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Cattle lessons learned from the drought

When little rain came last year to the Center of the Nation Cattle Company at Newell, South Dakota, the dry weather found a place well prepared by lessons learned from past drought.

In particular, a dry spell lasting from 2000 to 2008 taught ranch owners Steve and Kay Smeenk, son Jeff, and daughter-in-law Kim how to shore up defenses against dry weather. The family’s safeguards helped their rangeland come through last summer’s drought in good health.

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Expect a profit

Improving profitability could be as simple as changing expectations. In short, expecting a year-end profit is the first step in achieving it.

This mind-over-matter approach draws raised eyebrows from Roland Kroos’ listeners. Kroos, a longtime holistic management certified educator and consultant from Bozeman, Montana, has seen farmers and ranchers come from the brink of bankruptcy to profitability by letting management practices flow from changed expectations.

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Beef Insider: Plan for profit

Planning to be profitable is a habit for Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, beef producers Don and Bev Campbell and their sons. The elder Campbells have managed holistically since the mid-1980s, and their efforts have paid off in sustained profitability.

“Holistic management is about people, land, and money. And it is helping us make room for the next generation,” says Don.

Managing resources holistically has brought a doubling of grass production on their 4,200-acre land base and has lowered per-animal production costs for their 700-cow herd.

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Managing cattle around drought

With their Gordon, Nebraska, ranch in the grip of severe and prolonged drought last spring, Nancy and Rex Peterson took stock of resources and long-term goals. Preserving the viability of their cow/calf operation for the future is especially important since their son, Patrick, and his wife, Krista, have become partners in the family business.

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How to manage BRD

With outbreaks of bovine respiratory disease (BRD) in calves a persistent threat in cow/calf and feedlot operations, tweaking management and treatment protocols is ongoing.

“Bovine respiratory disease accounts for 90% of our health problems,” says David Trowbridge, feedlot manager for Gregory Feedlots, Tabor, Iowa. “The most vulnerable cattle are calves under 1 year that are subjected to any kind of stress such as long hauls.”

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How's canola-based biodiesel perform?

Tractor engines fueled by canola biodiesel have performed well at North Dakota State University’s North Central Research Extension Center.

“The fuel is user-friendly, and it has hardly any odor,” says research specialist Gary Willoughby. No changes in the engine are needed to burn canola biofuel. One tractor has been running on 100% canola biodiesel for seven years. The 12-year-old machine has an 80-hp., four-cylinder, turbocharged engine.

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