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CATTLEMEN The trusted leader and definitive voice of the beef industry. THE OFFICIAL PUBLICATION OF NCBA • 2016


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Tracy Brunner NCBA President Kansas

Philip Ellis Immediate Past President Wyoming

Craig Uden NCBA President-Elect Nebraska

Steve Hanson NCBA Federation Chair Nebraska

Jerry Effertz NCBA Federation Vice-Chair North Dakota

Kevin Kester NCBA Vice President California

Kendal Frazier NCBA CEO Colorado

NCBA Offices DENVER OFFICE 9110 E. Nichols Ave. Suite 300 Centennial, CO 80112 303-694-0305 Fax 303-694-2581

Marty Smith NCBA Treasurer Florida

Jennifer Houston NCBA Policy Chair Tennessee

Joe Guild NCBA Policy Vice-Chair Nevada

WASHINGTON D.C. OFFICE 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W. Suite 300 Washington, D.C. 20004-1701 202-347-0228 Fax 202-638-0607

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..................... Page 5 LETTER FROM THE CEO ................................... Page 6 MANAGING SOIL HEALTH FOR PRODUCTIVITY AND PROFIT . . ............................. Page 8 COWBOY NUTRITION: A QUICK GUIDE TO SUPPLEMENTATION STRATEGIES .................. Page 17 UNDERSTANGING CATTLE, THE KEY TO EFFECTIVE STOCKMANSHIP . . .................... Page 27 THE REPRODUCTION AND NUTRITION CONNECTION .. ............................... Page 35 ALTERNATIVE COW-CALF PRODUCTION SYSTEMS ECONOMICS ................................. Page 47 A CATTLEMEN’S GUIDE TO THE VETERINARY FEED DIRECTIVE ......................................... Page 58




President Tracy Brunner Craig Uden President-Elect Vice President Kevin Kester Federation Division Chair Steve Hanson Federation Division Jerry Effertz Vice-Chair Jennifer Houston Policy Division Chair Joe Guild Policy Division Vice-Chair Philip Ellis Immediate Past President Chief Executive Officer Kendal Frazier Senior Editor Associate Editor Creative Director Graphic Designer

John Robinson Brittany Schaneman Don Waite Sharon Murano

For ad sales, contact Jill DeLucero or Beka Gill at 303-694-0305. Contact NCBA: 9110 E. Nichols Ave., Suite 300, Centennial, CO 80112 (303-694-0305); Washington D.C.: 1301 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20004 (202-347-0228). National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reserves the right to refuse advertising in any of its publications. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association does not accept political advertising in any of its publications. National Cattlemen’s Beef Association does not accept any advertising promoting third-party lawsuits that have not been endorsed by the board of directors. © 2016 National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. All rights reserved. The contents of this magazine may not be reproduced by any means, in whole or part, without the prior written consent of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

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e hear the word sustainability a lot these days and it seems everyone has a different definition for the word. There is no doubt the beef industry is sustainable for the long-term, but we need to do more for consumers than just doing a better job of telling our story. We must also examine consumer perceptions of our industry and better understand their questions. We must combat misinformation with facts, explanations and in many cases with on-farm or feedlot experiences for those influencers who are in a position to alter consumer perceptions of our industry. Finally, in some cases we must be honest about what consumers want and decide what change or improvement may be warranted. NCBA is involved in several efforts intended to quantify and improve beef industry sustainability. The first effort is our work as a contractor to the beef checkoff. As a part of that role, NCBA completed the first-ever comprehensive beef industry sustainability assessment to quantify beef’s journey of continuous improvement over time. For the first time, using science-based, third-party certified methods, we were able to demonstrate the improvements we’ve made over the past several decades.



Tracy Brunner, NCBA President

The sustainability assessment work positioned beef to be a leader in the conversation about sustainability in two additional related efforts. The Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which addresses beef sustainability around the globe, and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, which focuses on improvements here at home, are both important to furthering the conversation about where we are as an industry and where we’re heading. NCBA has an ongoing leadership role in both organizations and we’re proud of the work that’s being done to advance consumer understanding of our products and practices on a global scale. While sustainability can be defined a number of ways, it’s really about finding new and better methods to produce beef more efficiently, in a manner that increases consumer confidence in our product. That’s why this edition of Directions is important. Each of the topics addressed in this issue is linked to one of the indicators of beef sustainability as defined by the U.S. Roundtable. By helping cattlemen and women make improvements on their operations, we’re advancing the sustainability of our industry by increasing the efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately the profitability of beef production. To me, those three things are the hallmarks of continuous improvement and the measure of sustainability. NATIONAL CATTLEMEN



roducer education is an important part of NCBA’s mission and we know the cattle business is more challenging and volatile than ever. Because of that, we’re always looking for ways to give our members a competitive edge in the marketplace. That’s why we’ve decided to provide you with this new spring edition of Directions. This magazine was created to provide our members with management information and ideas that will provide you with real-world information and management ideas to help make you, our member more successful. Many of the editorial pieces included in this edition were written and submitted by experts who presented sessions during the 2016 Cattlemen’s College at the Annual Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, Calif. Cattlemen’s College is NCBA’s premier educational event and we hope that providing a small sample of the information presented during that two-day event will benefit our members who are looking for new ways to innovate on their farms and ranches.




Improvement, efficiency and innovation are key cornerstones for cattlemen and women and each plays a role in our long-term success. As the grass turns green across the country and producers begin to think about breeding and grazing seasons, there’s an opportunity to implement change which contributes to the continuous improvement of our industry. Whether you’re looking for ways to improve your pasture, change how you handle cattle or get started in a new enterprise, each member of our industry benefits from the exchange of ideas and information. We hope this magazine provides concrete ideas that will benefit your operation. For those who haven’t attended Cattlemen’s College, I hope you’ll consider joining us next year in Nashville for another outstanding event. And, to each of you, I thank you for your continued support and for being an NCBA member.

Kendal Frazier, NCBA Chief Executive Officer 6 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN



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M anaging Soil Health For Productivity and

P rofit

Kristie Maczko,1 Diane Stott,2 Dennis Chessman,3 Jennifer Moore-Kucera4 and Bianca Moebius-Clune5 Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable, University of Wyoming, 2-5 USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Health Division 1


Ranchers make daily management choices that affect soils, plants, water, and animals. These choices embody a strong commitment to protecting and improving the environment for current and future generations. Healthy soils are foundational to these goals. Soil health refers to a soil’s capacity to function as a vital living ecosystem that sustains plants, animals, and humans. It strongly influences rangeland productivity, and can be an excellent indicator of potential profitability. Given that agricultural production will need to provide food for over 9 billion people by 2050, effective management to optimize lands’ productive capacity is critical. Ecological function and economic returns often go hand in hand, and soil health supports both aspects for a ranching operation. Management practices can improve soil health to sustain plant productivity by increasing soil organic matter content, measured as soil organic carbon (SOC), decreasing bulk density, and improving nutrient cycling. Soil organic matter supports a below-ground microbial population that in turn makes nutrients available for plants, and more nutrients translate into increased productivity of forage grasses and forbs. Improved forage quality and production can increase weight gains and support additional cattle, which ultimately benefits a rancher’s bottom line. Increased soil organic carbon impacts physical, chemical and biological properties of the soil. The improved soil structure that results from higher SOC levels allows grazing lands to take full advantage of rain that does fall. Better structure means better SPRING


water infiltration and more water stored in the soil rather than being lost to runoff and evaporation. This improves drought resistance, resistance to compaction and erosion, and oxygen availability for roots and microbes. In a positive feedback loop, large, diverse soil microbial populations also improve soil structure by binding soil particles together into aggregates. As a result, enriching soil health can provide more drought resilience. Animals grazing aboveground benefit from a healthy belowground community. There are more than a million microorganisms in a teaspoon of soil. Rather than an inert growing medium, healthy soils team with billions of bacteria, fungi, and other organisms that are the foundation of an elegant, belowground ecosystem requiring management and stewardship. “Viewing soil as a living ecosystem reflects a fundamental shift in the way we care for the nation’s soils,” according to Dr. Bianca Moebius-Clune, director of the newly formed USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service’s (NRCS) Soil Health Division. “It can be managed to provide nutrients for plant growth, absorb and hold rainwater for use during dry periods, and protect or improve water quality, all while increasing production.”

effects on soil carbon and nitrogen levels. Scientists began research with three different grazing intensities in 1982: (1) no grazing, (2) light grazing and (3) heavy grazing. These seasonlong (June-late September) grazing treatments continued in designated pastures for over 30 years, with soil samples collected and analyzed every 10 years (1993, 2003 and 2013). Results published in 2008 from the 2003 sampling (Table 1) showed that soil organic carbon and nitrogen levels in the top 2 inches (0-5 cm) of soil on the lightly grazing sites were higher than both heavily grazing and ungrazed sites. These results were similar for the top 6 inches (0-15 cm) of soil as well. Findings are consistent with earlier research which concluded that grazing can increase assimilation of aboveground plant carbon and nitrogen into soil. Improved carbon and nitrogen cycling in grazing lands has been linked to faster rates of decomposition and increased incorporation of plant residues into soil, along with enhanced root discharge of nutrients and carbohydrates.

Council President Brenda Richards, who ranches with her family in Idaho, echoes this sentiment, stating in a recent edition of Capitol Issues that cattle producers never forget that the next drought is always looming. Adjusting management to minimize risk and insulate against fluctuations in weather conditions is good business. Focusing on improving soil health offers many potential benefits, increasing productivity and profitability. Such correlations highlight a symbiotic relationship between ranchers and the lands on which they operate – management practices can maintain and potentially enhance soil carbon stocks (storage), and those improvements offer increased resilience to drought. Resource monitoring tracks outcomes of management decisions, and helps identify areas where management changes may be warranted. Researchers have noted that the ultimate driver of progress toward better production, soil health, and sustainability is the land manager.

Table 1. Grazing effects on Northern Mixed Grass Prairie Cheyenne, WY; 19822003, modified from Ingram et al. (2008). Means followed by the same letter are not statistically different.

Soil C, 0-5 cm (Mg/ha)

Soil N, 0-5 cm (Mg/ha)

No Grazing

10.8 b

0.94 b

Grazing and soil health

Light Grazing

13.8 a

1.23 a

Ranchers and land managers recognize that grazing management strongly influences above ground productivity. In Wyoming, researchers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service’s High Plains Grasslands Research Station (HPGRS) in Cheyenne are conducting longterm grazing studies to evaluate

Heavy Grazing

10.9 b

0.94 b


“Successful ranchers recognize the need to maintain soil carbon stocks as they seek opportunities to improve production and resilience to drought,” according to HPGRS Research Leader Justin Derner. Public Lands

Adaptive management, supported through appropriate monitoring of key variables, enhances decisionmaking for ranchers. Monitoring data is used to provide feedback on the success or failure of an initial management decision. NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


maximize consumption of nutritious grasses and improve pasture recovery time. Weather conditions guide Brite’s downward adjustment of stocking rates in dry years to conserve vegetation, soil health, and water quality. Drought information is available online, nationwide, through the University of Nebraska http://droughtmonitor.

JA Ranch Monitoring Point 2, June 2011. Photo courtesy NRCS.

A soil health success story The JA Ranch near Bowie, TX offers living proof of this idea. Third generation rancher J.K. “Rooter” Brite, Jr. asserts that “no ranch can survive without investing in soil health, water and range conservation.” The JA Ranch has had an active conservation and management plan since 1964. Their diversified operation covers more than 3,200 acres, managed by Mr. Brite, wife Lynda, and son J.K. They run a Hereford cow/calf herd, plus replacement heifers, and stocker steers. The cow/ calf operation relies primarily on native tallgrass prairie, 10 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

strategically managed for productivity and profit. Monitoring conducted in partnership with NRCS, using indicators selected from the Sustainable Rangelands Roundtable’s Sustainable Ranch Management guidebook http:// projects_ranch_assessment.shtml, provides data to document success of the Brite’s management efforts. Livestock production benefits from management to control invasive species and brush encroachment. A high-density, short duration, grazing rotation is used to

The initiation of data collection on the JA Ranch coincided with a severe drought in Texas (Figure 1). Positive outcomes resulting from Brite’s management choices are illustrated below (Table 2). Vegetation production data were collected beginning in 2011 along three transects. Production levels typically follow precipitation; however, on the JA Ranch production remained high through 2011, due to good range condition as the drought took hold. The ranch went into the drought with lush vegetative cover, plants with deep roots, and healthy soils. Brite’s pastures captured and retained more water belowground due to better water infiltration, and thriving grasses with wellestablished root systems not only persisted further into the drought year, but also recovered more quickly. Table 2 shows that vegetation production declined between 2011 and 2012, but recovered well in 2013. Rebound in production was facilitated by a strategic reduction in stocking rates during 2012, to prevent overgrazing and maximize recovery rate. By 2015, production levels exceeded expectations for each of the sites, more than doubling the expected production for the site at Point 2. The management decisions that mitigated drought impacts and Continued on page 12 SPRING



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(Figure 2). Basal cover offers a reliable long-term Valid 7 a.m. EST metric, since it Drought Conditions (Percent Area) is less sensitive None D0-D4 D1-D4 D2-D4 D3-D4 D4 to current-year Current 0.00 100.00 100.00 98.08 90.31 65.82 grazing, seasonal Last Week 100.00 98.18 90.42 64.95 100.00 0.00 or annual variation 11/1/2011 in grazing, and/ 3 Months Ago 0.07 99.93 99.48 97.99 94.27 78.26 8/9/2011 or precipitation. Start of Calendar Year 13.55 86.45 66.68 36.30 13.04 13.04 Monitoring 1/4/2011 Start of Water Year trends in bare 0.00 100.00 100.00 99.16 96.65 85.75 9/27/2011 ground matters, One Year Ago 51.83 48.17 21.54 4.83 0.00 0.00 11/9/2010 because increases in bare ground Intensity D0 Abnormally Dry D3 Extreme Drought often translate D4 Exceptional Drought D1 Moderate Drought into greater risk D2 Severe Drought for water runoff The Drought Monitor focuses on broad-scale conditions. Local conditions may vary. See accompanying text summary and soil erosion, for forecast statements. potentially Author: affecting both Brian Fuchs National Drought Mitigation Center water quality and quantity. Reduced water infiltration and the resulting increase in soil erosion negatively affect range plant Figure 1. 2011 drought condition in Texas. growth and should signal a need for Continued from page 10 stocking rate reductions during management changes. protected productivity also likely the drought. In turn, these conserved soil carbon. healthy soils with high organic Bare ground percentages matter helped vegetation persist documented for the JA Ranch through the drought, and recover NRCS soil scientist Nathan show clear evidence of the quickly when the drought ended. Haile described the soils on the drought’s effects. Ecological site JA Ranch as generally having description reference sheets high organic matter levels that list bare ground norms at less Monitoring protocols at the benefited from strategic land and than 10% on Points 1 and 3, JA Ranch also included livestock management, such as and less than 5% on Point 2. measurement of bare ground

November 8, 2011

U.S. Drought Monitor

(Released Thursday, Nov. 10, 2011)


Table 2. JA Ranch total growing season production as pounds per acre (Stanley and Derzkapf 2015).

