Cattle producers can replace some hay with a limited-intake distillers dried grain supplement without negatively affecting cow or calf performance, North Dakota State University have researchers found.

They determined that using a self-fed, limited-intake supplement as a forage replacement resulted in late-gestation/early lactation cow performance, reproductive efficiency and calf performance comparable to that in animals fed an all-hay diet.

NDSU researchers also have discovered that a two-step weaning process may be less stressful for calves than the conventional weaning process, restricting the nutrients supplied to ewes during gestation affects the dams and their offspring negatively, and restaurant goers are willing to pay higher prices for steaks from cattle raised in North Dakota.

The conventional weaning method, which involves removing calves from dams and their mother's milk suddenly, can be very stressful for young calves because they experience a loss of maternal contact, new diets and novel social environments, as well as transportation to new housing facilities.

In the two-step weaning process, producers place anti-suckling nose tags on the calves. These devices allow calves to adjust to being removed from their mother's milk before being separated from their mother.

These are among the findings featured in NDSU's 2011 Beef Cattle and Range Research Report, which is available online at

"The NDSU Beef Cattle and Range Research Report provides valuable information to producers and beef cattle industry personnel on the most recent beef cattle research conducted by NDSU faculty, scientists, staff and students," says Kendall Swanson, an associate professor in the Animal Sciences Department and the publication's coordinator.

The report also includes articles about NDSU's new Beef Cattle Research Complex, the results of the 2009-10 Eastern Dakota Cattle Feedout project, research suggesting that cattle harvested with the kosher method produce less tender meat, and an analysis of using cattle shows as a way to identify breeding stock for the beef industry.