Dr. Jaymelynn Farney Introduction, Nutrition in Fall Cows, How much Corn Can a Cow Eat, Cover Crop Recommendations, Potential Diseases in Cover Crops,Sunflower Supreme Heifer Sale

Welcome to Episode 27 of BCI Cattle Chat where we hear from special guest, Dr. Jaymelynn Farney, Beef Extension Specialist!  Stay tuned to hear from more upcoming guests throughout the month. Please click on the links below to be taken to any sources mentioned in the podcast.

1:17 – Guest Introduction – Dr. Jaymelynn Farney

3:00 – Nutrition in Fall Cows

4:57 – How much Corn can a Cow Eat?

8:15 – Cover Crop Recommendations

Cost-return budget cover crops – http://agmanager.info/farm-mgmt-guides/livestock-budgets/ksu-cover-crop-cost-return-budget

15:30 – Potential Diseases in Cover Crops

24:20 – Sunflower Supreme Heifer Sale

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, to please go give us a rating in iTunes or Google Play.


Vet Call: The role of the veterinarian in your business

By Dr. Bob Larson, DVM, professor of production medicine
Reprinted with permission from the Angus Journal.

Many people impact the success of your ranching business, including your customers, your lenders and your suppliers. One of the important suppliers for cow-calf producers is the local veterinarian. Veterinarians can provide important advice and service to improve ranch income, decrease costs, provide protection from losses due to disease, and offer options for marketing high-health cattle.

Ranch income is primarily derived from the sale of calves either at weaning for commercial operations or as breeding bulls or heifers for seedstock producers. Commercial ranchers can increase their income by increasing the pounds of calves at weaning and seedstock operations the number of marketable breeding animals from the same land and cow resources by increasing the reproductive efficiency of the herd. Veterinarians can provide advice and services to monitor and evaluate heifers, cows, and bulls so that a high percentage of the herd is able to successfully mate at the start of each breeding season.

Nutrition has an important impact on whether or not growing bulls and heifers reach puberty at an appropriate age and your veterinarian may be able to provide you with appropriate diets to meet targeted weight gain goals. Genetics also strongly influences whether developing bulls and heifers reach puberty by target ages, and your veterinarian is a valuable resource when considering selection and culling decisions. By doing breeding soundness examinations of bulls and heifers near yearling age, your veterinarian can help you identify the individuals that reach puberty at the time and with the amount of feed resources that you have identified to meet your ranch goals.

Doing breeding soundness examinations of mature bulls prior to the start of each breeding season allows your veterinarian to remove bulls that may fail during the breeding season due to foot or leg problems, other health problems, or reproductive tract problems. Although the reproductive tracts of mature cows are not routinely evaluated before the start of each breeding season, managing and monitoring the cows to confirm that a high percentage of the cows calve early enough in the calving season and in good enough body condition to resume fertile cycles by the start of the breeding season helps to ensure that herd reproductive efficiency will be high.

Monitoring body condition scores of the cow herd and rainfall amounts as predictors of future forage production potential allows your veterinarian to provide advice on a changing year-by-year basis to alter stocking density, timing of weaning, and supplementation strategies to ensure that cows enter the calving and breeding seasons in good body condition. The land base and herd size dictate much of the cost-side of cow-calf production and making sure that a high percentage of the cow herd becomes pregnant early in the breeding season allows those costs to be spread over a large number of marketable calves. By using body condition scores collected at several key points in the production cycle, your veterinarian can help you fine-tune the management of your herd based on the ranch forage-base, and the availability of cost-effective supplements or grazing alternatives, and the optimum cow size and milking ability for your herd.

While every production year is expected to generate income from the sale of calves and to incur expenses associated with pasture and supplementation costs as well as cow depreciation and bull costs, significant losses due to disease are expected to be a rare event for cattle operations. Losses that are expected to occur rarely if at all but that could have a devastating impact on the financial status of a ranch if they did occur must be managed with cost-effective risk management strategies. Because disease losses do not occur every year, providing no defense may appear to be a sufficient and very low-cost management strategy in the short-run. However, over a longer time-frame, it would be very unusual for a herd with minimal disease protection to avoid devastating financial losses due to disease at some point in the future. Your veterinarian can provide valuable information about the likelihood that your herd could suffer losses from various diseases and the expected magnitude of those losses should your herd be exposed. By considering the likelihood of a disease, the magnitude of losses associated with that disease, and the effectiveness of available control strategies, your veterinarian can work with you to optimize the disease risk management of your ranching business.

