UNL: Helping Hand Up in Economic Down

NEBRASKA, US — Nebraska's cattle producers are facing economic challenges due to high input costs. To help combat this problem, several Profit Tips will be available for help on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension's Beef Web site.
calendar icon 11 September 2008
clock icon 2 minute read


Input costs, such as fuel, land, fertilizer and especially feed all have influenced the profitability of the beef industry.

Feed costs represent a major part of beef cattle production expenses, said Judson Vasconcelos, feedlot nutrition/management specialist at UNL's Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.

"Those days of $2 a bushel corn are probably gone"
Judson Vasconcelos, feedlot nutrition/management specialist at UNL's Panhandle Research and Extension Center at Scottsbluff.

"Those days of $2 a bushel corn are probably gone," Vasconcelos said. "The high cost of feed grains is putting cow-calf and feedlot profits under severe economic pressures."

The UNL Extension initiative, "Surviving High Input Costs," targets feedlot and cow-calf producers.

UNL Extension specialists from the departments of agricultural economics and animal science and the Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center all have written some very helpful material about basic management principles that could help producers survive bad economic times, Vasconcelos said. These will start to go on-line early this month.

Rick Rasby, UNL beef specialist, leads the team on the cow-calf side, while Vasconcelos is doing the same on the feedlot side.

"During these coming months, producers will have access to timely information on topics that influence the profitability of their business in today's market," he said.

Some of the topics to be covered include:

Cow-calf: harvesting date on forage quality and regrowth, low cost heifer development strategies; managing calving and weaning dates to reduce inputs, supplementing phosphorus to beef cows, sampling forages for quality, determining unit cost of production for the cow/calf enterprise, understanding a forage analysis; calculating supplementation costs on a price per nutrient basis; maximizing winter grazing opportunities, managing cow body condition to optimize performance, minimizing forage feeding losses, matching milk production and cow size to resources, improving marketing of cull cows and storing grain byproduct.

Feedlot: importance of good record keeping; calf vs. yearling systems; grazing vs. feedlot backgrounding; use of price protection mechanisms to manage risk; international markets; breakeven price; feed processing; feed delivery and bunk management; feed quality, feed storage and feed loss management; alternative feedstuffs; byproducts; storing byproducts; feed additives; implants; improving cattle comfort; summer and winter cost of gain; health protocols; water management and capturing manure's value.

The profitability tips will offer several Web links and references to other articles that also will be helpful for producers to gain more information. In addition, these topics will be discussed at UNL Extension beef meetings in the next few months across Nebraska.

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