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Friday, September 5,2008

Annual directory connects hay producers and buyers

by WLJ
As a service to hay producers and buyers, the Colorado Department of Agriculture publishes the Colorado Hay Directory annually. The 2008 edition of the directory is available to the public at no cost. "Hay continues to be one of Colorado’s top crops," said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "The directory helps Colorado’s hay producers market their hay, and is a valuable resource for buyers across Colorado and the nation." The 22nd edition of the Colorado Hay Directory features more than 100 producers and brokers of hay as well as companies that provide hay-related products and services. Categorized by region, each listing includes the type and amount of hay available, bale type and size, whether or not laboratory analysis is available, certified weed free status and identifies organic hay. The Colorado Hay Directory is published by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in cooperation with participating Colorado hay producers, the Colorado Hay and Forage Association, Colorado State University Extension, and with support from Anderson Alfalfa, Dr. Fish Fertilizer Co., Hutchinson Western and Wagner Equipment Co. In 2007, Colorado produced nearly 4.4 million tons of hay valued at $597 million. Production of hay in Colorado for 2008 is estimated at 4.2 million tons. The directory is available online at www.coloradoagriculture.com and at www.coloradohay.org. For more information or to request a copy of the 2008 Colorado Hay Directory, call the Colorado Department of Agriculture at 303/239-4115. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Texas cow/calf producers being squeezed

by WLJ
Even though the cattle industry continues to round up good prices for cattle, Steve and Morita Schoeneberg of Louise, TX, wrestle with higher input costs in their operation. The Schoenebergs operate a 600-head cattle ranch on about 1,800 acres along the Texas Gulf Coast, southwest of Houston. While they grow most of their own forage, they feel the effects of high fuel and fertilizer prices. "More and more with the cost of everything, I feel we are just spinning our wheels," said Morita, who attended the 54th annual Texas A&M University Beef Short Course while her husband stayed home to work the ranch. The Schoenebergs feel the effects of the three Fs—feed, fuel and fertilizer—as Texas cattle ranchers deal with lower profit margins despite higher cattle prices. That theme was repeated several times during the beef course held on the central Texas campus Aug. 4-6. According to the Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA), a program administered by Texas A&M to examine the financial health of ranches, the total cost to maintain each female in a herd in 2007 was $590.33, and the 2007 cost per cwt. of weaned calves was $116.90. Stan Bevers, professor and extension economist for Texas A&M based in Vernon, TX, said costs accelerated since 2002, and he believes costs will rise more in 2008. "You look at the increasing costs of inputs over the last six months or so, especially if you look at corn prices, and we most likely will have over $600 costs per cow for 2008," Bevers said. In an analysis of 71 herds in eastern Texas and the Panhandle completing the SPA program since 2003, the largest cost for cow/calf producers is purchased feed. Feed averaged $80.38 per breeding female, or about 14.5 percent of total operating expenses in 2007. This includes supplements, forages and minerals purchased. The cost is influenced considerably by high corn prices, he said. Corn’s price is viewed much differently by cow/calf producers than by corn farmers in the Midwest. While many cow/calf producers blame ethanol and its boom for higher prices, other factors affect feed prices, said Steve Amosson, professor and extension economist with Texas AgriLife Extension. "Ethanol seems to get all the headlines of why we have higher prices, but oil prices, exchange rates and speculative funds all also have an effect on increased feed costs," Amosson said. Oil prices are by far the number one problem that faces all of agriculture, he said. To the cattlemen, ethanol represents a thorn in their side. But what could be ethanol’s saving grace, at least to the cattle industry, is distillers grain. With more corn going to ethanol production, there will be more distillers grain for the cattle industry. Other livestock feeding enterprises, such as hogs and poultry, cannot use the product as readily as cattle feeders. "Distillers grain is a positive part of the game for cattlemen," Amosson said. Fertilizer prices doubled Another input that affects ranches’ bottom lines is fertilizer. Most fertilizer prices for Texas cattlemen have at least doubled in the last several years. These costs are set to increase, with little hope for a significant decline in the immediate future, said Vincent Haby, Texas A&M System Regents Fellow and professor of Texas AgriLife Research located in Overton, TX. Diammonium phosphate (18-46-0), the basic fertilizer used in many blends for grass in Texas, retails for as high as $1,300 a ton, and potash (0-0-60) fertilizers costs up to $825 a ton, Haby said. Even sulfur (S) has recently increased by $350 to sell for $725 a ton and is expected to increase in the third quarter of 2008. "The rising price of fertilizer has some Texas cattle producers deciding they can no longer afford to apply them to their grass," he said. Ranchers can eliminate or reduce fertilizer used on grass to cut input costs, but that can reduce land productivity. Haby suggested producers carefully consider the economics of not fertilizing. Use soil test recommendations to fertilize at an efficient level without over-fertilizing. If producers do reduce the fertilizer application rates, they should be ready to reduce livestock numbers. "You just have to lower the number of cattle on that grass if you reduce the application rate; there is no way around this," he said. Stockpiling feed As with many ranching operations in the eastern part of Texas, the Schoenebergs stockpile winter feed. They plant ryegrass and allow the cattle to winter graze this forage. This eliminates feed, mainly hay, costs. Part of their land includes grass and hay land that is under center pivots. She said they are at the point of not wanting to run the pivot because of the ever-increasing cost of fuel. They also debate whether to continue to fertilize their grass as they had in the past. Every year, the cost to fertilize their pastures increases and they have to do something to cut into their rising input costs. "I think in the long run, we will have to reduce our cow numbers," Schoeneberg said. "I know it seems backwards, but if you reduce some of your production, you are going to do better to make a profit and ... that is what we are trying to do." As for the future, Schoeneberg hopes as they alter how they operate the ranch, they will survive a challenging time to ranchers. Raised a city girl and married into the ranching business, she has tried to learn as much as possible about the industry to operate as efficiently as they can. The Schoenebergs have three adult sons, but all three have jobs away from the family ranching business and show no interest in returning to the ranch someday. She understands why they would want to pursue other careers, given that cattle ranching in Texas is not a very easy job, especially now with such high input costs. "I have hope for the future, but the way it is going currently, we are heading down one spooky trail," she said. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Researchers awarded grant to study link between E. coli, distillers grains

