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    The Challenge of Describing Sustainability in the Beef Industry

    The definition of sustainability in agriculture is a much debated topic. When focusing on production agriculture, Cameron Bruett with JBS USA and past president of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef, put it simply as “Doing more with less. Doing better today than you did yesterday so you have the opportunity to improve tomorrow. It is about continuous improvement”.

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    Advocacy in the Beef Industry

    Two speakers at the Range Beef Cow Symposium addressed today’s issue of disconnect between consumers and producers. Dr. Ronnie Green addressed why this disconnect is occurring while Michele Payn-Knoper discussed how to fix the problem. With the majority of the population being at least three generations removed from the family farm, it is important for farmers and ranchers to tell their story and help the consumer understand how their food is produced.

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    The Difference Between Leaders and Managers?

    One of the discussions which often surfaces is the question are leaders and mangers the same thing? One’s first response is, usually, yes, to be a manager you must be a leader and leaders manage companies, right? Even though both are important to the success of a business they are not the same, they are vitally different. The confusion comes if someone is in a management role, supervising employees, leading teams and having a role of authority, it seems they are serving in a position of authority of leadership?

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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.

    Read More »

    Monitoring Nutrient Status of Cows

    Managing cows through the winter provides different challenges compared to managing those same cows during the growing season. With snow cover across most of South Dakota, cows should oftentimes receive supplemental feed to meet their nutrient requirements during late gestation and into calving season because forage available for grazing is limited. Supplemental feeds can range from hay, to cake, to distillers grains, or lick barrels. However, how can one be sure their needs are being met?

    Read More »

    Where Do the Sharps Go?

    I gave my animal a shot, now what? Animals receive shots for various reasons throughout their life, just like people. Sometimes they are used to prevent diseases, in the case of vaccinations; and sometimes they are used to help an animal recover from a bacterial illness, as with antibiotics. Regardless of why the animal received a shot, it is important to dispose of the needle in a safe way.

    Read More »

    Animal Handling & Welfare: Take the Lead!

    In the past two weeks a couple of e-newsletter articles came across my desk Their headlines caught my attention: “Man arrested after undercover video reveals alleged abuse at Perdue chicken supplier” and “New Mexico dairy employee sentenced in animal cruelty case”. In both cases, the investigations were resulted from undercover videos and the operations and industries are paying a heavy price as a result.

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    Livestock Well-Being at Auction Markets

    Livestock markets are just one of the links in our food supply chain between the farm/ranch gate and the consumer’s table. Livestock auction barns, like livestock producers, face both challenges and opportunities to improve animal well-being. During the December 2nd Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Kristen Parman, Vice President of Membership Services for Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) shared some of the challenges auction markets face to improve animal care.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    NRCS Cropping Systems Inventory: Landowner & agency cooperation important for soil health

    South Dakota NRCS State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich announced on December 1st the release of the latest South Dakota Cropping Systems Inventory (formerly referred to as the “CTIC residue management survey”) at the joint annual meeting of Ag Horizons and the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts. The data contained in this inventory is valuable to anyone participating in agriculture and natural resource conservation in South Dakota.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    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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    Grazing Residue: Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

    Integrating crop and livestock enterprises represents an incredible competitive advantage for farmers and ranchers. Increased acres of corn result in greater quantities of residue available for feed. Because the land cost is charged to the crop enterprise, crop residues are much less costly than either summer pasture or harvested feeds.

    Read More »

    2014-2015 Calf Value Discovery Closeout

    The 2014-2015 SDSU Calf Value Discovery results continue to show that the most profitable animals were those that experienced the most rapid gain with the heaviest hot carcass weight (HCW) and greater percentage grading Choice or higher which is similar to the previous year. Table 1 provides the closeout information for the pen as well as by load. Animals were selected for a load if estimated backfat was 0.40 inches or if the animal was at risk of being discounted for heavy carcass weight (> 1,000 pounds).

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    Preconditioning BQA: Part 2 – Facility considerations

    Preconditioning is a set of management decisions relating to vaccination, weaning, nutrition and housing that maximize health and future growth potential of cattle in the feed yard.  Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) not only focuses on injection site location and vaccine handling, but also speaks to how we transition our calves to the feedlot. Decisions made relating to how facilities are managed can make significant impacts on overall health.

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    Preconditioning BQA: Part 1 – Maximize health & success in the feed yard

    Preconditioning is a set of management decisions relating to vaccination, weaning, nutrition and housing that maximize health and future growth potential of cattle in the feed yard. Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a set of best management practices to limit carcass losses and to avoid violative residues in beef carcasses. This article will focus on topics important to preconditioning programs.

