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    Breeding Season: Are your beef cows ready?

    Preparing cows for a successful breeding season is critical for a cow/calf producer’s financial bottom-line. Two considerations often come to the top of the list when thinking about management strategies for setting the cowherd up for high pregnancy rates are: 1) nutrition and 2) moving late calving cows up in the breeding season. However, another management consideration is vaccinating cows for reproductive pathogens. Some producers elect to vaccinate cows (pregnant) during pregnancy testing due to management and labor constraints.

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    SDSU Extension Releases Online Video Resources for Artificial Insemination

    The spring breeding season is fast approaching for most South Dakota ranchers if not here already. A growing number of producers use artificial insemination or AI as a reproductive management tool. Sometimes “show and tell” is the best approach to make sure that a concept sticks. With that in mind, SDSU Extension has produced two videos on AI procedures.

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    Maximize Your Best Asset – Your Employees

    There never seems to be a slow time around a farm or ranch. The to do list is always there, and as a result farm owners and managers who oversee employees and or work alongside family members sometimes can overlook how important it is to allocate time to enhance the skills and abilities of those who work for you. There are great opportunities year round, such as tours, field days and seminars employers can take advantage of as continued educational opportunities for your employees.

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    Farm Equipment, Safety on the Road, Everyone’s Role

    Spring brings the onset of an increase in farm activity as planting and the moving of livestock to pasture gets underway. As a result we will see an increase of encounters with farm equipment on the road, whether it is a tractor with a planter attached, a swather, a tractor and baler, someone hauling feed between farms, or the local elevator hauling fertilizer or heading out to spray crops for a producer. The point is we all need to be vigilant as a producer, ag industry person or a motorist encountering agricultural farm equipment on the road.

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    Branding Methods: Understanding which are preferred and why

    Branding time elicits different feelings depending on who you talk to. Ask a rancher about branding and you may hear phrases about tradition, family, friends and neighbors, or “It’s a happy time of the year!” However, if you ask someone from the city that did not grow up around cattle, you may hear comments about pain, cruelty, gross, or “That’s awful abuse!” So why the drastic difference in perception of this husbandry practice? How do these different perceptions impact the recommendations that ranchers are suggested to use on their cattle?

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    Eating Like a Pig is Healthy

    On Thursday, February 25, 2016, Dr. Eric Berg gave a presentation at South Dakota State University on “Eating Like a Pig: The Role of Meat in the Human Diet” as part of the University’s Speakers series. Berg, a Professor of Meat Science from North Dakota State University, discussed a variety of topics including how the USDA Food Pyramid was developed, limitations in human nutrition research, how the US diet has evolved throughout the years, and how those changes have significant implications on human health.

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    Toe Abscess (Toe Tip Necrosis) in Feeder Cattle

    Toe abscess (toe tip necrosis) is most commonly seen in feedlot cattle and is likely subsequent to excessive abrasive damage to the hoof, especially the toe tip. Affected animals may be moderately to severely lame, depending on the extent of the infection into the sensitive tissues Untreated cattle may develop joint infections and ascending leg infections, which significantly limit productivity and the likelihood of recovery.

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    Tips for Reducing Conflict During Agriculture’s Busy Time

    For those involved in the day-to-day workings of agriculture you know things are getting busier and busier as we move into spring. Calving season is in full swing meaning late night checks or even a 3 a.m. wake up call to make sure all is fine. Those involved in crop production are preparing equipment and making the necessary final seed orders to be ready to hit the field as soon as possible. The result is long days ahead for agricultural producers, their employees and families. In times like these, stress builds, tempers can get short and adequate communication can oftentimes fall by the wayside.

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    The Power of Meat Labels and Marketing

    We all have bought meat products of some kind from a grocery store or local butcher. However, were you aware of all the statements and logos on that package and what they meant in terms of their impact on the dollar value of the product you purchased? During the March 2nd Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Bryon Wiegand, a Professor and Meat Science Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri, discussed the value of meat products and their label claims.

