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Follow practical information for the beef producer on essential topics including management, reproduction and calving, new technology, facilities improvement, beef quality, and feed and nutrition.

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In the cattle business, there are few things as rewarding as getting weaned calves and newly arrived feeder cattle off to a good start. The first 30–45 days after weaning and/or commingling can set the tone for calves’ lifelong health, performance and profitability. Whether calves are destined to be herd replacements or feeder cattle, they should all be provided with feed that helps them build strong immune systems and grow at a pace that will enhance their production for their entire lives.

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Body condition scoring (BCS) is nothing novel, exciting or earth-shattering, but it does pay! It is such a basic concept in the cattle industry that, without meaning to offend anyone, I dare to say it is elementary. However, it is also widely underused.

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Focus on reproductive performance: Profitability of cow-calf operations is largely determined by cow reproductive performance. Calf crop percentage and average weaning weight are primary factors influencing both total income and cost of production. Consequently, the goal for most herds is to have a high percentage of cows wean a calf and for most of those calves to be born early in the calving season.

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Cow-calf producers often simply view creep feeding as a way to increase calf weaning weights beyond what can be produced with mother’s milk and available forage. However, the benefits of creep feeding can reach well beyond weaning weight and are summarized below:

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One of the characteristics of a ruminant animal is that it can harvest large amounts of nutrients, store it, ruminate on it, endure short-term periods of deprivation and then go make a large harvest again.

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To a forage-hungry cow, the great sagebrush sea of the West embodies the famous paraphrasing of a Coleridge quotation: water, water, everywhere – but not a drop to drink.

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