In face of drought, cattle producers should consider culling
By BARBARA ADDISON Finney County Extension agent It seems like every management book or retreat focuses on "thinking outside the box." And during stable economic times, that's more of a luxury and a way to prepare for the future, kind of like saving for a rainy day. But because of the drought, for beef producers, getting outside the box is no longer a luxury or the ubiquitous management mantra, it's a necessity!We often hear things that fly in the face of convention and quickly dismiss them as extreme. But necessity is the mother of invention, and desperate times call for desperate measures. When the going gets tough, etc. One idea that Kansas State Extension Cow/Calf Specialist Dr. Bob Weaber offered up at the recent K-State Beef Conference was: "Cull your replacements." WHAT?!!! Normally, yearling and 2-year-old heifers represent future genetic progress and the opportunity to cull less productive older females from the gene pool. That's all still true; however, yearlings will eat a lot of feed over the next two years before providing any weaned calf income, and heifers will wean a lighter calf than an older cow, simply because they do not have mature reproductive or lactation systems, and because they still are using a portion of nutrient intake for growth. Here are some sobering figures from USDA/NAHMS: 93 percent of cows exposed to a bull calf vs. 89 percent of heifers; 96 percent of bred cows wean a calf vs. 89 percent of bred heifers; 17 percent of heifers require assistance during calving vs. only 2 percent of mature cows. These are tough numbers to swallow. But if we figure each weaned calf will be worth $900 gross, and if we held onto the 30 percent mature females we would have culled instead of replacing them with young stock, we can expect to wean two more calves per 100 cows (96 vs. 89 percent weaning rate × 30 females) for $1,800 increased gross return (perhaps more if we include the added weight for calves from mature females vs. those from heifers) — enough to pay for three to four cows' entire winter feed bill. This is certainly not the ideal path to genetic progress. However, two facts seem evident: Demand for beef is growing and supply of calves is shrinking, which means the producer who can keep the factory together over the next few years should reap substantial rewards. But they definitely will need to get outside the box to reach that goal. For more information, contact Chris Reinhardt, Ph.D., Extension feedlot specialist at (785) 532-1672 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Swine Day The 2012 K-State University Swine Day is set for Nov. 15 at the KSU Alumni Center. Pre-registration fee is $25 per participant, due by Nov. 9, with registration at the door costing $35 per participant. Visit www.KSUswine.org for a complete schedule and registration information. For more information, contact Jim Nelssen at email@example.com or (785) 532-1251. 4-H Cloverbud Club Experience new situations, make new friends and, most importantly, have lots of fun. Join the Finney County 4-H Cloverbud Club today. The goal of the Kansas 4-H Cloverbud program is the development of youth in fifth through seventh grades to become capable, competent, caring and contributing citizens. Develop self-understanding and confidence through positive and cooperation-based learning environments. The Finney County Extension 4-H Cloverbud Club is organizing for the new 4-H year. The 4-H Cloverbud Club is for children aged 5 to 7. The 4-H Cloverbud Club's first meeting will be held on Monday, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Grandstand Meeting Room, Finney County Fairgrounds. Youth need to officially enroll or RSVP intent to the Finney County Extension Office by 10 a.m. Monday to necessitate setup and supplies. Youth interested in enrolling need to fill out a 4-H Cloverbud enrollment card and 4-H participation form. Parents are asked and encouraged to stay for the meetings. Youth develop positive attitudes to self, family and community through caring adults and older youth who serve as positive role models. Cloverbuds learn about 4-H and begin to discover their interests, aptitudes and abilities as they develop self-esteem, enhance their social interaction skills, learn to make decisions and have FUN! The principles of Kansas 4-H Cloverbud program are to have fun; activity focused, not project focused; non-competitive, group-centered cooperative learning; leader directed; positive and success oriented. How the program works: Membership eligibility for the 4-H Cloverbud program begins when a child has reached age 5. Youth enroll and participate in Cloverbud Clubs that are led by trained 4-H volunteers and teens. The Finney County Cloverbud Club volunteers are parents of youth participating in the 4-H program, as well as other adults concerned about the development of youth. Cloverbud Club provides activity-based education for members. Activity-based means a variety of short-term experiences for youth that creates a cooperative fun approach to learning. Youth participate in activities at club meetings that focus on topics that are of interest to this young audience. Volunteers choose activities from a variety of topic areas. For more information on enrolling a boy or girl age 5 to 7 in 4-H Cloverbud Club, contact the Finney County Extension Office at 272-3670. 4-H is the positive youth development program of Kansas State University. 4-H programs are open to all youth, ages 5 through 18, without regard to race, sex, color, gender identity or expression, disability, religion, sexual orientation or national origin. K-State Research & Extension — Finney County is the front-door source to your everyday questions for information and knowledge. Every question is of value to you and us. Give us a call at 272-3670, or better, walk in our front door at 501 S. Ninth St., for information to help you make a better decision.