The Cow-Calf Manager
Livestock Update, March 2008
Dr. John B. Hall, Extension Beef Specialist, VA Tech
Improved Forage Management Key to Surviving High Grain Prices
High grain prices are a new fact of life for the beef industry. Barring major changes in energy policy or an amazing worldwide grain crop, feed grain prices will remain inflated for the foreseeable future. Feedlots will probably be more interested in heavier calves than feeding light weight calves. Commercial and purebred cow-calf operations will need to make more efficient use of forages. In addition, these operations will need to consider strategies to maximize calf weight on forage-based diets before heading to the stocker operation, feedlot, or bull test station.
Increasing prices for fuel and fertilizer make increasing hay and silage production an expensive solution for feeding cattle. In contrast, investments in improvements to grazing management and extending the grazing season will pay greater dividends. The types of improvement used will depend on the individual operation and location. Below are a few examples with links to additional information.
See recent article by Ben Tracy in VA Cattlemen’s Magazine
I have never subscribed to the notion that beef producers are just grass farmers that market their grass through cattle. Beef quality and consumer acceptance are too important to let it be meat that comes from anything with four legs, a tail, and a moo. However, I do believe that cow-calf and stocker producers make the best beef by providing highly nutritious, low cost feeds to cattle with superior genetics. The best low cost feed for the cow calf operation is properly produced forage.