Beef Buzz News
Preserving the Foundation of the Ranching Enterprise Through Culling with OSU's Dave Lalman
Mon, 18 Jul 2022 10:53:19 CDT
Just when Oklahoma seemed to be improving in terms of drought, last week’s drought monitor report showed 100% of the state to be under abnormally dry or worse conditions and over 60% of Oklahoma is now back in moderate drought or worse. Senior Farm and Ranch Broadcaster, Ron Hays, revisits a conversation with Oklahoma State University Beef Cattle Specialist, Dave Lalman, talking about planning ahead during drought to ensure adequate forage and hay resources for cattle, while also protecting the financial wellbeing of your ranch.
Ron Hays visits with Dave Lalman on Thinking Ahead During Drought
“Long term, the adjustments made should ensure that the forage base does not damage due to overgrazing primarily,” Lalman said. “That is what we are trying to avoid is damaging that natural resource that is the foundation of the ranching enterprise.”
Avoiding overgrazing helps to improve the quality of our soils and the holding capacity of the moisture in those soils. Overgrazing and erosion, Lalman said, are what lead to long-term reduction at the base of the forage production capacity.
One thing that is important for cow-calf operators to watch during drought is the body condition scores of their cows. Evaluating the body condition of the herd can help make culling decisions easier in the future.
Protecting the soil and ranch resources is a priority, Lalman said, but following right behind is taking good care of the herd and making sure they are not compromised in terms of body condition, which will lead to lower market value later on.
“Secondly, it also can compromise their health status and certainly the health status of their new babies,” Lalman said. “The research has shown time and again that animals that are in thin condition just don’t have the immune competence that animals that are in good condition have.”
When entering into a period of risk related to drought, Lalman recommends having a priority list.
“Hopefully, the rancher has good enough records to create that list,” Lalman said.
When making culling decisions, Lalman said cow-calf producers should consider the three O’s, which include open, old, and other problems.
“There is probably some overlap among those categories, but obviously cows that are open aren’t going to raise a calf this year if you are already passed the breeding season,” Lalman said.
Lalman said cows that are calving late or were bred late and will calve late next year might also be included in those categories.
“Older cows, if they are nearing the end of their productive lifecycle and still in good condition would be the logical animals to put higher on that priority list,” Lalman said.
Lalman said everyone has a list either on paper or in their head of cows in their herd that have other problems such as bad feet or a bad udder that would put them higher on that culling priority list.
The bottom line Lalman emphasized is not waiting until the last minute to make culling decisions in your cow herd. Making these decisions early on can ensure the preservation of your soil and forage production and allow you to get a better price for your culled cows.
Click the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Dave Lalman on staying ahead of forage production and soil quality through selective culling during drought.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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