First Frost, Conversations with Your Lender, Strategies for Talking with Your Lender, Cow Culling Management, Winter Grazing

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

1:40 First Frost

8:05 Conversations with Your Lender

17:20 Strategies for Talking with Your Lender

18:05 Cow Culling Management

24:15 Winter Grazing

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Job Satisfaction Data, Capturing Value on Calves, Tips for Capturing Value on Calves, Dry Lot vs Pasture Calving, Death Loss Data

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2:45 Job Satisfaction Data

9:45 Capturing Value on Calves

15:40 Tips for Capturing Value on Calves

16:23 Listener Question: Dry Lot vs Pasture Calving

22:35 Death Loss Data

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Anaplasmosis, Newly Weaned Calves, Tips for Evaluating Disease in Newly Weaned Calves, New Technology

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:45 Listener Question: Anaplasmosis

10:30 Newly Weaned Calves

19:55 Tips for Evaluating Disease in Newly Weaned Calves

20:35 Listener Question: New Technology

KSU Beef Stocker Day

GPS Ear Tags

Ag Manager

Cattle Chat Episode 87

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Networking in the beef industry

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD

Although cattle producers often find that it is necessary to rely on themselves and to develop a wide variety of skills; successful cattle producers also know that it is important to identify others outside their operation who will provide benefit to their ranch. People who are trained to help and who have an economic incentive to ensure that your ranch thrives are ideal networking partners. The most likely networking partners are often located very close to your ranch, but can come from the wider region, other areas of the country, or occasionally from other parts of the world.

The Japanese word keiretsu is used to describe a business system where companies are linked in one or more ways due to serving the same geographic area, working with the same lender, having some cross-ownership,  or being related by blood or marriage – and that do a great deal of business with each other. In business schools, networks of large companies in manufacturing or technology are used as examples of keiretsu, but when I first heard this word – I immediately thought about my hometown and many similar situations in rural America. These types of networking relationships can occur from convenience or because cattle producers actively seek connections that are mutually beneficial to their ranching operation and to other businesses in their community.

Some potential networking partners for ranchers are suppliers such as veterinarians, lenders, feed suppliers, breeding companies, other ranches, and Extension personnel who can help improve production efficiency, cattle quality, or marketing. These partners may bring expertise and experience in areas such as range management, genetics, finance, nutrition, risk management, promotion, or cattle health. Cattle producers can also develop networking partnerships with their customers – including other cow-calf or purebred breeders, bull customers, feedlots, and even businesses closer to the end consumer such as local restaurants or beef supply chains.

Ranchers usually have choices of who will be their suppliers and where to sell their cattle or who to cultivate as customers. The ideal and most sustainable networking partnerships occur when both parties benefit; whether these relationships are between suppliers and the ranch or between the ranch and its customers. All these relationships require trust in order to be mutually beneficial. Trust is both a result and a cause of mutually beneficial networking partnerships in agriculture. Trust becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy in that ranchers whose businesses are improved by a relationship and who trust the network partner to balance that business’s interests with the rancher’s interests over both the short-term and the long-term will fulfill their side of the arrangement to the best of their ability. The outcomes of a mutually beneficial relationship for the rancher may be improved financial position, greater convenience, increased safety, enhanced business or health risk management, or enriched pride of accomplishment; and the supplier or customer reaps similar benefits.

An important networking partner for ranchers is their veterinarian. In a good, mutually-beneficial relationship, a ranch’s veterinarian should provide valuable services and should be able to be trusted to have the rancher’s interests valued as highly as his/her own interests. Veterinarians have the potential to provide advice and services that improve reproductive efficiency and that reduce the risk of production losses due to disease. Reproductive efficiency is an important driver on the income side of a ranch’s business ledger; and veterinary services such as selecting and developing heifers to ensure that they calve early in their first calving season, breeding soundness examination of bulls and monitoring cow body condition prior to the breeding season to protect against poor breed-ups, and utilizing biosecurity and vaccinations to guard against abortion-causing diseases provide the opportunity for mutually beneficial transactions.  In addition, losses due to disease, injury, or poisonings can negatively affect a ranching business through disrupted cash-flow, harmed relationships with customers, increased labor and treatment costs, and added family and employee stress.  Local veterinarians are knowledgeable and available to help minimize these risks.