by WLJ
A research team headed by Kansas State University (KSU) E. coli O157:H7 expert T.G. Nagaraja has been tapped by USDA to study both the connection between feeding distillers grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and several strategies to reduce the presence of the naturally occurring pathogen in the animals. The group has received a $939,220 National Research Initiative in Food Safety grant. Nagaraja, a university distinguished professor of microbiology, said the issue of meat safety is receiving full attention from both researchers and the meat industry and is being addressed. "This research project will greatly enhance our understanding of the exact relationship between dietary distillers grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle, as well as provide us with an opportunity to look at novel ways to mitigate the potential risks of feeding this valuable co-product," Nagaraja said. Distillers grains are a byproduct of ethanol produced from cereal grains that are used in cattle feed. They are rich in fiber, energy and protein. The research team will look at ways to reduce the amount of E. coli O157:H7 present, such as administering a probiotic, an experimental vaccine, and feeding brown seaweed, a plant shown to have an effect in reducing E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in cattle. In addition, they also will study whether feeding varied amounts of the distillers grain or making it dry or wet has an effect on the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 detected in the feces. Along with Nagaraja, the research team includes KSU professors David Renter, Mike Sanderson and Dan Thomson, and doctoral student Megan Jacob. The grant builds upon the long history of KSU researchers focusing on food safety. An example of that work that has direct application to the consumer comes from meat scientist Melvin Hunt. "Despite care in food processing and provision, there is a possibility that food can become contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria," Hunt said. "Occasional recalls of potentially contaminated ground beef in recent years are a sign that safety checks are working—hamburger lovers do not need to give up their favorite food." Consumers need to be mindful that recommendations for cooking ground beef have changed. Generations have been brought up to think that when ground beef browns, it’s cooked. That’s no longer true, Hunt said. In the mid-1980s, KSU meat science researchers were asked to study the possibility of reducing the percentage of fat in ground beef without compromising taste and texture. As the KSU researchers studied ground beef with differing proportions of fat, they observed how the meats cooked and noted that some ground beef browned prematurely, before it had reached the safe-to-eat temperature of 160 F. The color of meat depends on the oxygen in the muscle cells, Hunt said. As an example, he explained that fresh ground beef is bright red because oxygen is incorporated into the meat as it is ground. As the meat ages, it loses oxygen, which causes the color to change. The oxygen in the muscle is carried by myoglobin, which is similar to hemoglobin that carries oxygen in humans. Observations during the study prompted researchers to recommend that temperature—not color—should be used as a test for doneness, Hunt said. In a restaurant, consumers are advised to order a ground beef patty cooked to at least medium, or 160 F. At home, they are advised to check end-point temperature with a meat thermometer. "Using a meat thermometer is the only sure way to tell if meat is properly cooked," Hunt said. The KSU researchers are among the more than 150 KSU experts working in the arena of food safety, animal health and agricultural health. More than $70 million has been dedicated to research in these areas since 1999. