April 5, 2018 — Prepping calves for market next fall starts now with a herd vaccination program for cows, bulls and calves. An annual operational goal should be 100 percent healthy cattle. As producers working with the living, we know, on occasion, that not all will make it to
March 29, 2018 — Spring calving time is the most intense time in cattle operations. It also is the time to "grade" the managerial success. In school, we knew very well where we stood. If not, the pending parent-teacher conference refreshed one's memory. An "A" was good, a "B"
January 25, 2018 — The recent January thaw has helped cows into their generally relaxed routine in which they're essentially finding shelter, eating, drinking and returning to shelter. The slow days of late gestation are eminent. In another month, many cows will be calving. Producers have time now to
January 12, 2018 — Managing feed resources is the biggest challenge when winter weather changes daily, and so do cattle feed needs. This year's challenge for the beef manager is finding the balance among winter demands, feed inventory and cattle inventory. Because of last summer's dry weather, hay is
January 4, 2018 — How do you cut cow numbers in half and maintain the same number of cows calving? That seems like a strange question, but the question surfaced as the Dickinson Research Extension Center (DREC) prepped for the current drought on this year's feed supply. The answer
December 28, 2017 — As the year ends, reflecting on the past year is good. The obvious point this year is the lack of forage and how, as producers, one responded to the challenge. The Dickinson Research Extension Center needs more than 1,000 1,300-pound bales to make the stretch
December 22, 2017 — Cow herd inventory is the working asset for beef producers, and maintaining that inventory is an important component of a successful beef operation. A walk through the Dickinson Research Extension Center calf pens checks the health and vigor of the calves. The challenge is keeping
December 14, 2017 — Hay is the staple for cow-calf producers. How much hay an operation needs to feed versus how much hay an operation feeds are two different numbers. So assuming cattle consume most of their feed needs from forage, let's figure. A pencil, pad of paper and
December 8, 2017 — The future is now: the bull-buying season. The future is in the numbers. The future requires knowledge, so study hard. For me, bull-buying season means bull-buying workshops where I can meet with small groups of producers to look at numbers, the expected progeny differences (EPDs).
November 22, 2017 — Data from the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance Software (CHAPS), through the North Dakota State University Extension Service and North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA), illustrate that beef cattle reproduction is quite successful. Producers may experience occasional issues, but as a whole, today's cattle reproduce
November 16, 2017 — Beef cattle performance growth trends, as calculated through the Cow Herd Appraisal of Performance Software (CHAPS), are very stable. The North Dakota State University Extension Service and North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association (NDBCIA) collect and analyze the CHAPS data to produce meaningful annual benchmarks.
November 2, 2017 — Size has been the common denominator in revenue generation for cow-calf, backgrounding and feedlot operators. The process of raising cattle has been quite steady, with a general acknowledgment that growth is key to success. That is a true statement because calf weight, the product of
October 26, 2017 — Fall is a good time to review the status of the beef operation. Although the quick-and-easy, seat-of-the-pants review is fun, the details are not there to supply the true facts and figures for proper evaluations. Actually, the focus point of the Cow-Calf Management class that
October 19, 2017 — Cow culling and heifer replacement are front and center in the fall as producers evaluate older cattle, structurally challenged cattle and cows that fail to reproduce. Moving cows to the market pen is fairly straightforward. Herd growth generally has been subtle, as gradual increases in
October 5, 2017 — Sometimes, words are really difficult as events shake our foundation. Questions without answers abound. Words of hope and encouragement fall by the wayside. Our world simply stops. We stop, ponder and question. However, on the range or any place that maintains the living, the world
September 28, 2017 — Ten years (as of November) have passed since the Dickinson Research Extension Center summarized research on tagging calves for improved market traceability, and the subject remains relevant today. In the last decade, trading beef was, and still is, a complex pattern of pathways that involves
September 21, 2017 — Commit this truism to memory: Feed is available for cattle. In fact, if we did not have cattle and sheep, acre upon acre of forage would be grossly underutilized. Even in dry years, forage is present. Sometimes we need to search, but still, forage is
September 14, 2017 — Breeding systems have goals, objectives and outcomes that reflect a total beef operation. Today, dairy, swine and poultry breeding systems exist and many accomplish the operations' goals and objectives. Beef production, however, is often the exception. The various stages of a good commercial beef breeding
September 8, 2017 — The old question kept coming back: Would the extra calves really pencil out if the center stocked 1,100-pound cows instead of 1,400-pound cows? And then more questions: Would those small cows actually carry the load? Could they be competitive with mainstream beef production? Since the
August 31, 2017 — The search for efficient cows at the Dickinson Research Extension Center has resulted in "cow math," the translation of biological and economic efficiency into the herd production inventory based on land units. That is a lot to understand but doable. The beef industry has efficient