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    Establishing Corn Silage Value

    Corn silage represents the base of many beef and dairy diets in the Midwest for a number of very good reasons. Properly harvested corn silage is an excellent forage resource that can be used in a number of feeding situations. A large quantity of feed can be harvested from a relatively small land area in a short period of time, especially with modern corn genetics and silage harvesting equipment. However, assigning accurate values to corn silage can be challenging as there are few if any published market prices.

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    Heifer Development Webinar Series | Nutritional Management of Bred Heifers: Late Gestation and Early

    The USDA-NASS January 1 Cattle Inventory Report indicates that beef heifer numbers are well above 100% of last year. In 2015 heifer slaughter was down 12%, and heifer sales suggested potential replacements were being retained. With record high development costs of these replacements it is critical that heifers are successfully integrated into the cowherd. This can be a significant challenge, as over 30% of open cows in a given year are 2- and 3- year olds.

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    Are You Moving Enough Air in Your Calving Barn? Part 3: Ventilation requirements

    Appropriate environments for calving barns are critical to give calves the best start when being born in cold weather. Calves require a dry, clean environment, with lots of fresh air and protection from the wind. A dry and clean environment is critical to avoid transmission of both scours and respiratory disease organisms, and this is primarily accomplished by providing clean bedding and proper ventilation.

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    2015 Alfalfa Variety Trials

    We are pleased to announce that the 2015 Alfalfa Variety Trials Report is now available! The objectives of the alfalfa variety trials for SDSU Extension were to develop unbiased research results for better estimates on which alfalfa varieties work better under specific environmental conditions. This work performed at the Northeast Research farm, near South Shore, and at a second location near Redfield, South Dakota will continue for several years as more locations are being included.

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    Can You “Make” a Cow Deliver Better Colostrum?

    Cattle producers and veterinarians are aware of the large body of evidence clearly pointing to the benefits of colostrum for baby calves.  As such, much attention has been given to the “intake side” of the equation (the calf’s side): how to ensure a calf consumes an adequate amount of high-quality colostrum. But what about the “production side” of colostrum – the cow’s side?  What interventions could be made within the cow herd to improve the quantity and quality (concentration of immunoglobulins) of colostrum produced?

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    Monitoring Nutrient Status of Cows

    Managing cows through the winter provides different challenges compared to managing those same cows during the growing season. With snow cover across most of South Dakota, cows should oftentimes receive supplemental feed to meet their nutrient requirements during late gestation and into calving season because forage available for grazing is limited. Supplemental feeds can range from hay, to cake, to distillers grains, or lick barrels. However, how can one be sure their needs are being met?

    Read More »

    Reducing Input Costs with Proper Feed Storage

    Cattle prices are down compared to last year; however, producers are still enjoying the second highest market ever. This decrease in cattle prices is causing producers to consider opportunities to reduce input costs. Feed is the largest portion of annual cow costs, thus it makes sense to consider cutting, if possible. However, it is key to develop a strategy to carefully reduce costs without negatively impacting production.

    Read More »

    2nd Annual SDSU Extension Heifer Development Webinar Series

    To help answer producer’s questions during this time of expansion, SDSU Extension held a webinar series in January 2015 providing extensive information on management, nutrition, genetics, health and reproduction of replacement heifers. However, as the market in 2016 returns to more normal conditions, to be successful during this part of the cattle cycle producers will need to plan accordingly to manage risk while tending to their young herds, specifically bred heifers. 

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    Pre-Calving Vaccinations for Pregnant Cows

    With the New Year here, producers can take this opportunity to think back on their successes and challenges that occurred in 2015 and begin making plans to implement changes in certain management areas in 2016. As calving season looms in the not so distant future, the first things that come to my mind is considering plans for pre-calving vaccination of pregnant cows, and thinking about controlling calf scours. Attention to these areas is warranted as is critical to both performance of cows and health of newborn calves.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    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.

    Read More »

    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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    Where Do the Sharps Go?

    I gave my animal a shot, now what? Animals receive shots for various reasons throughout their life, just like people. Sometimes they are used to prevent diseases, in the case of vaccinations; and sometimes they are used to help an animal recover from a bacterial illness, as with antibiotics. Regardless of why the animal received a shot, it is important to dispose of the needle in a safe way.

    Read More »

    Livestock Well-Being at Auction Markets

    Livestock markets are just one of the links in our food supply chain between the farm/ranch gate and the consumer’s table. Livestock auction barns, like livestock producers, face both challenges and opportunities to improve animal well-being. During the December 2nd Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Kristen Parman, Vice President of Membership Services for Livestock Marketing Association (LMA) shared some of the challenges auction markets face to improve animal care.

    Read More »

    Easy Holiday Entertaining with Beef

    The holidays are here! It’s a season full of friends and family celebrations that usually include some old and new traditions. Some of my fondest memories have been made in the kitchen surrounded by loved ones. Unfortunately, during the holiday season staple family favorite dishes can occasionally be like some family members – easier to deal with than others! If preparing an impressive beef roast has shaken your confidence, relax; I have some easy tips and online resources to help make your holiday meals delicious, easy and stress free.