Transrct – Ecological Site

Expected Ecological Site

2011 Production (lbs/acre)

2012 Production (lbs/acre)

2013 Production (lbs/acre)

2014 Production (lbs/acre)

2015 Production (lbs/acre)

Point 1 Loamy Prairie 4,800 5,943 1,671 4,580 4,545 6,493 Point 2 Tight Sandy Loam 3,000 2,808 1,178 4,148 6,593 7,955 Point 3 Sandy Loam

4,400 4,144 3,000 3,44 6,209 5,578

Yearly Averages (lbs/acre)






5,782 SPRING

6,675 DIRECTIONS 2016

bare ground. Recovery seen in vegetation productivity (Table 2) translates into desirable decreases in bare ground, with percent bare ground declining at each monitoring point in 2014 and 2015. This reduction in bare ground and return to better basal cover equates with lower soil surface temperatures, more water infiltration, and less erosion potential.

Monitoring JA Ranch soils. Photo courtesy NRCS.

During the drought, in 2012, less plant material was added to the soil surface. When the drought subsided and rainfall increased, moisture combined with healthy

soils to quickly decompose plant residues. As a result, effects of the drought years are most visible in 2013 observations, showing higher percentages of

Percent Bare Ground 25 20 15 10 5 0 2011




Point 1 Loamy Prairie

Point 2 Tight Sandy Loam

Point 3 Sandy Loam

Yearly Averages


Figure 2. Percent bare ground on the JA Ranch for each monitoring point from 20112015. Data provided by Stanley and Derzkapf (2015).

The benefits of rangeland monitoring and science-based management for soil health, productivity, and profitability cannot be overstated. On the JA Ranch, monitoring helped improve the efficiency of an already successful operation by informing management choices and affirming positive outcomes of previous management. Adaptive management that enhances production and economics of a ranching operation also benefits the environment. According to Mr. Brite, “monitoring data collected for soils and vegetation was later used in negotiation of oil and gas leases, to minimize potential impacts of extraction activities, and set standards for restoration.� This is important on their ranch, where wildlife habitat is a major interest. Several areas are managed primarily for wildlife, with restricted human activity and grazing, to provide forage and cover for deer, turkey and quail. Hunting leases are part of the overall ranch management strategy, creating enterprise diversification by blending livestock, energy extraction, and recreation. Healthy, functioning soil supports grazing land productivity and profitability. The response of a particular soil to management will vary, depending on inherent soil NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


Table 3. NCRS conservation practices related to soil health, after Lamm, 2013.

Conservation/Management Practice Description Practice Brush management is designed to achieve control of woody species, and protection of desired species. Brush Management

It is used to restore or release desired vegetative cover to protect soils, control erosion, reduce sediment and improve water quality.

Herbaceous Weed Control

Herbaceous weed control is the eradication, reduction, or manipulation of invasive, noxious, and prohibited plants on grazing lands using mechanical, chemical, or biological techniques.

Conservation Cover

Conservation cover establishes and maintains perennial vegetation to protect soil and water. It reduces soil erosion and sedimentation, enhances wildlife habitat, and improves water quality

Conservation Crop Rotation

Conservation crop rotation is growing a planned sequence of forage or field crops. Rotations vary with soil type and farming/ranching operations. The most effective crops to improve soils are fibrous-rooted, residue producing crops; perennial plants increase soil organic matter and reduce erosion.

Prescribed Burning

Prescribed burning involves applying controlled fire to a given area. It can be applied to control undesirable vegetation, prepare planting sites, enhance seed/seedling production, control plant diseases, remove debris following management activities, reduce wildfire hazard, improve forage quantity and quality, alter grazing animal distribution, and improve habitat.

Cover Crops

Cover crops emphasize mixes to address soil health concerns, e.g. C:N ratio, soil cover, erosion control, nutrient cycling, and/or plant diversity. They increase soil fertility and organic material, improve soil tilth, increase infiltration and aeration, and improve overall soil health.

Riparian Herbaceous Cover

Riparian herbaceous cover involves planting and managing grasses, grass-like plants, and forbs tolerant of of flooding or saturated soils. Purposes include provision of food, shelter, shade, protection of water quality, streambank stabilization, and increased carbon storage in biomass and soil.

Forage and Biomass Planting

Forage and biomass planting is used to establish herbaceous species suitable for pasture, hay, or biomas production. It can help improve livestock nutrition, provide forage during periods of low production, reduce soil erosion, and improve soil and water quality.

Prescribed Grazing

Prescribed grazing involves managing vegetation with grazing animals. Intensity, frequency, timing, and duration of grazing can increase plant diversity and vigor, and provide food for soil microbes. Grazing plans may focus on soil health, weed control, or drought.

Grazing Land Mechanical Treatment

Grazing land mechanical treatment involves modifying soil and plant conditions by pitting, contour furrowing, chiseling, ripping, or subsoiling. It can improve soil permeability, reduce runoff, increase infiltration, and stimulate a plant community for greater productivity.

Range Planting

Range planting supports establishment of perennial vegetation on grazing land. This practice applies to land areas where the principle method of vegetation management is grazing. Vegetation types include grasses, legumes, shrubs, forbs, and shrubs.

Nutrient Management

Nutrient management addresses the amount, placement, and timing of plant nutrients to obtain optimum yields and minimize pollution. The objective is to improve soil condition and reduce synthetic fertilizer use to allow soil to supply nutrients to plants.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is a site-specific combination of pest prevention, pest avoidance, pest Integrated Pest Management monitoring, and pest suppression strategies used to prevent or mitigate pests for identified natural resource concerns. Upland Wildlife Habitat Management

Upland wildlife habitat management offers guidance on establishing and managing upland habitats and connectivity within the landscape for wildlife.

properties (e.g., texture, depth to bedrock, drainage class, etc.), climate and the surrounding rangelands. However, as shown on the JA Ranch, management that improves productivity can simultaneously protect and enhance profitability, soil health, water quantity and quality, resilience to extreme weather events, and wildlife habitat. 14 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

Managing for soil health Elements embodied in Mr. Brite’s management philosophy, emphasizing rangeland conservation and productivity, have been formalized by the NRCS as key points associated with improving soil health. These concepts apply across pasturelands, rangelands, and croplands. The four principles include:

• keep soil covered • minimize soil disturbance (e.g.

adjust stocking rates for current conditions)

• maximize plant and, where

feasible, animal species’ diversity to increase diversity in the soil

• maintain living roots in the soil as long as possible to feed soil biota SPRING


NRCS Soil Health Division Staff

Located in State Office and National Technology Support Centers
























































Central Region


Northeast Region Southeast Region West Region


National Soil Health Division Team:

Primary coverage areas, but national scope, responsibility and collaboration

Figure 3. NRCS National Soil Health Division Staff Locations. Twelve Soil Health Specialists (S) are supervised by four Regional Soil Health Team Leaders (L), who work under the National Team Leader (NL). The staff Division Director (D) and National Soil Health Specialist (NS) round out the staff.

This emphasis on soil health grows from NRCS’ roots, dating back to 1935 when Congress directed creation of the Soil Conservation Service to address drought and erosion effects of the Dust Bowl, which ultimately impacted almost 100 million acres of rangeland and cropland. Linkages among improved soil health and increased productivity and profitability also can lead to more robust, sustainable rural economies. Supporting viable rural communities remains as important today as it was during the Dust Bowl and Great Depression.

Presently, NRCS’ soil focus goes well beyond erosion control to advocate conservation practices designed to enhance the overall health of soils. This “strategic approach brings together conservation practices that minimize soil disturbance, diversify soil biota, and maintain living roots and soil cover,” according to NRCS Chief Jason Weller. Conservation practices are supported through NRCS’ Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) and Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP). EQIP also may support practices

implemented on public grazing allotments, associated with private rangelands. NRCS National Soil Health Team Leader David Lamm has identified conservation practices related to maintenance and/or improvement of soil health in a variety of ranch management contexts, variously applicable to pasturelands, rangelands, and croplands (Table 3). To facilitate technical assistance and interactions with ranchers and farmers interested in implementing conservation practices, NRCS has created a NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


new Soil Health Division, with staff members based around the country (Figure 3). National distribution of personnel highlights the importance of information exchange with producers. As an agency that embraces voluntary, science-based resource stewardship and agricultural production, NRCS relies on scientific research to provide a basis for enhancing soil health. However, NRCS strives to infuse that knowledge with a healthy dose of practicality from ranchers who work on the ground every day. Other institutions and organizations also recognize the critical importance of research, education, and adoption of innovative management practices for soil health. Building on the success of their Soil Renaissance effort, the Farm Foundation and the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation established the Soil Health Institute (SHI) in December 2015. SHI president and chief executive officer Dr. Wayne Honeycutt asserts, “Enhancing the health of our nation’s soils is one of the most critical efforts of our lifetime.” The institute will serve as the primary resource for soil health information, working


to set soil health standards and measurement, build knowledge about the economics of soil health, offer educational programs, and coordinate research in all aspects of soil and soil health. Bill Buckner, chairman of the SHI board of directors and president and chief executive officer of the Noble Foundation, highlights an SHI goal, “to make research publicly available, so we can work together to provide solutions for improving our soil and protecting it for our children and grandchildren.” To that end, SHI will work directly with farmers and ranchers, researchers, academia, policymakers, government agencies, industry, environmental groups and consumers – everyone who benefits from healthy soils.

Conclusions As NCBA President Philip Ellis asserted in a recent issue of Beltway Beef, ranchers are often acknowledged as the original conservationists, representing generations of management expertise. This on-the-ground experience stands to benefit expansion of the soil health knowledge base and capacity to provide technical assistance for

managing soil health. Research conducted at the High Plains Grassland Research Station and adaptive management successes on the JA Ranch illustrate the invaluable contributions of science and management for healthy soils. To maximize usable science for soil health that integrates the thinking of researchers and producers, scientists must learn from ranchers and farmers. Partnering to protect and enrich soil health is the greatest opportunity since the Dust Bowl to advance conservation across the nation. More than 75 years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt stated, “the nation that destroys its soil destroys itself.” Opportunities abound for information exchange to enhance the art and science of managing for soil health, and ranchers should capitalize on this emerging field of conversation and conservation to improve productivity and profitability. Acknowledgements: Authors would like to thank Dr. Justin Derner, USDA Agricultural Research Service, High Plains Grassland Research Station, Dr. C. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO, Soil Health Institute, and Dr. John E. Mitchell, Emeritus Rangeland Scientist, Rocky Mountain Research Station for their contributions to this article.












Cowboy Nutrition: A Quick Guide to Supplementation


C. P. Mathis, King Ranch,ÂŽ Institute for Ranch Management J. E. Sawyer, Texas A&M University

In grazing operations, there are times when forage quality and/or availability are limited and ruminants are unable to consume enough nutrients from pasture forage to fulfill requirements. During such situations supplemental feeding is necessary to meet production goals. There are numerous commercial feed supplements available to producers, and an unlimited number of options for the development of custom supplements. It may be difficult to decide which supplement type (i.e., energy, protein, etc.) best fits the goals of the livestock production system. A fundamental understanding of ruminant nutrition is helpful in making these decisions. It is also important to choose a delivery method that provides the targeted amount of desired nutrients to each animal in the herd and minimizes input costs. The objectives of this publication are to aid producers in deciding the supplement type needed for grazing beef cattle and to describe the characteristics of supplement delivery methods.

General ruminant nutrition Ruminants must have energy to survive; nevertheless, it is the microorganisms in the rumen that must “unlock� (digest) the energy in the forage to make it available to the ruminant. In order to digest forage, the microorganisms must have nitrogen that is primarily found in protein. Generally, when protein is supplemented to grazing cattle it is to ensure that the rumen microbes have enough nitrogen to digest forage efficiently. NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


Protein supplementation The primary factor limiting cattle performance on forage diets is energy intake. However, intake of mature or dormant forages is often limited because these forages have an inadequate amount of crude protein. An example of the relationship between crude protein content of forages and forage intake is presented in Figure 1. Intake declines rapidly as forage crude protein falls below about 7 percent, a relationship attributed to a deficiency of nitrogen (protein) in the rumen that limits microbial activity. For example, in Figure 1, at a crude protein content of 5 percent, forage intake is about 1.6 percent of body weight. However, when forage crude protein is 7 percent, forage intake is 44 percent higher at about 2.3 percent of body weight. Because forage is the primary source of energy, improved forage intake boosts energy intake and demonstrates why correcting a protein deficiency is usually the first supplementation priority. Protein supplements not only stimulate forage intake, but may enhance the microbial digestion of forage 18 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

Table 1. An example of the impact of protein supplementation on the energy status of a 1,200-pound cow.a Unsupplemented

Forage crude protein, %






Supplement crude protein, %


Supplement TDN, %


Supplement intake, lbs.


Forage TDNb, %

Increase, %

Forage intake, lbs.




Total daily intake, lbs.




Total diet % crude protein



TDN intake, lbs.





Adapted from McCollum, 1997.


Total digestible nutrients.

as well. When the benefits of improved forage intake and improved digestion are combined, it is evident that energy intake can be greatly enhanced. In Table 1, the estimated impact of protein supplementation on energy status of a 1200-pound cow is shown. Forage intake increased 31 percent in response to 2 pounds of protein supplement, resulting in a 49 percent increase in total digestible nutrients (TDN; an estimate of energy) intake by the cow. The forage crude protein content threshold below which an intake response is observed varies with forage type and with the

individual animal used for evaluation. Evidence of this variation in intake level among forages with similar crude protein content is seen in Figure 1. However, 7 percent protein is a useful guideline to follow when evaluating the potential for an intake response to protein supplementation.

Energy supplementation When protein needs are met, performance may still be limited by inadequate energy intake. This situation may occur during periods of high nutrient requirements or when forage availability is low. Most energy limitations can be managed with proper grazing

4 Forage DM Intake, % of BW

The availability of forage and its chemical composition (primarily crude protein content) are the first factors that must be considered in developing an effective grazing nutrition program. If the objective is to meet the nutrient requirements as economically and efficiently as possible, the first limiting nutrient must be identified and supplemented in a cost-effective manner. The decision to feed a protein supplement, energy supplement, or a combination supplement, should be dependent on forage supply, protein content, and cow body condition.

3 2 1 0 0







Forage CP Content, % DM Figure 1. Forage dry matter (DM) intake relative to the forage crude protein (CP) content. (Adapted from Moore and Kunkle, 1995. SPRING


management. However, directly increasing energy intake with an energy supplement (low protein, high energy) may be cost-effective in some scenarios. Energy supplements typically cost less per ton than protein supplements, but the responses to energy supplementation can be variable, making results less predictable. A common result of feeding supplemental energy sources is the “substitution effect.” Substitution occurs when the supplemental feed reduces forage intake. One of the chief concerns when providing energy supplements to grazing beef cows is the starch content of the supplement. Research has demonstrated that when high starch supplements (i.e., corn, grain sorghum, wheat, barley, etc.) are fed to cattle consuming forages (especially when protein is deficient), forage intake and digestion are often suppressed, ultimately reducing the energy derived from the basal forage diet. Therefore, to truly “supplement” energy to grazing cattle, highly digestible fiber sources (i.e., soyhulls, wheat bran, wheat middlings, and corn gluten feed) are generally most desirable.

Deciding what percent protein to feed

the protein concentration, not energy. Thus, supplements are often categorized as protein or energy supplements based on the protein content alone.

