Black Line Angus / Nebraska Angus

Prepare Your Bull From ‘Storage’ to ‘Breeding’

Ahead of bulling, look to ease sires into pasture grazing with at least a week on grass, is the advice of Ohio State University specialist, Dr Stephen Boyles.

Dr Boyles advises Bulls be in the perfect state of not too fat or thin and outlines the various nutrition options required to achieve this.

An Ohio colleague, Stan Smith points out that the importance of a breeding bull is regularly drilled home through extension workers but how to maximise what you get out of him is not.

“One thing we’ve yet to discuss is what needs to happen after the bull has passed his exam and until he goes to the breeding pasture,” said Mr Smith.

“While a bull might have been a potentially satisfactory breeding animal on the day of his examination, it’s important that the 30 to 60 days from then until the day he must go to work are spent in a way that allows him to remain sound.

For those of you who will be using young bulls this breeding season, OSU Extension Beef Specialist Dr. Stephen Boyles offers the following suggestions from his publication “Bull Nutrition and Management” regarding the pre-breeding season management of yearling bulls.

Post-purchase Management of Yearling Bulls

The yearling bull deserves some special attention as he begins his breeding career in order to assure that he will settle as many females as promptly as possible during his first working summer. You probably should not immediately turn him out with the cows.

Exercise and Facilities

The ideal condition for the young bull at the start of the breeding season is thrifty but not fat, hard and trim but not thin. He should be like a football player in mid-season. Bulls that are physically fit when they are turned out will breed more cows because they will retain a higher level of libido longer. Exercise prior to the breeding season will also reduce injuries from fighting and riding during the breeding season.

Young bulls can be very active and will exercise themselves if the bull pasture is of adequate area (about 2 acres/bull). Long, narrow paddocks may also be used. It is a good idea to locate supplemental feeding areas and water sources as far as possible apart to further encourage walking activity. The pasture or paddock should be a natural surface. The worst surface is a mud-and-manure lot outside the barn, with it’s many possibilities for hoof injuries. It is important to have a well drained surface to get young bull’s hooves hardened and accustomed to walking.


Bulls are a troublesome group of cattle to provide proper nutrition. They are a relatively small group but can take up a lot of space. The tendency is to run all bulls together and hope that they won’t do much damage to the facilities or each other. But, nutritional needs vary due to age and condition, so if young and old bulls are run together some bulls may not get the nutrition they need and others may get too much.

Yearling bulls on performance tests have usually been on high energy diets. These bull need to be “let down” from the time they are purchased until they are turned out with cows. A mistake made occasionally is to turn the bulls that have been on a high grain ration out on very lush pasture or place them on straight high-quality alfalfa hay. This can lead to digestive upsets or imbalances, thus leading to potential reproductive problems. Research shows that is takes 60 days for sperm development.

The gain for yearling bulls prior to the breeding season should be about 2 pounds per day. This would require a diet containing 10-11 per cent protein and 60-70 per cent TDN (dry matter basis) which could be supplied by 6-10 lbs. of grain per day and full-feed of medium quality hay. Any hay fed should be free from molds and green in color, if possible. No ergot can be tolerated at this time, so inspect any grain screenings closely before feeding (look for dark purple to black spots).

A mineral and vitamin mix should be offered that contains adequate calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin A. A standard mineral mix would be 40 per cent dicalcium phosphate, 20 per cent limestone, 30 per cent trace mineral salt, and 10 per cent selenium 90 (mg/lb) premix. Quality green forages should provide enough vitamin A. If forages are weathered and/or of low quality, an intramuscular injection of 3 million IU of vitamin A is advisable. A vitamin A injection might also be considered with corn silage-based diets.


The young bull should be acclimated to grazing pasture for 7-10 days prior to the date he will be turned onto pasture with his cows, if at all possible. Several days are required for the rumen microflora to fully adjust from harvested feeds to fresh spring grass. This transitional stress should be accomplished prior to turning him into the herd.

For more detail, Boyles’ publication “Bull Nutrition and Management” can be found in it’s entirety on the OSU Beef Team webpage ( under the Library link, and is also available from OSU Extension offices.


Nebraska Angus / Black Line Angus

How Good Is Reproduction in Your Herd?

There are many ways of doing the same thing and farmers can learn from each other, was the message of a Virginia State dairy expert after a herd reproduction conference.

In March, a group of eight dairy farmers gathered at the Franklin Center in Rocky Mount to discuss the reproductive performance of some herds from Franklin County, writes Gonzalo Ferreira, Management expert at Virginia Cooperative Extension.

The round table discussion group was initiated by Gonzalo Ferreira (Department of Dairy Science) and Cynthia Martel (Virginia Cooperative Extension). The meeting began with discussion of management issues typically observed in agriculture production.

Some of the key points were:

  • We all see and/or approach things differently. In the context of dairying, farmers might manage their farm in diverse manners. This can be valuable, as farmers might learn from the management practices of their peers. This concept was the essence of the discussion group: we can all learn from diversity.
  • Many times we are so focused on our daily chores that we may not see the big picture with respect to our problems. Discussing dairy management among peer farmers would allow different perspectives. Having a broader vision of dairy management may help farmers make better decisions.

Business will not improve by doing the same thing all over again. There is no change without action. If managers do not do anything to change (hopefully to improve) their businesses, then their businesses will not improve.

The discussion group hopes to inspire farmers to encourage their peers to set new goals, but most importantly strives for a move to action in improving their businesses.

The meeting continued with a review of some reproductive performance concepts such as heat detection rate, conception rate and pregnancy rate; and how these indicators are related to calving interval (Figure 1).

