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Improving Beef Cattle Herds

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RADIO TRANSCRIPT
Agent:  Damon Pollard
Date:  November 23, 2021

This is Damon Pollard, Livestock Agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension -Burke County Center. Today’s topic is Improving Beef Cattle Herds.

One of the best ways to boost beef cattle profits is to use genetics to improve the efficiency of your herd. Prioritize traits to meet the goals of your operation. This will provide as many pounds of beef as possible off every available acre at a minimal cost.

Herd efficiency does not always equate with a maximum rate of gain. For example, you might be able to get more pounds per acre by putting 20 medium-sized cows on a pasture that only would support 15 big cows. Additionally, the smaller cows might improve your profitability under drought conditions because they would require fewer resources to remain reproductively fertile than the larger animals.

The breeding system should match the right bull to a set of cows to maximize the production level. When making any management decision, always rank each trait on its economic importance to the operation. It is important to focus on those factors for which you are getting paid. For example, if you sell all progeny, choose a bull with the genetic traits to maximize production. However, if you produce replacement heifers, select a bull with moderate growth and frame size and maternal characteristics that match your nutritional resources.

Use the following criteria to select all sires. They should be reproductively and structurally sound, pass a visual appraisal of such traits as body capacity and muscling, and have performance traits measurable by expected progeny differences (EPDs) if possible.

In addition to genetics, you can improve the profitability of a beef cattle operation by developing a good health program, controlling feed costs, harvesting forages at the right maturity to maximize quality, and using growth implants in non-replacement calves.

For more information, contact the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Burke County at 764-9480.