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Beef growing globally Emphasizing the need to invest in foreign marketing aimed at the 95 percent of people who live outside the borders of the U.S., the Cattlemen’s Beef Board has chosen to increase the total dollars invested in marketing U.S. beef abroad. Export volumes of U.S. beef and beef variety meats worldwide advanced 30 percent year-on-year to 445,036 metric tons during the first half of 2008, while value jumped 39 percent to nearly $1.6 billion—compared to $1.8 billion during the same period in 2003. And while Mexico and Canada continued to be the top-performing export markets for the U.S. during the first half of 2008, export volumes of U.S. beef to Japan are rebuilding dramatically this year, thanks in part to a new beef cuts program funded by the Beef Checkoff. Beef Bucks Golf Tournament a success A good cause brought a large number of people together Aug. 22 for the sixth annual Beef Bucks Golf Tournament. Forty-six teams comprised of 184 golfers turned out at the Dells Rocky Run Golf Course in Dell Rapids, SD. "This was the largest tournament ever," says JoAnne Hillman, president of the South Dakota Beef Bucks, Inc. board of directors. "We had to turn people away. It’s wonderful to see how people in this industry come together for this event to have fun and raise money for an industry that means so much to South Dakota." South Dakota Beef Bucks is a non-profit organization that operates South Dakota Beef Bucks checks and VISA debit cards, both used for purchasing beef products or entrees at restaurants and retail stores throughout the U.S. 2008 Nebraska Beef Backer chosen Over the past couple of months, Nebraska restaurants have been competing for the title of the "Best Beef Restaurant in the State." The Nebraska Beef Council has recently named Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse the 2008 Nebraska Beef Backer Award winner. To compete in the Nebraska Beef Backer contest, restaurants first had to be nominated by a Nebraska beef producer or industry partner. After receiving nomination, the restaurants then completed an official application which was evaluated by a committee and results were based upon beef promotion programs, beef menu applications, and overall quality. Foodservice accounts for approximately half of the beef sold in this country, and commercial restaurants make up 61 percent for that sector. Agriprocessors appeals to Supreme Court Agriprocessors Inc., whose Postville, IA, plant was recently raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, is seeking to take its argument that workers have no right to unionize the company’s Brooklyn distribution center to the highest court in the land. A vote among employees in September 2005, who are mostly Mexican-born workers, sought to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which Agriprocessors has refused to recognize. The vote spawned a case in which the company claimed that most of the workers were undocumented immigrants and had no right to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the company to recognize the union, citing a 1984 Supreme Court decision which affirmed the right of illegal immigrants to join unions. Beef from clones may enter food supply Recent reports indicate that meat from the offspring of cloned livestock is indeed entering the U.S. food supply, which is a cause of alarm to some consumers and advocacy groups. Though only a tiny portion of the U.S. beef supply could come from clones, which number in the hundreds or thousands of the country’s nearly 100 million head of cattle, USDA’s Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight recently admitted that he can’t rule out the presence of clone offspring in the food supply. Knight noted, however, that consumers are "highly unlikely" to receive beef from the offspring of clones. In January, the Food and Drug Administration deemed products from cloned cattle, pigs, goats and their offspring as safe to eat. Maximizing market cow and bull value Cattle producers have taken an active role in improved animal care, management practices and nutrition, but there’s always room for improvement. According to a checkoff-funded 2007 audit, cattle had fewer bruises as compared to 1999, less hide damage, and an overall improvement in animal welfare and handling practices. Nonetheless, the condemnation rate from down cattle, incidence of antibiotic residues, bruising, and lameness continue to warrant further attention. Producers can take the initiative to be proactive to ensure product safety and integrity, monitor herd health and market cull cattle in a timely manner, use appropriate management and handling practices to prevent quality defects, and recognize and optimize the value of market cows and bulls.

