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Angus Journal

The Angus Journal Daily, formerly the Angus e-List, is a compilation of Angus industry news; information about hot topics in the beef industry; and updates about upcoming shows, sales and events. Click here to subscribe.

News Update

January 29, 2018

Use a Calf Puller Properly

Most calves can be pulled by hand after correcting any abnormality of position, but occasionally a mechanical calf puller is needed. It is important to first determine whether the calf can be safely pulled, or if it should be delivered by C-section.

Mark Alley, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, says a calf jack is a great tool when used appropriately, but if used incorrectly it can cause severe damage. Don’t apply more force than what two strong men can do, pulling by hand.

Never utilize steady maximum pull. Pull when the cow strains, and stop while she rests. Chain placement is crucial, he adds. The puller puts enough force on a leg to pull joints apart or fracture bones. Put one loop above the fetlock joint and a second loop in a half hitch below it for two points of pull, spreading the pressure so it’s not all in one place — or blood flow may be cut off. Pull slowly and gradually, using lots of lubricant.

If you can get the calf’s head and front legs into the pelvis without traction and get your hand between the calf’s forehead and the cow, the calf can probably be pulled.

Continue reading this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Beef Talk

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 (lb.) bales to make the stretch to spring grass. That number is buffered a bit because the calves are receiving 3 lb. of commercial supplement daily, and the cows get 4 lb. of commercial supplement every other day. Forage is the essence of a cattle operation, and keeping costs low is critical.

Fortunately, the center’s forage feed needs have been helped by the more recent good weather. We had a moister fall, followed by a kinder start to winter. Cows have done well on crop aftermath, cover crops and standing corn. Still, many producers are short of forage and have had to purchase hay.

Unfortunately, purchasing hay generally drives costs up, and producers view the purchase of hay above operational historical levels as a last resort because of transportation costs. Karl Hoppe, an area livestock specialist with the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service, noted the impact of hay prices and asked, “Assuming we have limited hay, should I use that hay for wintering the cows and sell calves, or buy hay and feed calves?”

Learn more in the full Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

Angus Feeder-calf Program: Part 1

At the Angus Convention in Fort Worth, I unveiled the Association’s plans to create a feeder-calf program. While it will help commercial cattlemen establish a genetic value for their feeder cattle, more importantly, I believe the program will drive the use of registered Angus bulls and tie calves back to superior Angus genetics.

If you think you’ve heard that message before, you should have, because it is one of the key strategies of our Long Range Strategic Plan.

Here is a bit of background. In developing the foundation of the plan, an internal task force spent a significant amount of time gathering input from all segments of the industry. Key findings were:

  1. 1. The program must be simple and easy to understand and enroll.
  2. 2. Cattle feeders face challenges when buying calves based on their genetic potential.

So, how will the Angus feeder-cattle program work?

Herds that are entered in the program will receive three genetic indexes. One will be for average daily gain, the second for quality grade, while the third will be an index for replacement heifers.

The scoring system is simple — the higher the score, the better. As a point of reference, the industry average score for each index is 100. Any score greater than 100 is above average. What type of bloodlines make up the average industry animal? The breed makeup used is 70% Angus, 13% other British, 13% Continental and 4% Bos indicus.

Read the full Angus Journal article online.

Manage the Risk

Managing risk is different than getting the best price, and a good risk manager recognizes that difference. That was the message CattleFax economist Ethan Oberst impressed upon attendees at the 2017 Range Beef Cow Symposium Nov. 29 in Cheyenne, Wyo.

No. 1 on his list of recommendations for managing risk is to calculate and know your breakeven.

“If you don’t know your breakeven, I can’t help you with risk management,” Ethan Oberst told producers.

He encouraged producers to get their risk-management tools in order as the cattle cycle prepares to change.

“High prices are behind us,” he noted. “Profitability has peaked. Margins will narrow, but remain positive [for a time], but that’s going to change.”

Additionally, he emphasized knowing animal inventory, and suggested that cow herd operations especially look at grazing some yearlings, which allows for stocking flexibility depending on changes in markets or available forage.

Learn more in this Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA article online.

UK to Host Tall Fescue Pasture Renovation Workshop

Tall fescue is a double-edged sword for many forage and livestock producers. University of Kentucky (UK) forage extension specialists are teaming up with the Alliance for Grassland Renewal to host a workshop to teach producers how to renovate their tall fescue pastures with a novel endophyte variety.

The Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop will take place March 8 at the Bluegrass Stockyards and UK’s Spindletop Research Farm in Lexington.

Producers have widely used tall fescue in pastures for decades, because it survives well under many conditions, including drought, cold, overgrazing, insects and diseases. However, the most common variety, KY-31, also contains toxins that can severely affect cattle and horse performance. By replacing it with a novel endophyte variety, producers can keep the beneficial aspects of the grass while reducing the negative impacts.

“There are a growing number of novel or friendly endophyte tall fescue varieties on the market, including UK’s own variety, Lacefield MaxQ II,” said Ray Smith, forage extension specialist in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “This workshop will help producers learn how they can begin to incorporate these varieties into their operation.”

For more information please view the Angus Journal Virtual Library calendar of upcoming events.


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