Untitled - Missouri State University

Untitled - Missouri State University

Session title: Unit III: Livestock Production Systems -Cow/Calf Total time: 60 minutes Objective(s): To recognize the elements of livestock productio...

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Session title: Unit III: Livestock Production Systems -Cow/Calf Total time: 60 minutes Objective(s): To recognize the elements of livestock production systems, such as herd management, nutrient requirement, forage needs, marketing, etc. for cow/calf operations. Visual aids: overhead projector, pointerI screen, markers, tape, flip chart

Special actions before sessions: include extension specialist if appropriate

Main points



Note: This lesson plan addresses cow/calf operations. See following lesson plans for stockers and dairy operations.

Overhead projector

In this"Wlit, we plan to address cow/calf production. There are four key areas that we need to look at when developing livestock production systems for cow/calf operations.




Briefly discuss each of the four areas that relate to cow/calf operations. I. herd management 2. forage needs 3. supplemental feeding 4. marketing We will also discuss spring and fall calving in this unit.


Don't show all of the overhead if it contains a list: Put a blank sheet of paper over text until you get to it in the presentation. If you don't do this, participants will be reading ahead and not listening to you effectively. Basically, your overheads are your presentation in the unit. Don It forget: Encourage participants to ask questions while overheads are on the screen.

The Operation Overhead projector Overhead

55 mill


Many considerations come into play when thinking of a beef cow/calf operation. One of the earliest is "What type of cows will I use?" There are many pros and cons depending on such aspects as markets, labor, and management available, ability of soils to produce high quality forages, and landowner preference. There are several trade-offs to consider when deciding what is best for your operation. These can be viewed as a balance of factors. (EPD) Estimated Progeny Difference is a good method of selecting sires that will transfer the traits you wish to have in your herd.



Overhead #3

In selecting cattle for increased growth and heavier weaning weights, a common result is larger birth weights but the tradeoff is increased calving problems. Increased milk production contributes to better calf growth but may result in poorer condition of the cow and rebreeding problems. Cattle with larger frames will grow out larger but the brood stock kept on the farm may not last as long under typical farm conditions such as rugged terrain or lower quality forages. Leanness of meat is an important concern to the consumer, but must be balanced with conditioning as leaner cattle lose winter hardiness and must be supplemented more to maintain a productive condition.

Quite frequently we hear references to stocking rates, carrying capacity, or nutrient needs per cow. These general references are usually in ternlS of 1,000-poundanimal units (AU). Adjustments need to be made based on the size and productivity of the cows in your operation. For example, with 1,200 pound COWS, requirements per cow must be adjusted upward by a factor of 1.2. Forages for 50 1,000-pound cows might only support 41 1,200-pound cows. The productivity of the animal must also be considered. High producing animals (stockers and lactating animals) require a larger daily intake (percentage of their body weight) than do non-producing ones. This variation in feed demand can range i from 2.0 percent of body weight for dry beef cows, up to 4.0 percent for high production lactating sheep. Flip chart

Write "Goals for beef cow herds" at top. Ask participants what goals would they shoot for in this type of operation. Record on the flip chart. When done, go to overhead #4 and summarize the main points.




A well planned breeding program contributes a great deal to the profitability of the beef operation. Goals to shoot for include: -A 90 percent or better calf crop. Calves that never hit the ground can't be sent to market. -Heavy weaning weights (50 percent of cow's weight) increase income per cow to offset expenses. -Keep winter feed costs low, graze as much as possible supplementing with hay as needed. Forages should be tested so that supplements are provided only as needed. -Producing good quality calves makes them readily acceptable and contributes to better sales. -Short calving periods (60 to 90 days) result in a more uniform calf crop. This reduces labor, allows more uniform herd management and provides a more marketable package. The bull is one-half of the cow herd. Select a tested bull with good genetics that will complement and improve your cow herd. A crossbreeding program has the advantage of hybrid vigor and increased weight in the calves. One bull should be used for each 30 cows in the breeding herd. The abilities of the bull can be expanded by using split, spring and fall, breeding seasons. Higher stock density, realized with smaller pastures and intensive grazing systems, will also extend bull power. Herd replacements can be either raised or purchased. Approximately 20 percent of the cows in the herd should be saved from the best heifers annually to allow for culling of heifers and replacement of cows culled from the herd. The goal of the forage program is to bring heifers into the calving herd at 2 years of age. A separate, higher quality forage program may be appropriate for first calf heifers because they will be required to continue growth and rebreed as well as support a calf. Heifers may also be purchased but these should be of known quality from reputable producers to maintain or improve the quality of the calves you produce. Some producers purchase cows for building the herd or replacements. This requires a well-trained eye to avoid problems as available stock is frequently someone else's problem they are glad to get rid of.