When looking at the local community and beyond for potential networking partners, cattle producers should consider a few key steps in order to establish long-term, mutually beneficial relationships. The first step is obtaining the information you need in order to know if the potential partner is a good fit. If the business is local, you may have first-hand experience that gives confidence that the potential partner has the skills, financing, and ethics that will lead to a beneficial relationship for your ranch. If you don’t have first-hand experience, you should find out if suppliers, employees, and customers trust the business to provide quality service, pay bills promptly, and act fairly. Once you have identified a potential networking partner, it may be best to begin with smaller transactions that limit your financial and reputation risk; and to use smaller interactions to clarify the skills needed and responsibilities expected from both parties. Assuming that the association between your ranch and the other business appears to be mutually beneficial at the start, as more interactions develop over time, candid communication about what is working well for each party and where expectations are not met will be essential to create a long-term successful relationship.

In the end, forming successful long-term networking partnerships that benefit your cattle operation may take more time initially compared to less-thoughtful methods of selecting suppliers and customers; and may require communication, compromise, and change to maintain the relationship. But in the long run, finding the right partnerships can bring enormous benefits to any ranching operation in terms of efficiency, profitability, growth, and value to its customers.

BQA Certification, Remodeling Handling Facilities, BQA’s Role in Processing Calves, Biosecurity with BQA

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:15 BQA Certification

8:02 Remodeling Handling Facilities

15:51 BQA’s Role in Processing Calves

18:24 Biosecurity with BQA

Designing a Bud Box for Cattle Handling

BQA Facility Design – Building a Bud Box

Designing a “Bud Box”

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Fall Calving, Top Differences Between Fall and Spring Calving, LRP Questions, Alternative Feedstuffs

2:15 Fall Calving

9:40 Top Differences Between Fall and Spring Calving

10:30 LRP Questions

17:25 Alternative Feedstuffs

DDG Weekly Prices Move Higher – DTN

K-State Feeder Cattle Risk Management Tool

Livestock Risk Protection Feeder Cattle

Livestock Risk Protection Insurance (LRP): How It Works for Feeder Cattle

Cows are not the primary cause of recent increase in methane

Atmospheric methane concentration has reached a record, but the exact reason has been difficult to determine. Atmospheric methane concentration increased 8 ppb per year during the 1980s, 6 ppb per year in the 1990s, then the trend was static from 2000 to 2007, but now increasing at 9 ppm per year since 2007 (Figure 1). The reason for the increased accumulation of methane in recent years is likely due to several factors. The methane budget includes both sources of emissions and sinks that remove methane from the atmosphere. The primary sources include agriculture, natural wetlands, fossil fuels, biomass burning, and other natural sources (oceans, lakes, termites). The primary sinks are chemical reactions in the atmosphere and soils. The increase in atmospheric methane concentrations means that emissions were larger than sinks, but which source has been the cause of the recent increase.

Ruminant animals account for the largest proportion of man-made methane emissions and cattle are by far the largest contributor. Estimated enteric methane emissions have increased since 2000, but the global cattle population has remained constant questioning the reason for the increased enteric methane emissions (Figure 1). Wetlands are the largest natural source of methane emissions and methane emissions from wetlands have also been increasing since 2000. Methane leakage during oil extraction is also a source of methane emissions into the atmosphere and was thought to possibly be the cause of increased methane due to the increase in shale oil extraction.

Based on the change in radio isotope ratio of atmospheric methane, the increase in methane emissions is likely from microbial sources which rules out fossil fuel extraction leaving enteric and wetland methane emissions. The largest increases in atmospheric methane coincide with the largest increases in global temperature. The largest methane growth rates (> 10 ppb) occurred in the tropics and subtropics through 2014 to 2017, which had average temperatures > 1°C warmer than the 1880-1909 baseline. Methane emissions from wetlands increase with increasing temperature because of increased microbial activity, but microbes in the rumen of cattle are at a constant 38°C such that global temperature would not be affecting microbial activity in the rumen. Additionally, the largest increases in methane emissions have come from the tropical and subtropical latitudes, where increased precipitation, flooding and temperature coincided between 2014 – 2017. Wetlands are the largest global source of methane emissions (Figure 2) and are a major driver of atmospheric methane especially with increasing global temperature.

Removal of methane through chemical reactions in the atmosphere can have a dramatic effect on methane lifetime. Hydroxyl, which is the chemical with which methane reacts in the atmosphere, concentrations in the atmosphere increased 10% between the late 1990s and mid-2000s coinciding with the plateau in methane concentrations from 2000 to 2007. But hydroxyl concentrations have decreased approximately 10% from mid-2000s to 2014 coinciding with the renewed increase in atmospheric methane concentrations.

