CREATE MANAGEMENT CALENDAR FOR NEW YEAR

by: Stephen B. Blezinger
PhD, PAS


As we wind down 2015 and get ready for 2016 it's always interesting to pull out the crystal ball and take a look at the coming year. We can all agree on one thing, the cattle markets have likely been the topic of many/most coffee shop discussions during 2015. These went from borderline ecstatic to handwringing over the course of those 12 months. While cattlemen enjoyed unprecedented high market prices in 2015, the decline over recent months has certainly put a damper on the overall celebrations. But realistically speaking, the adage saying “what goes up, must come down” applies and it's not like we haven't experienced the market roller coasters before. It's just been my hope that all producers were able to enjoy the profit opportunities that the markets presented.

But while these market events were taking place, there are always a variety of other challenges, issues, considerations and concerns that face the beef cattle industry. Let's take a few minutes here to look at ongoing and coming issues. These are in no particular order as everyone has an opinion of significance and priority!

1) We operate in a world market. The prices received for the fruits of our production as well as the costs of inputs are no longer decided locally. Everything is now traded on a global scale and subsequently affects the producer's expenses and income. In order for the producer to understand what is driving his economics he has to look at things on a global scale.

2) Food Safety. The consumers concern over food safety as well as events such as the Chipotle E. Coli contamination problems will continue to demand attention. From a total industry perspective we must continue to strive to produce the safest food possible. While we've made a great deal of headway, it is important to recognize that no food product sector can produce a sterile food source. Secondly, somehow the point must be made to the consumer that they have a responsibility in this matter, particularly in the food they purchase and prepare themselves. The restaurant industry must practice ongoing diligence as do beef producers from the pasture on.

3) Antibiotic Regulation. The new Veterinary Feed Directive goes into full effect in December 2016. This will create challenges for many producers, feed manufacturers, nutritionists and veterinarians to put the necessary procedures into place for full compliance. It is understood that the reason for creating but one more layer of regulation of questionable need in the industry, the regulators goal is to address a perceived problem of antibiotic resistance in humans. The ongoing debate has shown us that the results of this action will likely have little or no effect on the problem. The main effect for the beef industry will be an increase in paperwork, increase in time commitments and an increase in cost.

4) Aging Producer Population. This has been an ongoing issue for years and may, sometime in the coming years, hit critical mass in some manner. Fundamentally the issue is based on the cost and time required to accumulate the necessary assets, resources (particularly land) and credit and the desire of a younger generation to pursue a career in the cattle production industry and the commitment and lifestyle this requires.

5) Governmental and Regulatory Agency Activity. This is potentially one of the greatest threats to land ownership and ongoing production as the Government becomes increasingly heavy-handed in a variety of issues, particularly environmental concerns and water rights and management. A perfect example is the state of California turning water availability into a political matter having significant effects on those who would produce the food supply. Additional issues have developed in states like Texas where the governments apparent “land grab” as related to their justifications of water rights management can be categorized as theft. Add to that situations like immigration, politicized “climate” concerns, management of energy issues, entitlements and federal spending of tax-payers dollars and debt that threatens the long term viability of this country and this quickly becomes an issue that needs the cattle industry's immediate attention.

These are only a few of the most prominent issues on our plate as we enter 2016. Overlay this with the current political environment and an upcoming presidential election and the producer has plenty to ponder outside of which supplement to buy, calving out the heifers and what rainfall he'll get this spring and summer.

Management Calendar

Onto issues that can actually have a positive impact, immediately, for the producer. One of the simplest things a producer can do is to create a management calendar for the coming year. Scheduling and calendar creation gives you an opportunity to consider what you do and when, what could be changed and improved. Once accomplished, you can go back and look at when you need to decide how to purchase various inputs, with adequate advance notice to do some research and comparative shopping.

The following is an example calendar similar to one I have helped several clients put in place. This specific example is for an operation using a split, limited calving season (the most common) and relies primarily on manufactured feeds for supplementation purposes. This example uses two types of range cubes (Cube I – lower protein ~12 to 14 percent, Cube II – higher protein ~20 percent) in order to meet nutrient needs. Obviously there are numerous other supplementation options available if they fit your operation better. Two cow groups were utilized to fine-tune supplementation and management better. While this particular calendar may not be appropriate for your operation, it gives you an idea of a format you might consider when putting your operation on paper. Remember a calendar of this nature is a guide and should be modified as necessary to accommodate weather changes, market shifts, etc. Above all else it needs to be tailored to fit your operation.

January

• Begin feeding better quality hay - free choice.

• Move February calving cows into Group 1.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about ~5 lbs. per head per day – monitor body condition and weather conditions. Evaluate weekly.

• Move October calving cows to Group 2.

• Feed Group 2 Cattle Cube II - approximately 3 lbs. per head per day - monitor body condition and weather conditions. Evaluate weekly.

