Ba­sic knowl­edge to as­sist new cat­tle pro­duc­ers

The Sentinel-Record - - LIFESTYLES - Jimmy Drig­gers County Ex­ten­sion agent

When I started at the Ex­ten­sion Ser­vice in the early 1990s, agri­cul­ture was still dom­i­nated by tra­di­tional pro­duc­ers en­gaged pri­mar­ily in for­age-based beef pro­duc­tion. Most oper­a­tions were fairly large and run by ex­pe­ri­enced full-time farm­ers and ranch­ers. Over the last two decades, the num­ber of th­ese pro­duc­ers has de­clined. We’ve seen a tremen­dous in­crease in small, of­ten novice landown­ers. What hasn’t changed in 20-plus years is the fact that most pro­duc­ers seek our con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices af­ter they’ve been in busi­ness long enough for is­sues to arise that range from mi­nor to crit­i­cal.

Rarely do we get an ini­tial re­quest for con­sul­ta­tion be­fore some­one has cho­sen and in­vested in an en­ter­prise and has be­gun op­er­a­tion. When we can get in on the ground floor with a new pro­ducer, there are some ba­sic con­cepts that we make sure are grasped im­me­di­ately, and man­age­ment of a live­stock en­ter­prise is at least third down on the hi­er­ar­chy. First are the soils and for­ages on the prop­erty and real­is­tic ex­pec­ta­tions of the amount of dry mat­ter that can be grown. That num­ber de­ter­mines stock­ing rate, which must be ap­pro­pri­ate for any­thing else to work. Once an ap­pro­pri­ate stock­ing rate is de­ter­mined, there are five ba­sics I be­lieve should be in place be­fore a live­stock en­ter­prise is un­der­taken.

1. En­sure that you have a sound perime­ter fence that will con­tain the class and species you will run. Be aware that small ru­mi­nants have dif­fer­ent fenc­ing re­quire­ments than beef cat­tle.

2. Have a cor­ral and a means to re­strain the an­i­mals. It cer­tainly does not have to be elab­o­rate, but it does need to be func­tional. This is needed to be able to re­ceive and ship, im­ple­ment health pro­to­cols, and ad­dress other health-re­lated is­sues that will arise from time to time.

3. De­velop a good re­la­tion­ship with a vet­eri­nar­ian, in­clud­ing a mu­tu­ally agreed upon com­pre­hen­sive health pro­to­col for all classes you will be manag­ing.

4. Have a sound un­der­stand­ing of the fac­tors that af­fect the nu­tri­tional re­quire­ments of all classes of live­stock — fac­tors like age, sex, weight, stage of re­pro­duc­tion, level of milk pro­duc­tion, body con­di­tion score, de­sired rate of gain, weather, etc. It is an eye opener to many new pro­duc­ers to learn that a lac­tat­ing cow needs twice as much pro­tein and at least 50 per­cent more en­ergy than when she was not nurs­ing a calf.

5. Be aware that ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion and health is para­mount to re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance. Re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance is a di­rect in­di­ca­tion of ap­pro­pri­ate stock­ing rate, ef­fec­tive health and nu­tri­tion pro­grams, and man­age­ment in gen­eral. Re­pro­duc­tive per­for­mance drives the amount of prod­uct you even­tu­ally sell, which will de­ter­mine in­come and per­sonal sat­is­fac­tion.

As live­stock pro­duc­ers, it is our re­spon­si­bil­ity to con­tain our an­i­mals, be able to ad­dress prob­lems as they arise, to know dis­eases and par­a­sites that can harm them, to pro­vide pro­tec­tion from those dis­eases and par­a­sites, to know the nu­tri­ent re­quire­ments of live­stock at all stages of pro­duc­tion, and en­sure they are re­ceiv­ing ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion. Suc­cess de­pends on un­der­stand­ing that soil and for­age man­age­ment, health, nu­tri­tion, re­pro­duc­tion, and mar­ket­ing are in­ter­con­nected and in­ter­de­pen­dent. It is our job as live­stock pro­duc­ers to use this un­der­stand­ing to care for our live­stock.

For more in­for­ma­tion about live­stock or pas­tures, call Jimmy Drig­gers at 623-6841 or email jdrig­


There are 4-H clubs for Gar­land County youths 5 to 19 years old. For in­for­ma­tion, call Linda Bates at the Ex­ten­sion Of­fice on

623-6841 or email Master Gar­dener

Master Gar­dener meet­ings are held on the third Thurs­day of each month at Lake Val­ley Com­mu­nity Church. Guests are wel­come. For in­for­ma­tion, call the Ex­ten­sion Of­fice or email Allen Bates at abates@


In­ter­ested in join­ing an Ex­ten­sion Homemak­ers Club? For in­for­ma­tion, call Jes­sica Vin­cent at 623-684 or email jvin­

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