The methane budget is not as simple as once thought and changes in relative amounts of sources and sinks can readily change the atmospheric concentration. Enteric emissions from ruminants is not always the primary driver and is not the largest emissions source. As global temperatures increase, wetland emissions may become a larger proportion of global methane emissions.

Figure 1. Global atmospheric methane (NOAA) and hydroxyl (Rigby et al., 2017) concentration, methane emissions from enteric fermentation (FAO) and wetlands (Zhang et al. 2017), and cattle population (USDA).
Figure 2. Contribution to global methane emissions by various sources. Adapted from the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford.

Stump the Expert, Low Stress Weaning, Tips for Managing Low Stress Weaning, Livestock Risk Protection Tools

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

3:30 Stump the Expert

9:20 Low Stress Weaning

18:04 Tips for Managing Low Stress Weaning

18:40 Livestock Risk Protection Tools

Visit RMA’s website to see the LRP-Feeder Cattle program’s coverage prices, rates, actual ending values, and per hundredweight insurance cost on – https://www.rma.usda.gov/en/Information-Tools

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Stump the Expert, Pre-Conditioning, Top Preventative Health Tips for Pre-Conditioning, BQA Tips for Weaning, Early Preg-Checks

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

3:45 Stump the Expert

8:45 Pre-Conditioning

16:40 Top Preventative Health Tips for Pre-Conditioning

17:25 BQA Tips for Weaning

21:05 Early Preg-Checks

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Designing a Trichomoniasis (Trich) control plan to meet the specific needs of your ranch using Trich CONSULT

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD

Trichomoniasis (Trich) is a highly contagious disease that can cause cows to abort an early pregnancy when the organism is passed from infected bulls to cows during mating. This disease is very important to the cattle industry because infected herds experience very severe losses – commonly up to a 30% to 50% reduction in the number of cows calving. Infected cows and bulls appear healthy and it’s not until a high percentage of the cows are open at preg-check that Trich is suspected. While cows are usually able to clear the infection within a few months, females are occasionally longer-term carriers; and once bulls become infected, they will most likely remain a carrier for the rest of their life.

Trich has been reported in almost every state in the U.S., but some areas of the country have a much higher risk of coming into contact with a Trich-infected breeding animal than others. The movement of Trich into a non-infected herd is through infected bulls or cows. Any time a lot of cattle are moving from one part of the country to another, such as during a drought situation, the risk of spreading Trich to areas that did not previously have a lot of cases, is very possible.

Many states have imposed regulations requiring testing for Trich for bulls moved into their states, and some states have testing requirements for bulls moving within the state, and a few states have regulations about the movement of open cows. Rules about which animals must be tested for Trich before being allowed to cross the border vary between states, therefore you must contact the state where you are shipping cattle to in order to meet those regulations. In addition, in many states Trich is a reportable disease, therefore if Trich is diagnosed in a herd, the state veterinarian must be notified who will then start an investigation and control procedure.

Even though Trich is a very important disease to the U.S. cattle industry, most herds are not infected and many herds have a fairly low risk of becoming infected. Therefore, a Trich-control plan for a non-infected herd would be very different than a plan for an infected herd. For non-infected herds, the goal is to set up a system where it’s unlikely that Trich will be introduced from other herds. If you have a herd that is Trich-infected, an aggressive plan to test the bulls and to carefully manage the breeding season must start immediately after diagnosis is confirmed.

Trich CONSULT was designed for the beef industry as a free, user-friendly, online tool that helps cow-calf producers and veterinarians to minimize the effects of Trich in a herd that has been infected, and it can be used to design a system to keep Trich out of uninfected herd. The plans that are developed are customized to each herd’s specific situation through a series of questions and responses that is designed to mimic a conversation with a Trich expert. I’m a firm believer that one-size-fits-all Trich plans will not work. It takes a knowledgeable veterinarian who knows not only trichomoniasis but also the ranchers they are working with and their community to design the best individualized control and surveillance plans. The question and answer format of Trich CONSULT helps the cattle producer and veterinarian to cover all the important considerations when designing an eradication or prevention program.

Trich CONSULT is set up to provide different answers and follow-up questions based on previous answers. There are 6 to 10 questions in Trich CONSULT which should take about 10 to 20 minutes to complete, depending on each individual producer’s answers.  If you want more information about a particular question or answer, you can click on a “More Information icon” and get helpful feedback to help you make a decision that best fits your herd and management.