Supplemental feeds for livestock are often classified as energy or protein supplements by considering the percentage protein alone. This is because the primary feedstuffs used in supplements are generally between 75 and 90 percent TDN, yet the protein content of the high protein feedstuffs, like cottonseed meal or soybean meal, are three to five-fold higher than grains like corn and milo. Because of this relationship, the primary difference in nutrient content of a 20 percent and 40 percent protein supplement is

Developing a cost-effective supplementation program is dependent upon identifying the nutrient most limiting to productivity and providing the limiting nutrient(s) at the lowest cost. If protein is deficient (i.e., < 7 percent crude protein), supplements should be evaluated based on cost per pound of protein. Similarly, if forage supply is limited and energy is deficient, supplements should be evaluated based on cost per pound of TDN (energy). Sometimes both energy and

replaces about a pound of pasture forage.

Anytime substitution occurs, the energy intake of the animal may not be increased to the desired level because of a concomitant reduction in forage intake. As a general rule, 1 pound of an energy-dense feed reduces forage dry matter intake by 0.5 to 1 pound. Feeding high levels of hay may also result in substitution. As the amount of hay fed daily increases, forage intake from the pasture will decrease because hay will replace pasture forage. Generally, a pound of hay



protein are limiting, so a balanced approach to provide supplemental protein and energy is recommended. Generally, high protein feedstuffs are more expensive than grains

or energy byproducts. Since high protein feedstuffs are more expensive per ton, they are more expensive than low protein supplements. However, it is critically important to evaluate potential supplements based on

Does each cow have all she can eat in the pasture?


Forage supply is adequate

What color is the forage?

BROWN Protein is likely <7% and limiting forage intake and digestion

GREEN No supplement • Protein is sufficient • Energy is sufficient

Are cows in adequate body condition (i.e., >4,5?


Supplement with >32% CP • 0.1 to 0.3% BW/day • Improve rumen efficiency • Price $/lb CP


Supplement with 28-32% CP • 0.25 to 0.40% BW/day • Improve rumen efficiency • Provide extra energy • Consider $/lb CP and $/lb TDN

NO • Forage supply is inadequate; energy deficient • Reduce the forage needs of herd by lowering stocking rate and/or feeding supplement

What color is the forage?


Supplement energy with >20% CP • 0.4 to 0.8% BW/day • Protein is sufficient • Energy is deficient • Price $/lb TDN


Supplement with 20-28 CP • 0.3 to 0.5% BW/day • Energy is deficient • Protein is likely 7% and limiting forage digestion • Consider $/lb TDN and $/lb CP If forage shortage is severe Supplement with <20% CP • 0.4 to 0.8% BW/day • Price $/lb TDN

Figure 2. Beef cow supplement decision guide.* *This decision guide is a general tool and is not as accurate as measuring actual forage quality and quantity to develop a strategic supplementation program for a specific class of cattle. 20 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

cost per unit of nutrient needed. Figure 2 provides a simple guide to using forage quality (protein content; estimated based on color), supply, and cow condition to help decide what percent protein is needed in a supplement. This decision guide may be useful in developing a lowcost supplementation program, but is only a general guide and is not as accurate as measuring actual forage quality and quantity to develop a strategic supplementation program for a specific class of cattle.

Frequency of supplementation Feeding frequency (daily vs. three times per week vs. once a week) of some supplements may affect animal response. Feeding smaller amounts of protein or energy supplements more frequently decreases the potential for negative impacts on forage intake. However, scientists at New Mexico State University and Texas A&M University have shown that hand feeding high-protein supplements once a week results in no significant reduction in performance when compared to feeding supplement three times per week or daily. Additionally, transportation and labor costs are reduced with less frequent distribution. Researchers have also demonstrated that heifer performance (weight gain and conception rate) significantly declined when the frequency of energy supplementation was decreased from daily to twice per week. These findings indicate that protein supplements (i.e., ≥ 30 percent crude protein) can be delivered as infrequently as once or twice per week, while energy supplements (≤ 20 percent crude protein) should not be fed less frequently than every other day. SPRING


Supplement delivery To efficiently meet production goals, it is important to choose a delivery method that provides the targeted amount of nutrients to each animal in the herd. Ideally, this is achieved with a minimum of input costs for labor, equipment, and supplemental feed. A variety of factors influence the usefulness of a particular delivery method.

Hand-feeding versus self-Feeding Supplement delivery methods may be broadly classified as self-fed or hand-fed systems. Hand-feeding implies that the supplement is regularly delivered to the animals in a form and amount that is immediately consumed. Self-fed supplements are delivered in bulk amounts at infrequent intervals, with the expectation of continuous, low-level consumption by livestock. Self-fed supplements are designed to limit intake so that animals consume only small portions of the available feed at each meal. Intake may be limited by the supplementâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Table 2. Labor cost comparison of hand-fed and self-fed supplements for one week.


Feeding Frequency Daily 3X per week 1X per week


Vehicle Costb Feeding, $136.50 58.50 Checking cows,c $ 0 0 19.50

19.50 39.00


Labor Cost Feeding,d $ 210.00 90.00 Checking cows,e $ 0 0 22.50

30.00 45.00


Total Weekly Cost Vehicle, $ 136.50 58.50 Labor, $ 210.00 90.00

39.00 52.50

39.00 45.00

Combined Weekly Cost, $ 346.50 148.50



Self-fed supplement delivered to the pasture by the feed dealer. b Vehicle cost of $0.65/mile; assume 30-mile round-trip. c Assumes cows are checked a minimum of twice weekly, whether being fed or not. d Labor cost of $15.00/hr. Feeding requires 1 hr driving and 1 hr feeding. e Checks require 1 hr driving and 0.5 hr observing cows. a

physical form (e.g., tubs or blocks), a palatability factor (salt, phosphoric acid, etc.), or a combination of these methods. Self-fed supplements have several advantages. They can reduce labor costs because delivery times are designed to be less frequent than hand feeding. However, if livestock are checked at times other than feeding, the savings in labor and associated

costs may be less than expected. For supplements that are targeted for more than a pound per day consumption, weekly delivery may still be required due to lack of feed bunk volume or the desire to keep feeds fresh. If supplements are to be consumed at low amounts (for example, mineral supplements), then self-feeding may be most cost effective. Another advantage of selffeeding systems is that animals can consume supplement every day. This is mainly an advantage with energy or mineral supplements, which are most effective when delivered daily, and less important for protein supplements that can be delivered as infrequently as once or twice per week. Therefore, when supplementing protein the labor required for hand feeding can be similar to self-feeding (Table 2). Based on this comparison, if a self-fed protein supplement costs significantly more than a hand-fed supplement, any



labor cost savings may be offset. However, for energy or mineral delivery (which require every day or alternate day feeding), self-fed supplements may be more economical even at a higher price per ton because both labor and transportation costs are reduced. Furthermore, in rough or poorly accessible areas, self-fed supplements may be the only viable solution since the producer may have limited ability to deliver feed to the animals. Supplemental feeds are designed to provide a given level of nutrients to each animal in the herd. Much of the variation in response to supplementation programs has been attributed to variation in supplement intake by individual animals, although this is difficult to assess in production settings. Intake

data compiled from a variety of environments and supplement formulations indicate that 5 percent of hand-fed animals fail to consume any supplement, while on average, 19 percent of self-fed animals fail to consume supplement. Total variation in supplement intake was twice as high for self-feeding compared to hand-feeding. This may result in substantial variation in response to a supplemental feeding program since many animals fail to consume the targeted amount, while others consume in excess. Supplement intake variation depends on factors unique to each operation, and to specific attributes of a given supplement. However, producers should be aware of the potential for larger variability in self-fed supplement intake, and therefore, more variability in performance responses to self-fed supplements.

Hand-feeding is often used as a method to control livestock location and movement. This may be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending upon circumstances. When animals become accustomed to coming to a vehicle and receiving feed, they may be easier to gather and/or check. However, on public land or private land with easements, animals may begin following all vehicles, which can be a problem. In this situation, selffed supplements may be more desirable. Self-feeding stations can be relocated to influence livestock distribution, but are not effective in calling or leading cattle.

Supplement form The practicality of supplement delivery systems on a particular ranch is often strongly influenced by the form (e.g., cube, block, liquid, tubs) of the supplemental feed. The various forms of supplements each offer advantages and disadvantages. This section will cover the forms of supplements available, how they are fed, and important considerations for producers regarding each form. Dry feeds are primarily composed of dry ingredients (some dry feeds include a small amount of liquid ingredients to improve palatability and binding characteristics) combined to meet a nutrient specification. These feeds may be further processed into various forms or left as an unprocessed mix (meals). A potential advantage of all dry feeds is flexibility in formulation. Once nutrient specifications are determined, a formulation based on the least cost combination of ingredients can be created to minimize cost.




For example, if cottonseed meal becomes expensive, then another protein source such as sunflower meal might be easily substituted into the formula. Individual types of dry feeds also offer some advantages and disadvantages.

Cubes/Cake/Pellets Cubes, cake, or pellets all refer to essentially the same feed form. Cubes, the most common form of dry feed used for hand-fed range protein supplements, are available in a variety of sizes (5/8â&#x20AC;? to 1â&#x20AC;?; round, square or octagonal). They may be ordered in bulk for distribution by a truck or trailer mounted dispenser, or purchased in sacks. Bulk feeds reduce the labor associated with handling and often reduce the unit price of the supplement, but they require a relatively large initial investment in storage and equipment. Cubes often are fed on the ground, which can be difficult in snow or mud. For hand-fed supplements, cubes usually have the lowest variation in supplement intake by animals. This is especially evident when feed is provided three or fewer times per week.

essentially they are very large cubes (33.3 to 50 pounds). These blocks offer similar advantages for formulation flexibility as other dry feeds. Blocks offer an intermediate option between a true self-fed system and a hand-fed system. They can be manufactured with varying degrees of hardness to influence supplement intake. Harder blocks reduce intake, while softer blocks allow greater intake. Depending on the targeted intake amount, proper hardness can be determined, and the blocks can be used as a self-fed supplement. Blocks that are excessively hard may result in poor consumption or even tooth damage and loss, while extremely soft blocks may encourage over consumption of supplement.

Regardless of the delivery frequency, old blocks should be completely eaten before the new ones are delivered to ensure adequate nutrient intake. Individual animal consumption of blocks may be more variable than cubes or meals of the same formulation. However, the number of non-eaters is still relatively low. In principle, block feeding allows more timid animals the opportunity to consume the supplement, since they can wait until other animals have left the feeding area. The compact size and shape of blocks may make handling easier, often reducing labor and mileage requirements. For example, if more blocks

A few manufacturers offer selffed pellets that include an intake limiting agent. As with other self-fed supplements, a feeder is required. Cattle may develop a tolerance for the intake limiter, and increase intake over time. With self-fed cubes, it is difficult for producers to adjust intake by adding salt, because particle size differences will result in sorting. Additionally, limiting agents are often less effective in pelleted form due to less surface exposure.


Blocks are generally dry ingredients in a pressed form;



can be loaded than cubes, then producers may not need to return to the storage site when delivering feed to several areas of the ranch.

Liquid feeds

Liquid feed use has grown significantly in the past 20 years. Liquid feeds for pasture use are almost exclusively selffed products and have many of the same advantages and disadvantages of other selffeeding systems. Many liquid feed dealers offer a delivery service, which can eliminate the labor and handling requirements associated with supplementation (as shown in the Table 2). However, feed dealers account for their delivery cost when pricing these products so that ranchers must carefully examine the cost of labor and cost per unit of nutrient delivered to assess the value of this delivery form.


A potential drawback with liquid feeds is the limited number of ingredients that can be utilized in formulations. While this may stabilize prices, it also reduces the opportunity to take advantage of less expensive commodities. Although suspension technologies are improving, it is still difficult to incorporate many dry ingredients into liquid feeds. Therefore, most protein sources used in liquid feeds contain a high proportion of non-protein nitrogen and highly soluble natural proteins. Non-protein nitrogen (NPN) sources like urea or liquid fermentation or grain processing byproducts may provide an excellent opportunity to reduce overall feed costs. It is important to remember that the utilization of NPN may be limited with low quality diets. Non-protein

nitrogen occurs naturally in many feedstuffs (an example is lush annual pasture) and is well utilized in the rumen if adequate energy is present in the diet. New technology in liquid feed formulations has increased the availability of feeds with a high proportion of added fat, a highquality energy source. Although small amounts of fat can be added to dry supplements, liquid feeds can incorporate a higher fat concentration. This may make liquid feeds attractive energy supplements, especially when the reduced labor requirement of liquid supplements is compared to daily delivery of dry energy supplements. As with other self-feeding systems, liquid supplement intake is more variable than that of hand-fed supplements. Reports from a number of studies suggest that the percentage of



animals that do not consume any liquid feed ranged from 17 to 49 percent, with intake ranging from 0 to 5.4 lb/d. This indicates that while the average performance of a herd may be similar among liquid feeds and dry feeds, the uniformity of individual animal performance response may be lower with liquid supplements. Very few research trials have attempted to directly address this question.

Tubs Hardened molasses blocks are often referred to as “tubs” or “soft-pours” and share some characteristics with both blocks and liquid feeds. This type of supplement is generally made from a molasses base, like a liquid feed, but is cooked or chemically hardened to create a block-type feed packaged in steel,

plastic, or fiber containers. These supplements can incorporate a higher percentage of dry ingredients than liquid feeds. Due to the amount of molasses in the formulation, tubs typically have lower amounts of dry feedstuffs than pressed blocks. Tubs are self-fed supplements. As animals lick the tub, saliva softens the surface and allows the animals to scrape off the softened portion. Intake is dependent on the rate of softening. Harder tubs are designed for slower consumption (lower intake) and do not soften easily. Increasing block hardness to reduce intake of molasses blocks also increases intake variability; compared with hand-fed dry supplements or liquid feeds under a variety of conditions, molasses blocks

have the highest variation in individual animal intake. Molasses tubs are more environmentally stable than pressed blocks; therefore tubs can be delivered less frequently. These tubs generally are between 125 to 250 pounds. However, since livestock must be checked periodically, the total labor cost associated with feeding tubs may not be significantly less than feeding dry supplements once per week.


Supplemental feeding is a significant economic input to most beef production enterprises. It is important that money is only spent on nutrients that can effectively enhance animal performance. There are many strategies for providing

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supplemental nutrients. The primary considerations when purchasing or formulating supplements for grazing cattle are estimating and budgeting forage supply, and estimating or measuring forage crude protein content. Although not all forages and cattle will respond the same to supplementation, the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Beef Cow Supplement Decision Guideâ&#x20AC;? (Figure 2) may serve as a beneficial tool to help producers determine what percent protein supplement amount might be most cost-effective. A variety of supplement types are available to livestock producers. The most efficient and effective supplement delivery system depends on individual circumstances and may vary from ranch to ranch. For energy and mineral supplementation, self-fed delivery methods are probably more labor efficient


2016_Directions-Spring.indd 26

since these supplements should be consumed daily or every other day. With energy supplements, large quantities are usually supplied, and even with selffed supplements the supply may need to be replenished frequently. When feeding protein supplements, less frequent feeding (once or twice a week) can be as effective as daily delivery, and labor costs may be reduced to levels similar to that of self-fed supplements with less intake variation. Cubes, blocks, tubs, and liquids have different advantages and disadvantages. The overall benefit of using a particular supplement form depends on the individual situation. Supplement delivery methods and forms can be ranked (1= best) based on several different criteria:

Intake variability:

1. Hand-fed (cubes and blocks) 2. Self-fed (tubs and liquids)

Flexibility of least cost formulation: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Cubes Blocks Tubs Liquid feeds

Labor associated with delivery:

1. Liquid feeds (dealer filling feeders) 2. Tubs 3. Blocks 4. Cubes (hand fed)

The primary goal of any supplementation program is to deliver targeted amounts of specific nutrients in a uniform and consistent manner to generate predictable results. Variability in supplement intake is a major cause of variable performance responses to a supplemental feeding program. Some systems may deliver nutrients more precisely, but the costs and benefits of each system should be evaluated.



