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UNL Extension gives cattle producers resources to deal with high input costs


From better storing grain byproducts to reducing mineral costs, Profit Tips on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension's Beef website at http://beef.unl.edu/ can help the state's cattle producers save money.

Nebraska's cattle producers are facing economic challenges due to high input costs. 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.

"The high cost of feed grains is putting cow-calf and feedlot profits under severe economic pressures," Vasconcelos said.

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.

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

"This information gives producers access to timely information on topics that influence the profitability of their business in today's market," he said.

Topics 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.

--Economics and marketing: price risk management, backgrounding and yearling finishing systems, backgrounding alternatives, calf finishing versus background and yearling finishing systems, economics of feeding ethanol co-products and of storing distillers grains and international marketing.

The Profit Tips also offer several Web links and references to other articles that also will be helpful for producers to gain more information. In addition, these topics are being discussed at UNL Extension beef meetings and are featured on UNL's "Market Journal" program.

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