NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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January 20, 2014 Agriculture Column


Well, the weather is as it again as I write this on a early Monday Morning.  The wind is blowing (surprise, surprise) and it is snowing again.  Only in North Dakota some would say but I was at Lake of the Woods last weekend and it snows there too.  Sunday I was out to my youngest son’s home and Tom, Brody and I went for a drive to check out his 2013 calves and it is amazing how well those calves survived the really cold weather we had over the month of December.  Tom did use a pile of bedding but those set of calves really did do very well under the circumstances.  As I looked at those calves it really made me wonder how many times we start our bedding baling process and after doing 50-100-200 bales do we stop as we think that is enough and then a winter comes along with conditions like we had and still have three months of not only possibly cold temperatures but the possibly more snow and then the spring thaw, during the calving season.  I remember talking to a rancher from south west of Mandan. Al Gustin, and he made the comment you never have enough bedding because of circumstances just mentioned and then maybe we don’t get much of a crop (remember his ranch is west and south of Mandan) and then what do we do for bedding the next year.  So, they put up all they can and in cases even feed some straw mixed with some good supplements.  Another comment that he made that I had never thought about was the use of corn stover for bedding.  Al mentioned about the coarseness of the bedding that the wet goes through the bedding and keeps the top level more dry and since that time I have been to two places that actually use corn stover and the results were very amazing.  I guess what I am getting at, again as I write this article, is that likely we have been only getting a little snow but an inch there and inch there adds up to a lot but to keep those cattle growing good we need to keep them bedded even during one inch events and particularly with winds like we seem to always get.

The other thing to mention about livestock is the very good market that we are experiencing.  I talked to Jim Zeigler last week and this cattle deal is strong and looks strong for a period of time with reduced national cow numbers, actually at almost a low time low mother cows across the country, and lower feed costs makes Rancher net profit shine better than probable ever.  I can remember selling 8 weight calves back in the mid 80”s for a gross $280 and now those same calves are around $1000-1200 dollars, it is about time for our ranchers.  If you have never been to Lake Region Livestock attend one of the Tuesday sales, and by the way plan to eat there also as they have good food all day long, and watch what is going on.  Lastly, our cattle producers are also raising better quality cattle that also adds to the bottom line.

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