4/7/2016 9:04:31 AM

The need to move and control cattle is something that has existed for a very long period of time. It seems logical that throughout history some handlers were very effective, and others not so productive. This should make us aware of the fact that certain practices improve results. I would like to present some thoughts on why we do what we do and some ideas on how to improve results when handling cattle.


STOCKMANSHIP Curt Pate, Stockmanship and Stewardship Clinician

Our modern society probably has less interaction with farm animals than any time in history. Machines and technology have reduced the need to use animals for transportation and work to almost nothing. In the past humans dealt with many species of farm animals to survive and eat and they had to keep them healthy and producing. Now livestock producers typically deal with a single species, and interact with them as little as possible because we have too many other things to do either by choice or necessity. The less we do something, the less we understand it. Another important realization is the less you deal with animals, the more you deal with machines and people. When that occurs, you develop habits that are contrary to those that work best for effective cattle handling. Machines have gauges and alarms to tell you when they are becoming stressed and maintenance is routine and static. Animals are very hard to read and sometimes actually hide stress. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;maintenanceâ&#x20AC;? is always changing as animals grow and age. It also changes as environmental conditions change. Unless you have experience and NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


deal with animals all the time, they are very difficult to read. Because of the wide variety of factors that play a role in effective animal handling, it is very difficult to teach or create manuals to train an individual to move cattle effectively. This is one reason cattle handling training is has become so popular. Other reasons include government regulations, worker safety compensation and the increased consumer demand for animals raised to the standards they believe to be proper. Supply and demand are at play here. In the past, when people worked with animals as they grew up, they naturally learned to interact through observation and instruction from family or co-workers. Essentially people learned by doing, the same way


2016_Directions-Spring.indd 28



4/7/2016 9:04:35 AM

young people learn to work with computers today. Just as I seek instruction on how to use my iPad, the people that teach me usually need instruction on how to take care of a cow. There is more demand for cattle handling and care training because of the lack of experience and exposure. There are a great number of ways to improve your cattle handling skills. Video instruction through DVD and YouTube, websites, schooling, classroom training, lectures and live cattle handling demonstrations. All of these methods are great ways to help improve your skills and inspire you to work at being a better stockman. “Stockmanship and Stewardship” is a program coordinated by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and funded in-part by the Beef Checkoff Program through the Beef Quality Assurance program. The live cattle demonstrations focus on cattle handling that complements Beef Quality Assurance practices for improved beef quality and management practices. Live cattle handling demonstrations focus on teaching basic principles of cattle handling while actually performing different tasks that most cattle handlers must do as part of their everyday activities on their operations. Another benefit is these seminars give attendees, many of whom will need to train others to properly handle cattle, the tools to teach others these skills. In these live demos we are able to show the importance of balance point and flight zone, the two things most people study with cattle handling, then expand on this for better results.

2016_Directions-Spring.indd 29



4/7/2016 9:04:36 AM

When teaching balance point, an individual is taught to be near the shoulder of the animal in lectures and written material. If you put pressure in front of the shoulder the animal stops or turns away. If you move behind the balance point the animal moves forward. In a live demo we are able to show this and actually teach how to move this point forward to the eye of the animal to have more control and create less stress on the animal and the human. Examining the flight zone is a great way to help people understand how to create animal movement. Again, in a demonstration we are able to show how to transform the thought of â&#x20AC;&#x153;flight zoneâ&#x20AC;? into pressure zone. I believe that teaching handlers how to utilize the flight zone is an advanced way to help them understand


2016_Directions-Spring.indd 30

the proper method of creating movement in an animal or group of animals. When you learn about using different handling pressures as part of Stockmanship and Stewardship sessions it really develops your skill set. With cattle, there are three different pressures. Driving pressure is pressure applied by moving toward the animal or group of animals. Applying pressure at the balance point gets them to move in the direction you desire. The angle and amount of driving pressure that is applied, creates the movement you desire. By observing the animal, effective practitioners of Stockmanship and Stewardship are able to determine how much pressure to apply and the effect it will have, just by observing the animal. There is another pressure

that cattlemen and women can benefit from and that is drawing pressure. This could be feed based or a signal such as whistle or horn blow that calls cattle to you. We can use a drawing pressure in handling in the same way without feed, if we position ourselves properly on the balance point, or use the draw of other animals, this allows us to position the cattle we are working to better apply our pressure at an angle and amount that will improve our chances of getting the animal to go where we want. We achieve this by backing up at an angle that draws the animalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s eye to us and keeping its mind on direct movement, the same as a sack of feed does. The third pressure that is important to understand is a

Continued on page 34



4/7/2016 9:04:36 AM


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Continued from page 30

maintaining pressure. This is a pressure that keeps the animal focused on you, without creating movement. Again, reading the animal to figure out what is needed to achieve this is important. You may need to move back and forth, whistle softly, talk to them, or try another action to keep the animal focus on you but not moving. This helps calm animals down if they


have excess movement, teaches them focus on the handler, and gives the handler time to make a decision while working animals; an example would be sorting steers and heifers. Without live cattle demonstrations, like those provided through the Stockmanship and Stewardship program, these can be concepts that are difficult to explain

or teach. However, these are basic principles that successful stockman do to achieve consistent results. When you combine cattle handling skills with well-designed facilities you get effective results. A great starting point to gain effective results on your operation is attending a Stockmanship and Stewardship event near you. Visit to find out more.



Since 50 to 70% of input costs are associated with feed, manipulating nutrition can make operations more profitable, BUT manipulation must be done strategically to not affect future cattle performance. Knowing when to supplement heifers or cows and what form of supplement will work in a given operation at a given time is often clouded by what feedstuffs a producer has available. In essence, understanding the production cycle of the cow (Figure 1), the cowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s nutritional needs, and how to manipulate the diet may save producers financially and will prevent future reproductive failures.










the r eProduCtion And nutrition

cONNectiON Cliff Lamb,

North Florida Research and Extension Center, University of Florida, Marianna, FL

2016_Directions-Spring.indd 35

Insufficient intake of energy, protein, vitamins, and microand macrominerals have all been associated with suboptimal reproductive performance. Of these nutritional effects on reproduction, energy balance is probably the single most important nutritional factor related to poor reproductive function in cows. Short and Adams (1988) prioritized the metabolic use of available energy in ruminants ranking each physiological state in order of importance, as follows: 1) basal metabolism; 2) activity; 3) growth; 4) energy reserves; 5) pregnancy; 6) lactation; 7) additional energy reserves; 8) estrous cycles and initiation of pregnancy; and 9) excess energy reserves. Based on this list of metabolic priorities for energy, reproductive function is compromised because available energy is directed towards meeting minimum energy reserves and milk production. Generally, beef cows do not experience a period of negative energy balance because they NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


4/7/2016 9:04:43 AM

score on the duration of postpartum anestrus Mid 60-90 Calving to Breeding to (Whitman, 1975; Lalman et al., 1997). When cows gestation precalving rebreeding weaning are thin at calving or Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance Maintenance have BCS of 4 or less, increased postpartum Rapid fetal Lactation Lactation level of energy increases growth percentages of females Prepare for Regain weight exhibiting estrus during lactation loss the breeding season. Likewise, heifers that Repair calve with a BCS of 4, reproductive tract and are fed to maintain Figure 1. Production cycle of a beef cow emphasizing important nutritional and reproductive weight after parturition, requirements have a reduction in ovarian activity and when cows can be maintained on fail to produce the quantity of lower pregnancy rates than do a decreasing plane of nutrition, milk that dairy cows produce; heifers that calve at a similar when they should be maintained however, beef cows need to be in body condition and gain weight on an increasing plane of good enough condition to resume after parturition (Wetteman et nutrition, or when cows can be estrous cycles after parturition al., 1986). Body condition score kept on a maintenance diet. and overcome general infertility, at parturition and breeding are Understanding the production anestrus, short estrous cycles, the dominant factors influencing cycle of the cow and how to and uterine involution just pregnancy success, although manipulate the diet will improve to maintain a yearly calving body weight changes during late reproductive performance, but interval. gestation modulate this effect. may also reduce feed input costs





Managing body condition score

and increase economic efficiency of the operation.

Body condition scoring (BCS) is a reliable method to assess the nutritional status of a cow herd. A visual body condition scoring system developed for beef cattle uses a scale from 1 to 9, with 1 representing emaciated and 9 obese cattle (Whitman, 1975). A linear relationship exists between body weight change and body condition score (using a 1 to 9 scale), where approximately an 80-lb weight change is associated with each unit change in BCS. In spite of the advantages of body condition scoring, less than 25% of cattlemen throughout the United States utilize this simple, effective method of analyzing the nutritional status of a cow herd. Regardless of the scoring system or monitoring system, it is important to understand

Live weight at calving has no effect on reproductive performance, whereas calving condition score is a better indicator than prepartum change in either weight or condition


In a recent unpublished study (Figure 2), Stevenson et al. collected blood samples from suckled beef cows at the initiation of the breeding season. 0Of the 1,201 cows in this study only 47.2% of the cows were cycling at the onset of the breeding season.

n = 201

70 60

n = 590


50 40

n = 458 n = 453

30 20 10 0





Body Condition Score Figure 2. Percentage of cows cycling at various body condition scores (Stevenson et al., unpublished) SPRING


However, as BCS increased the percentage of cows that were cycling also increased. It is important to note that by the initiation of the breeding season, when cows had a body condition of less than 4, only 33.9% percent of those cows had resumed their estrous cycles! Cows in moderate BCS at calving also tend to have healthier calves. Calves nursing cows in a condition of 3 or 4 had lower serum immunoglobulin (a measure of potential disease resistance) levels than calves nursing dams in BCS 5 or 6 (Table 1). Thin cows and those that have been fed poorly tend to produce less colostrum (which contains immunoglobulins), which results in weaker calves that are more susceptible to disease.

reproductive tract scores (RTS), and pelvic areas. We have also determined that for every oneunit increase in RTS, heifer weight increased 41 pounds. Reproductive tract scores can be used to predict the cycling status of the herd. In a study developed by Anderson et al. (1991), heifers are assigned a score of 1 to 5 based on the diameter of the uterine horns at the external bifurcation and structures present on the ovaries. A score of 1 is equivalent to an infantile tract, and a score of 5 is indicative of both a uterus with a large diameter (> 25 mm) and an ovary containing a CL. Because heifers with a RTS of 4 and 5 are cycling, synchronized pregnancy rates and estrous response from these heifers are

Table 1. Effect of cow condition at calving on calf serum immunoglobulin levela

Cow body condition score Item


IgMb, mg/dL


IgGc, mg/dL


Adapted from Odde, 1997. Immunoglobulin M c Immunoglobulin G











Replacement heifers are often neglected or fed maintenance diets throughout the development period resulting in a vast majority of heifers that are not cycling at the initiation of the breeding season, especially when estrous synchronization is used. Table 2 demonstrates the importance of knowing the RTS of heifers at least 45 days prior to the breeding season. That way nutrition can be manipulated to ensure that heifers are cycling prior to the breeding season. Adjusting the feeding regimen will result in an increased pregnancy rate and a greater majority of heifers pregnant at the beginning of the breeding season. When heifers are restricted of energy intake their estrous cycles cease. Obviously heifers that are severely energy restricted stop cycling faster than heifers


Nutrition and Heifer Development Age and weight are the two primary factors that determine when a heifer reaches puberty (Lynch et al., 1997). A greater percentage of heavy weight heifers attain puberty prior to the onset of breeding season compared to lightweight heifers. Although age may be unknown in many management settings heavier heifers tend to have attained puberty, whereas lighter-weight heifers tended to have underdeveloped reproductive tracts. At several stages of heifer development we have determined that weight is correlated to artificial insemination pregnancy rates, overall pregnancy rates,

to achieve acceptable pregnancy rates at the beginning of the breeding season is for 50% of the heifers to have a RTS of 4 or 5 at the initiation of the breeding season (Patterson et al., 2000).

Table 2. Synchronized pregnancy rates and reproductive tract scores in heifers synchronized with Prostaglandin F2Îą and GnRH

Treatment Item





No. of heifers 173 172 169 514 - -----------------------------------no. (%)---------------------------------------





6/55 (10.9)

9/53 (17.0)

15/161 (9.3)x


12/72 (16.7)

12/71 (16.9)

21/73 (28.8)

45/216 (20.8)y




17/38 (44.7)

12/35 (34.3)

35/111 (31.5)z




3/8 (37.5)

1/8 (12.5)

8/26 (30.8)yz

Percentages within a column lacking a common superscript differ (P < 0.01).


greater than their non-cycling (RTS 1 to 3) contemporaries (Anderson et al, 1991; Patterson et al., 2000). A reliable benchmark

that are mildly energy restricted (Cassady et al., 2009). However, the condition in which cows are prior to energy restriction dictates NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


how fast they become anestrus. Estrous cyclicity ceased for well conditioned heifers (FAT; BCS = ± 7) or moderately conditioned heifers ( MOD; BCS = ± 5) after 156 d or 66 d of energy restriction (Table 3). The BCS when these heifers became anestrus was approximately 3.

nutritional status and reproductive performance in cattle. The general belief is that cows maintained on an increasing plane of nutrition prior to parturition usually have a shorter postpartum interval to their first ovulation than cows on a decreasing plane of nutrition.

Table 3. Body weight, body condition score, and days to onset of anestrus and estrous for heifers in fat (FAT) or moderate (MOD) condition in response to energy restriction and repletion at various stages

Determination Preliminary weight

BW, lbs BCS Days FAT MOD FAT MOD FAT MOD 1001y 950y

Restriction phase Initiation of restriction 1133y 935z 7.1y 5.0z Onset of anestrus 836y 779y 3.3y 3.1y 156y 67z Repletion phase Initiation of repletion 836y 770y 3.0y 3.2y Onset of estrus 1129y 1001z 6.0y 5.2z 79y 68y Within a row, means lacking a common superscript differ (P < .05).


Although well conditioned heifers took longer to achieve anestrus after energy restriction, a disadvantage was after adjusting the diets to reinitiate estrous cycles again. Well conditioned heifers were required to be in greater condition after calving. Therefore, the perception of these heifers was to have a “normal” condition at greater condition than those heifers maintained at a BCS of 5. Other disadvantages of feeding heifers to have excess fat are that they have a decrease in subsequent milk production, a potential for increased calving difficulty and pregnancy rates do tend to decline. Therefore, for producers who remove heifers from feedlots to utilize as replacements need to realize the long-term effects of excessive feed on reproductive efficiency.

