Last year was a strange one, weather-wise, for all types of crops, including pastures. Flooding was widespread in the Midwest, followed by drought that hit a lot of the Central and Southern Plains as well as the mid-South.
Hopefully, this year will be one of recovery, says Roxanne Gutschenritter, a pasture and range specialist for DuPont Crop Protection. At the 2012 Cattle Industry Convention, she shared advice with beef producers for bringing pastures back to full production after floods, droughts, or both.
J.D. Alexander and his son, Josh, farm 2,000 acres of crop ground and run a 5,000-head cattle feedlot in northeast Nebraska, near Pilger. It’s busy there every day of the year – in the feed yards, in the fields, in the farm office. It’s a rare day that both J.D. and Josh are away from the farm.
Your beef cows graze pastures about seven months a year. The other five, you’re feeding purchased or harvested feed.
How do I know that? Well, it’s the average, whether you’re in a northern state or the South. Estimates from Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin all fall in that same window: cows graze about 220 days, then eat hay the other 140.
What more can be said about this cattle market? It’s in the stratosphere: Market-ready choice steers over $1,600 a head; good lightweight feeder calves $1,000; even cull cows near $1 a pound!
Not everything that happens at the Cattle Industry Convention is about cattle. A case in point occurred Thursday at one of the general assemblies.
More carcass weight
Nothing creates buzz on the National Cattle Industry Convention Trade Show floor like fly control products, and feed additives that reduce the cost of feeding cattle. Here are some hot products from Nashville in both categories.
Natural fly control
Up to now, genetic DNA markers to pinpoint cattle that are good in high yearling weights and other valuable traits have been mostly for purebred producers. The $100 per head or higher cost to get a DNA analysis meant that this emerging technology was reserved for elite breeders.
Pop quiz: If you could buy a new herd bull that would “fix” your cow herd in one of these areas, which would you most desire?
A. Marbling score
B. Feedlot average daily gain
C. Feed intake
D. Weaning weight
E. Respiratory disease incidence
F. Carcass yield grade
My guess is that if you’re a feedlot operator, you’re going to say average daily gain. And if you’re a cow-calf producer, you’re going to say weaning weight.