I recently attended the Forestburg Farmers Elevator and Hubbard Feeds Fall Feeder Meeting and Steak Fry in Artesian, SD, just a few miles from our family cattle operation. There I had the opportunity to listen to Jon Albro, a senior account manager with Ridley Block Operations. Albro talked about cattle supplementation and what producers should know to take care of their cattle and keep them around for the long haul.
“Cows are a depreciable asset,” states Albro. “They are an asset, just like a tractor or a combine. We need to treat them like one. Think about the cow depreciation being the biggest cost in a cattle operation because it is. A cow that produces eight or nine calves is worth a lot more than one that will only stick around to produce four or five calves. We can look at cow supplementation to help maintain our cows.”
Looking at fall and winter beef cow supplementation, Albro says it’s important to think about body condition scores (BCS) of the cattle.
“Reproductive efficiency is the number-one profit indicator,” explains Albro. “If cows are allowed to drop their BCS in the fall or winter and then calve in the spring in poor shape, it will be a lot more difficult for them to breed back on time. We need to be proactive, not reactive, in our cattle maintenance; that means supplementation.
“The beef-cattle industry is a pretty shrewd one,” says Albro. “We have to use what works and supplementation has to be cost effective. Feed costs are getting expensive again. If we have the opportunity to use supplementation and graze grasses and corn stalks longer, we can work to keep our input costs down.”
As the meeting came to a close, local ranchers continued to enjoy the fellowship of the steak feed and celebration. Albro hopes the topics discussed in his presentation will be applied to cattle operations in the area. It’s truly the cows that count, and for those who take extra care to maintain the BCS of their cowherd, the efforts will certainly pay off in the long run. For more information on fall cattle supplementation, link here. Do you use supplementation in the fall and winter months? Tell us about your program for reducing feed costs and maintaining an efficient herd.