The first question in Trich CONSULT is, “Do you have trichomoniasis (Trich) in your herd?  The follow-up questions will be very different depending on whether you answer “yes” or “no” to that initial question. If you are not sure about your infection status, you will be asked several questions to determine whether or not it is likely that you have Trich in your herd. If you already have Trich in your herd, you will be asked whether you can do certain testing and management actions to find and remove potentially infected bulls and cows. Many of the suggested actions are very strongly recommended, while others are preferred, but if you are willing to accept some risk of continued Trich exposure the tool will provide advice about how to minimize those risks and establish a strategy to quickly respond if your risky decision resulted in negative consequences.

If you do not currently have Trich in your herd and want to create a cost-effective strategy to maintain your Trich-free status, you will be asked if you can implement several different barriers to allowing an infected cow or bull to come into contact with your herd. Again, some actions are very strongly recommended while other actions are preferred in order to have the lowest risk of disease; but if you choose to continue some actions that have slight to moderate risk of allowing Trich into the herd, advice is provided in Trich CONSULT to manage your retained risk.

After you have completed all the questions in Trich CONSULT, a report will be generated that includes the answers to all the questions that you just completed and a summary of the strengths and limitations of your agreed-upon strategy.

Trich CONSULT is located at www.trichconsult.org  and was funded by the Kansas StateVeterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the Coleman Foundation for Food Animal Production Medicine at Kansas State University, and by USDA grant 2014-09684. The authors include veterinarians from Kansas State University, the University of Nebraska, Boehringer Ingleheim Vetmedica, Inc., the University of California at Davis, the University of Calgary, the University of Florida, and Auburn University.

Fall Grazing, Tips for Fall Grazing, Johnson Grass Questions, Amino Acid Supplementation

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

3:25 Fall Grazing

11:05 Tips for Fall Grazing

12:15 Listener Question: Johnson Grass

21:20 Listener Question: Amino Acid Supplementation

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Food, Innovation, Service, & Hospitality Talk

The Association of Healthcare Food Service hosted their first ever Food, Innovation, Service, Hospitality (FISH) Talks – Live Panel at the 2019 national conference.   The broad subject of the panel was to provide healthcare leaders with information surrounding food and climate change that would help them purchase more sustainably.   The below clip shares improvements in ranching and farming over the decades thru the eyes of a dietitian, who was once in their food service shoes trying to make similar thoughtful choices.  

Pinkeye, Understanding EPDs, Tips for Reading EPDs, Telemedicine

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2:15 Pinkeye

7:20 Understanding EPDs

19:45 Tips for Reading EPDs

20:30 Telemedicine

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Thinking Beyond Food Waste to Food Recovery

As we listen to conversations about supply issues, food waste and providing food to the hungry, people not familiar with our beef commodity markets have asked why the U.S. exports beef as well as the ethics of feeding human edible beef to our pets. Here are some thoughts and facts to consider. You might think these concepts are common knowledge, and they probably are among your circle of agriculture friends. Sustainable food production questions rarely have simple answers, but try these to help us all have dialogue together and reach the common goal of a more sustainable food supply.

Why do we export beef to other countries?

The majority of beef variety meats are commonly exported as opposed to finding a home in the U.S.  Diets are cultural and ours does not typically include variety meats, but we respect that they are of value to others. In the U.S., they are mainly used as pet food ingredients.

Annual exports are generally 9 to 11 percent of total domestic beef production and are a critically important source of revenue.  U.S. beef producers receive about $300/head in additional premiums as a result of export values in fed cattle according to Oklahoma State University livestock economist, Derrell Peel.  Foreign markets are willing to pay much higher premiums for variety meats than the U.S. consumer and are also purchasing premium cuts as their economies improve.  

Why do we feed edible beef to our pets instead of feeding ourselves?

Twenty-five to 30% of the meat eaten in the U.S. is fed to dogs and cats, according to a recent UCLA study. There are 157+ million pets in the U.S. as of 2014 ,which is triple the number since the 1970’s.  

While it is not recommended that your dog and cat give up meat, it is good to know that the by-products from beef are an important nutritious ingredient as you do your research on the ingredient label. Veterinary nutritionists tell us that feeding by-products to pets not only is safe and healthy, but it is better for the environment and dramatically reduces food waste.  The pet food aisle has seen an influx of brands made with “human-grade” ingredients to lead us to believe they are better than those that contain animal by-products.  

