Don't Stop Now - Specialist Calls for Continued Industry Shifts for the Herd of TomorrowTue, 05 Jul 2016 17:12:56 CDT
Extension beef cattle specialist Dr. David Lalman of Oklahoma State University recently spoke at the Beef Improvement Federation’s annual symposium hosted by Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas this past June.
During his lecture, Lalman considered shifts in the beef industry that have occurred over the last 20 years and argued that efforts for improvement by producers should continue during the next 20 years.
“The commercial cow/calf segment has basically responded to requests for improved performance and carcass quality over the past 20 years and that’s really where our primary focus has been,” Lalman said.
“I think over the next 20 years it needs to shift, not completely, and not shift away, from improving cattle that excel in the finishing phase of the carcass. However, there comes a point when with increase in costs and perhaps no change in productivity at the cow/calf segment, that this shift has got to come to focus on that,” Lalman said.
With the industry’s commitment to increase weaning weights in recent years, Lalman addressed questions that have arisen regarding increasing milk intake.
“It does not look like weaning weights are increasing over the last 24 years which is a shocker because most definitely there has been aggressive selection emphasis on growth it may have something to do with the environment of a commercial cow calf operation that generally speaking has lower inputs,” Lalman said.
“We’ve shown time and again, other scientists have shown the efficiency of the conversion of forage or feed to milk and then from milk to calf weight gain,” he said. “So, I don’t think the answer is to create more weaning weight with more milk.”
Lalman suggested a more beneficial approach to increased profitability may be to focus on opportunities to reduce production costs.
“The lower hanging fruit is to minimize production cost, meaning more weaning rate, higher calf prices and so on,” he said. “If it is not working anyway, if weaning weights are not going up, why would you pour a tremendous amount of resources trying to force it to happen. We have the tools now that we should be able to make that shift in the commercial cow segment to be more focused on reducing cost and do it without giving up the progress that’s been made in the post weaning phase. We have the tools that we can do both.”
To learn more about the conference, visit the event’s webpage by clicking here, or, to view Dr. Lalman’s PowerPoint presentation, click here.
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