Drought decisions to be focus of Cattlemen's Day Feb. 15

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LINCOLN, Neb. — This year, cattle producers face some tough decisions. The severe drought of 2012 depleted pastures and feed inventories. The beef industry is ever changing, and drought management will be key in 2013.

The Cattlemen's Day on Friday, Feb. 15, at the Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab near Whitman will focus on these tough questions. Grazing during and after a drought, nutritional considerations of cows in a drought, challenges and opportunities of the beef industry, results of May calving systems, and a producer panel dealing with high input costs will provide insight for another dry year.

Jerry Voleksy, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension range specialist, will start the morning with considerations for grazing and forage for another dry year, or if the drought breaks.

"Carryover grass (from 2011) supported fair stocking rates in 2012 for many regions," said Volesky, "but most pastures have utilized all available forage."

Reduced stocking rates, delayed turnout, or no turnout are considerations this year. Seeding on cropland with annual forages also may produce much needed forage, but "seeding date and rates are critical."

Don't wait until turnout, Volesky said. Planning for multiple scenarios should be done this winter to optimize pasture health.

If you are contemplating a May calving system, Rick Funston, UNL Extension beef specialist, will cover an array of considerations, including the need for winter supplementation and effect on cow pregnancy rates and subsequent progeny effects, rate of gain of calves over winter and effect in a short or long yearling system, all the way through slaughter. The effects of over-winter gain on heifer pregnancy rates, and just this year, effect of supplementation during the breeding season on heifer and first calf heifer pregnancy rates also will be discussed.

John Paterson, a cattleman and beef specialist at Montana State, and now the National Cattlemen's Beef Association's director for producer education, will talk about challenges and opportunities he sees for beef producers in the ever-changing industry.

High feed costs will continue to plague producers in 2013. Aaron Stalker, UNL Extension beef specialist, will talk about cow's nutritional needs and considerations a drought situation could produce. A producer panel will conclude with discussion of strategies for dealing with high input costs.

There will also be an industry trade show. Contact Rick Funston at rfunston2@unl.edu or call 308-696-6703 for a booth (cost $50). Preregistration for the sponsored meal must be made by Feb. 6 to the Central Sandhills Extension Office (1-800-657-2113 or 308-645-2267) or Ellen at 308-696-6701.)

The Gudmundsen Sandhills Lab is located 3 miles north of Whitman, then 5 miles east. The Wagonhammer Building is the building to the east.



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