The Environmental Protection Agency has developed the “Food Recovery Hierarchy” that demonstrates the most valuable use of food waste down to the last resort — the landfill. Wholesome, edible food should be kept in the human food supply whenever possible. When food is no longer edible for humans but still safe and wholesome for animals, the hierarchy recommends diverting these food scraps to feed animals, including pets.

Shifting gears, there is renewed interest in feeding food scraps to livestock as a way to reduce organic waste in landfills and the methane gas it generates.  After disease outbreaks were linked to animal feed back in the 1980’s, there are state laws that regulate the process of converting food waste to animal feed.  The Food and Drug Administration’s Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy/Ruminant Feed Ban Rule also prohibits the use of animal tissue in feeds for ruminant animals such as cattle. Consumers are asking questions about how companies handle their waste, and more research and technology will be needed to overcome some of the barriers of re-feeding people leftovers to food animals. Cattle have demonstrated they can upcycle a variety of products into safe, quality food and can be a part of the environmental solution.   

Stump the Expert, General Economic Status, Big Issues in Rural Practice, Opportunities in Rural Practice

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3:05 Stump the Expert

10:30 General Economic Status

16:10 Big Issues in Rural Practice

20:40 Opportunities in Rural Practice

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Bull Management

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD

It is pretty obvious to state that bulls play a tremendously important role on cattle ranches. In the first place, obtaining a high percentage of cows pregnant in a controlled breeding season requires bulls that are fertile and have the ability and desire to mate cows and heifers that are in heat. It is also clear that the genetic makeup of a cowherd has a tremendous impact on profitability. In order to ensure that a bull is adding considerable value to the herd, he must fit within the herd’s genetic goals for low production costs and high demand for the offspring. The importance of the bull battery to the genetic profile of the herd is apparent when one remembers that this year’s bulls control 50% of the genes in the marketable product and that in commercial herds, greater than 90% of the genetic progress of a herd is via bull selection. Careful attention to selection based on predictions of genetic contribution to desirable traits, management to protect health, breeding soundness examination to remove bulls with questionable breeding ability, and appropriate bull-to-cow breeding ratios are required to optimize the investment ranchers make in their bulls.

According to a USDA survey, the two most common reasons that bulls are culled from commercial herds is because of infertility and physical unsoundness or injury. In order to address these risks, bulls should be thoroughly evaluated before each breeding season so that only bulls that are likely to be able to get a high percentage of exposed cows pregnant in a short period of time are turned out into the breeding pasture. The need for a thorough breeding soundness examination (BSE) is based on the fact that many prospective breeding bulls are infertile, subfertile, or unable to mount and breed successfully, and examination prior to the breeding season reduces the risk of breeding failure due to bull problems. The overall effect of BSEs is to eliminate many subfertile bulls and to improve the genetic base for fertility within the herd and breed. Although individual situations vary, national reports indicate that 10 to 20% of bulls will fail a thorough BSE (and another 10% that pass a BSE will perform poorly in the breeding pasture).

Because some bulls that have good quality semen and pass a physical examination still fail to successfully breed cows, it is necessary that bulls be observed closely during the breeding season. Because bulls that are not successfully mating have a tremendous negative impact on herd reproductive efficiency, every day (or nearly every day), producers should get bulls up and watch them walk and observe their underlines for indication of penis or prepuce problems in order identify lameness or injury that will prevent successful mating.

By using a thorough BSE to exclude questionable breeders before the breeding season starts and frequent observation during the breeding season to ensure successful mating ability, a relatively high cow to bull ratio can be used with the result that the number of offspring from superior sires is increased and the total bull-cost per calf weaned is decreased. The limited research that is available indicates that mature bulls with high reproductive capacity can be exposed to as many as 50 to 60 cycling cows in single-bull pastures (but fewer cows per bull in breeding pastures with multiple bulls). Young bulls should be exposed to fewer cows than mature bulls. For bulls less than three years of age, a commonly used rule of thumb is that a bull can successfully breed as many cows as his age in months (e.g. a 15 month old bull should be exposed to no more than 15 cows). The number of bulls required to adequately cover the breeding females is related to many factors. Environmental factors include: terrain, carrying capacity of the pasture, and pasture size. Bull factors include: age, condition, fertility, and social status. Social dominance of bulls is important to consider in multiple-sire breeding pastures. Several studies have shown that the most dominant one or two bulls in multi-sire pastures end up breeding a majority of the cows.

