2014-09-01 00:00:00.0 09/01/2014 In This Week's Journal
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ISSUE: 09/01/2014

Sending calves to grass may be more profitable this year

By Kylene Scott

The pastures are finally green and lush after a winter’s worth of snow or spring and summer rains. Grass shortened by a stifling drought is now starting to grow again. The stock trailers bang down the dirt road delivering a nice set of stocker calves to a pasture that hasn’t seen cloven hooves in quite some time. Has the rancher made the right decision?

Spending a lot of money on stocker calves in a tight market is always a scary thing, Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist, said. But it could prove worthwhile.

“Everybody looks at the prices and they’re scared,” Peel said.

Record high prices for cattle and beef have dominated the news lately. But buyers shouldn’t be frightened of purchasing stocker cattle because of the current market and the potential for the value of gain. Lightweight calves often come into the stocker segment of the industry around 400 pounds and often leave grass at a little over 700 pounds. Producers seek out the ones that can gain the most on grass.

“Basic economics actually works in this case, but it’s financially scary,” Peel said. “There is risk.”

Merrill Ranch hosts KLA/K-State Ranch Field Day

By Kylene Scott

Nineteen inches of rain since the first of June will do a ranch good. The Merrill Ranch in rural Comanche County, Kansas, is green in August and a sight to behold.

The ranch hosted the Kansas Livestock Association/Kansas State University Ranch Field Day, Aug. 13 near Wilmore, Kansas. Manager Dee Scherich said it’s fantastic to have this much moisture available this time of year. Scherich and his wife, Phyllis, have been managing the Merrill Ranch since 1976 and have nearly 700 mother cows on 26 sections of land. His father began managing the operation in 1945.

“Our herd is basically a closed herd. We did buy 40 head of heifers last fall, but that’s the first cows that we’ve bought to my knowledge since the 1950s,” Scherich said.

Until 1997 the cows were mostly Herefords, and after taking a beating by the market, the change to mostly black animals was made.

“In fact, we sold all of our Hereford bulls in one year and made a quick changeover,” Scherich said. “We’ve used a lot of Gardiner Angus influence in our cows since ’97. Some of our cows, I’m sorry to say, are bigger than what we’d like to have, but if you buy a calf that shows good growth, you’re going to get big cows.”

The cowherd has been maintained on the ranch, replacing heifers with animals raised on the ranch.

“We try to buy quality bulls and so our cows are—we think—very good quality cows,” Dee said.

South Dakota Stockgrowers thank Noem for vote on Endangered Species Act

The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 4315 recently with support from Rep. Kristi Noem, R-SD. H.R. 4315, the Endangered Species Tr

Sculpture honoring livestock industry in need of donations

The Loup County Historical Society is organizing an effort to restore a sculpture of a Hereford bull by notable Nebraska artist Arlo Bray. The sculpture was created

Risky business

By Miranda Reiman Certified Angus Beef Cattle feeders know their business is full of risks. At the 2014 Feeding Quality Forum, held recently in Kearney, Nebraska, and Amarillo, Texas, attendees learned more about immediate and long-term threats to pr

Manure management is important for all farm sizes

By Shelby Bollwahn Michigan State University Extension What is considered a small farm? A 3,000 head beef feedlot? A 30,000 head free-range turkey operation? A dairy with 50 head?


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