Beef Cattle Browsing – February 2015


One-half of a group of fall-calving Angus X Hereford cows was assigned to extensive management (EXT) as follows:

  • grazed year-round on native pasture stocked at 13.4 ac/cow (considered low stocked for the area);
  • supplemented with 38% CP mix at 3/lb/day in winter and 2/lb/day in late fall and early spring;
  • fed 5.5% CP prairie hay only during severe inclement weather.

The other one-half of the cows was assigned to intensive management (INT) as follows:

  • drylotted beginning Dec. 9 on 5.5% CP prairie hay plus mineral along with access to wheat pasture for four hours three days/week;
  • on March 27 allowed free access to wheat pasture until May 7 when forage was gone,
  • moved to native range at 7.8 ac/cow;
  • on July 16 calves were weaned and cows moved to cover crop of brown mid rib sorghum and cowpeas for 45 days;
  • moved back to native pasture until resuming drylot/limited wheat grazing.

The winter period was colder, with more snow, but drier than average for this area, but growth of wheat pasture was adequate to provide supplement to hay early and free-choice wheat grazing later. Forage was abundant on native range during winter. EXT cows were fed hay five times during extreme weather.

EXT cows lost more weight and Body Condition Score than INT from December to May. INT increased more in both weight and BCS from May to July, but INT were still heavier and higher in condition in July. INT calves gained more from January to May but EXT gained more from May to weaning in July. Cow costs were higher for INT in all periods except the 41-day spring period. Total costs were $96/cow higher for INT. Calf value was $69 higher for INT, not enough to offset the higher cost.

The authors concluded that returns from INT might be reduced by limiting the cows’ access to hay or to spring and summer forage. This could preserve some forage that could be harvested and fed during winter, reducing purchased hay cost. Also, they noted that varying cost of inputs and value of outputs would result in different financial returns. The study is ongoing.

(2014 Eng Foundation Symposium on Innovative Intensification in Cow-Calf Systems; Oklahoma State Univ.)


USDA-APHIS is conducting a preliminary trial in eight states using ultra high frequency (UHF) ear tag technology instead of low frequency (LF) for animal identification. LF requires close proximity to the reader. Tags with a UHF device can be read over a greater distance and groups of animals can be monitored more efficiently and less costly while moving through a chute, wide alley, on- and off-truck, through a gate from one pasture to another, etc.

The APHIS study is designed to assess the accuracy and reliability of the technology under such conditions. Animals will be read when first tagged on the ranch or farm and thereafter during the production cycle; this could be at working, weaning, when transported to growers or feeders, moved within a feedyard, transported to slaughter, and at the packing plant. Approximately 150,000 cattle will be involved in the APHIS study.

Under federal regulations for animal disease traceability, established in 2012, cattle moving interstate must be officially individually identified. Ear tags used for that purpose must have visible numbers or a passive LF RFID device in the tag. It is anticipated results of this study could allow UHF tags to be officially approved under the USDA program.

(Summary by permission of RFID Journal;


Previous research and observation has documented that sex of calf affects birth weights in reciprocal Brahman crosses. A study was conducted to evaluate this phenomenon in Nelore, another Bos indicus breed which is most numerous in Brazil. Angus, Nelore, Angus X Nelore, and Nelore X Angus calves were weighed at birth with results as follows:

Angus female 77
Angus male 82
Angus X Nelore female 71
Angus X Nelore male 72
Nelore X Angus female 85
Nelore X Angus male 101
Nelore female 65
Nelore male 76

Male and female calves of Angus X Nelore breeding differed little in birth weight, but the reciprocal Nelore X Angus males weighed 16 lb more than females. These results are similar to those reported in studies involving Brahman, except for the larger difference between sexes for the purebred Nelore. The authors cautioned that, just as with Brahman crosses, consideration should be made for these differences shown with Nelore when producing any Bos indicus-Bos taurus F1 crosses.

(2014 Southern Section ASAS Meeting, Abstract 9; Texas A&M Univ.)