Although a high ratio of cows to bulls helps to reduce bull costs, it also exposes the herd to poor reproductive performance risk if the bulls fail to maintain good semen quality and quantity, or if bulls have reduced desire or ability to mate cows due to injury, illness, or low libido. Close observation of bulls during the breeding season is required in order to be assured that the bulls are getting cows bred. Injuries to bulls during the breeding season are relatively common. When a bull does become lame or incapable of breeding because of an injury to his reproductive tract, he needs to be removed from the breeding pasture and replaced by another bull.

Bulls need appropriate housing to provide protection during severely cold or hot weather – both of which can lead to temporary fertility problems. In addition, bulls should be maintained in good body condition throughout the year, becoming neither excessively thin nor fat. When developing bulls from weaning until they are turned out for their first breeding season, their diet should allow them to express full growth potential without becoming overly heavy. Restricting energy, protein, vitamins or minerals at any time between birth and maturity can delay the onset of puberty of young bulls and possibly reduce lifetime daily sperm output because of reduced testicular development early in life. Research has shown that bulls fed medium-energy diets from weaning to two years of age had greater reserves of sperm cells and higher quality semen than bulls developed on high-energy diets. In addition, young bulls grown at a rapid rate have a higher risk of bone and joint problems in their legs. This syndrome in bulls has also been described as leg weakness, degenerative joint disease, osteoarthritis, osteoarthrosis, and polyarthritis.

The two to three months leading up to the breeding season is an important period of time to ensure that bulls are in good shape to be “breeding athletes”. Exercise is important during the pre-breeding season period because during the breeding season the bull may travel several miles per day and maintain long periods of physical activity. If given ample area, bulls will usually exercise themselves. In designing bull facilities, it is a good idea to locate feeding and water areas as far apart as possible to encourage exercise. Bulls should have adequate body condition at the start of the breeding season so that weight loss during this period of high physical activity does not cause physiologic stress. At the same time, bulls should not be over-conditioned. If bulls are too fat, physical activity is reduced and excessive weight loss during the breeding season can occur. If bulls are in good body condition (BCS 5.0 to 5.5) then a forage-based diet with supplemental concentrate will be adequate to build the desired energy reserves. If the bulls are thin, then they may need substantially more concentrate feed.

Because bulls are so important for the genetic progress and reproductive efficiency of cattle herds; and because bulls account for a significant expense, excellent bull selection and care are critically important for optimum herd management. Bulls’ should be selected based on their ability to get a lot of cows pregnant early in the breeding season that will result in the birth of calves that will be high-value when they are sold. Once bulls’ are selected for the herd, they need to be fed to maintain good body condition and housed to protect them from injury risk. In addition, bull fertility and mating ability should be evaluated prior to each breeding season and monitored throughout breeding.

Stump the Expert, Herd Record System, Priorities for Cow/Calf Herd Record System, Rotational Grazing, Feeding Cattle at Home

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:10 Stump the Expert

7:30 Herd Record System

15:15 Priorities for Cow/Calf Herd Record System

16:00 Rotational Grazing

22:15 Feeding Cattle at Home

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Planting Fescue, Hay Storage, Tips for Storing Hay Outside, Foot Rot

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

1:40 Planting Fescue

9:40 Hay Storage

19:05 Tips for Outside Hay Storage

19:45 Foot Rot

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Stump the Expert, Blue Green Algae Questions, Summer Pre-Weaning Pneumonia, Early Weaning, Vesticular Stomatitis

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:30 Stump the Expert

8:45 Blue Green Algae Questions

13:40 Summer Pre-Weaning Pneumonia

20:25 Early Weaning

25:35 Vesticular Stomatitis

Dr. Scott Fritz: scottfritz@vet.k-state.edu

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Relevance of Dietary Guidelines for Cattle Producers

Many are familiar with the dietary guidelines promoted by health professionals to encourage Americans to eat nutritious, well balanced diets. Those guidelines are revised every five years and later this year the updated round of recommendations will be released. The dietary guidelines for Americans serve as the cornerstone of federal nutrition programs and policies, providing food-based recommendations to help prevent diet-related chronic diseases and promote overall health. These guidelines suggest to people how to make food choices as well as serve as the foundation for federally funded food assistance programs, direct the contents of school lunches and influence how foods are labeled.

