1. Published

    Dystocia, meaning “difficult birth,” often results in the loss of a calf or complications after birth of a live calf. Some examples of complications after a difficult birth can include aspiration pneumonia, joint damage, nerve damage, and hypoxia. Another big problem can be failure of passive transfer resulting from inadequate colostrum intake and the calf not wanting to stand or nurse.

    We know that not every dystocia can be prevented, but there are some management factors that can help reduce difficult births.

  2. Published

    Drought, elevated feed prices, and overall inflation of costs continue to put financial pressure on cow/calf producers. For these same reasons, cow liquidation has occurred and many economists are forecasting better cattle prices ahead. Thus, cow/calf operators likely have profit opportunity in the coming years if they can maintain production while keeping costs moderated. This is easier said than done!

  3. Published

    For fall calving herds, breeding season is upon us. Successful reproduction is the forefront of a cow/calf operation and heavily impacts an operations profitability. Investing time and resources into ensuring breeding season success will prove to be profitable.

    Fall calving operations share similar general breeding practices as spring herds.

  4. Published

    Approximately 60% of a beef cattle producers’ expenses are due to feed costs. Keep feed costs in check while keeping cows in an appropriate body condition score is a key strategy in enhancing an operation's profitability.

    Especially over winter months, feed costs can pile up. Consider the following strategies to be most efficient throughout the winter.

  5. Published

    As with all markets, there is fluctuation in the price of cull cows. In general, market lows occur during times of highest supply. Since most Illinois producers cull cows in the fall after weaning, the prices in fall are typically lower than other times of the year. Price is also affected by body condition of the cow. The following are USDA cull scores:

  6. Published

    Grazing cornstalks is arguably the best cost-saving strategy Midwestern cattlemen can deploy. Here are some common questions pertaining to utilizing cornstalks.

    Q: How long can I graze cornstalks?

  7. Published

    Cooler temperatures and fall leaf foliage are reminders that winter is just around the corner. For cattle producers, this reminder also brings fewer grazing days and the need to focus on winter rations for beef cows. The foundation of a least-cost, balanced winter ration starts with a forage test. For those buying or selling hay, forage testing can play an even bigger role in pricing and purchasing value. Fall is an ideal time to test, as it will allow enough time to price and plan for winter feeding.

  8. Published

    Illinois is blessed with very fertile farmland. Higher land prices, soil health benefits, and the ability to grow more feed are incentives to add cover crops to a diversified farming operation. Using cover crops following cash crop production for added forage is one of the best opportunities for IL cattlemen to lower production costs.

  9. Published

    The wet spring has certainly provided favorable breeding conditions for flies. As we progress into the summer it is evident that fly pressure is and will be heavy.

    Although all flies do pose risk of irritation and thus lost dollars to beef producers, it is important to know there are four main types of flies that bother cattle: Stable fly, Horn fly, Face fly, and Horse fly.

  10. Published

    Are you short on hay? Are your pastures struggling and grazing days coming up short? Do you need an emergency forage if it turns dry this summer? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, you may need to look into planting a summer annual forage.

  11. Published

    I recently attended a University of Illinois livestock and meats judging team reunion. Admittedly, when I received the invitation in the mail I thought to myself… I am way too busy to go. However, my team was to be highlighted on the program as the 10 year anniversary team. Thus, I put it on my calendar.

  12. Published

    Commercial cow-calf producers and seedstock breeders interested in purchasing a total performance tested bull will want to attend the 2019 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale. The sale will be the leadoff event of the Illinois Beef Expo. There are 59 bulls cataloged with 23 being longer-aged 2017 mature bulls and 36 yearlings. A breakdown of the breeds includes 31 Angus, 17 Simmental and SimAngus, and 11 Polled Hereford. The sale is scheduled for Thursday, February 21, at 11:00 a.m. and will be held in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

  13. Published

    As livestock owners care for livestock in frigid temperatures, it is important to know where efforts are best spent. Cattle handle cold weather quite well as long as they have a dry, heavy winter hair coat. 

  14. Published

    Wet, cold weather continues to persist in Illinois. Naturally, these conditions create mud. Muddy conditions are rather difficult to navigate on the cattle farm. These conditions can be frustrating for the farmer and the cattle. Challenges associated with mud on the cattle farm need to be identified and evaluated to ensure the environment is not detrimental to animal health and performance.

    Challenges

  15. Published

    Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a national program that provides a continuing education opportunity for farmers and ranchers. BQA equips producers with production strategies and general skills to maintain and strengthen a quality, wholesome food supply.

  16. Published

    The best way to utilize cornstalks is to graze them. Cattle graze selectively, looking for the more palatable feedstuffs. The more palatable parts of the plant are also more nutritious. Cattle first eat the remaining corn grain, then husks, then leaves, and finally the stalk.

  17. Published

    Many cattle producers are still looking for economical forage to use as winter feed for beef cows. Cornstalks, bean-stubble, wheat straw, and CRP hay are a few of the low-quality forages that are being considered by farmers. Some areas that experienced drought conditions this summer had CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) acres released for haying. Thus, questions are coming in about CRP hay. CRP hay is not something cattle producers use annually and many may be unfamiliar with its characteristics. Thus, I will discuss my thoughts on CRP hay… The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

  18. Published

    BAYLIS, Ill. – The annual Orr Beef Research Center Field Day will take place at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The meeting will be held at the John Wood Ag Center located on State Highway 104 in Baylis. Speakers from the University of Illinois will lead discussions that will address research, current topics, and situations producers are facing on-farm. A meal will be provided to those who take part in the discussions and tour.

  19. Published

    Limited hay supplies have cattle producers looking at opportunities to grow more forage yet this fall. An early maturing crop is going to open the door for use of row crop acres to grow more forage.

    Many producers have already identified the opportunity to put Oats, Cereal Rye, Turnips, or other forage crops in this fall. As a result, expect to see shortages in seed supplies, higher priced seed, and some delay if seed is not in stock. However, don't let this keep you from consulting your seed salesman. They will have options for you.

  20. Published

    Authored by Ashley Cooney, Intern, University of Illinois Orr Beef Research Farm.