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What Will You Do If You Run Out of Feed For Your Cattle?

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
January 7, 2015        
Source:  Emily Wilmes, Extension Educator-Livestock
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton & Morrison Counties

What Will You Do If You Run Out of Feed For Your Cattle?
By Emily Wilmes, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn.(1/7/15) — The end of one year and the beginning of another usually finds a lot of people making plans: whether it’s how to celebrate the new year on December 31st, what your New Year’s Resolution will be, or even plans for your farm.  Sometimes even the best-laid plans can go awry, such as planning winter feed for your beef herd.  Even if you planned, calculated, and stocked up accordingly--you may still run short. 

If you run out of feed, some very important decisions need to be made, and it’s crucial that you take the time to review your options and make the best choice.  With beef prices as high as they are, selling some cattle may seem like a no-brainer; with high demand for cattle while the national herd is low in numbers.  But consider also that if you sell more cattle than usual, you may be hurting your future numbers by selling off heifers that would be used in herd building.  It’s important to consider the market factors when thinking about winter feed.

Sticking to some good guidelines for culling will help reduce the number of mouths to feed while keeping the best cattle in your herd.  Here are four factors to consider:

Body condition-If an animal is not able to gain efficiently on the pasture or present feed, especially as compared to the rest of the group and maintain itself likewise, then this animal is certainly a candidate for culling.

Attitude or temperament-Maybe it’s just me, but I think life is too short to have to deal with animals with poor temperament, especially when they outweigh you six or more times.

Illness and Other Problems-There is certainly a list of ailments that would justify an instant culling. Disease, genetic traits, and reproductive problems are all viable reason to cull an animal.

Improving the herd-If you cull or sell off a certain percentage of the group each year, such as ten percent of them, then the remaining animals are that much better and you are augmenting the best animals. Selecting for animals with good conformation is important. If the animal does not fit your program, management, or goals then consider culling it.


Emily Wilmes
Extension Educator, Ag Production Systems - Livestock
(320) 255-6169
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