• Provide creep feed for younger calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

February

• Feed better quality hay - free choice.

• Move March calving cows into Group 1.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about 5 lbs. per head. - Monitor body condition.

• Move November calving cows to Group 2.

• Feed Group 2 Cattle Cube II - 3 to 5 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Provide creep feed for younger calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

March

• Feed better quality hay - if pasture is beginning to become available, hay feeding can be reduced to encourage cattle to graze.

• Move April calving cows into Group 1.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about 5 lbs. per head.

• Move December calving cows to Group 2.

• Feed Cattle Cube II - 3 lbs.

• Provide creep feed for younger calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Begin fertilization of hay meadows and pastures.

April

• Schedule spring working - Wean older calves, vaccinate as necessary, palpate, deworm, etc.

• Lower quality hay can be fed at this point. Hay feeding can be reduced substantially (or eliminated) since pastures should be doing well.

• Feed hay at an average rate of about 5 to 10 lbs. per day depending on conditions of pastures. If pastures are in good condition hay feeding can be discontinued.

• Switch back to Cattle Cube I (lower protein).

• Move May calving cows into Group 1.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about 3 to 4 lbs. per head - Monitor body condition.

• Move Jan. calving cows back to Group 2.

• Feed Group 2 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about 2 to 3 lbs. per head - Monitor body condition.

• Provide creep feed for calves

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

•Begin rotating pastures as needed.

May

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube I - 2 to 3 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Move June calving cows to Group 1.

• Move Feb calving cows back to Group 2.

• Cube feeding of Group 2 can probably be discontinued depending of pasture quality and body condition of cattle.

• Monitor body condition.

• Provide creep feed for calves

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

• Possible 2nd fertilization.

June

• Move July Calving Cows to Group 1.

• Move March calving cows back to Group 2.

• Provide creep feed for calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

July

• Monitor pasture conditions and grass quality, may need to resume feeding to both groups if body condition appears to be in decline. If so, feed Cattle Cube II at 2 to 3 lbs. per head per day.

• Move August calving cows to Group 1.

• Move April calving cows back to Group 2.

• Provide creep feed for calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

August

• Feed about 10 to 15 lbs. of hay per day depending on quality and availability of pastures if necessary.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II - 3 to 4 lbs. - Monitor Body Condition.

• Move September Calving Cows to Group 1.

• Move May calving cows back to Group 2.

• Cube feeding of Group 2 may need to continue depending on pasture quality and body condition - if necessary, feed 2 to 3 lbs.

• Provide creep feed for calves

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

• Possible 3rd fertilization of pastures.

September

• Schedule Fall Working - Wean older calves, vaccinate as necessary, palpate, deworm, etc.

• Cull bulls and heifers as necessary that do not fit into program.

• Weaned bulls and heifers should go into their respective groups -- begin feeding Bull/Heifer Developer at about one percent of body weight.

• Hay feeding can probably be reduced or eliminated depending on pasture quality and availability.

• Switch to Cattle Cube I.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube I - 2 to 3 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Move October calving cows to Group 1.

• Move June calving cows back to Group 2.

• Cube feeding of Group 2 can be reduced or eliminated depending on pasture quality and body condition of cows.

• Provide creep feed for calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

October

• Monitor pastures to determine if hay feeding should be increased or started.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube I - 2 to 3 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Move November Calving Cows to Group 1.

• Move July calving cows back to Group 2.

• Provide creep feed for calves

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

November

• Begin feeding hay at rate of 10 to 12 lbs. per head minimum or as dictated by pasture availability and quality.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube I - 3 to 4 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Move December calving cows to Group 1.

• Move August calving cows back to Group 2.

• Feed Group 2 Cattle Cube I - 2 to 3 lbs. - Monitor body condition.

• Provide creep feed for calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor calving activity.

• Continue rotating pastures as needed.

December

• Begin feeding better quality hay - free choice.

• Move January calving cows into Group 1.

• Switch to Cattle Cube II.

• Feed Group 1 Cattle Cube II at a rate of about 5 lbs. per head - increase somewhat if cattle appear to be losing condition too rapidly or if weather is especially cold or wet.

• Move September calving cows back to Group 2.

• Feed Group 2 Cattle Cube II -- approximately 3 lbs. per head per day - increase somewhat if cattle appear to be losing condition too rapidly or if weather is especially cold or wet.

• Provide creep feed for younger calves.

• Provide free-choice loose mineral.

• Monitor for calving activity.

Copyright 2015 – Dr. Stephen B. Blezinger. Dr. Steve Blezinger is a management and nutritional consultant with an office in Sulphur Springs, TX. He can be reached at sblez@verizon.net or at (903) 352-3475. For more information please visit us on at facebook.com/reveille livestock.







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