Depending on your farm set-up, available equipment, and your willingness to purchase diesel fuel, your least-cost ration may look very different than your neighbors. Availability and proximity to co-product feeds, such as corn gluten feed (CGF) and dried distillers grains (DGS) may also shift your diet make-up.

The dry fall weather has been optimal for farmers harvesting crops, however it has left pastures without needed moisture to grow fall forage. As a result, it is becoming glaringly evident that cattle producers need to inventory feeds and make sure they have the needed amounts of stored feed in case they are forced to start feeding cattle earlier than expected.

Hay

After experiencing the market trend upward seemingly every week of 2014, cattle producers should be prepared for a little more normal market pattern in 2015. With signs of expansion, it is likely the cowherd has stabilized numbers and will make an effort to climb the cow herd inventory.

The climb will not be fast. A heifer retained in 2014 will not produce her first calf until the spring of 2016. Those additional calves are another 6 months to 1 year away from contributing to feedlot inventory.

A popular question this time of year is "How much can I afford to pay for a bull." My go-to answer is usually… "How much revenue loss would you have from a pasture full of open cows?" After all, we often de-value the role of the bull. We forget that he is a crucial part of the equation to making our product.

Now, the question is a good one to ask. Especially after watching calf prices climb seemingly all of 2014 and the prices paid for bred heifers at year-end, it is only logical to wonder what a good bull will cost this spring.

Cow/calf producers will forever remember the record profits of 2014. They may also vividly remember the "fall of the 2015 fall." Prices have quickly fallen off the last two weeks, this following a continual inching down during the months of July and August.

This post is authored by Dallas Duncan-Meteer, DVM, Mt. Sterling Veterinary Clinic.

 

For the last 5 years Ed Ballard, retired Extension, and Gary Letterly, Extension Educator, have been looking at the yield impacts of applying RyzUpSmartGrass to forages in the spring.

The product works similar to a nitrogen application, however this product is primarily gibberellic acid, a natural occurring plant growth hormone. The improvements in yield and data summary is available in the Research Update section of this website. Please explore the report for full details.

Full Report

While the moderate temperatures have been welcomed, the mud that has accompanied them has not. Farmers are ready for a good hard freeze. After all, many rely on frozen ground to help keep animals out of the mud while they are more confined for winter feeding. Most farmers will tell you, with a smile on their face, that frozen ground is "poor man's concrete." Thanks to a think winter haircoat, cattle prefer cold, dry winter weather in comparison to cold, wet, and rainy.

Challenges


Post authored by Monica Jarboe, University of Illinois undergraduate student and summer research intern

Around calving time, prolapses in cows and heifers can be major health issues. Some cases may even be life threatening. There are two different kinds of prolapses commonly associated with calving in beef cattle: vaginal and uterine. Once a prolapse has been repaired, producers may be unsure whether or not to cull that cow.

When a player gets injured and goes on the DL, the manager calls up a player from the minors. This year your hay crop likely got injured. So as the manager, you need to call-up the reserves… cornstalks. As an analyst (nutritionist), cornstalks will serve as a worthy replacement. But, don't expect cornstalks to make the all-star team. Cornstalks, when used in a balanced ration, will work well. However, if you are planning on cornstalks solving all your problems alone… you will have a losing record.

Commercial cow-calf producers and seedstock breeders interested in purchasing a total performance tested bull will want to attend the 2015 Illinois Performance Tested Bull Sale. The sale will be the leadoff event of the Illinois Beef Expo. There are 69 bulls cataloged with 15 being longer-aged 2013 mature bulls and 54 yearlings. A breakdown of the breeds includes 32 Angus, 32 Simmental and SimAngus, and 5 Polled Hereford. The sale is scheduled for Thursday, February 19, at 11:00 a.m. and will be held in the Livestock Center on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.

I have had many discussions with cattle producers over the last couple of weeks about how to manage pastures in these wet conditions. We have also discussed the effect we are seeing on the cattle grazing these areas. It is hard to complain about too much rain, especially after a beautiful growing season last year and not so distant memories of drought. However, too much rain can be a difficult challenge to manage.

As farmers put together least-cost rations this winter, many of them will be using corn as an ingredient. For many farmers, corn stored on farm will be the cheapest source of energy. It has been a few years since corn has been this "cheap." Thus, it is worth reminding cattlemen of the dangers of acidosis when feeding higher levels of corn.

Illinois cattlemen and cattlewomen will have the opportunity to here from industry experts at the 2015 Illinois Cattle Feeders Meeting. The meeting will be held on March 5th at the 4-H Auditorium in Macomb, IL located across the road from the Extension office. The seminar will be start at 9:00am and conclude at 4:00pm. "This meeting is a must-attend for Illinois cattle producers. First-hand access to this kind of knowledge in the cattle industry is rare." says Travis Meteer, University of Illinois Beef Extension Educator.

Calving season is either here or fast approaching for many Illinois cattlemen. I would just like to share a few tips that I have gathered through some of our winter meetings. Perhaps the most important tip is to have a good relationship with your local veterinarian. Sometimes the difficult decisions during calving season are best made by your veterinarian.

Just a few of the basic things:

Early weaning (EW) is a management strategy that can alleviate grazing pressure on pastures. EW can be a management decision to keep from feeding cows to maintain body condition. Young, growing calves will more efficiently convert feed to pounds. Thus, money budgeted for feed may be more wisely spent on a calf ration instead of feeding cows trying to support lactation demands.

There is nothing like a healthy new born calf to make your day. However, it is important to remember there are several factors that can influence the health and vigor of new born calves. With higher prices, losing a calf can add stress both mentally and financially to your operation. Here are some things you may want to consider.

It is often said "If you can work cattle together, you can do anything together." We have all had a stressful chuteside experience, but have you investigated ways to better handle your cattle? As you prepare to wean calves, preg-check cows, and give fall booster vaccinations, you should consider looking into the "Bud Box."

First-calf cows (3 year olds) are traditionally the most challenging animal to get bred on the farm. As we approach breeding season, cattlemen need to be aware of this challenge and make sure they do not drop the ball on getting first-calf cows re-bred.