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November Newsletter

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Catawba Valley Cattlemen’s Association
(meets the 2nd Tuesday of each month)
This month’s meeting is on Tuesday, November 13, 2018 at the Extension Office(Ag Resource Center).
GPS address:1175 South Brady Ave. Newton, NC 28658

6:00 p.m. – Supper is served.

6:45 p.m. — Business meeting – Dr. Greg Whitener, president
7:00 p.m. —  Educational meeting: Dr. Harrison Dudley DVM – The Value of Records
8:00 p.m. – Meeting adjourned

  • 4-H Dairy Steer Project Informational Meeting, Nov. 5, 6:30 p.m. Do you have a child or grandchild that would enjoy this? Or do you want to be on a list of people to call when families have questions or concerns about their project?
  • Caleb Huffman has started a business called Top Hands @OCF which helps producers with farming needs. Call him at (828)234-4047 for more information.
  • 2018 Farm City Week Banquet is November 20, at 6 p.m. at the Catawba Country Club. The speakers’ topic is “Dairy Farms of Catawba County Then and Now” The 3 speakers are Corey Lutz, Dan Hunsucker and Patrick Daily. Kiwanis will present the 2018 Catawba County Contributor to Agriculture Award. Cost is only $15 a plate. Should be really good! Call our office at 828-465-8240 for tickets reservations.

Cattle Records Matter

By: Lance Bauer

What is one thing all successful businesses have in common? It isn’t the products they sell, you won’t find a steak at Best Buy and you won’t find an iPad at your local butcher shop. It’s record-keeping, most all successful businesses keep records that are relevant to the product or service they provide. In order to improve anything, there have to be records so that progress or movement backward can be measured. The only way to make improvements and keep ahead of the game is to take measurements and record them, the old saying is “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” The cattle business is no different than any other business and records should be kept on anything that can help a producer make more money, after all this is a business. Records are very useful in many decisions to keep or cull animals and progress an operation.

The first record that many producers focus on is birth weight. Birth weight is important to most because heavier birth weights are correlated with dystocia or calving difficulties, and no one wants to deal with calving difficulties. Dystocia is a problem that has large economic costs associated with it, lost calves and possible damage to reproductive tracts causing infertility in cows. Calves that are born to cows that had dystocia are more likely to die before weaning than calves that are born with no issues. Since the main goal of most producers in the United States is to produce a live weaned calf, a calf that dies before weaning is lost production. While birth weight is important to consider because of its correlation with dystocia producers can also record calving ease scores. These records can help with culling decisions by trying to eliminate cows that have calving difficulty or bulls that consistently produce large calves that require birthing assistance.

Weaning weights are a very valuable record for the majority of producers around the United States. Most calves in the United States are sold at conventional auction barns, by the pound, and those calves that aren’t marketed in a conventional auction barn are still sold by the pound. It makes sense to pay close attention to records of weight, when pounds are what a producer gets paid on. Keeping cows and bulls that consistently produce heavier calves and culling those animals that consistently produce lighter weaning calves is a good way to increase the profit from an operation. Selecting for weaning weight in both cows and bulls can be done by utilizing EPDs, which take into account the animal’s own performance, pedigree, and the performance of the animal’s offspring. Another way to increase weaning weight is to utilize heterosis or hybrid vigor. Heterosis in the cow and the calf both can lead to increased weaning weights because of maternal and direct hybrid vigor. Beefmaster bulls are a good way to make crossbred commercial females to retain in an operation and have steer calves that will wean heavy.

Another weight trait to keep records on, if possible is yearling weights. There are producers that will background calves for longer and sell them as yearlings instead of at weaning, and again weight pays so this is important for profit. Yearling weights on replacement heifers are also very helpful to a producer in determining when to breed for the first time, the industry standard for years has been to breed a heifer at 60-65% of her mature weight. By doing this most heifers will have reached puberty and be ready to breed. The advantage of hybrid vigor continues for yearling weights and crossbred cattle tend to perform better as yearlings and produce more pounds.

Reproductive records are extremely important to keep, since a producer will not make any money back on a cow that does not have a calf. One of the first reproductive traits to keep records on is pregnancy since a cow must get pregnant to have a calf. Fertility is a trait that is lowly heritable and hybrid vigor has the largest impact on lowly heritable traits, making using crossbred Beefmaster females a very viable option for replacements. Heifers that fail to get rebred or cows that continuously fall back or come up open are animals that are losing the producer money and should be looked at for culling. Cows that continuously move up in the breeding season are good candidates for keeping replacement females from.

A record that may get overlooked sometimes is a weaning record, whether or not a cow weaned a calf. It may seem that if a cow is bred at the time of a pregnancy check she should have and wean a calf, however that is not always the case. It would not be an ideal situation to have a 92% conception rate but only an 80% calf crop weaned. On a herd of 100 head that is 20 cows that do not wean a calf. A weaned calf is what makes money so this is an extremely important record to keep. Cows that wean a calf and get bred back every year are the best animals for making money in the herd, and if a producer uses records to focus on keeping those cows then they should see an increase in production and profit for their operation.

There are other production traits that can be taken into account and measured for that also play a role in the success of an operation. These traits can be used in culling decisions as well, one extremely important trait is udder and teat structure. Bad udders and teats are one of the largest reasons for culling cows in the beef industry, and keeping yearly records allows a producer to easily make these decisions. Another trait that is hard to measure is reproductive efficiency of a bull, but with genomic technology today calves can be sire verified in multi sired situations. This type of record allows producers to keep and cull bulls based on how many cows they got bred and can lead to the discovery of a bull that may not be producing quality semen. If a producer has a bull to 25 cows and has 100 cows and one bull breeds 40, another breeds 30, another 15 and the last one breeds 5, it is of value to know which bulls performed the best. There are other production records that can be kept and are kept by producers to help improve their operations.

The final type of records that all businesses keep are financial records. These records can help the producer know when a cow has broken even and will start producing a profit, which cows and bulls make them the most money, and which cows and bulls cost them the most money. These financial records are all tied to production of the cows and bulls. Keeping these records may seem like common sense, but they are important for the growth of a business. Banks do not do deals on a handshake anymore and need to see these records in order for a producer to take out a loan and expand their cattle operation. Financial records are what makes a business a business and not a hobby.

It is extremely important to keep records in the cattle industry, because to be successful a producer must treat his cattle as a business and try to make a profit. Performance records need to be kept as these records drive the profit/loss of the business. Animals with consistently low performance are like products that do not sell, any business knows that it is best to get rid of products that do not sell and focus on those that do. It is the same in cattle, using records to cull low performing animals and replace them with higher performing ones just makes sense. Financial records are important to see how the business is doing and how it is growing, and are important to financial institutions that help to grow operations. The cattle business is just like any other business, it is important to keep records and make decisions based on those records to grow a business.