Marketing of cattle, whether feeder calves or breeding animals, increasingly includes information about health status. When considering the optimum herd health program from a marketing standpoint, the risks that down-stream buyers face and their willingness to purchase from suppliers who can reduce that risk must be considered. For example, your herd may have very low risk for a disease and incurring expenses through diagnostic testing or herd certification may not reduce your herd’s already minimal risk, but the costs could easily be offset by customers willing to pay for that low disease risk. Increasingly, you must think of your down-stream customers as you work with your veterinarian to plan a health program that not only meets the needs of your herd but also provides a cost-effective marketing advantage.

A successful cattle business requires a combination of cattle and business expertise. Many successful ranchers count on a trusted team of advisors and suppliers to help them improve the profitability and sustainability of their ranching businesses. Finding and working with a local veterinarian who can provide assistance to increase income, control costs and manage risks should be a goal of every cattle producer.

Dr. Bob Larson is a professor of production medicine with the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, Edgar E. and Elizabeth Coleman Chair of Food Animal Production Medicine, executive director of Veterinary Medical Continuing Education, and faculty member with the Beef Cattle Institute. He specializes in the integration of animal health, production efficiency and economic considerations in beef cattle production. This column is reprinted and redistributed with permission from the Angus Journal.

Food Expenditures,Replacement Heifer Vaccinations, Economics of Cover Crops, Buying Feeder Calves and Value of Old Cattle

Welcome to Episode 26 of BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on the links below to be taken to any sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news about our exciting upcoming guests on both Twitter and Facebook.

1:15 – Food Expenditures

6:25 – Replacement Heifer Vaccinations

10:25 – Economics of Cover Crops

14:18 – Buying Feeder Calves

Decision Tools – https://www.agmanager.info/decision-tools

Beef Cattle Institute Calculators – https://ksubci.org/portfolio/calculators/

18:30 – Value of Old Cattle

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, to please go give us a rating in iTunes or Google Play.

Guest Introduction, Performance Table, Fad Diets, Adolescent and Incoming Athletes, Beef for Athletes

Welcome to Episode 25 of BCI Cattle Chat where we hear from special guest, Kylie Hanson, Performance Table Manager and Sports Dietician!  Stay tuned to hear from more upcoming guests throughout the month. Please click on the links below to be taken to any sources mentioned in the podcast.

:20 – Guest Introduction

3:45 – K-State Athletics Performance Table

8:35 – Fad Diets

11:05 – Adolescent and Incoming Athletes

16:30 – Beef for Athletes

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our new website, ksubci.org. If you have any comments/questions/topic ideas, please send them to bci@ksu.edu. Don’t forget if you enjoy the show, to please go give us a rating in iTunes or Google Play.

Gordon Food Service Distributor Show: A growing appetite for product transparency

By Patti Dollarhide, R.D., director of beef value chain alliances

The food service industry, much like the cattle industry, is built on relationships. We develop a network of people we want to do business with, trade ideas with and eventually trust.

Recently at the Gordon Food Service (GFS) show in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it was evident that the company’s food service customers are looking for suppliers they can trust, including those who provide beef.

GFS took a big step to demonstrate they value their customers and suppliers by providing an attempt at product transparency with a new program called “Clear Choice.”  Each of their vendors, including beef suppliers, were asked if the items they provide meet the criteria for one or all of six attributes. If their customer wants to find products that have one or more of these attributes, they can now locate them with a quick sort of the GFS product catalog.

Attributes and descriptions:

  • Cleaner Ingredients, meaning one, several or all of the following “no’s” are met:
    • No artificial flavors, preservatives, sweeteners, thickeners or emulsifiers, color from artificial sources, high fructose corn syrup, MSG, trans fats or GMOs
  • Specialty Agriculture:
    • Certifications are in place for USDA Organic, Food Alliance or Biodynamic
  • Animal Care:
    • Certifications for one or more: American Humane Association, Animal Welfare Approved, Cage Free, Crate Free, Free Range, Global Animal Partnership, Grass Fed, Pasture Raised, Raised without Added Hormones, Raised without Antibiotics
  • Sustainable Seafood:
    • Certifications in place for one or more: Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Best Aquaculture Practices, Marine Stewardship Council, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch
  • Ethically Sourced:
    • Third-party certifications in place: Fair Trade, International Farmer Direct Sourced, Rainforest Alliance
  • Environmentally Friendly:
    • Third-party certifications in place: Biodegradable Products Institute Compostable, Compostable and Biodegradable, EcoLogo, Green Seal, Made from Recycled Materials, Made from Renewable Resources, SaferChoice