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    Cattle Herd Expansion is Losing Momentum

    According to the cattle and calves inventory report released by the USDA on January 29, 2016, the U.S. cattle herd increased 3% from a year ago. South Dakota cattle inventory increased by 250,000 head from the same period of 2015, ranked 3rd in the nation, behind only Kansas and Oklahoma. In terms of percentage increase of cattle inventory, South Dakota and Oklahoma cattle inventories both increased by 7%, ranking first among the top 10 cattle production states in 2016.

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    Integrated Crop Livestock Systems: Enhancing economic profit & soil health

    Introducing livestock into arable cropping systems can improve soil health and provide economic benefits. In the integrated crop livestock systems, cover crops and crop residue provide feed to livestock, while plants capture nutrients from the livestock waste. Potential economic benefits include reduced fertilizer cost for the cash crop, yield/profit increase from subsequent cash crop, and additional cost savings from supplemental hay.

    Read More »

    Planning Ahead for Summer Feedlot Maintenance

    The performance and cost of gain of backgrounding or finishing cattle depends in large part on the quality of their feeding environment. For many cattle feeders in South Dakota, especially backgrounders, the summer months represent a great time to address and correct any problems that might be present in open lots. There is usually some time during the summer when the pens are drier and empty, providing the opportunity to do some prep work before fall.

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    Toe Abscess (Toe Tip Necrosis) in Feeder Cattle

    Toe abscess (toe tip necrosis) is most commonly seen in feedlot cattle and is likely subsequent to excessive abrasive damage to the hoof, especially the toe tip. Affected animals may be moderately to severely lame, depending on the extent of the infection into the sensitive tissues Untreated cattle may develop joint infections and ascending leg infections, which significantly limit productivity and the likelihood of recovery.

    Read More »

    Grass-Fed Beef Labeling Issues

    In early January there was a short flurry of media activity focused on the announcement by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) that the agency was foregoing it labeling policy for grass fed beef. What was a reasonable attempt at clarification of labeling authority spawned a great deal of initial confusion.

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    Feed Bunk Management

    When it comes to nutritional management of growing and finishing cattle, the scientific aspects tend to get the most attention. Hours are spent getting the formulations right and debating the merits of different ingredients and additives. In truth, feeding cattle successfully is as much art and judgment as science. Judgment is required to balance between over- and under-feeding. Under-feeding limits performance and possibly quality grade. Feeding too much increases feed waste and more importantly can trigger acidosis, poor performance, and increased death loss.

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    Protein Effects on Reproductive Efficiency

    Reproductive failure and reproductive losses cost the US beef and dairy industries over $1 billion dollars annually (Bellows et al., 2002). In addition, the number one reason for culling cows is pregnancy status (33%), closely followed by age and poor teeth (32%; NAHMS, 2008). Seeing these numbers, should make producers think twice about how they are working to improve reproductive performance in their cowherds in order to decrease the number of cows being culled for reproductive failure each year.

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    Veterinary Feed Directive Q & A

    In June 2015, the FDA finalized the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rule pertaining to how feed-grade antibiotics can be used for livestock. Since then, there have been several meetings hosted across the state and country for producers, veterinarians and feed mills/ feed distributors discussing the details of these changes and how all parties will need to work together to follow new FDA guidelines for feeding antibiotics to livestock.

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    SDSU Extension to Kick Off South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention

    There will be an SDSU Extension Roundup on Tuesday, December 8 at the Ramkota Inn in Pierre, SD as part of the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Convention. The program will run from 5:30 to 7:30 PM.
    The program is designed to offer timely information that can be used to make better-informed management decisions.