Many Americans do not meet the current nutrition standards for key nutrients. USDA collects and publishes interesting data that tracks changes and helps identify what Americans need to work on. Only about 10% of Americans eat the recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables, and they tend to overeat refined carbohydrates, which includes sugar.   Protein is one nutrient that Americans get mostly right — in which 15% of the calories in the American diet comes from protein.  

Data Sources: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2007-2010 for average intakes by age-sex group. Healthy U.S.-Style Food Patterns, which vary based on age, sex, and activity level, for recommended intake ranges.

With beef’s important contribution to protein and other essential nutrients such as leucine for muscle building, iron, and B12, cattle producers should better understand and embrace the data for how the recommendation for protein is calculated. 

The RDA (recommended daily allowance) for protein is based on the minimum amount to eat for a healthy diet or 10% of total calories. The suggested range is listed at 10-35% of total calories.  For adults, the reference man is 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 154 pounds. The reference woman is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 126 pounds even though in 2016 the average and median weight for U.S. adult man was 197.1 pounds and for women was 170.3 pounds. People who weigh more have higher calorie needs, so protein needs also increase. For comparison, the reference man calculates optimal protein needs of 56 grams but using his average weight, 10% of calories would be 72 grams protein, or an additional 2.2 ounces of steak per day. Some research suggests protein intake for optimal performance should be higher to preserve muscle mass as people age and have the strength needed at all stages of life, as well as spreading our intake among all meals instead of our current pattern of eating more at supper.

It is a myth that Americans eat too much protein in this country. 

NCBA is closely monitoring the dietary guidelines process to ensure that all decisions are science-based, and that anti-animal agriculture activists do not try and skew the process in their favor. Some activist groups have proposed including “sustainability” considerations in the new guidelines – code for saying that beef consumption should be heavily reduced or eliminated. Eliminating meat from the world’s diets does not significantly impact climate change, and it will make the world’s consumers less healthy and more at risk for malnutrition.  

Nutrition-related diseases kill about 4,300 people daily, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In general, Americans are consuming too many calories, are not meeting food group and nutrient recommendations, and are not getting adequate physical activity. It is important Americans know how beef can fit into a healthy eating plan, and be aware of how is it being compared and discussed. 

For further information about the U.S. dietary guidelines: https://health.gov/our-work/food-nutrition/2015-2020-dietary-guidelines/guidelines/table-of-contents/

Creep Feeding, Top Tips for Creep Feeding, Blue Green Algae Concerns, Heat & Transporting Cattle

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:20 Creep Feeding

10:00 Top Tips for Creep Feeding

10:55 Blue Green Algae Concerns

19:00 Heat & Transporting Cattle

Dr. Scott Fritz: scottfritz@vet.k-state.edu

Blue Green Algae References:
Water Sampling
Toxicity
Algae Season
Runoff
Algae Potential
Human Risk Factors
Simple Testing

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Monitoring Water, Culling Bulls, Top Considerations for Culling Bulls, Heat & Breeding, Your Calf & His Developing Rumen

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1:10 Monitoring Water

5:20 Culling Bulls

14:30 Top Considerations for Culling Bulls

15:35 Heat & Breeding

20:25 Your Calf & His Developing Rumen

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Reproductive Management of Beef Cattle Herds

Bob L. Larson, DVM, PhD

There are a number of important factors that interact to impact the number of calves weaned per cow exposed for breeding. One of the important factors that is often not recognized is that the previous years’ timing of calving will have either a positive or negative effect on this year’s reproductive success. I use the term “herd momentum” to describe the impact that previous reproductive outcomes have on the current and future reproductive performanceof the herd.

Several key facts about the cattle reproduction and cow-calf production impact each year’s reproductive success. First of all, it is necessary for beef cows to calve at about the same time each year in order to appropriately match the cow production cycles with the forage production cycle. Recognizing that pregnancy lasts 283 days means that there are 82 days from the time a cow calves to the time it needs to become pregnant again to maintain a 365 day calving interval. This fact is important to remember when we understand that beef cows have a period of time after calving, called postpartum anestrus, when they do not display heat behavior necessary to initiate mating and they do not ovulate fertile eggs. It takes about 70 to 100 days from calving for 90% of cows to resume fertile cycles if they are in good body condition, but this period is longer in cows that calve in thin body condition. Because of these limitations, only cows that calve in good body condition during the first 42-52 days of calving are likely to resume fertile cycles before the start of breeding or during the first 21 days of breeding. In contrast, cows that calve later than the 52nd day of calving are not likely to resume fertile cycles until the second 21 days of the breeding season or later.