Beef fits in five of those six “Clear Choice” boxes. (Sorry, we cannot make the grade for Sustainable Seafood!) No doubt, the descriptions of the GFS attributes will mature and continue to be reviewed.  Transparency is a journey we are on together. How timely it is for the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) to be working on six similar attributes, and put compliance targets in place to help our beef industry continue to improve. See more from USRSB here: https://www.usrsb.org/. Kudos to GFS for showcasing what their vendors are already doing, as well as setting targets for the future. Learn more about GFS’s Clear Choice program here: https://www.gfs.com/en-us/products/clear-choice.

Educational sessions were held in conjunction with the show. The BCI presented “What’s the ‘Beef’ about Beef, Health and Sustainability?” for healthcare, and college and university food service leaders as well as distributor salespeople. Participants noted they learned new information about the beef industry. Normally the message they receive is to reduce beef consumption. It was refreshing to have an engaged audience who learned something new as a result of the information.

Relationships –– what a pleasure to reconnect with industry food service professionals that I had worked with since 1995 and trust. This food business gets in your blood just like raising cattle. More than 20 years later, my colleagues are still asking their distribution partners to find quality products at a reasonable price, but now we also want to feel good about our purchases and what we choose to eat.

Food service customers are asking for more transparency. Beef producers know the answers. Let’s figure out how to translate them to the people who want to enjoy eating beef.


Gardiner Lecture, Cattle in the United States, Rate of Gain in Replacement Heifers, Corn-Stalk Forage

Welcome to Episode 24 of BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on the links below to be taken to any sources mentioned in the podcast.  Tune into next week’s episode to hear from a special guest.

:50 – Gardiner Lecture ( Why there doesn’t need to be a global food crisis)

2:38 – Cattle in the United States

6:00 – Rate of Gain in Replacement Heifers

Dr. Bob Weaber has provided a resource for rates of gain required for Replacement Heifers Developed to Different Target Weights at Breeding. You can find that worksheet below the show notes. 

19:38 – Corn-Stalk Forage 

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and on find podcast episodes on our website, ksubci.org. Please send comments/questions/topic ideas, to bci@ksu.edu. If you enjoy the show, please give us a rating in iTunes or Google Play.

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Using the Pregnancy Analytics Mobile App: Evaluating data

The Beef Cattle Institute’s Dr. Bob Larson brings you a series of “cases” employing the use of the Pregnancy Analytics mobile app. Each case will explore a unique herd and examine its reproductive efficiency, strengths, challenges and areas of improvement. The reports (linked below) will lead you through using the Pregnancy Analytics app to utilize the data and practice using it on an actual problem herd.

The case: Diagnosing poor fertility

A herd of 187 commercial cows was palpated on September 19. The herd was split into three breeding pastures and bulls were turned out on May 30. All cows were moved to a new pasture on August 1 to run together with bulls removed. During the breeding season 38 were in the “South Pasture,” 47 were in the “Home Pasture,” and 102 were in the “Webster Pasture.” All  heifers and about half the first-calf heifers were in the Webster Pasture.

At preg-check, 59 cows were open (68.5% were pregnant) and 80% of the cows were in moderate body condition (BCS 5 up to 6) while 17% were classified as being in thin body condition. 10.4% of the herd became pregnant in the first 21 days (pregnancies would have been 91 to 112 days), 23.6% in the second 21-day period (79-90 days), 17.6% in the third 21-day period (49-89 days), and 18.7% in the fourth 21-day period (28-48 days). The goal for this herd (and for most herds) is to have at least 60% of the cows becoming pregnant in the first 21 days of breeding.


Something isn’t right here. The poor overall percentage pregnant clearly indicates a problem and the percent pregnant by 21-day interval provides information that the poor reproductive performance continued for the entire breeding season.

To evaluate further, the Pregnancy Analytics App provides a way to easily divide the herd into pertinent sub-groups. When the pregnancy success by 21 days is evaluated by age group, we find that none of the age groups perform well, and the heifers perform particularly poorly. (First-calf heifers are defined as those cows suckling their first calf and being bred for their second pregnancy.)


More information can be found by displaying % Preg Success and finding that while neither the 1st-calf heifers nor the cows performed well the first, second, and third 21-day periods, both these age groups improved slightly the forth 21 days, but still were below the expected 60-70% pregnancy success expected. In addition, the heifers performed very poorly throughout the breeding season.


