Ohio Farmer

Adapt to challenges in beef cattle business

Beef Brief: Be observant and proactive in cattle management.

April 25, 2024

3 Min Read
Cows grazing in pasture
PASTURES: Focusing on pasture improvements can benefit beef cattle operations. ahavelaar/Getty Images

by Ted Wiseman

In the ever-changing world of beef cattle production, recent years have brought new challenges for producers.

While we've seen record-high prices, the rising cost of inputs has also become a significant concern. Every spring, I typically become optimistic with the anticipation of a successful calving season, pastures greening up and the beginning of a new growing season.

While traditional concerns such as grazing management, nutrition and reproduction remain important, it's crucial to acknowledge and address emerging challenges.

Pest control and disease outbreaks pose continuous threats to herd health and productivity. Flies have long been a nuisance, and the emergence of new tick species only adds to our concerns. Reports of avian bird flu have caught our attention, prompting us to remain informed and follow scientific information closely.

As beef producers, we've always had to adapt to the ever-changing conditions nature throws our way. Some factors are within our control, while others require us to adjust our approach. Rather than dwell on the negative, I’d like to emphasize the importance of being observant and proactive in our cattle management this year.

Working facilities

As beef producers, one area that warrants attention is our working facilities. They don't have to break the bank, but they do need to be functional. Efficient and well-designed working facilities are needed for effective disease management and pest control in our beef cattle operations.

By investing in enhancements such as properly designed chutes, crowd pens and holding areas, we can minimize animal stress, decrease the risk of injuries to both our cattle and us, and enhance the accuracy and efficiency of our management practices.

Additionally, having facilities for isolating animals that require treatment not only saves time, but also helps prevent the potential spread of diseases within our herd.

Pasture improvements

As producers, focusing on pasture improvements can greatly benefit our beef cattle operations. Well-maintained pastures provide nutritious forage for our animals, supporting their health and productivity.

By investing in pasture improvements such as soil fertility management, weed control and rotational grazing infrastructure, we can enhance our pastures, ultimately leading to healthier cattle.

Clean, reliable water

As producers, we shouldn't overlook the importance of water as a vital nutrient for our cattle. Having access to clean and reliable water is crucial for their health and well-being. Implementing well-designed water systems that offer continuous access to fresh water prevents dehydration, especially during hot weather conditions. A comprehensive mineral program tailored to the specific nutritional requirements of our herd is essential for promoting overall health and growth.

These are just a few reflections I've had while assessing our own operation. I encourage you to take a close look at yours and consider making changes that will enhance profitability, safety and the overall health of your herd.

Increasing the frequency of scouting or watching your herd closely can help identify issues early and prevent potential problems. Here's to wishing each of you a successful season ahead.

Wiseman is the OSU Extension ag and natural resources educator in Perry County. He is also a member of the OSU Extension Beef Team that publishes the weekly Ohio BEEF Cattle letter, which can be found at beef.osu.edu.

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