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Have No Doubt If There's A Drought

May 19, 2021

Beef calf

Decision Making Opportunities

Conditions have been very favorable for a successful calving season this year. Not having to battle mud and the associated challenges that present themselves when we calve in wet, damp, cold environments can lead to some benefits. However, our mindset will soon shift as concerns of plentiful precipitation, pasture quality and longevity may be of greater concern. This month we take a look at a few decision-making opportunities when our region is challenged with drought conditions.
"Opportunistic Culling"

The first of many considerations is what I would call “opportunistic culling.” Many of us finding ourselves keeping cattle because they are bred, but when pasture becomes limiting and poses threat to maintenance of body condition, reproductive performance, and overall herd profitability we have cows that become opportunistic to leave the herd. The cows that easily rise to the top are ones that may not have calved, lost a calf, thin cows, the senior cow, or cows that have begun to fall short in performance and are calving late in the calving season. By sorting out these cattle we save pasture DM for cows that pay the bills and also utilize the opportunity to work toward our primary goal as producers to sell a uniform calf crop.
Nutrition Supplementation Strategies

The second consideration for you all is nutrition supplementation strategies. I acknowledge the last thing we as beef producers want to do all summer is haul feed to our cows. However, I challenge you to consider supplementing the cows on pasture and utilize this as an indicator of pasture output and quality, if intake is high and feed disappearance is faster than predicted we can more easily acknowledge that the pasture is less than adequate. Another supplementation strategy that I have personally seen work great is the use of Purina Accuration Hi – Fat blocks. These 200# tubs are easy to track intake and provide additional fat that can help with maintenance of body condition on females throughout the grazing season, thus improving reproductive performance.
Creep Feeding & Early Weaning

The last consideration I will present to you is, creep feeding and early weaning strategies. I acknowledge we are facing a year of elevated corn prices and that will need to be taken into the consideration of the economics of whether creep feeding will pay for itself or not. However, I challenge you to have those discussions the economics of creep feeding and the comparison of conventional commodity based creeps to those programs that use a pelleted creep with transitional steps to using  nutritional technologies like Accuration to modify intake and control composition of gain while also controlling the check book. The latter part of the creep feeding discussion is the opportunity to wean calves early. This practice presents its own challenges on farm for pen space and availability on, but can present performance benefits as well as save on grass for the cow herd by transitioning her to a less energy demanding stage of production.
Lastly, I will leave you with a note of appreciation as May is national beef month and the team here at Premier Cooperative greatly appreciates what each and everyone of you do daily to assure wholesome, nutritious beef can be found on the shelf and on the plates of consumers across the world. THANK YOU, and always remember; “The west wasn’t won on Salad. Eat Beef!”

Chris Blank, M.S.

Nutrition Consultant

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