Prepartum nutrition in cows Several studies have reported the relationship between 38 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

Energy restriction during the prepartum period results in thin body condition at calving, prolonged postpartum anestrus, and a decrease in the percentage of cows exhibiting estrus during the breeding season. Pregnancy rates and intervals from parturition to pregnancy also are affected by level of prepartum energy. Some experts have suggested that when prepartum nutrient restriction is followed by increased postpartum nutrient intake, the negative effect of prepartum

nutrient restriction may be overcome partially. However, the effectiveness of elevated postpartum nutrient intake may depend on the severity of prepartum nutrient restriction (Lalman et al., 1997). This conclusion concurred with that of Perry et al. (1991) in which prepartum nutrient restriction resulted in 1.8 units loss in BCS during a 90-d prepartum period. Enhanced energy in the postpartum diet reduced, but did not completely abolish, the negative effects of prepartum energy restriction on postpartum anestrus. Table 4 demonstrates the importance of prepartum nutrition on return to estrous cycles in suckled beef cows (Spitzer et al., 1995). At the initiation of the breeding season cows calving in good condition had a numerical increase in the percentage cyclicity, but after a 60-day breeding season cows in good condition had greater cyclicity rates. A general rule of thumb is that cows calving in poor condition have longer intervals before resuming their estrous cycles than cows calving in good condition (i.e. BCS 5 or greater). Remember, for cows to calve on a yearly interval they are to conceive within 83 days after calving; therefore, if cows only reinitiate there estrous cycles at 70 to 90 days postcalving the possibility of a yearly calving interval is vastly reduced.

Table 4. Effect of body condition score and postpartum weight gain on cyclicitya

Percent cycling by indicated days of the breeding season

Item 0 20 40 60 BCS 4 32 42 56x 74x 5 42 54 80y 90y 6 49 63 98z 98y PP weight gain Moderate 34x 41x 69x 79x High 48y 65y 86y 96y a

Adapted from Spitzer et al., 1995. Means within column, within item, lacking a common superscript differ (P < 0.05).




The impact of prepartum nutrition on fetal development The concept of fetal programming, also known as developmental programming, can result from a negative nutrient environment, which can be caused by 1) breeding of young dams who compete for nutrients with rapidly growing fetal systems; 2) increased incidences of multiple fetuses or large litters; 3) selection for increased milk production, which competes for nutrients with increased energy demand from fetal and placental growth; or 4) breeding of livestock during high environmental temperatures and pregnancy occurring during periods of poor pasture conditions (Wu et al., 2006; Reynolds et al., 2010). Studies have reported instances of compromised maternal nutrition during gestation resulting in increased neonatal mortality, intestinal and respiratory dysfunction, metabolic disorders, decreased postnatal growth rates, and reduced meat quality (Wu et al., 2006). Proper management of cow nutrition during gestation can improve progeny performance (including reproductive performance) and health.

weaning weights, prebreeding weight, weight at pregnancy diagnosis, and improved pregnancy rates compared to heifers from nonsupplemented dams. Funston et al. (2010), using the same cow herd, offered a distillers based supplement (28% CP, DM basis) 3 times weekly at the equivalent of 1.0 lb/day, or no supplement during late gestation as cows grazed either dormant Sandhills range or corn crop residue. They reported a decreased age at puberty for heifers from protein supplemented cows and a trend (P = 0.13) for greater pregnancy rates when compared to heifers from nonsupplemented dams, possibly related to decreased age at puberty. Similarly, Corah

et al. (1975) reported heifers born to primiparous heifers fed 100% of their dietary energy requirement during the last 90 days of gestation were pubertal 19 days earlier than heifers born to primiparous heifers fed 65% of their dietary energy requirement. In addition, no differences in heifer weight at prebreeding and no differences in calf birth weight, calf production, or second calf rebreeding when comparing heifer progeny from supplemented and nonsupplemented cows were reported. Gunn et al. (1995) reported a decrease in the proportion of singleton, and an increase in the proportion of multiple births

The effect of late gestation protein supplementation on heifer progeny performance was reported by Martin et al. (2007). With cows grazing dormant Sandhills range during late gestation a group received a 42% CP (DM basis) cube offered 3 times weekly at the equivalent of 1.0 lb/day while another group received no supplement. Calf birth weight between heifer progeny from supplemented and nonsupplemented dams was not different; however, heifer progeny from supplemented cows had increased adjusted 205 day



excess of 1 kg/d while consuming an 85% concentrate diet do not resume cyclic ovarian activity before 70 days postpartum.

What can a producer do to manage nutrition to ensure reproductive performance in beef cattle?

over three parities in progeny born to ewes offered a protein supplement while grazing native pastures during the last 100 days of gestation compared to progeny from nonsupplemented ewes. Late gestation supplementation did not alter the proportion of barren ewe progeny (Gunn et al., 1995). Martin et al. (2007) reported a 28% increase in the proportion of heifers calving in the first 21 days of the calving season from protein supplemented dams compared to heifers from nonsupplemented dams. Pryce et al. (2002) reported no difference in progeny heifer reproductive performance when considering dairy cow maternal nutritional status, determined by BCS, DMI, and milk yield of fat and protein. Therefore, management of maternal diet beginning during early gestation will ensure proper placental programming resulting in adequate nutrient transfer to the fetus. Maternal nutrition later in gestation has been reported to 40 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN

influence fetal organ development, muscle development, postnatal calf performance, carcass characteristics, and reproduction. Although the mechanisms by which placental and fetal programming occur are not clear, managing resources to ensure proper cow nutrient intake during critical points of gestation can improve calf performance and health.

Postpartum nutrition in cows Numerous studies document that increasing nutritional levels following parturition increases conception and pregnancy rates in beef cows (Wiltbank et al., 1962; Whitman, 1975). Increasing the dietary energy density increases weight and condition score, in the process decreasing the postpartum interval to first estrus (Lalman et al., 1997). However, few cows fed a high energy diet resume normal estrous cycles by 90 d postpartum. Similarly, suckled beef cows gaining in

A major impact on postpartum fertility is the length of the breeding season. Having a restricted breeding season has many advantages, such as a more uniform, older calf crop, but most importantly a reduced breeding season (60 days or less) increases the percentage of females cycling during the next breeding season. If the breeding season is shortened, then all cows have a high probability for pregnancy at the beginning of the next breeding season. Any cow that becomes pregnant after 83 days in a long breeding season will not have calved by the time the next breeding season starts. In heifers, remember that age and weight dictate the pubertal status of the replacement heifer. Ensure that replacements are approximately 60 to 65% of their mature weight at the initiation of the breeding season. Strategic feeding to obtain ideal condition scores can be achieved by understanding the production cycle of the cow. Shortly after weaning, beef cows should be in mid gestation. This is the period at which producers can manipulate the diet to either increase or decrease a cowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s condition. At this point, cows require very little in terms of nutrients to maintain their metabolism. If Continued on page 42 SPRING


Continued from page 40 cows are in poor condition there is no better stage to adjust a cowâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feed regimen to increase her condition. The period of greatest nutritional need is shortly after calving. A cow is required to produce milk for a growing calf; she must regain any weight lost shortly before and after parturition and finally repair her reproductive tract in order to become pregnant within three months after birth. During this stage a cow usually is consuming as much feed as she can to support herself. Adjusting condition at this stage is often difficult, but producers should be sure to meet the nutritional needs of the cow during this stage of their production cycle.


Finally, BCS should be an essential management tool in every cattlemenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s philosophy. This is a simple procedure which, if used correctly, can ensure the management of a successful beef cow-calf operation. However, manipulating the diet is pointless if the diet composition is unknown. Producers should request feed analyses from their feed companies and analyze their own forage stores. Without knowing diet composition, adjusting BCS is not as simple.

Conclusion Our primary objective, as beef cattle producers, is to produce one live calf from every cow once a year. Many factors account for the failure of cows to maintain

that yearly calving interval. The nutrition/reproduction interaction is a complex system involving many interactions between nutritional components and physiological signals, but is still the most responsible interaction for the equilibrium between feeding cows sufficiently to conceive and maintaining that pregnancy until term without utilizing excess resources that eliminate potential profits. Every producer experiences different challenges in an attempt to optimize profitability of their herds, yet without a full appreciation of the delicate balance between nutrition and reproduction many operations fail to achieve optimal production from their cows.



LITERATURE CITED Anderson, K. J., D. G. LeFever, J. S. Brinks, and K. G. Odde. 1991. The use of reproductive tract scoring in beef heifers. Agri-Practice 12:19-26. Cassady, J. M., T. Maddock, A. DiCostanzo, and G. C. Lamb. 2009. Body composition and estrous cyclicity responses of heifers of distinct body conditions to energy restriction and repletion. J. Anim. Sci. 87:2255-2261. Corah, L. R., T. G. Dunn, and C. C. Kaltenbach. 1975. Influence of prepartum nutrition on the reproductive performance of beef females and the performance of their progeny. J. Anim. Sci. 41:819â&#x20AC;&#x201C;824. Funston, R. N., J. L. Martin, D. C. Adams, and D. M. Larson. 2010. Winter grazing system and supplementation of beef cows during late gestation influence heifer progeny. J. Anim. Sci. 88: 4094-4101. Gunn, R. G., D. A. Sim, and E. A. Hunter. 1995. Effects of nutrition in utero and in early life on the subsequent lifetime reproductive performance of Scottish Blackface ewes in two management systems. Anim. Sci. 60:223230. Lalman, D. L., D. H. Keisler, J. E. Williams, E. J. Scholljegerdes, and D. M. Mallet. 1997. Influence of postpartum weight and body condition change on duration of anestrus by undernourished suckled beef heifers. J. Anim. Sci. 75:2003-2008. Lynch, J. M., G. C. Lamb, B. L. Miller, R. T. Brandt Jr., R. C. Cochran, and J. E. M inton. 1997. Influence of timing of gain on growth and reproductive performance of beef replacement heifers. J. Anim. Sci. 75:1715-1722. Martin, J. L., K.A. Vonnahme, D. C. Adams, G. P. Lardy, and R. N Funston. 2007. Effects of dam nutrition on growth and reproductive performance of heifer calves. J. Anim. Sci. 85:841-847. Patterson, D. J., S. L. Wood, and R. F. Randle. 2000. Procedures that support reproductive management of replacement beef heifers. Proc. Am.Soc. Anim. Sci., 1999. Available at: proceedings/0902.pdf. Accessed December 17, 2001.

Perry, R. C., L. R. Corah, R. C. Cochran, W. E. Beal, J. S. Stevenson, J. E. Minton, D. D. Simms, and J. R. Brethour. 1991. Influence of dietary energy on follicular development, serum gonadotropins, and first postpartum ovulation in suckled beef cows. J. Anim. Sci. 69:37623773. Pryce, J. E., G. Simm, and J. J. Robinson. 2002. Effects of selection for production and maternal diet on maiden dairy heifer fertility. Anim. Sci. 74:415-421. Reynolds, L. P., P. P. Borowicz, J. S. Caton, K. A. Vonnahme, J. S. Luther, C. J. Hammer, K. R. Maddock Carlin, A. T. Grazul-Bilska, and D. A. Redmer. 2010. Developmental programming: The concept, large animal models, and the key role of uteroplacental vascular development. J. Anim. Sci. 88(E. Suppl.): E61- E72. Short, R. E., and D. C. Adams. 1988. Nutritional and hormonal interrelationships in beef cattle reproduction. Can. J. Anim. Sci. 68:29-39. Spitzer, J. C., D. G. Morrison, R. P. Wetteman, and L. C. Faulkner. 1995. Reproductive responses and calf birth and weaning weights as affected by body condition at parturition and postpartum weight gain in primiparous beef cows. J. Anim. Sci. 73:1251-1257. Wetteman, R. P., K. S. Lusby, J. C. Garmendia, M. W. Richards, G. E. Selk, and R. J. Rasby. 1986. Nutrition, body condition and reproductive performance of first calf heifers. J. Anim. Sci. 63(Suppl. 1):61(Abstr.). Whitman, R. W. 1975. Weight change, body condition and beef-cow reproduction. Ph.D. Dissertation. Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins. Wiltbank, J. N., W. W. Rowden, J. E. Ingalls, K. E. Gregory, and R. M. Koch. 1962. Effect of energy level on reproductive phenomena of mature Hereford cows. J. Anim. Sci. 21:219-225. Wu, G., F. W. Bazer, J. M. Wallace, and T. E. Spencer. 2006. Board invited review. Intrauterine growth retardation: Implications for the animal sciences. J. Anim. Sci. 84:2316â&#x20AC;&#x201C;2337.



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Let us prove it. A

fourth-generationcattle cattleproducer, producer, I believe must work together and stand ss aa fourth-generation I believe we we must work together and stand toughtough if we if we want a thriving business for the next generation. We are most effective as a group, so want a thriving business for the next generation. We are most effective as a group, so I urge you Itourge you to become a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. become a member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. NCBA works for its members. Members determine the policy priorities for the year and staff

NCBA works for work its members. Members the policy priorities the year and ifstaff and a and leadership to achieve those determine goals throughout the year. It for doesn’t matter you’re leadership work to achieve those goals throughout the year. It doesn’t matter if you’re a big operation big operation or have a smaller heard, a cow-calf producer, stocker operation or cattle feeder. or havematters a smaller a cow-calf producer, stocker or cattle feeder. What matters What is heard, that collectively, we have all typesoperation of operations represented within ouris that collectively, we have all types of operations represented within our NCBA membership. Diversity is NCBA membership. Diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Together we are better because one of our greatest strengths. Together we are better because of what each of us do well.

of what each of us does well.

Join let’s keep ourour industry strong. Joinme measasaamember memberand and let’s keep industry strong.