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Friday, September 5,2008

Plant identification important in range monitoring

by WLJ
Range monitoring requires a working knowledge of plant identification. But acquiring the knowledge can be a daunting challenge that often prevents producers from implementing important aspects of range monitoring. "However, one does not have to be a plant identification expert," says Chuck Lura, Extension rangeland specialist at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Central Grasslands Research Extension Center near Streeter. "Simply knowing a few key species and monitoring their abundance can provide producers with valuable information." Accurate monitoring helps rangeland managers determine whether their grazing management strategy is working. Key species are species in a pasture that can serve as indicators of management effectiveness. They generally are species that are abundant, productive and palatable, and were dominant plants in the historical climax community of a particular ecological site. A historic climax community is a plant community that existed at the time of European immigration and settlement in North America and was best adapted to the unique combination of environmental factors associated with a particular site. Lura recommends rangeland managers select one to three key species for monitoring on a particular ecological site. For example, a key area in much of the Missouri Coteau in North Dakota is the loamy ecological site. The key species on this site likely would be some combination of western wheatgrass, slender wheatgrass, green needlegrass and needle-and-thread. Collectively, these grasses may account for up to one-half of the total forage production. Monitoring the response of a few key species on key sites will help rangeland managers judge whether the management within a pasture has been successful. "Generally, when range management principles are properly used, the entire pasture may be considered correctly used," Lura says. The Central Grasslands Research Extension Center has a program to assist producers in implementing and maintaining range monitoring procedures. The program is made possible through funding from NDSU, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, and Ducks Unlimited. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

World Livestock Auctioneer Championship starts in Miles City, MT

by WLJ
The road to Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA’s) 2009 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) begins in Miles City, MT, Sept. 9 for 32 contestants. Miles City Livestock Commission LLP is hosting the first 2009 WLAC quarterfinal competition. Three titlists will be named at each contest, and the top eight scorers will qualify for next June’s WLAC, set to be at Fergus Falls Livestock Auction Market Inc., Fergus Falls, MN. The other WLAC quarterfinals will be Oct. 29 at Texhoma Livestock Auction LLC, Texhoma, OK; Nov. 18 at Muskingum Livestock Auction Co., Zanesville, OH, and Dec. 2 at Kingsville Livestock Auction, Kingsville, MO. LMA, the national trade association for livestock marketing businesses, created and conducts the annual WLAC. The championship in Minnesota will be the 46th annual. Miles City Livestock Commission co-owner Rob Fraser said, "September ninth will be a special day for all of us at the market. We’ll be welcoming some of America’s best livestock auctioneers who will be selling top-quality cattle from some of the best producers in this area." He expects about 4,000 head of cattle, mostly yearlings, for the sale. And, he said, he wanted to invite "anyone who enjoys listening to the sound of a good auctioneer to join us on the ninth." The sale will start at 9 a.m. (MT), with the contest getting under way at 10 a.m. This is the third year LMA has used the four-contest format to qualify contestants for the June championship. The annual WLAC, Fraser continued, brings two things into focus: that competitive livestock marketing is "the best way to get the best price for your livestock" and the "continuing importance" of the auctioneer in that process. Contestants must be at least 18 years old and employed and sponsored by a livestock market. Each contest is an actual sale, with buyers on the seats. The three titlists in the June WLAC—world champion, reserve and runner-up world champion—will receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. — WLJ  

