Spring and summer weather may be unpredictable but everything else associated with beef cattle production looks optimistic for 2014 according to Eldon Cole, livestock specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“I hear beef producers talk about tight margins involved in practices like vaccinating, deworming, implanting, supplement feeding, fly control and a few others,” said Cole. “But the way the cattle price situation is now this year could be the time to perform some of the practices you’ve backed away from in the past.”
Cole says profit margins are projected to be at record levels this year and likely next year for all classes of cattle. That means this could be the year to experiment a little with a herd.
“Over the years, I’ve stressed the importance of improving the genetics in our cattle. We’ve made progress but improvement can be made to practices that allow those genetics to be expressed,” said Cole. “So when management practices may not have appeared to be economically sound in the past, this year appears to be when these practices will pencil out.”
Now is a good time to inventory various management items used in the past. Some items are additive and may result in significant improvement in rate of gain, for example.
“The use of growth promoting implants, along with feeding an ionophore are examples if you’re a stocker operator,” said Cole. “Just remember, you can’t force an animal to perform better than their genetic makeup allows.”
Cole says it is still important to compare the cost/benefit side of the equation. But with prices going up, producers can afford to try a new practice or two now.
“I’d recommend visiting with your veterinarian, feed dealer and extension livestock specialist to assess what you might do this year to make a good year, even better. You may even decide to put a few steers in a feedout program which can evaluate your herd’s genetic merit beyond the weaned calf stage,” said Cole.
(by David Burton, MU Writer)
(Photo courtesy of MO Dept of Ag)