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Obama Uses Antiquities Act to Lock off Additional 1.8 Million Acres

For the 22nd time in his Obama Administration, President the has improperly leveraged to lock up Antiquities Act of 1906 American millions of acres of the West. the In a press release touting Snow designation of Sand to Trails National Monument, Mojave Castle National Monument, and —a Mountains National Monument — USDA total of 1.8 million acres celebrated this Administration’s of prowess for these types locked off 265 designations that have seven years million acres in the last economic review, without any formal analysis, or public comment. “This president has misused power and abused his executive predecessors more than any of his from his in an attempt to distract which true environmental legacy and will be one of mismanagement rural in undue economic hardship participants that Richards, frequently hear from our and communities,” said Brenda our sessions allow highlighted by a very successful which the ideas they take from President. College Public Lands Council improvements to educational Cattlemen’s out them to make significant Nearly 1,000 As President Obama closes herds at home.” opened the week’s events. the management of their last-minute to hear Convention his final term, a rash of participants had the opportunity The 2016 Cattle Industry 10 of speakers designations totaling nearly from an outstanding line-up packed full of world-class like Oregon, ideas that can be was the week million acres in states who provided real-world entertainment throughout heard from Arizona and Utah is expected. of implemented on the ranch. and cattlemen and women this abuse Cattlemen’s Robert Irvine Congress must rein in “One of the hallmarks of celebrity guests like chef ensure the attendees are Robert O’Neill the Antiquities Act and College is the fact that and former Navy SEAL whenever ideas back by country American public is engaged able to take some of the as well as a finale headlined makes quickly make the federal government Martina McBride on Friday to their operations and legend music impact such to their bottomsweeping decisions that improvements that add night. executive Continued on page 4 large areas of land. line,” said Josh White, NCBA “We “Here we are again discussing director, producer education. a law the President’s abuse of or intended to protect objects said artifacts, not large landscapes,” President Tracy Brunner, NCBA “When and Kansas cattleman. take place, designations like these implementing existing areas of concern including membership multiple use and valid greater After hearing concerns from lose. If this a delay between trading actions, a working rights like grazing always spoofing, nationwide, NCBA has instituted this land is enforcement against market to address Administration believes of market misuse, group with the CME Group they should monitoring and reporting Working in need of protection, data. volatility in the cattle markets. democratic and the release of audit trail do so through the proper the best way to certain together as an industry is “While CME has announced of the pen that Woodall, NCBA channels, not a stroke trading resolve these issues said Colin people.” measures, the effect of automated “The affairs. bypasses the American Woodall. senior vice president of government been remains unresolved,” said have Richards added, “It’s outrageous it must also serve “Recently the cattle markets market needs liquidity, but would price moves that the Administration risk management susceptible to volatile limit the the function of a meaningful news,” said openly boast of sidestepping not leveled between without corresponding market tool. If the playing field is public under the guise decreased been and has American result traders, “The commercial Woodall. speculators, when in using the futures loses a critical of protecting these lands confidence for cattlemen producers; then our industry multipletool. This is not fact they are eroding the other changes markets as a risk protection marketing tool. Before any land to address, but an to utilize the use doctrine of the federal an issue for the government are proposed, we expect CME   by working with the actions we have management agencies.” issue the industry can resolve working group to address CME.” already suggested.” address specific NCBA has asked CME to vs. year ago) ENDING 2/13/2016 (prices MARKET SNAPSHOT WEEK OMAHA CASH CHOICE CORN LIVE FED STEERS IN THIS ISSUE BOXED BEEF SOUTH CENTRAL $3.50 2 $217.63 500-600 LB. STEERS $131.70 Leadership Comments $186.36 5% 7 9% Management 19% 29% 8 $3.68 $238.69 Federation News $161.78 16 $262.97 Market Matters

Successful San Diego Cattle Convention The 2016 Cattle Industry wrapped up and NCBA Trade Show the NCBA Board Sat., Jan 30, 2016, with than 6,700 of Directors meeting. More women traveled optimistic cattlemen and attend this year’s to San Diego, Calif., to the week, convention. Throughout policy attendees engaged in grassroots experts, and process, heard from industry tradeshow which attended the expansive of floor space covered nearly seven acres center. inside and outside the convention and was This year’s convention

• Vol. 32, No. 6 •


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A lternAtiVe CoW-CAlF ProduCtion systems:

e cONOMicS

Conventional cow-calf production systems are dependent on forage resources for grazing or hay production. If such traditional forages become limited or unavailable, other feedstuffs must be utilized to maintain the beef cow-calf enterprise in an intensively managed (confinement) system. While grain commodity prices have fluctuated recently, many dynamics have increased land values and initiated the conversion of traditional forage acres to grain crop production, particularly throughout the Midwest and Northern Great Plains. Although traditional forage production in these regions has decreased, the availability of alternative forage in the form of corn residue is growing as a result of increased corn production. Therefore, corn residues represent a valuable forage resource for beef cattle production systems in areas where grain production is abundant. Our objectives with this report are to review the changes in cattle inventory, land use trends and forage production, present the composition and nutritional value of corn residue, and discuss the utilization of residues in intensified cow-calf systems using either grazing or harvesting.

Cattle inventory

Rick Rasby, Professor of Animal Science and Jason Warner, Graduate Student, Department of Animal Science, University of Nebraska, Lincoln

2016_Directions-Spring.indd 47

There has been much discussion within the industry regarding the declining cattle inventory. Clearly, cattle inventories have decreased over time for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that the industry has become more efficient with fewer animals. Regardless, many have questioned what the long-term implications will be if the cattle industry continues to downsize. While the NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


4/7/2016 9:05:23 AM

total U.S. beef cow inventory has declined by about 15 million head since 1975, cow numbers actually increased by approximately 650,000 head or 2% nationwide from 2014 to 2015 (USDA, 2015). This small increase is likely due to increased heifer retention and decreased beef cow harvest, permitted by favorable weather conditions. However, changes in beef cow inventories appear to be region-specific and influenced to an extent by land use practices. For example, the U.S. beef cow herd shrunk by about 2.4 million head between 2006 and 2011 (MacDonald et al., 2014). Interestingly, nearly 50% of that inventory reduction occurred in the Midwest and Northern Great Plains states, including Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota, and others farther north and east. This implies that traditional forage resources necessary for cow-calf production may be changing in areas which favor grain crop production.


Land use trends, economics and forage production Although grain prices have fluctuated during the past 2-3 years, corn and soybean prices have generally been high over the last decade as a result of demand from the biofuel industry (Wright and Wimberly, 2013). Corn prices essentially doubled from 2006 to 2011. This has prompted an accelerated conversion of grassland to cropland throughout the major corn production areas of the United States. As reported by Wright and Wimberly (2013), grassland transformation to crop production between 2006 and 2011 was primarily in the eastern half of North and South Dakota with similar grassland conversion patterns observed in Nebraska. However, South Dakota and Iowa contained areas with the highest concentration of land use change from grassland to corn/soybean production, with 451,000 and

376,000 acres converted in those states, respectively. The total net decrease in grassland during this time period was over 1.3 million acres in the entire region (North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Iowa). On an annual basis, conversion rates averaged between 1 and 5.4% per year. In addition to elevated crop prices, risk management programs such as federal crop insurance and disaster relief may also encourage producers to convert grassland to cropland. In many instances, once grasslands are tilled for crop production, they may never be reestablished for pasture or hay production, particularly if fences and watering sources are removed. As economic fundamentals work, a shortage of pasture and land for hay production leads to increased prices during periods of high demand. Low cattle inventories have led to record high cattle prices resulting in increased demand for pasture and other grasslands, particularly now as interest in expanding the cowherd has grown due to improved moisture conditions in most cow-calf production areas. Pasture rental rates in Nebraska have increased by approximately 40% on average from 2006 to 2012 (MacDonald et al., 2014). In 2014, pasture rental rates ($ per cow-calf pair per month) averaged $46 across all regions of Nebraska (range of $32 to $60) (Jansen and Wilson, 2014). The average value of tillable and non-tillable grazing land in Nebraska increased by 14 and 24%, respectively, between 2013 and 2014 (Jansen and Wilson, 2014). The same trend of increasing pasture prices can be found in other states as well. A 2015 Iowa survey demonstrated pasture rental fees averaged $22 per AUM or $34 per pair per month, up from $10.70 per AUM in 2005 (Plastina et al., 2015). In South Dakota, SPRING


cash rental rates for pasture/ rangeland have increased between 35 and 64% depending on region between 2009 and 2014 (Janssen et al., 2014). While surveys only represent what is reported by participants, these data provide evidence that pasture rental fees have strengthened in areas where pasture acreage has decreased. On a national basis, total acreage harvested for all hay production decreased about 4.5 million acres from 2005 to 2015 (USDA, NASS). During the same time period, total hay production in the U.S. decreased 10.7 million tons. The national average price for all hay increased approximately 85% ($96 to $178/ton) during the last decade (USDA, NASS). In Nebraska, total hay production declined about 900,000 tons from 2002 to 2012. In Iowa and South Dakota, total hay production has decreased 2.26 and 1.77 million tons, respectively, from 2002 to 2012. Regarding only alfalfa hay, total acres harvested in the U.S. declined 3.9 million acres, while alfalfa hay

production decreased 14 million tons (USDA, NASS). However, over the same decade, U.S. corn production increased 1.7 billion bu, and area harvested grew by 19.2 million acres. This increase in corn production (1.7 billion bu) equates to 26 billion lb (DM) of residue produced. These changes in hay and corn grain production over time reflect the conversion of grassland to cropland in certain areas and validate that traditional forage resources (pasture, hay land) are diminishing while forage derived from crop residue is expanding. As corn and residue production continues to increase, the possibility of removing a portion of the residue for forage becomes more evident because high amounts of residue can impede crop establishment in high production areas (Wienhold et al., 2013).

Corn residue composition and quality Digestibility of corn residue varies by individual plant part and the proportion of parts within

the entire plant differs as well. Thus, quality of either grazed or harvested residue is ultimately a function of which parts of the corn plant are consumed. Previous (Fernandez-Rivera and Klopfenstein, 1989; GutierrezOrnelas and Klopfenstein, 1991) and more recent data (Wilson et al., 2004; McGee et al., 2012) have demonstrated these differences. As reported by McGee et al. (2012), the husk is the most digestible component of residue followed by the leaf blade and leaf sheath (Table 1). Observations indicate that these portions of the plant are also apparently palatable and consumed first by cattle. Digestibility of the stem and cob are relatively poor. As a percentage of the total plant (DM), the stem comprises the greatest proportion followed by the leaf, cob, and leaf sheath (Table 1). Husks are produced in smaller proportions, although it is the most digestible component of the corn plant aside from the grain. Additional data suggest an average of 15.5 lb of leaf and husk



Table 1. Plant part IVDMD, % of total plant DM, and lb DM/bu grain1.

Plant Part IVDMD, % SEM % of Plant DM SEM lb/bu2 SEM Top 1/3 stalk 37.57 0.80 3.60 0.001 1.21 0.06 Bottom 2/3 stalk 33.85 1.74 41.83 0.007 14.12 0.60 Leaf 45.70 0.74 18.72 0.003 6.30 0.25 Leaf sheath 38.56 0.71 12.60 0.004 4.23 0.15 Husk 59.03 0.76 7.48 0.002 2.51 0.08 Shank 49.75 1.16 1.09 0.001 0.37 0.03 Cob 34.94 0.68 14.68 0.003 4.93 0.11 Adapted from McGee et al., 2012. 15.5% moisture corn grain.

1 2

are produced per bushel of grain yield (range = 13.1 to 19.4 lb) (Musgrave et al., 2011). Certainly there is variation, but if cattle graze with 50% efficiency, then 8 lb (DM) of leaf and husk available for grazing per bushel of yield is a sound estimate for stocking rate. Another factor contributing to corn residue quality is the amount of residual grain remaining after harvest. Gutierrez-Ornelas and Klopfenstein (1991) reported 2 to 8% residual grain left in the field. This amount has likely declined to approximately 1.0 to 1.5% with improvements in harvesting efficiency, and hybrid resistance to diseases and insects. Down corn is typically an issue only in


fields that have experienced wind or hail damage.

Grazing corn residue Provided winter weather is favorable, grazing is typically the most economical method of utilizing corn residues by beef cattle (Ward, 1978). During periods of dry weather, the grazing period may last 120 to 150 days throughout the fall and winter, which could represent significant savings over feeding harvested forages to meet the nutrient requirements of the cowherd. Certainly, there is always risk with grazing cornstalks as snow cover or moisture may require supplemental hay feeding or

premature removal of cattle from fields. As noted by Ward (1978) it is critical for producers to have an emergency feed supply, such as hay, available if needed. Along with weather conditions, other factors such as the proximity of cowherds to cornfields, fencing, water, labor, and the willingness of producers to rent cornfields can also influence the economics of cornstalk grazing. Being near cornfields and therefore having less expense associated with transporting cattle would be an advantage for an intensively managed cowherd located in the corn belt region. Aside from weather and logistics, determining an appropriate stocking rate is the most critical aspect of a residue grazing program, because it influences both animal performance and the amount of residue remaining in the field after grazing. Stocking rate impacts the quantity of residue available for grazing per animal (Wilson et al., 2004). Consequently, the amount of higher quality plant parts (husk, leaf) available for grazing will be influenced by stocking rate which ultimately dictates overall diet quality. Cows grazing cornstalks at a high stocking rate either lost or maintained body condition score (BCS), while those grazing at a lower stocking rate maintained body condition (McGee et al., 2013). Similar results were reported by Gigax et al. (2011) with pregnant cows or heifers, suggesting that performance generally increases as stocking rate decreases. This is because cattle have selective grazing patterns and will prefer to consume grain first, followed by husks and leaves and will only eat cobs and stem if forced. Digestibility of residue fields decreases throughout the grazing SPRING


season due to initial consumption of the higher quality plant parts, trampling, and other losses. Residue digestibility decreases at a greater rate as stocking rate increases (Wilson et al., 2004). As discussed by Wilson et al. (2004), this concept demonstrates how corn residue differs from other grazed forages. While the quality of native grasses declines throughout the grazing season, digestibility of individual residue components does not change over time, although quality of the entire field does change for the aforementioned reasons. Further, all of the forage is available at the beginning of grazing; there is no additional forage growth throughout the season. Corn residue (husk and leaf) yield is directly related to grain yield. Experiments conducted by UNL researchers have demonstrated approximately 8 lb (DM) of leaf and husk available for consumption is produced per bushel of grain yield (Musgrave et al., 2011; McGee et al., 2012). Given a grain yield of 150 bushels per acre, one acre of residue could maintain one 1,200 lb cow for about 50 days or one 550 lb calf for approximately 110 days. For every bushel of corn grain produced, there are approximately 45 lb (DM) of total residue and 16 lb (DM) of leaf and husk produced. We recommend stocking at a rate to remove only 8 lb (DM) of leaf and husk. Therefore, if stocking rate is appropriate, less than 12% of the total residue is removed by grazing if the digestibility of the leaf and husk is 55-60%.

Concerns regarding soil compaction when the ground is thawed and wet, nutrient removal, and disappearance of ground cover are all common issues. Ten years of data from an irrigated field managed in a corn/soybean annual rotation in eastern Nebraska indicated no difference in subsequent corn yield when residue is not grazed or grazed in either the fall/winter or spring (Drewnoski et al., 2015). Soybean yields from the same field were improved by grazing corn residue the previous fall, but were not different if residue was grazed in spring or not grazed. Additional data collected from an irrigated field maintained in continuous corn production in western Nebraska show no difference in yield between not grazing or grazing residue the previous fall (Drewnoski et al., 2015). Whether or not a protein and/or energy supplement is necessary for cows grazing cornstalk residue will depend on stage of production, cow age, BCS, and stocking rate. A 1,200 lb spring-

calving cow grazing cornstalks during mid- to late-gestation has a CP requirement of 6.0 to 7.5% and a TDN requirement of 45 to 56% (DM) (NRC, 1996). Crude protein values for cornstalk residue have been reported from 2.2 to 7.8% (Wilson et al., 2004), with IVDMD values of 33 to 59% depending on plant part (McGee et al., 2012). Therefore, the ability of residue to meet the protein and energy requirements of gestating cows will be influenced largely by stocking rate because of its influence on the proportion of plant parts consumed. In a large study conducted over several years, supplementing gestating spring-calving cows grazing irrigated cornstalks with a dried distillers grain based cube did not influence cow BW, although BCS at calving was greater for supplemented cows (5.6 vs. 5.4, P = 0.02) (Warner et al., 2011). However, supplementation did not impact the percentage of females cycling prior to breeding, pregnancy rates, or calf weaning weights. Cows in this study were â&#x2030;Ľ 3 years of age, were in adequate BCS (â&#x2030;Ľ 5.0) prior to

Some producers remain apprehensive that grazing corn residue will negatively impact subsequent crop yields, which is certainly a reason why some residue fields go unutilized.

