Feeding strategies are key to expanding your dairy with dairy beef profitably

There are a few factors to think about before deciding whether to pursue adding a dairy beef expansion to an already existing dairy operation. For instance, is there enough feed to properly finish out the steers that will meet their nutritional needs? Is there enough space on the farm to contain the dairy steers in a biosecure environment? Is it economically possible for the producer to wait for their income towards the end of cycle, while finishing out steers for 14 to 18 months? Dairy producers get their income from the milk they produce, the cull cows and the calves they sell. However, there is a whole other market that is growing in popularity each year. Dairymen will finish out the dairy steers at market-ready weight and are then able to sell them for a much higher value. This increases their income without spending extra money on milking cows. The farmers are investing in the dairy calves that they already own and are receiving a larger lump sum for them. Dairy beef steers have a few nutritional differences compared to beef cattle. Therefore, dairy farmers should consider using a different feeding system for dairy steers that is more cost effective and feed efficient. High Plains System:  One option is the High Plains system that takes light-weight calves and feeds them a single high-concentrate diet of 85-92% all the way up to processing. Two-phase System:  Another type of feeding is the two-phase system, which uses a high roughage diet that utilize pasture, corn silage, or haylage in the first phase, then switched to a 70-90% concentrate diet in the last phase. This...

Pre-Harvest Handling to Preserve High Quality Beef Carcass

The goal of beef producers is to provide an appealing meat product to the consumer based off of the qualities set by the USDA. One of the biggest factors of maintaining carcass quality is how the beef cattle are handled. High stress situations negatively affect the animal’s welfare, and can greatly decrease the value of the meat. Pre-processing handling is just as important as on the farm handling of the animals, even though the cattle are not at the processing plant for very long. Rough handling, on or off the farm, can double the extent of bruising found on the carcass, by stressing the cattle out to the point of falling and/or colliding. Some good techniques to use when herding cattle through the chutes or corrals is to use the point of balance located by their front shoulder, and the flight zone. The point of balance technique uses the cattle’s natural need to move the opposite way of people as an advantage. Hot shots should not be the primary tool to move animals, but may be used as a last resort. According to Dr. Temple Grandin from Colorado State University, handlers should never twist the tail of the animal or beat them to make them move. Paddles and flags are more the appropriate tools to direct small groups of cattle to the designated area. To further decrease the stress levels, the handlers can limit visual distractions, such as removing  hanging chains and covering parts of the chutes. Another point to bring to attention is that cattle prefer leaving a dark area to a lighter one. This can be done by...