Most producers recognize that first-calf heifers take about 20 to 30 days longer to resume fertile cycles after calving than mature cows. In order to have fertile cycles by the start of the breeding season for their second pregnancy, first-calf heifers need to calve in good body condition at least 100 days ahead of breeding – which is before the mature cows start calving. 

Whether cows calve in the first, second, or third 21 days (or later) in the calving season impacts the timing of when they will resume fertile cycles and can become pregnant in the following breeding season; therefore, cow-calf herds have reproductive momentum from year to year. This momentum can be positive (most cows calve early in calving season and breed early in the following breeding season) or negative (most cows calve late in calving season and breed late in the following breeding season). Positive momentum results in cows that calve early and have increased longevity in the herd. 

Another important fact to understand about cattle reproduction is that even when a perfectly fertile cow is mated to a fertile bull, not every mating will result in successful fertilization and embryo development. In fact, we estimate that the likelihood of a fertile mating will result in pregnancy that can be detected at preg-check time is 60 to 70%.

Most commonly, this pregnancy failure occurs during the first 14 days of pregnancy and the cow will express heat and ovulate a fertile egg about 21 days after her last heat and have another 60-70% chance of conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy. Cows with three opportunities to be mated to a fertile bull (each with a 60-70% probability of a successful pregnancy) during a breeding season will have a 90-95% probability of giving birth to a calf at the end of gestation. Animals in the herd expected to have completed the postpartum anestrous period and to be having fertile estrous cycles by the 21st day of the following breeding season include: nearly all mature cows that calve in good body condition during the first 21 days of calving, many of the mature cows that calve in good body condition in the second 21 days, some of the cows that calve between 42 and 52 days into the calving season, and first-calf heifers that calve before the start of the mature cow calving season. 

Cows with only two opportunities to be mated to a fertile bull during a breeding season will have about an 84% to 91% probability of becoming pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy to the end of gestation. Cows with only two or fewer opportunities for mating would include mature cows that give birth to a calf more than 42-52 days after the start of the calving season, first-calf heifers that calve after the start of the mature cow calving season, and first calf heifers or mature cows that are thin and have a prolonged period of postpartum anestrus. 

Extending the breeding season longer than 65 days (three 21-day periods) will allow more cows to become pregnant, but cows that conceive more than 52 days after the start of breeding are very unlikely to begin fertile estrous cycles until the second or later 21 day period of the breeding season, and cows that conceive more than 82 days after the start of breeding will not calve until after the start of the following breeding season. This scenario could be described as “negative reproductive momentum”.

From a reproductive standpoint, herds should be managed so that 95% or more of the cows have resumed fertile cycles early enough to be mated during the first 21 days of the breeding season. This will result in herds that are “front-end loaded” and have “positive momentum”, in that 60% or more of the cows will calve in the first 21 days and 85% of the cows will calve in the first two 21-day periods. In order to achieve this goal, producers must focus on: developing heifers to become pregnant early in the breeding season, ensuring bull breeding soundness, aligning the calving period with optimal resource availability, managing forage and supplementation to ensure good cow body condition going into calving, and minimizing reproductive losses due to disease.

Meet Myriah Johnson, Stump the Expert, Sustainability Impact on You, Tips for Managing Sustainability on Your Operation, Current Sustainability Research Focus

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

2:30 Meet Myriah Johnson

4:30 Stump the Expert

15:30 Sustainability Impact on You

23:50 Tips for Managing Sustainability on Your Operation

25:00 Current Sustainability Research Focus

NCBA
USDA ERS

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!

Stump the Expert, Direct Beef Marketing, Top Considerations for Direct Marketing Beef, Pinkeye, Pulling Bulls from the Breeding Pasture

Welcome to BCI Cattle Chat!  Please click on any links below to be taken to sources mentioned in the podcast. Keep an eye out for news regarding the podcast on Facebook and Twitter.

6:15 Stump the Expert

12:40 Direct Beef Marketing

19:20 Top Considerations for Direct Marketing Beef

20:25 Pinkeye

26:00 Pulling Bulls from the Breeding Pasture

Beef Improvement Federation Conference

For more on BCI Cattle Chat, follow us on Twitter @The_BCI, and check out our 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, please go give us a rating!