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cornstalk grazing, and stocking rate was assigned such that cows only consumed leaves and husks. Similar results were reported by Larson et al. (2009) with 3-5 year old spring-calving cows suggesting that cornstalk residue may be of sufficient quality for mature, gestating cows in adequate BCS that graze at an appropriate stocking rate.

Table 2. Ingredient and nutrient composition of diets fed to cow-calf pairs in drylot by location1

Location Ingredient, %



Modified wet distillers grains plus solubles 55.0 --- 58.0 Wet distillers grains plus solubles Wheat straw 40.0 40.0 Supplement2 5.0 2.0 Dry Matter Intake, lb per pair per d 27.6 27.3 Calculated Composition DM, % 62.4 47.0 CP, % 19.3 18.8 TDN, % 79.1 81.0 NDF, % 54.0 54.9 ADF, % 31.0 21.6 Ca, % 0.79 0.77

Cows that have lost BW and BCS during summer and enter the fall cornstalk grazing period in a negative plane of nutrition will likely require supplementation to P, % 0.52 0.49 1 regain condition prior to calving. All values presented on a DM basis. 2 Initiating a supplementation Supplements included limestone, trace minerals, and vitamin A,D,E premix. program 90 to 120 days precalving allows adequate time for Table 3. Supplement fed to cow-calf pairs on cornstalks1, 2, 3 body condition to be regained at Ingredient Percent less expense as opposed to waiting Dried distillers grains plus solubles 64.51 until the beginning of calving Limestone 3.50 when nutrient requirements Pelleting binder (urea formaldehyde polymer and calcium sulfate) 1.88 greatly increase. Pregnant Vitamin A,D,E 0.11 heifers grazing cornstalks will 1 also require supplementation All values presented on a DM basis. 2 Fed at 5.2 lb per pair per d (DM). to enable females to continue 3 Trace mineral supplement top-dressed at time of feeding. to grow and develop prior to having their first calf. Summer pregnancy rates were adequate (â&#x2030;Ľ (Table 3). Within each location, or fall-calving cows that graze 90%) among treatments, cows at all calves were weaned on a cornstalks with calves at side ARDC lost BW and BCS (Table common date at the end of the will require supplementation 4) while grazing cornstalks. At cornstalk grazing period. Although because of increased nutrient demand for lactation. Table 4. Performance of cows by location and wintering system This is an area UNL is currently ARDC1 PHREC2 3 4 3 researching because DL SEM P - value CS DL4 SEM P - value Item CS incorporating winter Cow BW, lb cornstalk grazing Initial 1222 1217 80 0.83 1257 1247 137 0.69 Ending 1125 1339 64 0.03 1271 1307 145 0.34 into an intensive cow management Cow BW change, lb -97 122 28 <0.01 14 61 8 0.03 system appears to be economical. In this Cow BCS5 study, summer-born Initial 5.6 5.6 0.4 0.88 5.3 5.3 0.5 0.87 Ending 4.6 6.0 0.2 <0.01 5.2 5.4 0.6 0.63 cow-calf pairs either remained in drylot Cow BCS change5 -1.0 0.5 0.2 <0.01 -0.1 0.2 0.1 0.34 pens and were limit1 ARDC = Agricultural Research and Development Center. fed a complete diet 2 PHREC = Panhandle Research and Extension Center. (Table 2), 3 CS = pairs wintered on cornstalks. or grazed winter 4 DL = pairs wintered in drylot. cornstalks with 5 BCS on a 1 (emaciated) to 9 (obese) scale. supplementation 52 NATIONAL CATTLEMEN



ARDC, calf ADG was Table 5. Performance of calves by location and wintering system greater for calves that ARDC1 PHREC2 remained in drylot Item CS3 DL4 SEM P-value CS3 DL4 SEM P-value pens (Table 5). 5 Initial age, d 111 118 -- -- 139 140 -- -In previous work Ending age, d6 278 285 -- -- 267 268 -- -(Griffin et al., 2010), lactating AugustCalf BW, lb calving cows grazing Initial 319 320 9 0.93 306 312 22 0.27 cornstalks lost about Ending 558 672 19 0.02 525 512 45 0.57 150 lb and 1.0 BCS Calf ADG, lb 1.44 2.13 0.09 <0.01 1.62 1.49 0.18 0.50 unit during winter while receiving BW•d•age, lb7 2.01 2.36 0.07 0.04 1.96 1.91 0.16 0.64 1.0 lb (DM) per 1 ARDC = Agricultural Research and Development Center. pair daily of a 28% 2 PHREC = Panhandle Research and Extension Center. CP supplement, 3 indicating additional CS = pairs wintered on cornstalks. 4 DL = pairs wintered in drylot. energy and protein 5 Initial age = age at initiation of cornstalk grazing period. may be necessary 6 Ending age = age at collecting weights following weaning. for cows to maintain 7 Weight per d of age at collecting weights following weaning. BW and BCS. Weaned calves grazing cornstalks forages (wheat, rye, triticale, from erosion and provides soil also require protein nutrients for future crops, so brassicas) can be seeded into corn supplementation to achieve maintaining a balance between silage ground after harvest and acceptable BW gains. removing residue for forage and grazed in either fall or spring leaving an amount sufficient for Residue harvesting provided adequate forage growth soil health and productivity is is achieved (Drewnoski, 2014). methods important. Currently, commercial Alternative crops following Essential for an intensively equipment manufacturers silage harvest will produce high managed cow-calf system is an are researching new residue quality forage (≥ 65% TDN) which economical source of forage when harvesting technologies, with the can complement the nutrient cows are being fed a complete main objective being to alter the requirements of summer/fallmixed diet. Aside from the proportion of plant parts in the calving cows or weaned calves. opportunity to graze corn residue finished bale. Preliminary data These crops can also help extend following harvest, increased (Updike et al., 2015) indicate both the grazing season earlier in the corn production also allows for yield of harvested residue per fall or later into the spring beyond residue to be harvested as either acre and digestibility of the bale that normally provided by grazing silage or baled cornstalks. While would be influenced. Adoption corn residue. harvesting corn silage may be less of this technology may aid in common for conventional cow-calf maintaining a balance between Baling cornstalks after grain operations, it enables producers to forage quality and yield when harvest is a common method of store feed in advance of when it is harvesting baled residue. harvesting corn residue. Raking needed and provides an excellent the residue into windrows source of energy for lactating cows Alternative beef cow/ before baling results in greater or growing calves, if harvested calf systems – economics yield per acre, but reduces and stored correctly. When The University of Nebraska forage quality because a greater priced relative to corn, silage is currently engaged in proportion of stems are collected. may be competitive with other investigating alternative Conventionally raked and baled forages on a per ton DM basis options to traditional cow/calf residue removes a greater and a more economical source enterprises. The premise is to proportion of total residue of energy. Harvesting corn as research cow/calf enterprises that from the field and increases silage may also afford flexibility center around the large number soil contamination in the bale. for an integrated cow-calf/crop of corn acres that are available production system. Alternative Residue is critical for protection



in many midwestern states. In the Nebraska experiment, composite June/July calving cows were dry lotted for 365 days. Cows are limit-fed a diet of distillers grains and crop residue (either ground corn stalks or wheat straw). The limit-fed rations meet the cow’s nutrient requirements, but cows do not eat to their full capacity. The rations are about 19% Crude Protein and 80% TDN on a dry matter basis, but level of dry matter intake varied depending on stage of production. A supplement was fed that contained an ionophore. While eating these rations, cows maintained weight and body condition when they were gestating or lactating. In addition, calf performance was monitored and performance was similar to what would be expected to cow/calf pairs managed in a pasture setting. At the University there are extensive data sets on spring calving and early summer (June) calving systems to compare to the confinement system. In these systems, records were


Table 6. Base prices for economic analysis – 2013. Grass $42/mo/pair $1.40/day Cornstalk grazing $.50/day 1 Distillers grains $170/ton $.098/lb dm Hay $115/ton $.064/lb dm Baled stalks/straw $90/ton ground $.050/lb dm Labor/yardage2 $.10/d Mineral $10/yr Cow cost $250/yr Based on 107.5% of corn at $4.30/bu, 90% dm price. $.10/d for cows in conventional systems; $.20 for cows supplemented on pasture and $.45/d for cows in feedlot.

1 2

Table 7. Total costs and UCOP – 2013

GSL D/H June

D/H Conf. Supp

Conf. Stalks

Total, $ 747 730 777 1014 759 Wean, lb.

557 471 509 480 580

UCOP, $/lb. 1.34 1.55 1.53 2.11 1.31

Percentage weaned of exposed for all systems was 90%. Conf./Stalks = 6 to 7 months dry lot and 5 to 6 months corn residue grazing.

kept on days grazing vegetative and dormant pasture, days grazing corn residue, and days fed distillers grains, hay, baled residues, and supplements. The prices used for the comparison in 2013 are described in Table 6. Distillers grains and stalks/straw are the major components and

due to the drought in 2012-2013 the price of both feed ingredients are high. A different yardage was assessed for cows when they were in the dry lot, grazing stalks or pasture, or fed supplement while on pasture. The “cow cost” row in Table 6 represents all other costs in an annual cow budget and includes replacement costs. Percentage of calves weaned of females exposed was held constant across all systems at 90%. In Table 7 the confinement system is compared to three other cow/calf management systems. The June calving herd is a sandhills system that is basically pasture and protein supplement and essentially no hay. The springcalving herd is a Southeast Nebraska research herd where SPRING


cow/calf pairs graze pasture in the spring, summer, fall, then cows go to corn stalks followed by hay feeding during calving before grazing spring pasture. The other spring-calving herd is like the one described above except during the spring/summer/ early fall a distillers grains plus ground residue combination is substituted for half of the pasture consumed daily. The total confinement system breakeven (UCOP) is $0.77/lb greater than the GSL system with the UCOP for D/H systems between the total confinement and GSL systems. Currently we do not have a full production cycle on the semiconfinement system, but using our best estimates the UCOP is similar to the GSL cow/calf system. The prices of the different feeds used in the 2014 economic analysis are in Table 8. The cost of pasture increased compared to 2013 and cost of distillers and forage decreased. Cow costs increased as a result of female replacement costs being greater in 2014 compared to 2013. Yardage costs were added to each system as noted earlier. Percentage of calves weaned of females exposed was held constant across all systems at 85%. Table 9 includes total annual cow costs, weight at weaning, and base breakeven for each of the systems. Weaning weight is greater for the semiconfinement system as calves grazed with their dam while on corn residue. Annual cow costs for the more traditional springand summer-calving herds are similar and less than the total confinement system. Because of the price of distillers’ grains and residue in 2014, the spring calving system that includes feeding a ration of residue and

Table 8. Base prices for economic analysis – 2014

Grass $5/mo/pair $1.50/day Cornstalk grazing $.50/day Distillers grains1 $108/ton $.062/lb dm Hay $80/ton $.044/lb dm Baled stalks/straw $50/ton ground $.028/lb dm Labor/yardage2 $.10/day Mineral $10/year Cow cost $325/year Based on 86% of corn at $3.50/bu, 90% dm price. $.10/day for cows in conventional systems; $.20 for cows supplemented on pasture and $.45/day for cows in feedlot.

1 2

Table 9. Total costs and UCOP – 2014.

GSL D/H D/H Conf. Cont. June Supp Stalks Total, $ 830 790 791 830 786 Wean, lb. 557 500 502 486 580 UCOP1, $/lb 1.75 1.86 1.85 2.01 1.60 Percentage weaned of exposed for all systems was 85%.


distillers is the least expensive system in our comparison. Total confinement system is still the most expensive system but, due mainly to feed costs, the gap with more conventional systems narrowed when comparing 2014 to 2013. What is interesting is the semi-confinement system that includes dry lotting and grazing corn stalks is the least expensive of the systems that were compared. As mentioned, we do not have a full production cycle on the semi-confinement system, but using our best estimates the UCOP is similar to the GSL cow/ calf system.


Changes in land-use present both challenges and opportunities for the beef industry. While increasing corn production is related to the decline in traditional forage acres, residue from corn production represents a forage resource becoming more abundant. The nutritional quality of corn residue is influenced by the proportion of plant parts

consumed. Grazing cornstalks during fall/winter presents an opportunity for intensified cowcalf systems to capitalize on an economical forage and different methods for mechanically harvesting and storing residue for use in complete diets are evolving. Designing intensified cow-calf systems that are integrated with crop production will be essential for the beef industry in an era of increasing crop production. Dry lotting beef cows can and should be used as a drought mitigation strategy. The recent drop in grain and forage prices appear to make it a competitive alternative beef cow/calf system. When dry lotting cows, consider limit-fed rations because limit-fed rations will usually be cheaper than fullfed rations. Remember, limitfed rations meet all the cow’s requirements but cows are not fed all that they can eat. Even when rations are limit-fed, include yardage in the costs. A semiconfinement system is competitive with other cow/calf systems. NATIONAL CATTLEMEN


LITERATURE CITED Drewnoski, M. 2014. Secondary forage crops, opportunities and challenges in corn and soybean fields. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Husker Beef Nutrition Conference Proceedings. Drewnoski, M. E., L. A. Stalker, J. C. MacDonald, G. E. Erickson, K. J. Hanford, and T. J. Klopfenstein. 2015. Effect of corn residue removal on subsequent crop yields. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP101:53-55. Fernandez-Rivera, S., and T. J. Klopfenstein. 1989. Yield and quality components of corn crop residues and utilization of these residues by grazing cattle. J. Anim. Sci. 67:597-605. Gigax, J. A., C. D. Buckner, L. A. Stalker, T. J. Klopfenstein, and S. J. van Donk. 2011. Effect of stocking rate on animal performance and diet quality while grazing cornstalks. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP94:33-34. Griffin, W. A., D. C. Adams, L. A. Stalker, R. N. Funston, J. A. Musgrave, T. J. Klopfenstein, and G. E. Erickson. 2010. Effect of calving season and wintering system on cow performance. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP93:5-7. Gutierrez-Ornelas, E., and T. J. Klopfenstein. 1991. Changes in availability and nutritive value of different corn residue parts as affected by early and late grazing seasons. J. Anim. Sci. 69:1741-1750. Jansen, J. and R. Wilson. 2014. 2014 Nebraska farmland values and rental rates. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Cornhusker Economics. Online. Available: pdf Janssen, L., K. Dillivan, and B. McMurtry. 2014. South Dakota agricultural land market trends 1991-2014. The 2014 SDSU South Dakota farm real estate survey. South Dakota State University Extension. Online. Available: Larson, D. M., J. L. Martin, D. C. Adams and R. N. Funston. 2009. Winter grazing system and supplementation during late gestation influence performance of beef cows and steer progeny. J. Anim. Sci. 87:1147-1155. MacDonald, J. C., G. E. Erickson, and T. J. Klopfenstein. 2014. Update on residue research. University of Nebraska-Lincoln Husker Beef Nutrition Conference Proceedings. McGee, A. L., J. L. Harding, S. van Donk, T. J. Klopfenstein, and L. A. Stalker. 2013. Effect of stocking rate on cow performance and grain yields when grazing corn residue. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP98:36-37.