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Friday, September 5,2008

Beef Talk

by Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University
Wintering cattle requires feed. The current tight inventories of feed suggest that cow culling should be deep. Yet, once the culling is done but the bales still don’t add up, the time is right to contact a good beef cattle nutritionist. The nutritionist can help develop a "least cost" ration. When developing the least-cost ration, feedstuffs may need to be purchased. One needs to be careful and review all options. Through the years, most of us have witnessed the detrimental effects of underfeeding or the results of overfeeding. The important point is that the nutrient value of feed is what drives value and performance. When I was fresh out of college, a producer preparing for calving was seeking a supplement to go along with his lower-quality grass hay. I asked if he had higher-quality hay that more likely would meet the requirements of a cow in late gestation or early lactation. "No," the producer said. "Don’t you ever have any access to alfalfa hay?" I queried. "Yes, but I fed that out when the cows came off pasture in October and November," the producer replied. There were two red flags with this scenario. The first was the failure of the producer to understand the nutritional requirements of cattle at different stages of life. The second was the misallocation of current feed inventories. A sound understanding of the nutritional requirements of cattle and the nutritional value of feed is needed. Chip Poland, Dickinson State University Department of Agriculture and Technical Studies chair and a well-educated beef cattle nutritionist, says the first step is to encourage producers to default back to the basics. "We feed nutrients, not pounds, which is a tough concept to get across since we physically see pounds," Poland says. "Corn at $6.35 per bushel (local price in Dickinson on Aug. 20) equates to approximately 14 cents per pound of total digestible nutrients (TDN). Hay at $100 per ton to be delivered at approximately $15 per bale (roughly a 150-mile delivery) is priced at roughly 13 cents per pound of TDN." The form that one buys feed in is price dependent. Using Poland’s example, with both corn and hay priced high, there still are options as to how a producer obtains the energy and other nutrients that a cow needs. "Hay was still cheaper, but, in the long haul after waste is figured in, that may or may not be true," Poland says. "I can limit feed corn with minimal waste. While storing and feeding round bales of hay, one should factor in to the price approximately 10 percent waste." Another factor that needs to be addressed is transportation. "What would corn cost if we looked at the source and moved it in unit volumes?" Poland asks. "A local elevator published corn prices at $4.60 and $4.80 per bushel for old and new corn, respectively, in today’s newspaper. Using the same hauling price for hay (approximately $350 per load for a 60-mile trip), the per-bushel price increases about 45 cents to $5.05 and $5.25, respectively, or about 11 to 12 cents per pound of TDN from corn." In a very simple scenario, we see high-priced corn may not be as high as it would appear. Conversely, hay may not be the only feed of choice at times. This analogy, along with numerous other examples of shopping around for feeds stuffs, is required of producers this year if one is producing cattle in areas that are short of feed. Not only is the basic ingredient (feed) missing, all the costs have escalated greatly. Producers need to make good, solid assumptions and keep in mind the answer will be different for each location and producer. However, producers need to price nutrients, not pounds of feed delivered, and seek the help of a sound, well-educated beef cattle nutritionist. May you find all your ear tags. — Kris Ringwall (Kris Ringwall is a North Dakota State University Extension Beef Specialist, director of the NDSU Dickinson Research Center and executive director of the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He can be contacted at 701/483-2045.)

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Friday, September 5,2008

Extended grazing can reduce feed costs

by WLJ
By extending the grazing season into the fall and winter, many producers can reduce their harvested feed costs, said a University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) specialist. Although winter or dormant season grazing of pasture and feeding of a protein supplement is a common practice, several other strategies can work well for producers in other parts of the state, said Jerry Volesky, range and forage specialist at UNL’s West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte. Producers can start now to prepare for extending the season by planting annual forages such as oats and turnips to use later, he said. They can also stockpile perennial grasses. "We’ve done some research on stockpiling cool season perennial grasses," Volesky said. "We graze those grasses in the spring and early summer, then let them accumulate the rest of the season’s growth for the fall and winter." Volesky found that even into November and December, the stockpiled forage maintained its nutritional value with protein levels as high as 12 percent. It wasn’t until January and February that crude protein and digestibility decreased significantly. "But even at the end of February, nutrition was still relatively high and we were meeting the nutritional needs of most grazing animals," Volesky said. Producers have also used windrow, or swath grazing. It involves swathing forages in late summer or early fall, then leaving the windrows in the field to feed in late fall or winter. That allows the producer to capture the quality of forage at the time of harvest. Grazing the windrow is possible even with snow cover. That strategy saves money because it eliminates the cost of baling, hauling the bales off the field, and then feeding them. In addition, grazing the hay in the field returns nutrients back to the soil. There is an outside chance that there will be too much snow to use these feeds, Volesky said. Unless the snow is very deep, though, more than six to eight inches, it won’t matter. Ice is much more of a problem. Barring unusual weather, then, extending the grazing season can help cattle producers save money and increase their profits. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Distillers grains for grazing yearlings

