed yards have started turning profits as we near the end of 2013.  For cow-calf producers and stocker operators who make their living on the forage base that they own or rent, the value equation when evaluating supplemental inputs that could squeeze out any amount of gain has resulted in very favorable returns on investment.

The value of cattle has changed how we need to consider inputs on improvements in forage utilization, maintaining healthy cattle and adding additional pounds.  And it is not going to end soon.  Logic would tell us that in order for us to really start expanding a cattle herd, it would take at least two to three years before significant increases can be made in cow numbers resulting in more calves entering the Beef supply.  That would be 2017 before we can significantly impact the supply side of the economics equation.  Economists are saying that we should be in good shape for calf and feeder cattle prices over the next three years.  This is good news in a commodity business like Beef production.

 So as we wind up 2013 and we look ahead to 2014 I would share 12 central strategies for Cow-calf and Stocker producers to help you stay focused on profitability:

  1. Do all that you can do to manage your pastures and stored forages for optimal cattle production
  2. Implement rotational grazing plans that ensure sustainable forage production and maximize beef per acre
  3. Evaluate the use of CRYSTALYX® for managing where cattle graze to more fully utilize forages across your pastures
  4. Use ionophores or other approved feed additives to help increase return on investment (ROI) from your forage supply
  5. Use forage preservatives when haying or ensiling forages to help reduce Dry Matter loss and eliminate spoilage
  6. Use a supplement that contains an ionophore like Iono-lyx® to help properly develop replacement heifers on forage diets
  7. Monitor cow body condition throughout the year and take advantage of adding condition prior to entering the winter season
  8. Allow protein supplementation to improve lower valued forages for maintaining gestating cows
  9. Keep machinery and equipment usage to a minimum to reduce the amount of debt incurred by the cow-herd or stockers
  10. Step up mineral and vitamin fortification 60 days prior to calving through breeding to help maintain early calving cows with heavier calf weaning weights
  11. Don’t forget fly control during the summer months to help boost calf weaning weights and maintain cow condition going into the fall
  12. Provide a highly palatable nutritional supplement at weaning like Brigade® to help fight stress and get calves off to a fast start on feed

As we look forward to 2014 please respond with any suggestions that you might have for topics that we have not covered or where you would like to see more detailed information.  We would love to hear from you. We have appreciated your business and readership to the Blog in 2013 and wish all of you a prosperous 2014!