At the risk of comparing the University to a feedlot, there are similarities that are difficult to ignore. Like many feedlots, our occupancy increases significantly in the fall. There was a time that incoming students needed to be processed by standing in line, single file, to be signed up for classes, and pay their tuition and fees and other transactions necessary for campus life. Today, many of these “stressful procedures” are taken care of on-line and well ahead of their arrival on campus. So parents—no, your children are not “treated like cattle” when they get to college (even though you may have been when you were a student.)
The fact is most cattle are not “treated like cattle” anymore. Pokes and prods have been replaced with flags and paddles in many operations. As evidenced by the attendance at the IBIC BQA seminars on low stress handling techniques presented by Curt Pate earlier this summer, this is something that a lot of people are interested in. As you look toward weaning calves this fall, also consider getting some of those “stressful procedures” such as vaccinations completed ahead of weaning. If you are selling your calves after weaning consider putting them through a preconditioning program. In addition to being a good animal care practice, it also can add value to the calves.
Fall is a time of transition for the beef industry. During the next two months, the majority of the spring born calves will be weaned and marketed, backgrounded or placed in a retained ownership program. Everywhere you look, beef cattle will be on the move and a lot of decisions will be made. Some of these decisions will affect the success of your beef operation for the upcoming year. Others may be decisions that will impact your operation for years to come. Here is a list of a few considerations that are especially important this fall:
Backgrounding. Iowa is not traditionally a backgrounding state. With high grain prices and locally available byproducts that are competitively priced, this could be an attractive alternative for both cow-calf producers interested in adding some value to their calves and feedyards looking for low cost gains prior to the finishing phase. Be sure to work closely with your nutritionist or beef specialist. A successful backgrounding program requires good knowledge of the nutrient values of the feeds used, and rates of growth that support efficiency of feed use (usually at least 2.25 to 2.50 pounds per day.
Fall cow decision-making and management. Pregnancy checking of cows after weaning always is an important management procedure. With concerns about the effect of this summer’s heat stress episode on both male and female fertility, this particularly important this year. Once the open cows are identified, then culling decisions need to be made. Cull cows have been and continue to be an important source of revenue for beef cow operations. Because of the seasonality of cull cow value and the differences in the value of cows depending on their conditions, additional feeding is sometime profitable. This year feed costs weigh heavily in this decision. For more information on adding value to cull cows, including expected feed conversions, check out this publication on the IBC web site: http://www.iowabeefcenter.org/Research_Projects/adding_value_cows.pdf
Health management of cows purchased from drought areas. There are some health issues to be aware of for those producers looking to purchase cows that are being liquidated in the drought areas. Be sure and read Dr. Grant Dewell’s article in this publication on that topic.
The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, serves as the university’s extension program to cattle producers. Our center comprises a dedicated group of faculty and staff from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Iowa State University Extension. We work together to develop and deliver the latest in research-based information to improve the profitability and vitality of Iowa’s beef industry. Our website http://www.iowabeefcenter.org is a good source of educational information for the beef industry. We also have a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Not into social media, but have a cell phone with texting capability? Text follow iowabeefcenter to 40404 to get IBC twitter messages as a text.
This is the time of year when we finalize plans for our educational programming across Iowa for the winter and spring so let us know your needs. By all means feel free to contact your local ISU Extension Beef Specialist as well: Beth Doran (NW), Russ Euken (NC), Denise Schwab (NE), Byron Leu (SE), Joe Sellers (SC) and Clint McDonald (SW). Their contact information is on http://www.extension.iastate.edu/ag/fsbeef/fsbeef.html
Source: Dan Loy, IBC interim director