Calving Season

The season of calving should be carefully evaluated to detennine what best fits your resources. Basically, two types are recognized.

Overhead projector

Fall calving offers the advantage of much more favorable calving weather, typically September through November. It makes use of labor at a time when there is usually less to do. It also better fits operations where the producer prefers the option of backgrounding or feeding out. Disadvantages include increased feed, additional facilities required, usually lighter weaning weights of calves, and cows not flushed at breeding time.

Overhead #5






Spring calving best matches peak forage production to peak forage demand. Good weaning weights and breeding success can be achieved with (March-April) calving if the forage system promotes high quality midsummer grazing, namely, well managed warm-season grass or cool-season grass legume mixtures. Earlier (January-February) calving may wean heavier calves, but the increased feed cost may out weigh the additional gain. Livestock have an order in fulfilling nutritional needs. Parasites, ! if present have the top priority in available nutrition. This ! shows the importance of having a good herd health program rather than waiting until you have already developed a problem and sustained losses. Normal body maintenance is the second most important nutrient requirement.

After these two functions, which effect all livestock classes, come the production portions of reproduction, growth, and fattening. Overhead

#8 and


The am1ualnutritional cycle of cows swings high and low depending on the stage of production she is in. The highest need occurs from the point of calving to the time of rebreeding. To meet this need and rebreed successfully, she will need adequate high quality forage or supplements, or both, during this time. The need begins to taper off as the nursing calf grows and meets part of its growth needs by grazing. Milk production gradually declines until weaning when it stops completely. At this time the cow is at the lowest point of need in the am1ual nutrition cycle. During the remainder of gestation, the level remains low until a gradual building occurs before calving and starting the cycle over again. This cycle shows the importance of selecting a breeding program that closely matches the forage produced on your farm.



Supplemental Feeding

Supplemental feeding of your herd will depend on the season, breeding program and stage of need, tYpe of cattle, stocking rate, and quality of forage. In a well-planned system, cattle will not need supplement in the summer except in extreme drought conditions. Gestating cows on stockpiled forage and high quality hay will need a minimum of winter supplement until calving. However, i fall calving cows need more energy supplement and high quality hay to maintain breeding condition. Supplementing protein and energy is expensive and should be kept to a minimum. Providing excessive protein that is used for energy is expensive. Rations must be balanced so that only the elemen~ missing are provided. Mineral supplements should be kept before cattle at all times to provide basic elements. Note:


If you have time, discuss overheads #9 and #10.

Marketing strategies are quite varied. Many producers, especially with smaller operations, directly sell off cows at local auctions. Calves are also sold directly off the farm. However, this normally occurs on larger operations where a pot-load (trailer truck full) can be purchased and loaded at one location. Some sales through contract networks, such as satellite broadcasting, are pursued. Backgrounding for extra growth is an option especially suited to fall calving to take advantage of grazing gains. These calves can later be sold or go through the feedlot with retained ownership.


Summarize key points you want brought out. List key factors on flip chart. Answer any remaining questions. Tell them what to expect next on the agenda. Note: If you don't know the answer to a question, write it down and call your ARC or extension specialist for infonnation after the meeting. Be sure to write the producers name on the question, so you can get the infonnation back to him/her.