Matching Inventory to Available Resources

Mature weight and milk production of MANY commercial beef cows are both greater than they were 30 to 40 years ago.  Many ranchers have not recently weighed the adult cows in their herd to know what average mature weight to expect.  Therefore most commercial ranchers would underestimate the mature size of their cows.  To expect large, heavy-milking cows to be in moderate body condition at calving and maintain condition through breeding, they must receive more feed than smaller lighter-milking cows.  The graph below uses the 1996 National Research Council’s guidelines to show the energy needs of two different body types and levels of milk production.  These energy requirements would be representative for cows calving in February and March and weaned in October.  The top line represents the energy needs of 1250 pound heavy-milking beef cows versus the lower line which represents the needs of 1100 pound moderate-milking beef cows.  The values graphed are the megacalories per day required to maintain body weight throughout the year.


The larger heavier-milking cow requires about 34% more energy on the average for an entire year.  Consequently, an operation that was carrying 100 of the smaller cows must carry only 66 of the larger cows in order to utilize the same quantity of forage from that farm or ranch.  She also will need 34% more winter hay and supplement to maintain body condition.  In some commercial herds, there are cows much larger than the 1250 pounders depicted in this graph.

As we take inventory at the end of 2020, this is a time to re-consider herd numbers and cow size to better fit the stocking rates required.  Reduced stocking rates will be necessary if range and pasture condition has deteriorated in recent years.  Diminished forage availability will lead to poorer cow body condition, more supplement and hay feeding or both.  The start of a new year would be a good time to honestly review our cow herd weights and stocking rates  The year 2021 would be an excellent time to begin the process of better matching the cows to the forage base at our ranch.


Latest News

BLM Rescinds Hammond's Grazing Permits

In another installment in the years-long saga of the Hammond Ranch, the Interior Department on Friday rescinded grazing permits that had been restored under the Trump administration.

CAB Insider: Quality Carcass Spreads Turn Up Early

The two weeks in the middle of the month marked by extreme weather and insufficient fed cattle to harvest-space put a cap on cattle prices as packers found themselves well-supplied.

Victor Ranch Receives Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award

The Victor Ranch has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Oklahoma Leopold Conservation Award®, which recognizes land owners who inspire with their dedication to land, water and wildlife habitat resources.

Sexten: Respiratory Disease Timing

There are few no-risk options in the cattle business, but calves with reputation, high-growth potential and a well-executed health program should provide cattle feeders with relatively fewer health challenges.

USCA Supports Cattle Market Transparency Act of 2021

U.S. Cattlemen's Association supports the Cattle Market Transparency Act, which seeks to ensure regionally sufficient negotiated cash trade, and equipping producers with more information to aid marketing decisions.

NCBA Welcomes Discussion on Cattle Market Transparency Act

The Cattle Market Transparency Act, if enacted, would direct the Secretary of Agriculture and the Office of the Chief Economist at USDA to establish regional mandatory minimums for negotiated trade of fed cattle.