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    Strategic and Scenario Planning in Ranching to Weather the Storm

    What a difference three years can make, in 2013 cattle and crop prices were climbing to record highs. Agriculture and rural America was thriving on an unprecedented wave of record high prices for grain and livestock. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last forever, but the speed to which it came crashing down in 2016 was just as unprecedented.

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    How am I doing?

    Not only is it important to give feedback to followers such as employees, but it is important for leaders to do receive feedback in their role. In order to measure the effectiveness of your actions or commonly referred to in leadership, you are “doing what you say you are doing”, feedback from your followers is key.

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    Leaders Ask Questions With Purpose

    An additional step in building one’s credibility as a leader focuses on the questions a leader asks. Research has established the foundation of leadership is credibility and a leader’s ability to build credibility can occur through many steps. One of these is their ability to ask questions with a purpose.

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    Setting the Example

    The foundation of leadership is credibility, and leaders gain credibility when they are able to set the example. Leadership is a learning process, leaders are always learning new skills and abilities to achieve their status. Therefore, to become the role model, there are ways a leader can set an example and create a culture where others want to align themselves with.

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    Credibility: The foundation of leadership

    If you were asked, ‘What is the foundation of leadership?’ What would say? Oftentimes, a common answer is communication. Communication is an important element in leading people. Developing ones’ communication skills is always helpful and positive to the growth of an individual. Research however has shown credibility is the foundation of leadership.

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    Learning in Action: Cattle Handling and Facilities Workshop

    October 27th started early with beautiful fall temperatures above average for this time of year. The 27 participants in the “Low Stress for Safety and Success” workshop began gathering at the SDSU Cottonwood Range and Livestock Field Station near Philip, SD for a full day of learning. Both cattlemen and FFA youth participants were eager to learn low-stress cattle handling techniques and discuss facility design, and most importantly they were eager to put the knowledge into action.

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    Be the Voice of Your Team

    A leader is always learning. When you stop learning it will be difficult to be that person to lead followers and offer a vision for the future. Another important element of a leader is the understanding of who they are as individuals. An initial step for every exemplary leader as they grow into becoming a leader and fulfill leadership roles, is for them to look inwards.

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    Be the Talk of the County

    Want to be an agricultural employer of which employees are consistently talking about with their friends and family? How can you accomplish this? The answer focuses on trust. When we first meet people we instantly begin to form a first impression, by judging their intentions. We are subconsciously forming an opinion of the person in several ways, including their trustworthiness.

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    Producers, veterinarians, and health officials becoming more aware of dairy calf Salmonellosis

    In recent months, a common cause of illness in dairy calves has been garnering more attention among calf raisers, their veterinarians, and even health departments. Salmonella infections can be some of the most severe causes of illness in calves less than one month of age. At the South Dakota Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic Lab in fiscal year 2016, Salmonella was the number one cause of bacterial septicemia (whole body infection) and was among the most common causes of diarrhea in calves.

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    Wintering Calves Headed to Grass

    Not every calf should be managed the same after weaning. Replacement heifers and calves that will spend next summer grazing as yearlings will be managed quite differently than calves going on either a fast-track backgrounding or calf-fed finishing program. In these cases maximum performance is not the goal, but instead a balance between reducing overall wintering costs without compromising future productivity.

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    Getting Calves Off To A Great Start

    Feeding cattle successfully is a bit like a horse race; a bad start can doom the chances of winning.  Problems created during the starting phase increase the odds of sickness and affect performance for the entire feeding period. Two primary issues need to be managed during the transition process. The behavior of the calf needs to be managed so that calves adjust to the feedlot environment as quickly and smoothly as possible.

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    Limited Forage: What are some alternatives?

    Drought conditions across South Dakota have created forage, especially “hay”, shortages for some producers. Typically, beef cow/calf producers depend on hay as the primary feed ingredient for winter-feeding programs. However, research has shown that a variety of feedstuffs can be utilized to meet the cows’ nutrient requirements with similar performance to hay or hay plus supplement ration.

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    Rations Tip for Starting Early Weaned Calves

    Dry conditions have encouraged some producers to wean earlier than normal (6 to 7 months). Research has shown that these calves can perform as well or better than calves still nursing. Pasture quality has a key influence on performance of nursing calves. However, under “normal” conditions daily gain of nursing calves during the period is usually 2.1 to 2.3 pounds.

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    Understanding Carcass Characteristics Important for Successful Retained Ownership

    Whether or not producers retain ownership of calves to finished weight depends on many considerations. Knowing the expected carcass characteristics of cattle is a key factor. The Calf Value Discovery program continues to provide producers with feedlot performance and carcass characteristics from the steers enrolled. Much like in previous years, the most profitable cattle were those with the fastest gain, heaviest hot carcass weight (HCW), and was graded Choice or higher.