So far, the information doesn’t narrow the rule-out list. Problems with heifer development, a similar calving pattern last year that results in many cows not calving until after the breeding season has started, and poor bull fertility or Trichomoniasis are all possible contributors to this herd’s poor performance.

Click to download and read the full case report.


Poll Results, Opinions on Forage Testing, NIAA Traceability Meeting, Cull/Market Cows

Welcome to Episode 23 of BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on the links below to be taken to any sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news about our exciting upcoming guests on both Twitter and Facebook.

1:38 –      Poll results from listeners

Should we test forage. Why?

12: 30 –   National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) meeting on traceability 

17:50 –    Cull/Maket cows

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and on find podcast episodes on our website, ksubci.org. Please send comments/questions/topic ideas, to bci@ksu.edu. If you enjoy the show, please give us a rating in iTunes or Google Play.

#FarmFoodTour: Changing perspectives

By Patti Dollarhide, R.D, director of beef value chain alliances

How does life on the farm look to those who are three generations or more removed from production agriculture? More specifically, to those who write about food for a living? That was my burning question before the 2018 Kansas #FarmFoodTour, sponsored by the Kansas Farm Bureau and Kansas Soybean Commission, and the reason I was so thrilled to attend the event. To farmers and ranchers, opening your agricultural business to people armed with social media skills and cameras could be intimidating, especially with the activity fall brings: harvesting crops, moving cattle, hustling to school events and more.

Consumer surveys tell those of us who work in agriculture it is important to connect with our customers and to be transparent about what we do. The Kansas Farm Bureau and the Kansas Soybean Commission made that possible for a group of eight women with expansive social media followings. The women, food and lifestyle bloggers and urban dwellers met, Kansas agriculture head on by devoting an entire week to see for themselves where food comes from and how it is handled.

Check out the hashtag “#FarmFoodTour” on Twitter and Instagram and decide for yourself if the tour had an impact on what the bloggers are now sharing with their readers. There are positive comments, aha moments and beautiful photography. Their photos show what our farmers and ranchers do, and what our consumers sometimes take for granted. Cattle, pigs, children, corn, combines, tractors, pumpkins, pasture flowers, beautiful fresh food and a lifestyle that is difficult to comprehend unless you see it firsthand. Those ladies left Kansas with a new appreciation for who our farmers and ranchers are and what they do.

Coordinators Meagan Cramer, Kansas Farm Bureau, and Jancey Hall, Kansas Soybean Commission, know the power of letting people first look, and then ask questions.  Meagan and Jancey recruited Amy France, a Kansas Farm Bureau Young Farmers & Ranchers representative from Marienthal, who shared the farmer’s view throughout the tour. She spoke from the heart as she talked about her own family, the economics of farming and the decision processes that are part of choosing how to produce food. I was ready to talk hormones, antibiotics, low-stress animal handling, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), but the gal next to me wanted to better understand grass, hay bales and why a rancher would move an animal to so many different places on the same farm, let alone sell the animal to someone else.  Some lightbulbs came on for all of us during our three-day trek across the state on a Wi-Fi-enabled bus (a necessity for a blogger). I was amazed how they worked to develop their personal brands with their writing styles and photos they posted tirelessly. The bloggers were surprised at farmers’ and ranchers’ vast knowledge from  animal husbandry, advanced technology and marketing, to government regulations and politics –– and that they also take on significant personal financial risk.

A special thanks to the tour hosts: Craig and Amy Good, Good Family Farms, Olsburg; Derek and Katie Sawyer, Sawyer Land and Cattle, McPherson; Clint and Amy France, France Family Farms, Marienthal and Scott City; Lee Reeve, Reeve Cattle Company Garden City; Forget-Me-Not Farms Dairy, Cimarron; Matt and Amy Perrier, Dalebanks Angus, Eureka; and Scott Thellman, Juniper Hill Farms, Lawrence. The bloggers saw the passion our farmers and ranchers take in handing down their operations to the next generations and the pride they have in producing safe and wholesome food for the world.

More information:

Kansas Farm Bureau
Kansas Soybean Commission 

Good Farms Angus
Sawyer Land and Cattle
France Family Farms
Reeve Cattle Co., Inc.
Forget-Me-Not Farms
Dalebanks Angus 
Juniper Hill Farms

Patti Dollarhide is a registered dietitian and director of the Beef Cattle Institute’s beef value chain alliances.