📉 Fewer Cows, Fewer Ranches

Disaster Decisions, Defect Discovery, and Lumps and Bumps from Ranching.com by CattleMax

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📉 Fewer Cows, Fewer Ranches

📉 Fewer Cows, Fewer Ranches - The latest USDA Census of Agriculture shows ongoing consolidation in American agriculture and the beef industry. The number of farms has decreased by 7%, with nearly 40% of farmers over 65 years old. In the beef industry, there's been a 15% decline in operations and an 8% decrease in beef cow numbers since 2017. Larger farms, comprising 6% of total farms, dominate agricultural production. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack sees the census as a call to action to support small- and mid-sized farms. In the beef industry, most producers own fewer than 50 cows, while larger operations with over 500 cows have increased in numbers and herd sizes.

💉 Lumps and Bumps - Vaccinations in cattle, while crucial for disease prevention, can lead to adverse reactions ranging from mild lumps to severe anaphylactic shock. Factors like genetics, vaccine components, and handling influence these reactions. It's important to report adverse events to veterinarians or vaccine manufacturers. Proper vaccine storage and administration are essential to minimize reactions. Treatment varies, but immediate intervention is necessary for severe reactions like anaphylaxis, often requiring IV epinephrine.

🔥 Disaster Decisions - The USDA and FarmRaise have launched an online Decision Tool as part of the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honey Bees, and Farm-raised Fish Program (ELAP) to assist producers affected by natural disasters. This tool, available on the FarmRaise educational hub, guides producers to determine their eligibility for assistance and provides resources for accessing FSA programs. ELAP covers various livestock losses, including grazing and feed losses due to eligible conditions like drought, disease, and wildfires.

🔫 Take Your Shot - Remote delivery devices (RDDs), like dart guns, are transforming cattle treatment in remote areas. While they offer benefits like reduced stress and convenience, precautions are crucial to ensure proper injection sites and equipment sterility. Concerns about broken needles and meat quality exist, highlighting the need for education and clear protocols on RDD usage. Responsible cattle producers should prioritize effectiveness and avoid routine RDD use when proper handling facilities are available, ensuring animal well-being and responsible antibiotic use.

🧬 Defect Discovery - Researchers at the UNL have identified a new genetic defect in composite cattle breeds, affecting muscle metabolism and leading to exercise intolerance. Affected calves display dark-cutting meat due to impaired glycogen breakdown post-harvest, impacting consumer perception and shelf life. The condition mirrors McArdle disease in humans, posing challenges for animal welfare and economic losses in the beef industry. Understanding and identifying carriers in breeding herds are essential for mitigating this issue.

📸 Camera Grading Consistency Questions - While some criticize it as a ploy to benefit packers and cattle feeders while deceiving consumers, others argue that camera grading has brought much-needed accuracy and consistency to the grading process. Data presented in the article indicates improvements in grading consistency since the introduction of camera technology in 2009. Industry veterans also attest to the benefits of technology in ensuring uniform grading standards. Ultimately, the article concludes that camera grading has been beneficial for both the industry and consumers, refuting claims of its ineffectiveness.


Pink Eye Management Strategies

Warm weather exacerbates environmental factors leading to pink eye in cattle, affecting performance and profitability. Face flies transmit Moraxella bovis bacteria, the main culprit. Control methods include back rubbers and insecticides. Clipping pastures reduces eye irritation from plant material. Large-animal veterinarians provide prevention and treatment strategies, including vaccines. Collaboration with vets is key for effective management.

When are the Best Days to Wean Calves?

Determining the best time to wean calves depends on various factors like weather, calf health, age, market conditions, and forage availability. While some may rely on traditional methods like moon signs or the Farmers’ Almanac, it's crucial to prioritize the health and needs of the calves and the operation's goals. Vaccinating calves beforehand, ensuring they're consuming solid feed, and using supplements like VitaFerm® and Gain Smart® can help ease the weaning process and support calf growth and development.


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"Your talent determines what you can do.

Your motivation determines how much you're willing to do.

Your attitude determines how well you do it"

Lou Holtz


Where does your operation fall in the conversation regarding cattle numbers?

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How has the improved hay and pasture conditions impacted your farming or ranching plans for the upcoming season?

15.4%: Planning to increase cattle numbers or grazing intensity.

17.1%: Expanding hay production to take advantage of improved forage stocks.

44.7%: Maintaining current operations without significant changes.

22.8%: We haven’t seen improved conditions.



  • “So wet, spring planting of new pastures postponed until fall for cold season grasses. We will bale old pastures and plant summer grasses. So, more bales due to spring wetness and soil that is staying muddy.”


  • “Too soon to expand after the past year’s drought. It will take a while for pastures to fully recover. We can wait.”

  • “We already rotational graze all our pastures so this will give us an opportunity to rest several of them.”


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