It’s important that producers abide by these basic guidelines if they aim to make the most out of their operation,
- Environmental stewardship
Ranch owners or managers must first be stewards of the resources entrusted to them as natural resource stewardship is a responsibility, not an elective.”
That’s especially true if your ranch has seen the dreadful drought, in which water and forage have been compromised.
- Preventive herd health plan.
There’s no substitute for a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship. A plan to prepare cattle against risk and exposure to illness will pay off in final production numbers.
At a bare minimum, cattlemen should vaccinate calves against the clostridial complex, castrate bull calves before four months of age and ensure your cattle are identified with ear tags, ear marks or branding.
Every producer should look at being part of a Beef Quality Assurance program; a solid herd health plan is a major part of such programs.
- Good reproductive performance.
With margins extremely tight, high calving and weaning rates are vital to hold down production costs. For every percentage point the weaning rate goes down, production costs go up.
Reproductive performance is the single most important factor in profitability.
Depending on your annual production costs per cow, the calf breakeven price increases as the weaning rate decreases.
- Feeding Habit
Observing the length of grass in a pasture can help determine if cows have enough forage for grazing. Good forage is needed to maintain a good body condition score.
If a cow’s hooves are consistently visible from 25 ft. or more away, or if the forage is less than 4 inch. tall, cattle likely aren’t able to harvest all they want to eat. If cattle are grazing well into the middle of the day, especially during hot summer days, they may be short on grazing.”
Make sure they have plenty of clean water. That’s because water deprivation in cold weather can result in very rapid erosion of cattle condition. Meanwhile, clean water troughs promote water consumption, especially among young cattle.
- Attend Seminars
Producers should take every opportunity to attend cattle production and marketing seminars offered by their regional Extension office or cattle associations.
Information is readily available on animal health practices and regulations, stewardship, urban sprawl, production and marketing and other areas that impact ranchers.
Producers need to be a part of something larger than themselves. Thus, they should support organizations that represent their interests in their state and national capitals.
They need to observe what other successful producers do and compare notes with them. And they should take every opportunity to tell their story of quality assurance and environmental stewardship with others, especially young people.