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    Save the Date: 2016 SDSU BEEF 20/20

    The South Dakota State University Animal Science faculty and staff are gearing up to host the 2016 BEEF 20/20 program January 6-8. BEEF 20/20 is designed to provide an intensive, hands-on, educational opportunity to enhance the understanding of the production and marketing of high quality, high value beef. Attendees do not need to be cattle producers to attend the program. Anyone affiliated with the beef industry - producers, allied industry representatives, locker operators, restaurateurs, retailers - is welcome.

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    Considerations for Rumen Development in Weaned Calves

    Proper nutritional management of weaned calves is critical in ensuring optimal health and performance. It is important to develop weaning rations that will adequately prepare calves for efficient growth and profitability in backgrounding and finishing programs or for a lifetime of productivity in the cow herd. Understanding the digestive physiology of a ruminant animal can help provide some insight about how various feedstuffs and rations may impact future production potential.

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    Breeding Season: Are your beef cows ready?

    Preparing cows for a successful breeding season is critical for a cow/calf producer’s financial bottom-line. Two considerations often come to the top of the list when thinking about management strategies for setting the cowherd up for high pregnancy rates are: 1) nutrition and 2) moving late calving cows up in the breeding season. However, another management consideration is vaccinating cows for reproductive pathogens. Some producers elect to vaccinate cows (pregnant) during pregnancy testing due to management and labor constraints.

    Read More »

    SDSU Extension Releases Online Video Resources for Artificial Insemination

    The spring breeding season is fast approaching for most South Dakota ranchers if not here already. A growing number of producers use artificial insemination or AI as a reproductive management tool. Sometimes “show and tell” is the best approach to make sure that a concept sticks. With that in mind, SDSU Extension has produced two videos on AI procedures.

    Read More »

    Setting Up Replacement Heifers for Breeding with CIDR Protocols

    Replacement heifers are the most common group of females on the ranch to be artificially inseminated. An option available for heifer (and cow) synchronization is use of a CIDR (Controlled Internal Drug Release). Like MGA, the CIDR serves as a transport mechanism for the hormone progesterone to be utilized by the female in attempts to modify her reproductive cycle for breeding. Progesterone is the hormone that blocks estrus and is also responsible for maintaining pregnancy.

    Read More »

    Branding Methods: Understanding which are preferred and why

    Branding time elicits different feelings depending on who you talk to. Ask a rancher about branding and you may hear phrases about tradition, family, friends and neighbors, or “It’s a happy time of the year!” However, if you ask someone from the city that did not grow up around cattle, you may hear comments about pain, cruelty, gross, or “That’s awful abuse!” So why the drastic difference in perception of this husbandry practice? How do these different perceptions impact the recommendations that ranchers are suggested to use on their cattle?

    Read More »

    Successful Heifer Synchronization Using MGA

    Effective estrous synchronization protocols are one of the keys to successful AI projects. Synchronization allows for groups of cattle to be bred at a set time, resulting in more calves born earlier in the calving season. Most of the recommended protocols include administering some form of progesterone. Progesterone serves to inhibit estrus (heats). Progesterone “sets up” the cow or heifer so that she will respond to the prostaglandin or GnRH that will be used later in the protocol.

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    New Technology for an Old Problem

    One of the last projects I was involved with as coordinator for the Lower James River Watershed Project was the installation of a deep pit monoslope barn for a feedlot operation near Alexandria, SD. A deep pit confinement barn is a manure storage system that employs slatted flooring with pit manure storage underneath. Beef producers value the labor-saving advantages that typically come with a deep pit design along with the increased nutrient retention of the manure.

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    Getting Replacement Heifers Ready to Breed

    By now, most producers are in the heart of the calving season or even nearing the end, which means that breeding season is right around the corner. Therefore, replacement heifers are closing in on one year of age and should be showing signs that they are ready to begin the breeding season. But first, producers should take some time to evaluate replacement heifers’ health, nutrition and reproductive status. This will increase breeding success, with heifers that will perform and are good representation of the females that should enter the mature cow herd.