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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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    Understanding the Veterinary-Client-Patient Relationship

    By now, livestock producers are becoming aware of soon-to-be-implemented changes in how feed grade antibiotics are used, in the form of expanded use of the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Producers using feed grade medications such as chlortetracycline and tylosin will need to obtain a prescription-like VFD form from a veterinarian before they’re able to purchase and feed those medications.

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    Hay: Stop the Waste

    With winter setting in, pastures have headed into dormancy and corn stalk grazing is well underway. Soon it will be time to start delivering feed to the cow herd, most likely starting with hay supplied in the form of large round or square bales. Depending on which way these hay bales are delivered, the amount of waste will vary. According to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service, over the last decade hay production has decreased 11%, while hay prices have concurrently increased 77%.

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    Strategic and Scenario Planning in Ranching to Weather the Storm

    What a difference three years can make, in 2013 cattle and crop prices were climbing to record highs. Agriculture and rural America was thriving on an unprecedented wave of record high prices for grain and livestock. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last forever, but the speed to which it came crashing down in 2016 was just as unprecedented.

    Read More »

    Wildfire Aftermath: Beef Cattle Health Considerations

    While fall wildfires may not have the direct impact on cow-calf herds compared to those occurring while calves are young and actively nursing, health effects can be severe nonetheless. Smoke inhalation, burns and thermal injury, exertion, stress, and injuries suffered during escape can all cause longer-term effects on cattle that have survived wildfires or building fires.

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    Raising vs. Buying Heifers for Herd Replacements

    Determining the goals of a heifer development program starts with breeding of the heifer’s dam. If maternal genetics like low birthweight and adequate milk make up her pedigree, there may be a place for her to become a replacement heifer to maintain or expand the cowherd. However, utilization of terminal sires to increase growth rates and improve carcass traits may result in the female calves being implanted along with their male herd mates to enter the finishing yard.

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    Fall Alfalfa Grazing Guidelines

    If you as a producer are considering fall grazing of your alfalfa field you will need to keep a few simple guidelines in mind. Bloat is probably the biggest concern with fall grazing of alfalfa, along with considerations given to potential crop injury via “winterization” or as it goes dormant. However, both are manageable, allowing producers to take advantage of this high quality grazing.

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    Swath Grazing: Extending the grazing season

    Producers are always looking to cut costs in livestock operations because of marginal profit opportunities in commodity based markets. One proposed way to cut fall/winter feeding costs is to extend the grazing season and allow the livestock to harvest the resource instead of relying on mechanical harvest. This will reduce the labor required to cut, bale, and feed hay. At issue is the harvest efficiency of grazing versus mechanical harvest and the costs associated with each enterprise.

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    Adding it Up: What does it cost to develop a bred heifer?

    With weaning season upon us and harvesters starting to roll down the road, producers are getting busy. With all the day to day tasks that need to get done, it is easy to stick to tradition and ignore the fact that what has always been done in the past, may not make “cents” this year. With today’s livestock and crop market prices, given the current economic situation it is time to sharpen the pencil to ensure profits are still there at the end of the day.

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    Getting Calves Off To A Great Start

    Feeding cattle successfully is a bit like a horse race; a bad start can doom the chances of winning.  Problems created during the starting phase increase the odds of sickness and affect performance for the entire feeding period. Two primary issues need to be managed during the transition process. The behavior of the calf needs to be managed so that calves adjust to the feedlot environment as quickly and smoothly as possible.

    Read More »

    Limited Forage: What are some alternatives?

    Drought conditions across South Dakota have created forage, especially “hay”, shortages for some producers. Typically, beef cow/calf producers depend on hay as the primary feed ingredient for winter-feeding programs. However, research has shown that a variety of feedstuffs can be utilized to meet the cows’ nutrient requirements with similar performance to hay or hay plus supplement ration.

    Read More »

    How Do Genetics Impact Animal Well-Being?

    During the October Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Michael Gonda, South Dakota State University Associate Professor of Animal Genetics, discussed the difficult topic of the impacts that genetic technologies have on food animal farming and ranching. Genetic engineering (GE) refers to the insertion, deletion, or modification of a specific region of DNA in an organism.

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    Superbugs from Livestock Care Practices?

    During the September Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Dr. Gretchen Hill, Michigan State University Professor of Nutrition, began her presentation regarding antibiotic resistant bacteria with a powerful statement highlighting a misconception of society that current livestock care practices could be producing an unsafe food source.

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    Brazil and the U.S. Resuming Beef Trade

    The USDA recently announced that an agreement has been reached with Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food Supply to allow access for U.S. beef to the Brazilian market. This is the first time that U.S. beef has been approved for export to Brazil since the diagnosis of a bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE)-positive cow in 2003. Brazil’s actions reflect the fact that the U.S. is now under the ‘negligible risk classification’ for BSE by the World Organization for Animal Health.

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    So You Think You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens?

    As families desire to raise their own food, more people are beginning to raise chickens and other poultry in urban and suburban areas. When people bring poultry into communities and their backyards, issues can arise. Dr. Jacquie Jacob, University of Kentucky Poultry Extension Project Manager, presented some of these challenges during the August Animal Care Wednesday Webinar.