by WLJ
Distillers grains for grazing yearlings Nebraska researchers wanted to know what use these products might have for growing cattle on pasture. They used yearling British-Continental crossbred steers initially weighing about 650 pounds. A treatment group (TRT) had free-choice access to dried distillers grains (DDG) on Sandhill pasture from early June to early August. Controls (CON) were not fed. Consumption of DDG averaged 11 pounds/day. TRT gained 2.8 pounds/day and CON gained 1.9 pounds/day. Forage consumption was estimated to be about 30 percent less by TRT. So, for every CON animal, about 1.4 TRT animals could be run on the same pasture area. After grazing, all animals went to a feed yard. TRT were harvested 14 days before CON. There were no statistically significant differences between the two groups in final weight, average daily gain, or carcass characteristics. There was a tendency for TRT to have more Choice (67 percent vs. 51 percent). The economic value of DDG was 17 percent over its cost for grazing and 11 percent over cost for finishing. The authors stressed that the use of DDG in this manner would depend on pasture cost, DDG cost, feeder cattle price, and fed cattle price. — Texas A&M University Ag Extension

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Friday, August 29,2008

47BeefTalk

by Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University
Pregnancy check now for better management Trucks have been bringing in hay at $5 a loaded mile, so the hay yard is filling up slowly and expensively. The gates and locks have been spruced up. This year, hay values are pricey. As a result, most ranchers are standing at a fork in the road. Do they buy hay or sell cows? Producers need to review all of the options. The preferred alternative is trying to meet the nutritional needs of the cowherd with hay. Hay prices definitely are forcing the review of other feed options. Purchasing feed based on a dollar cost per pound of energy and protein is more desirable than simply purchasing feed on bulk weight. Yet, a more basic question needs to be asked: Are all the cows worth feeding? Now is the time to use ultrasound technology to pregnancy check the cows. Most veterinarians can complete the check. The sooner one can determine next year’s calving projections, the more solid the plans will be. At the Dickinson Research Extension Center, fetal age is determined during ultrasound pregnancy checking. To find the age of the fetuses, an excellent time to set up an ultrasound appointment is two to three months after the bulls are turned out. Ultrasounding three months after bull turnout would make the oldest calf about 90 days old. If the bulls were pulled after 60 days of breeding, then the youngest fetus should be approximately 30 days old. Even if the bulls still are in with the cows, ultrasounding can work. Cows that carry a fetus less than 30 days old are hard to pick up and would be candidates for the cull pen or, at a minimum, the recheck group for possible sale as bred cows. Now is a good time to perform a "paper" presorting of the cows one would like to keep and invest with expensive feed. For example, the center gives all cows a pregnancy code. An A1 cow is pregnant and conceived by artificial insemination. An N1 cow has conceived naturally during the first 21 days of the breeding season. Cows that were predicted to have conceived during the second 21 days of the breeding season are coded as N2. Cows that were predicted to have conceived during the third 21 days are N3 cows. The rest of the cows are open or late and, depending on the need, may be rechecked in the fall. Most likely, these cows will be sold as cull cows. Last week, 48 cows in section 16 were pregnancy checked by ultrasound. Thirty-five were classified as A1 cows, 12 as N2 and only one open. In terms of management, we now know that 35 cows will calve early and 12 will more than likely calve during the later part of the calving season. The open cow will be rechecked and sold. The same procedure was used on heifers. Today, 96 heifers were evaluated for pregnancy. Nine heifers were open. One was pregnant, but wild. All 10 are being pulled off the short pastures and heading to town. There is no excuse for keeping open heifers. There is even less reason to keep a wild heifer. After a day of working cattle, the sounds of silence are appreciated. During the day, the sound of a heifer’s leg kicking the chute or, worse yet, a person’s leg or any other anatomical reachable part is unacceptable. I have watched enough heifers come through the chutes to know there are nice heifers and there are some not-so-nice heifers. Those not-so-nice heifers have inflicted enough damage through the years to earn a place in the harvest line. That may sound harsh, but the truth is the truth. Temperament and expressed behavior are inherited, and like begets like and mean begets mean. Get ready to pregnancy check early for better planning. May you find all your ear tags. — Kris Ringwall (Kris Ringwall is a North Dakota State University Extension Beef Specialist, director of the NDSU Dickinson Research Center and executive director of the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He can be contacted at 701/483-2045.)

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