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    Spanish Sessions on the Spot for Enhancing Milk Production

    The Central Plains Dairy Expo in Sioux Falls is the largest annual dairy exposition in South Dakota. This annual exposition provides an opportunity to interact with private companies and producers from the I-29 corridor. This year, the Dairy Science Department and SDSU Extension offered one big session dedicated to the Spanish-speaking dairy workforce. The session was titled “Cows talk! Are you listening? Learn how to read cow body language and use the information to detect and correct health problems”.

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    Easy Beef Breakfast

    April is full of school activities, including standardized tests and increased outdoor sporting events. Parents may be interested to know that many studies show a direct link between nutritious family meals and academic success. Daily family meals start with breakfast. Breakfast kick-starts students’ metabolism and fuels their bodies which helps them stay focused during school activities.

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    The Power of Meat Labels and Marketing

    We all have bought meat products of some kind from a grocery store or local butcher. However, were you aware of all the statements and logos on that package and what they meant in terms of their impact on the dollar value of the product you purchased? During the March 2nd Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Bryon Wiegand, a Professor and Meat Science Extension Specialist at the University of Missouri, discussed the value of meat products and their label claims.

    Read More »

    Beef and National Nutrition Month

    The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) were released in January, and March is National Nutrition Month! What better time to revisit your New Year’s resolutions and check your nutrition status to help guide better eating habits, reach wellness goals and sustain a healthful lifestyle. The Dietary Guidelines refers to lean beef as a nutrient-rich food, which means it is high in nutrients, yet low in calories. Lean beef is a wholesome, high-quality protein that is a good or excellent source of 10 essential nutrients, including Zinc, Iron, Protein and B vitamins.

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    Beef is a Nutrition Powerhouse

    Lean beef is a nutrition powerhouse. It is a naturally nutrient-rich food providing 10 essential nutrients with only about 150 calories per 3-ounce serving. Lean beef packs more nutrients per bite with fewer calories, so it’s easier on the waistline than empty-calorie foods. Here are just a few of the many “hidden” nutrients in lean beef, along with the multiple body benefits they provide.

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    Beta-agonists in the Spotlight

    During the February 3rd Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Kristin Hales, a Research Animal Scientist at the U. S. Meat Animal Research Center discussed some research findings about the effects of feeding Zilmax® and using shade in feedyard pens on beef cattle performance, heat stress, and other important measures.

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    Healthy Protein for the Heart

    February is American Heart Month, dedicated to educating the public about heart health. Choosing to live a healthy lifestyle, including diet, nutrition and exercise, helps combat heart disease. A new study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by researchers from Pennsylvania State University, concluded that animal protein foods – including lean beef – can be just as effective as plant proteins in achieving weight loss and improving risk factors for metabolic syndrome as part of a heart-healthy dietary pattern.

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    Impacting the Perfect Harvest

    The Animal Care Wednesday Webinars kicked off another year on January 6th. This year’s theme is “Husbandry Practices in the Spotlight”. The first webinar focused on the well-being challenges that arise when livestock are taken from the farm for processing to a harvest facility of any size.

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    Ground Beef: A Popular Choice

    Whether you enjoy hamburgers on the grill or sloppy joes, ground beef is one of the United States most popular meats. It’s no wonder, since it’s versatile and is quick and easy to prepare. It’s also a healthy option. Studies show that lean beef consumption provides protein, which fuels a healthy and active lifestyle and increases our ability to feel full after eating. It also provides iron and B vitamins. According to the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020, a healthy eating pattern includes a variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), and nuts, seeds and soy products.

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    Starting Roster for Super Bowl Celebrations

    The National Football League playoffs are coming to an end, which means Super Bowl 50 is almost here! Most of us will be anchored to our armchairs and cheering for our favorite team. Great food and football just go together, so why not have a few friends over and enjoy some simple, tasty finger-foods?