McGee, A. L., M. Johnson, K. M. Rolfe, J. L. Harding, and T. J. Klopfenstein. 2012. Nutritive value and amount of corn plant parts. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP95:11-12. Musgrave, J. A., J. A. Gigax, L. A. Stalker, T. J. Klopfenstein, M. C. Stockton, and K. H. Jenkins. 2011. Effect of corn hybrid on amount of residue available for grazing. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP94:22-23. NRC. 1996. Nutrient requirements of beef cattle. 7th rev. ed. Natl. Acad. Press, Washington, D. C. Plastina, A., W. Edwards, and A. Johanns. 2015. Cash rental rates for Iowa 2015 survey. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Online. Available: https:// United States Department of Agriculture National Agricultural Statistics Service. Quick Stats. Online. Available: United States Department of Agriculture. 2015. January 1 cattle inventory report. National agricultural statistics service. Online. Available: http://usda.mannlib.cornell. edu/usda/current/Catt/Catt-01-30-2015.pdf Updike, J. J., J. L. Harding, T. J. Klopfenstein, and J. C. MacDonald. 2015. Effect of harvest method on In Vitro digestibility of corn residues. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP101:62-63. Ward, J. K. 1978. Utilization of corn and grain sorghum residues in beef cow forage systems. J. Anim. Sci. 46:831-840. Warner, J. M., J. L. Martin, Z. C. Hall, L. M. Kovarik, K. J. Hanford, and R. J. Rasby. 2011. The effects of supplementing beef cows grazing cornstalk residue with a dried distillers grain based cube on cow and calf performance. Prof. Anim. Sci. 27:540-546. Wienhold, B. J., G .E. Varvel, V. L. Jin, R. B. Mitchell, and K. P. Vogel. 2013. Corn residue removal effects on subsequent yield. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP98:40-41. Wilson, C. B., G. E. Erickson, T. J. Klopfenstein, R. J. Rasby, D. C. Adams, and I. G. Rush. 2004. A review of corn stalk grazing on animal performance and crop yield. NE Beef Cattle Rep. MP80-A:13-15. Wright, C. K., and M. C. Wimberly. 2013. Recent land use change in the Western Corn Belt threatens grasslands and wetlands. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 110:4134-4139.



2016 Cattle Industry Summer Business Meeting

This is the place where decisions are made and industry policy is set.

Mark your calendar for this important meeting!

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to get down to business.

Denver, CO July 13 - 16, 2016 Hyatt Regency



Concerns about the use of antibiotics in the feed of food animals was first expressed back in the 1960s. Since then there have been multiple reports and evaluations by different groups around the world. Our use of antibiotics to prevent, control, and treat bacterial disease in food animals is currently under great scrutiny, with pressure to describe and reduce our use. In 2003, the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine began to require the evaluation of the microbial safety of antibiotics that were being approved for food animals through their release of Guidance for Industry (GFI) #152. This was followed by a second document related to microbial safety, GFI # 159.

A Cattlemenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Guide to The Veterinary Feed:


Michael D Apley, DVM, PhD Kansas State University


These two documents set new standards for evaluating how antibiotic use in food animals might have an effect on the ability to treat infectious disease in people, and on the ability for a resistant bacteria to proliferate and cause disease in our own intestinal tract. In 2012, the FDA Center for veterinary medicine released another final document, GFI #209. In this document the FDA asked for voluntary compliance with two major changes in the way we use antibiotics in food animals. The first change was that pharmaceutical companies would voluntarily remove growth promotion claims for any medically important antibiotics used in the feed of food animals. Secondly, they asked that all remaining uses of medically important antibiotics in the feed or water of food animals be only under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian. The veterinarian has been put in charge of antibiotic stewardship SPRING


for medically important antibiotics in food animals. In feed, this takes the form of a veterinary feed directive. In water, this takes the form of a prescription just as you would need to purchase a prescription injectable product. A second document related to the requested label changes, GFI #13, was released in 2013. This document is the roadmap for pharmaceutical companies to get to where GFI #209 asked them to go. The pharmaceutical industry is complying with these requests, with anticipated completion of all of the label changes by December 2016. There is a page on the FDA CVM website where it is possible to see the progress of all the listed labels which are affected by this change. Of the 283 affected labels, some have been withdrawn by the sponsor

and others are in the process of being changed. The mechanism for rolling out the new labels later this year has not been finalized as of this writing, but we may expect that we will have sufficient time to understand the new labels and get a VFD in place for use in food animals prior to January 1, 2017. There was some confusion when the final veterinary feed directive rule went into effect October 1, 2015. The confusion came about when producers and distributors heard that the final VFD rule had been passed and assumed that this was now required for all medically important antibiotics. The requirement for veterinary feed directive authorization for the remainder of the medically important antibiotics used in food animals will begin when their final labels take effect January 1, 2017. All of

these drugs are also medically important antibiotics. The veterinary feed directive rule puts forth the regulations under which a veterinarian may authorize, a distributor may distribute, and a producer may use a feed requiring veterinary feed directive authorization. Currently there are only three drugs which require a veterinary feed directive for their use. These are all medically important antibiotics. They include the feed version of tilmicosin (Micotil ÂŽ) in both swine and cattle as well as the feed version of florfenicol (Nuflor ÂŽ) in fish. Medically important means that this antibiotic, or another member of this drugâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s class, is important for therapy of bacterial diseases in humans. This list includes the following (with examples of antibiotics in this group with uses in food or water in cattle).




(chlortetracycline, oxytetracycline, tetracycline)

• Sulfas (sulfamethazine, sulfadimethoxine) • Macrolides (tylosin, tilmicosin) • Aminoglycosides (neomycin) There are many other medically important groups used in food animals, such as the cephalosporins (ceftiofur), the fluoroquinolones (enrofloxacin, danofloxacin), and the phenicols (florfenicol), but they do not have feed or water labels for use in cattle. Medically important antibiotics will require a veterinary feed directive for any label use in feed, and will require a prescription for any use in water. A very important point to understand is that any extra label use of a drug in the feed for food animals is illegal. There is no gray area to this part of the regulations. If it is not on the label, it cannot be used in that manner. This includes duration of administration, dose, and indication for use. In contrast, a veterinarian may prescribe extra label use of a medically important antibiotic in the water if they have met the requirements of the Animal

Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act (AMDUCA) regulations. There is also a group of antibiotics used in food animals which are classified as not being medically important. These antibiotics will not require a veterinary feed directive to be used in the feed of food animals. Examples of nonmedically important antibiotics, or other drugs not classified as antibiotics, used in the feed of cattle are as follows.

• Ionophores (monensin, lasalocid, laidlomycin) • Flavomycin • Bacitracin • Decoquinate (not an antibiotic) • Amprolium (not an antibiotic) There is one exception: if nonmedically important antibiotics are fed concurrently with a medically important antibiotic, their concurrent feeding will have to be authorized in the veterinary feed directive for the medically important antibiotic. For example, monensin may be legally fed concurrently with the medically important antibiotic tylosin. When fed by itself, monensin would not require a VFD.

When fed with tylosin, the VFD authorizing the use of tylosin must authorize the concurrent feeding of monensin with tylosin. You can confirm that an antibiotic to be used in the feed of your animals requires a VFD by looking for the following wording on the label. “Caution: Federal law restricts medicated feed containing this veterinary feed directive drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian.” When you and your veterinarian agree that a medically important antibiotic is appropriate to use in the feed of animals under your care, then your veterinarian will provide you with a veterinary feed directive. A veterinary feed directive is a written (nonverbal) statement issued by a licensed veterinarian in the course of the veterinarian’s professional practice that orders the use of a VFD drug or combination VFD drug in or on an animal feed. The VFD rule is clear that this authorization must take place within a valid veterinary-clientpatient relationship, and that the veterinarian must be licensed in the state where the animals receiving the VFD feed are located. A VFD may be either hard copy or electronic, but the regulations are

Continued on page 62

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Continued from page 60

clear that the authorization cannot be only in verbal form. Your veterinarian will keep the original copy and provide a copy to both you and the distributor of the VFD drug. The veterinarian may choose to provide the VFD in either electronic or hard copy form. There are some general requirements that are clearly defined in the VFD final rule. The first is that animal feed bearing or containing a VFD drug or a combination VFD drug (a VFD feed or combination VFD feed) may be fed to the animals only by or upon a lawful VFD issued by a licensed veterinarian. Secondly, a VFD feed or combination VFD feed must not be fed to animals after the expiration date on the VFD. Third, use of feed containing this

veterinary feed directive (VFD) drug in a manner other than as directed on the labeling (extra label use) is not permitted. The VFD final rule includes 15 specific informational inclusions in a VFD. The expiration date is how long the authorization to feed the VFD feed is in effect. This period may be stated on the label, or if the label is silent as to the duration of the authorization, the veterinarian may authorize this use for up to six months. Your veterinarian will also specify the approximate number of animals to be fed the VFD feed by the expiration date of the VFD, the duration over which the VFD drug is to be fed, and the level of VFD drug in the VFD feed. Your veterinarian has no other option than

to adhere to the label in authorizing these uses. There are still some uncertainties as to specific details of the process, but producers should not interpret this as meaning we will fail in our efforts to institute this new system. The biggest thing producers can do today is to start the conversation with their veterinarians about what medically important antibiotics they are using in the feed or water. If a veterinarian doesn’t immediately come to mind, your first order of business is to establish a relationship. Be prepared that this will be a discussion and not an automatic authorization of your current practices. In December, we will all need to evaluate the new labels and move forward to get the appropriate authorization in place to start the new year.

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Extended-Release Injectable Parasiticide 5% Sterile Solution NADA 141-327, Approved by FDA for subcutaneous injection For the Treatment and Control of Internal and External Parasites of Cattle on Pasture with Persistent Effectiveness CAUTION: Federal law restricts this drug to use by or on the order of a licensed veterinarian. INDICATIONS FOR USE LONGRANGE, when administered at the recommended dose volume of 1 mL per 110 lb (50 kg) body weight, is effective in the treatment and control of 20 species and stages of internal and external parasites of cattle:




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Gastrointestinal Roundworms Bunostomum phlebotomum – Adults and L4 Cooperia oncophora – Adults and L4 Cooperia punctata – Adults and L4 Cooperia surnabada – Adults and L4 Haemonchus placei – Adults Oesophagostomum radiatum – Adults Ostertagia lyrata – Adults Ostertagia ostertagi – Adults, L4, and inhibited L4 Trichostrongylus axei – Adults and L4 Trichostrongylus colubriformis – Adults

Parasites Gastrointestinal Roundworms Bunostomum phlebotomum Cooperia oncophora Cooperia punctata Haemonchus placei Oesophagostomum radiatum Ostertagia lyrata Ostertagia ostertagi Trichostrongylus axei Lungworms Dictyocaulus viviparus

Lungworms Dictyocaulus viviparus – Adults

Grubs Hypoderma bovis

Mites Sarcoptes scabiei var. bovis

Durations of Persistent Effectiveness 150 days 100 days 100 days 120 days 120 days 120 days 120 days 100 days 150 days

DOSAGE AND ADMINISTRATION LONGRANGE® (eprinomectin) should be given only by subcutaneous injection in front of the shoulder at the recommended dosage level of 1 mg eprinomectin per kg body weight (1 mL per 110 lb body weight). WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS Withdrawal Periods and Residue Warnings Animals intended for human consumption must not be slaughtered within 48 days of the last treatment. This drug product is not approved for use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older, including dry dairy cows. Use in these cattle may cause drug residues in milk and/or in calves born to these cows. A withdrawal period has not been established for pre-ruminating calves. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal. Animal Safety Warnings and Precautions The product is likely to cause tissue damage at the site of injection, including possible granulomas and necrosis. These reactions have disappeared without treatment. Local tissue reaction may result in trim loss of edible tissue at slaughter. Observe cattle for injection site reactions. If injection site reactions are suspected, consult your veterinarian. This product is not for intravenous or intramuscular use. Protect product from light. LONGRANGE® (eprinomectin) has been developed specifically for use in cattle only. This product should not be used in other animal species. When to Treat Cattle with Grubs LONGRANGE effectively controls all stages of cattle grubs. However, proper timing of treatment is important. For the most effective results, cattle should be treated as soon as possible after the end of the heel fly (warble fly) season. Environmental Hazards Not for use in cattle managed in feedlots or under intensive rotational grazing because the environmental impact has not been evaluated for these scenarios.


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Other Warnings: Underdosing and/or subtherapeutic concentrations of extended-release anthelmintic products may encourage the development of parasite resistance. It is recommended that parasite resistance be monitored following the use of any anthelmintic with the use of a fecal egg count reduction test program. TARGET ANIMAL SAFETY Clinical studies have demonstrated the wide margin of safety of LONGRANGE® (eprinomectin). Overdosing at 3 to 5 times the recommended dose resulted in a statistically significant reduction in average weight gain when compared to the group tested at label dose. Treatment-related lesions observed in most cattle administered the product included swelling, hyperemia, or necrosis in the subcutaneous tissue of the skin. The administration of LONGRANGE at 3 times the recommended therapeutic dose had no adverse reproductive effects on beef cows at all stages of breeding or pregnancy or on their calves. Not for use in bulls, as reproductive safety testing has not been conducted in males intended for breeding or actively breeding. Not for use in calves less than 3 months of age because safety testing has not been conducted in calves less than 3 months of age. STORAGE Store at 77° F (25° C) with excursions between 59° and 86° F (15° and 30° C). Protect from light. Made in Canada. Manufactured for Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA, USA. The Cattle Head Logo and LONGRANGE are registered trademarks of Merial, Inc. ©2015 Merial, Inc. All rights reserved. 1050-2889-06, Rev. 2/2015, 8LON016C




THE WEIGHT GAIN IS REAL. Go ahead, blink.

A deworming with LONGRANGE® (eprinomectin) can help keep parasites from eating into your profits. If you used a conventional dewormer like CYDECTIN® (moxidectin), SAFE-GUARD® (fenbendazole) or in combination, your cattle are probably already reinfected with parasites. That’s because conventional dewormers only last 14 to 42 days and SAFE-GUARD has no persistent effect. Only LONGRANGE delivers up to 150 days of parasite control in a single treatment.1,2 When you look at the benefits of season-long parasite control with LONGRANGE – you’ll see you have a lot to gain.

Use LONGRANGE on your cow/calf operation and see the difference for yourself.

40 LBS

As much as


Over calves treated with CYDECTIN + SAFE-GUARD.

*Results varied between 13 and 40 lbs. for heifers and steers, respectively, over 104 days.

Talk to your veterinarian or visit

Available in 500 mL, 250 mL and 50 mL bottles. Administer subcutaneously at 1 mL/110 lbs.

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IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION: Do not treat within 48 days of slaughter. Not for use in female dairy cattle 20 months of age or older, including dry dairy cows, or in veal calves. Post-injection site damage (e.g., granulomas, necrosis) can occur. These reactions have disappeared without treatment. ®JOHN DEERE is a registered trademark, and ™GATOR is a trademark, of Deere & Company. Deere & Company neither sponsors nor endorses this promotion. ®LONGRANGE and the Cattle Head Logo are registered trademarks of Merial. All other marks are the property of their respective owners. ©2016 Merial, Inc., Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. RUMIELR1455-A (09/15)

1 2 3

Dependent upon parasite species, as referenced in FOI summary and LONGRANGE product label.

LONGRANGE product label. Data on file at Merial.

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3/22/16 1:36 PM

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