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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.

    Read More »

    Healthy Eating Provides Winter Maintenance for your Body

    Whether we like it or not, winter will be here soon. Many of us have begun winter maintenance on our homes and cars, so why not make some similar tweaks to our diets? For motivation and ideas, the American Heart Association (AHA) is claiming Nov. 4, as National Eating Healthy Day. This day has been set aside to help the public learn how to eat and cook healthier meals. Reducing controllable cardiac risk factors, through diet, exercise and healthy habits may help prevent a heart attack or stroke in the future.

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    Is Antibiotic Use in Animals a Concern?

    A report released by a group of six consumer interest, public health and environmental organizations raised questions about the use of antibiotics in meat and poultry products offered at 25 of the nation’s largest fast food and fast casual restaurants. The report, entitled “Chain Reaction – How top restaurants rate on reducing use of antibiotics in their meat supply” provides grades to restaurants depending on their ‘Antibiotic Use Policy’.

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    Understanding Conservation Easements

    Conservation easements are a common, yet often misunderstood, real estate transaction tool. This article is intended to provide factual information regarding the rules and regulations that govern the use of conservation easements in South Dakota. Source citations include references to both direct sources and compilations that include additional references to law, case law, and easement publications.

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    New SDSU Survey on Land Use Decisions Highlights Role of Grasslands

    SDSU Economist Larry Janssen and co-authors recently published the results of a survey conducted in the spring of 2015 on land use decision making by producers. The focus area for the survey was the Prairie Pothole Region of eastern South Dakota (37 counties) and eastern North Dakota (20 counties). They received a total of 1,026 survey responses (36% response rate), and published their key findings in the SDSU Economics Commentator Newsletter.

    Read More »

    NRCS Cropping Systems Inventory: Landowner & agency cooperation important for soil health

    South Dakota NRCS State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich announced on December 1st the release of the latest South Dakota Cropping Systems Inventory (formerly referred to as the “CTIC residue management survey”) at the joint annual meeting of Ag Horizons and the South Dakota Association of Conservation Districts. The data contained in this inventory is valuable to anyone participating in agriculture and natural resource conservation in South Dakota.

    Read More »

    Range Beef Cow Symposium Outstanding Speakers

    Producers who attend the Range Beef Cow Symposium on November 17 -19, 2015 at The Ranch, an event center on the Larimer County Fairgrounds in Loveland, Colorado will have the opportunity to hear leading experts and producers from across the country as they address topics on cattle markets, cattle reproduction, animal health, range management plus many current issues facing cattlemen such as volatility of cattle prices, new technologies and effects on trade.

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    Pasture, Rangeland, Forage Rainfall Index (PRF-RI) Insurance for 2016

    Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) insurance is available for 2016 in South Dakota and the other contiguous states based on a Rainfall Index (RI). Several states shifted to RI coverage and several states became eligible for coverage for the first time. Another change for 2016 is in the base price used to pay out for grazing losses. November 15, 2015 is the deadline to purchase or change coverage for the 2016 calendar year.

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    Grazing Residue: Having Your Cake and Eating It Too

    Integrating crop and livestock enterprises represents an incredible competitive advantage for farmers and ranchers. Increased acres of corn result in greater quantities of residue available for feed. Because the land cost is charged to the crop enterprise, crop residues are much less costly than either summer pasture or harvested feeds.

    Read More »

    Late Season Hay Production: Overcoming Protein Deficiency

    As the summer progresses and hay matures, haying season should be coming to a close, however some producers are getting one last cutting. Although it is late in the season, producers may want and/or need to put up this hay in order to have adequate feed stored for the winter. However, there will be limitations on how this harvested forage can be utilized.

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    New Grassland CRP Offers Grazing Options

    On September 1st, USDA started taking offers for a new and highly anticipated Conservation Reserve Program called ‘CRP grasslands’. While not perfect, this new program takes a major step toward improved management and utilization of expiring CRP and GRP acres under a ‘working lands’ philosophy while retaining the inherent value of the grass cover for wildlife, water, and recreation.

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    Target Noxious Weeds This Fall

    If they have not been treated yet, now is the time to spray those perennial weeds we battle every year. Fall is an excellent time to treat Canada thistle, leafy spurge, and other noxious weeds around the farm and home. Fall control of annual weeds like crabgrass, foxtail, knotweed or purslane is unnecessary and wasteful. These weeds only live for one summer, and naturally die in fall so control is unnecessary. Before applying any herbicide, know what weeds you are trying to control. Your county Weed and Pest Supervisor or the SDSU Extension Weed Program can help with identification.

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