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    Integrated Crop Livestock Systems: Enhancing economic profit & soil health

    Introducing livestock into arable cropping systems can improve soil health and provide economic benefits. In the integrated crop livestock systems, cover crops and crop residue provide feed to livestock, while plants capture nutrients from the livestock waste. Potential economic benefits include reduced fertilizer cost for the cash crop, yield/profit increase from subsequent cash crop, and additional cost savings from supplemental hay.

    Read More »

    Ant Mounds in Pastures

    Pastures and rangeland host numerous insect species. While the majority of these insects are benign, some are considered pests. The latter is especially true when insects inhabit areas where they were not previously observed, or areas where their presence is a nuisance. In some instances, these perceived pests are actually providing valuable ecosystem services. Recently, a report came in of large ant mounds in a pasture. After investigation it was determined that the mounds are the creation of the Allegheny mound ants (Formica exsectoides), which are native to North America.

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    True White Grubs in Pastures and Rangeland

    Over the course of the winter and spring, many reports came in of grub damage to pastures and rangeland. Many species of grubs feed on grass roots, which may result in reduced grass stands as the root systems are destroyed and the grass is killed. After visiting pastures with infested areas we determined that the damage to grass stands is primarily due to true white grubs. However, there are likely more than 40 species of true white grubs present in South Dakota, all of which are capable of causing damage to pasture or rangeland.

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    SDDA Sensitive Site Registry: Protecting sensitive areas from chemical drift

    The SD Dept. of Ag. recently announced updates to the Sensitive Site Registry. First launched in 2013, the Sensitive Site Registry is designed for producers and applicators (private and commercial) to better understand where chemical and fertilizer drift and misapplications are to be avoided. This registry has the potential to be an excellent tool in fostering positive communications between those who apply chemicals and those who are concerned with drift, and SDDA specifically created the registry to provide information about farms and ranches that would be adversely affected by accidental fertilizer or pesticide application or drift.

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    Focus on Grazing Management, Not Grazing ‘Systems’

    The Society for Range Management held its 69th annual conference in Corpus Christi Texas in February. Dr. Tim Steffens is a rangeland professor at Texas A&M and his talk focused on the importance of keeping the basics of grazing management in mind when considering various grazing ‘systems’. Focusing only on the system and forgetting the fundamental truths of grazing will break any grazing strategy.

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    Noxious Weed Control

    Noxious Weed Control in pastures is becoming more of a challenge. A lot of commercial spray businesses are no longer spraying pastures. If they are, there may be restrictions on the time they will spray, what products they will spray or they may only spray if they also have all of the rest of your spraying business. These restrictions are making spraying pastures more difficult and limited. It is still the law, however, to control noxious weeds. Not being able to find a sprayer is not a valid reason not to spray though.

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    Predicting Peak Forage Production

    As spring arrives in South Dakota, plans for turning cattle out for grazing are being made across the state. Research has shown that April precipitation is one key predictor of growing season forage production in our region. The South Dakota Drought Tool from NRCS uses precipitation and temperature data with research results and is a great resource for assisting in your grazing management decisions.

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    Livestock Integration Positively Influences Soil Health & Nutrient Test Levels

    Soil health is recently a new term that encompasses 17 soil quality indicators used for describing soil that is resilient against negative climatic events that cause water and wind erosion. The Natural Resources and Conservation Service (NRCS) formerly the Soil Conservation Service is the ultimate source for any term, process or analytical procedure involving soil. The NRCS has identified the 17 soil health indicators, which include biological, chemical and physical properties.

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    Forecasting Unintended Consequences of Grassland Conversion

    Continuing implementation of the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill, which includes programs such as SodSaver and policies such as conservation compliance (restraining cultivation on highly erodible or marginal lands), provides incentives to enhance conservation of grasslands. However, these policies will likely only slow, rather than reverse, recent trends of expansion of cultivation for crop production into existing grasslands. Driven by economics, policy, and social shifts in rural America, this is certainly a complex problem worthy of our ongoing attention.

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