At their annual meeting last fall, the United States Animal Health Association noted the variation across states of trichomoniasis regulations for interstate movement of bulls, which creates confusion and additional expense. Accordingly, the association adopted the following resolution:

The United States Animal Health Association urges state animal health officials that bulls not known to originate from trichomoniasis positive herds be accepted by importing states under the following conditions:
1. Virgin bulls up to 18 months of age be exempted from trichomoniasis testing requirements.
2. A negative trichomoniasis test is valid for 60 days after collection if the bull is held separate from females.
3. A single, negative DNA amplification-based test of samples collected by a United States Department of Agriculture Category II Accredited Veterinarian certified by the state of origin to collect trichomoniasis samples for interstate movement.

This is a recommendation only and would have to be implemented in state regulations.



Various products from plant processing are being used for cattle feed. Glycerin is a by-product of biodiesel production. Steers initially weighing 1106 lb were fed an 80% corn ration for 84 days. Glycerin replaced corn at 0, 5, 10, or 15 percent of the ration.

Feed consumption decreased as level of glycerin increased. Urinary and fecal nitrogen excretion increased and nitrogen retention decreased as glycerin increased. Dry matter digestibility increased, but at a decreasing rate as level of glycerin increased. The authors concluded that “the feeding value of glycerin in high-concentrate diets is greater than corn at 5% and 10% of dry matter but less at 15 % of dry matter”. NOTE: As with other such products, there are optimum levels for inclusion in cattle diets. If more biodiesel is produced, more glycerin may be used in cattle feeding.

(J. Animal Sci. 93:348; U. S. Meat Anim. Res. Ctr.)


The American Heart Association has officially certified beef as “part of a heart-healthy diet”. That is, some beef. The following items meet their certification:

  • Extra Lean Ground Beef (96% lean)
  • Bottom Round Steak (USDA Select)
  • Sirloin Tip Steak (USDA Select)
  • Top Sirloin Boneless Petite Roast (USDA Select)
  • Top Sirloin Strips (USDA Select)
  • Top Sirloin Filet (USDA Select)
  • Top Sirloin Kabob (USDA Select)
  • Top Sirloin Boneless Steak (USDA Select)

Note these cuts, except for the ground product, require USDA Select grade. Perhaps this AHA certification could lead to higher consumption and greater value to the beef industry for product not qualified for high-quality branded programs, such as Certified Angus Beef®, which typically require mid-Choice grade or higher. At least, it can’t hurt.



A herd “in a production environment where forage and grazing was well managed but free-choice mineral supplementation was historically not practiced” was used in a research study. One-half of a herd of spring-calving cows was either injected or not injected on April 15 at the rate of 0.5 ml/100 lb body weight with a product containing the following:

  • 60 mg/ml zinc
  • 15 mg/ml copper
  • 10 mg/ml manganese
  • 5 mg/ml selenium

There was no difference in body weight at any time during the year-long study. Body Condition Score of injected cows tended to be higher when calves were worked, but not at weaning, calving, or re-breeding. Pregnancy rate, post-calving interval, and time from exposure to bull and subsequent breeding did not differ. NOTE: While trace mineral supplementation did not affect reproduction in this study, results could be different under different forage and management. As with all nutritional supplementation, optimum implementation should be tied to animal requirements and dietary composition.

(2014 Southern Section ASAS Meeting, Abstract 20; Univ. of Arkansas)


January 1, 2015 numbers released by the National Agriculture Statistics Service of USDA say yes, if one year represents a trend. Numbers (and % comparison to Jan. 1, 2014) are as follows:

  • all cattle and calves 89.4 million (+ 1%)
  • beef cows 29.7 million (+ 2%)
  • milk cows 9.3 million (+ 1%)
  • all heifers ≥500lb 19.4 million (+1%)
  • beef replacement heifers 5.8 million (+4%)
  • milk replacement heifers 4.6 million (+ 1%)
  • other heifers 8.8 million, (down slightly)
  • steers ≥500 lb 15.8 million (+ 1%)
  • bulls ≥500 lb 2.1 million (+ 3%)
  • calves ≤500 lb 13.7 million (+1 %)
  • cattle and calves on feed for slaughter 13.1 million (+ 1 %)

(More detailed information for 2015 and preceding years is available at )

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