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    Is it Done Yet? How to determine meat is cooked properly

    “Is it done yet?” We all ask this question when cooking and there are a variety of methods that have been passed down to determine the ‘doneness’ of different products. For example, my grandmother taught me to throw spaghetti against the wall and if it sticks to the wall it’s done. In later years I’ve learned that although this method is fun to implement, it really just results in sticky walls and overdone pasta.

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    Breakfast with Lean Beef

    Summer break is nearly over, and soon life will again be full of running kids to school and often extracurricular actives before and after class. Families are more on the move and in motion more than ever before, and even though schedules may be hectic, it’s important to not lose breakfast in the interest of time.

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    Checking in on the Checkoff: Events & Happenings

    Where has the summer gone? Many of us find ourselves asking this question as we prepare to send kids back to school and look toward fall harvest and weaning. It is a busy time of year and this summer has been a whirlwind of activity in the South Dakota Beef Industry Council (SDBIC) office. Although grilling season was a prime focus and hundreds of recipes and preparation tips were shared, the staff continued to take a well-rounded approach in developing a structure that focuses on the needs of the producer, consumer, industry partners, and stakeholders.

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    Discussing the Dart Delivery Method for Treating Cattle

    Cattle ranchers strive to minimize the stress of handling and disease on their animals. One way they can do this is by implementing new technologies for delivering medications to sick animals while out in remote pastures. During the July 6th Animal Care Wednesday Webinar, Rob Eirich, Nebraska BQA Coordinator, discussed considerations and challenges of using remote delivery devices for administering medication to animals.

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    Grain-Fed Vs. Grass-Fed Beef

    The nutritional makeup of an animal’s meat by-products is determined by the diet composition, genetics and the breed of an animal. Most beef cattle in the U.S. are fed a grain-based diet typically consisting of corn and grain by-products, after spending the several months of life consuming a forage-based diet. However, recently beef produced from cattle fed exclusively forage or grass has been gaining popularity.

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    Strategic & Scenario Planning in Ranching: Conducting a Ranch Inventory - Part 1

    Conducting a complete ranch inventory is a perfect time for ranch managers to take an in-depth look at their operation. Completing a ranch inventory is the first step in the strategic planning process, but it also helps provide a current overview of the operation. During times of belt-tightening, it’s imperative to make sure all the resources of the ranch are being utilized as efficiently as possible.

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    Strategic and Scenario Planning in Ranching to Weather the Storm

    What a difference three years can make, in 2013 cattle and crop prices were climbing to record highs. Agriculture and rural America was thriving on an unprecedented wave of record high prices for grain and livestock. Everyone knew it wouldn’t last forever, but the speed to which it came crashing down in 2016 was just as unprecedented.

    Read More »

    Optimizing Cattle & Timber Production: Balancing economic & ecologic interests

    About 16% of all grazed land area in the United States is forested, and most of the livestock grazing of forested lands occurs in the Western U.S. While livestock grazing of forested lands has been occurring since the settlement era, relationships between livestock and timber management practices, and resource condition are not well understood. Silvopasture is being promoted by the USDA National Agroforestry Center as a practice that sustainably maximizes economic returns from combined livestock and timber production.

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    Unveiling Bison Summer Diet Selection at Northern Fringe of Historical Distribution

    Bison were historically distributed throughout North America with the Northern edge of the distribution occurring in North Central Manitoba and surrounding provinces. Despite occupying the boreal zone of North America, little is known of bison forage selection patterns when occupying a densely forested aspen ecosystem. In a global review of more than 60 ruminant species, bison were classified as grass-roughage feeders primarily consuming grasses, sedges and rushes.

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    Fall is the Time to Plan for Fire: Part 1 of 3

    Fall is the time to begin planning for spring prescribed fire, regardless of what type of fuels you plan to burn. There are generally three primary components to a successful burn including: 1) the burn unit preparation process 2) the burn planning process, and 3) implementation of the burn. In this article we’ll cover the first step, which is preparing the unit.

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    Management for Recovery of Rangeland after Wildfire

    The recent Cottonwood wildfire that occurred October 16-19, 2016 east of Wall, SD burned over 40,000 acres of grassland. Dealing with the financial loss of killed livestock, miles of fence that will need repair, lost winter pasture, and burned up hay is bad enough. The impact that wildfires have on next year’s forage production also is of concern.

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    Swath Grazing: Extending the grazing season

    Producers are always looking to cut costs in livestock operations because of marginal profit opportunities in commodity based markets. One proposed way to cut fall/winter feeding costs is to extend the grazing season and allow the livestock to harvest the resource instead of relying on mechanical harvest. This will reduce the labor required to cut, bale, and feed hay. At issue is the harvest efficiency of grazing versus mechanical harvest and the costs associated with each enterprise.

    Read More »

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