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Be strategic in feeding hay this winter

Prorate your hay based on both the nutrient content of bales and the health status of gestating cows using these tips. This week, I traveled to Idaho to speak at the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association Winter Meeting. It was my first trip to Sun Valley, and the ski resort town was anxiously awaiting the arrival of […]

How Much Hay Will a Cow Consume?

This week’s snowy weather has reminded cow-calf producers that winter hay feeding has begun or will begin shortly. Estimating forage usage by cows is an important part of the task of calculating winter feed needs. Hay or standing forage intake must be estimated in order to make the calculations. Forage quality will be a determining factor […]

Power an Electric Fence with Solar

Easy to install and shockingly versatile, a solar electric fence will give you the power to keep your animals in the pasture, even if you’re off the grid. Electric fencing can be installed with basic hand tools and no prior fencing experience. And by adding a solar-powered fence energizer, you’ll make installation even simpler by […]

This article comes to us from Aaron L. Berger, Extension Educator, and Rick N. Funston, Beef Reproductive Physiology Specialist, both from University of Nebraska Extension. In the past several decades, post-weaning development of replacement heifers has focused on feeding heifers to reach a target body weight of 60 to 65 percent of mature weight at…

at breeding to achieve acceptable pregnancy rates (85 to 95 percent) in a breeding season that ranges from 45 to 70 days. This development system was based on historical research that indicated heifers bred at approximately 14 months of age should reach this target weight to achieve acceptable pregnancy rates.

In an effort to reduce costs, recent research has focused on comparing traditional, more intensive replacement heifer development systems to systems utilizing more inexpensive feed resources to develop heifers to lighter target body weights at breeding (i.e., 50 to 57 percent of mature weight compared with the traditional 60 to 65 percent of mature weight). Research has demonstrated replacement heifers developed to lower target weights — but on a positive plane of nutrition before the breeding season through calving — can have acceptable pregnancy rates and longevity.

These lower-input systems allow producers to develop replacement heifers at lower cost without sacrificing reproductive performance. This publication highlights why recommended target weights for replacement heifers have changed and key aspects of successful low-input replacement heifer development systems.

Why Recommendations for Heifer Target Body Weight at Breeding Have Changed

Genetic Selection
Much of the research recommending heifers be at a target weight of 60 to 65 percent of mature weight by breeding was conducted from the late 1960s through the 1980s. Since then, the genetic makeup of the U.S. cowherd has changed significantly. Age of puberty does not seem to be limiting heifer development programs as it did in the past. Heifers are reaching puberty at younger ages and at a lower percentage of their mature weight than has occurred historically.

Research contributing to this publication was conducted using current British and Continental genetics in the United States. The following genetic trends have been realized by widespread management changes and the use of Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) in the selection for a variety of traits, including scrotal circumference and yearling weight.

via Low-Input Systems Reduce Heifer Development Costs Without Sacrificing Reproductive Performance — On Pasture

After weaning and prior to winter can be one of the most economical times to improve the body condition score (BCS) of a spring-calving cow.

If you have cows that are thinner than normal, consider weaning earlier to give those cows a chance to gain body condition, and hold it through the winter. This is especially true for younger females.

Data from the Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory Practicum teaching herd illustrates how the time of weaning affects the cow Body Condition Score (BCS) over the winter and into the next summer. (See the graph below.) By weaning in September, cows maintained almost an entire BCS greater than weaning in October. This can be especially important if we have a wet and cold winter like 2018-2019. If it gets cold enough, there may be times producers cannot feed enough to give cows the energy needed to withstand the cold. In periods like this, cows lose body condition to offset an energy-deficient diet. Body condition scoring is an effective management tool to estimate the energy reserves of a cow, and in essence, cows with a BCS of 5 or greater going into the winter are an insurance policy or risk management tool.

via Wean Early to Prep Thin Cows for Winter Weather — On Pasture

How to Successfully Go Solar on Your Electric Fencing

Our First System The first setup was installed about 12 months ago. It is currently running about 3 miles of single-strand wire. We live in a fairly high rainfall area, so consequently, we have pretty good weed pressure on the fence through the summer. We have not had to do any mowing under the wire […]

What Happens to Pregnancy Rates and Calf Survival With Changes in Calving Season?

A four-year study of ranchers in Western Canada indicates that shifting from winter calving to spring calving increases cow pregnancy rates and calf survival. Due to market pressures, Canada’s cow-calf sector has consolidated into fewer, larger herds and producers have begun calving later, and in the pasture, to avoid increases in labor, equipment, and facilities […]

After weaning and prior to winter can be one of the most economical times to improve the body condition score (BCS) of a spring-calving cow.

In some years, forage quality, weather conditions, and time of weaning can make putting body condition on cows more difficult. Last year, in many parts of Nebraska, high amounts of early rainfall caused tremendous forage growth. By July, that forage quality had declined and was similar to September/October forage quality. As normal weaning time occurred in 2018 for many producers, cows tended to be thinner on average. This was coupled with the increased maintenance energy requirements during the winter due to the cold stress, which left cows calving in less than optimum BCS.

Considering your forage growth and weather is always helpful when it comes to choosing a weaning date. As an example of this, for those of us in Nebraska this year, saying we have had above-average rainfall is an understatement. Although forage growth came on late due to cooler temperatures, native range quality is sitting close to average in the Sandhills. Unfortunately, the extra precipitation has challenged hay production for many beef producers. In spite of adequate range quality, the potentially decreased hay production is an additional reason to monitor cow BCS to decide a weaning date.

via Wean Early to Prep Thin Cows for Winter Weather — On Pasture

When buying land for cattle production, there are some unique characteristics to consider before signing a contract. These characteristics include: stocking rate, forage quality and type, soil type and fertility, terrain and slope of the land, water sources in each pasture, number of pastures and traps, working pen availability and condition, fence condition and type, and other infrastructure (overhead bins, interior roads, etc.) availability and condition.

Soil Types

Soil types can vary widely, not only across counties but also across ranches. Each soil type has different forage production potential. A loamy, bottomland soil will have the potential to produce more grass than a shallow soil found along ridges or hilltops. Knowing what and how much of each soil types are on the ranch will allow you to understand the forage production capability of the land you’re investigating. Land that has the capability of producing less forage for cattle consumption than other properties in the same general area could be less valuable to a livestock producer because of the reduced animal number it will support relative to properties of comparable size.

via Tips for Evaluating Property for Raising Cattle — On Pasture

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