To the surprise of many, the bad news was that the average pregnancy rate of nine herds from Franklin County was as low as 14.6±4.5 per cent. The good news was that there is a lot of room for improvement. In addition to discussing actual results, the attendees weighed which areas they should focus their efforts for the short term.


Nebraska Angus

Check Bull Fertility Before The Breeding Season

It won’t be long until breeding season for herds that calve in the spring, and it is never too late to start planning, advises University of Arkansas Professor and veterinarian, Jeremy Powell.

Improvement of next year’s calf crop is dependent upon the breeding decisions you are about to make, writes Professor Powell of Arkansas University.  Herd sire selection should be a thought-provoking and profit-driven decision process, he adds.

Males account for approximately 90 percent of the gene pool, contributing more to the genetic makeup of a herd in one breeding season than a cow contributes in her lifetime.  Selecting genetically superior sires is the fastest approach to herd improvement and, ultimately, bottom line profitability.

Not every bull will fit your production scenario. Resources and goals are different for each cow-calf operation. Nonetheless, sire selection should target an acceptable combination of traits that complement the strengths and weaknesses of the cow herd and match markets.

Ask questions that pertain to your particular production situation.

  • What are your target markets?
  • Are you selling all calves at weaning?
  • If so, what color does that market value the most?
  • Are you planning to background your calves and send them through the feedlot?
  • Are you going to retain any replacement heifers?
  • Are you breeding both heifers and cows?
  • What are your available labor and forage resources?

Answers to these questions will aid you in determining the selection efforts you may want to apply towards economically important traits such as growth, carcass traits and possible maternal per formance. Feet and leg sound ness, libido, disposition, scrotal size, sheath, frame size, composition, breed type and horn presence or absence are also important traits for consideration.

While one may apply more pressure on one or two traits, remember to strike a balance among various traits and avoid extremes. Base the type of sire selected on the purpose of your breeding plan.


Nebraska Angus

My Cow Is Not Cycling: What Do I Do?

Cows in need of help back into normal cycling patterns may benefit from progesterone, especially at this time of year, according to the latest advice from The Agriculture and Food Development Authority (Teagasc) in Ireland.

The return to normal cyclic ovarian activity after calving usually occurs, on average, by 30 to 35 days postpartum. The first heat is usually silent, and the first cycle after this heat is usually short (8-12 days). This means that most cows should have commenced displaying behavioural oestrus by days 38-47 post-calving or earlier.

Failure to show signs of heat by 60 days after calving is called Postpartum Anoestrus. This can be due to either True Anoestrus or Suboestrus.

  • Suboestrus is when cows have normal cyclic ovarian activity, but are not detected in oestrus due to weak or silent heats, or due to inadequate observation.
  • True anoestrus is when cows have inactive ovaries.

Approaches to resolving suboestrus should include improving heat detection technique, and ensuring that observations are long enough (30 minutes) and frequent enough (3 – 4 times per day). On-farm milk progesterone kits may also be helpful (if progesterone is high, then the cow is cycling).

Resumption of cyclicity after calving is influenced by nutritional status, body condition score, milk yield, calving difficulty, uterine infection, breed, age, and concurrent disease. Treatment of true anoestrus should first examine the nutritional status and body condition score. These can be improved by increasing pasture allowance, increasing concentrate feeding, and/or reducing the energy output in milk by restricting anoestrus cows to once a day milking. If calving records indicate that some of the anoestrus cows had calving difficulty, or had retained foetal membranes or metritis after calving, these cows should be examined for the presence of pyometra or endometritis. If present, these will first need to be eliminated before treating for anoestrus.

Hormonal treatments can be used to stimulate a resumption of cyclicity, and are most effective if combined with increased energy intake. Treatments involve use of progesterone-releasing devices (e.g., CIDR, PRID) which result in ovulation, and resumption of normal cyclicity. At this stage of the year (late May), it is desirable to breed cows to the ovulation induced by the progesterone treatment (i.e. breed them as soon as possible). The treatment outlined at the bottom of the page stimulates resumption of cyclicity, and also facilitates fixed-time AI (FTAI) at the end of the hormone protocol. Fixed-time AI means there is no requirement for behavioural oestrus behaviour, and hence heat detection is not required.



Tips For Drought Recovery

After a two-year drought that besieged Texas and the surrounding states, the cattle industry gears up for a recovery.

Heifer development and bred heifer sales hold the attention of producers eager for herd growth and hopeful for a good grass crop.  Three registered Angus breeders of varying size and scope offer their unique perspectives on how to rebuild and whether now, indeed, is the time.  In over 60 years of raising registered Angus cattle in central Texas, E. M. Holt has endured all that lies between grueling droughts and generous floods.  Holt and his wife, Nancy, sell bulls and females in cooperation with the Lone Star Angus Alliance to local ranchers, most living within 150 miles.

A seasoned observer of volatile cattle markets and their aftermath, he has consequently learned to stay “in the middle of the road” and has avoided fickle trends.  Although herd reduction has become the predictable drought survival mechanism for Texas cattle producers, Holt forecasts a very slow rebound compared to past recoveries.

Holt’s operation, Brand of Choice, exists in the center of a highway triangle that interconnects Houston, San Antonio and Austin.  Development, subdivision and annexation have thrust land value and taxes higher.

“People are very hesitant to enter the [cattle] business because the costs are so high upfront,” reports Mrs. Holt.  During the Lone Star Angus Alliance’s recent sales, Mr. Holt observed that “the crowd was aging.”  He added that much of Texas ranch land is remotely owned by urban dwellers. These customers “cannot be present for every calf delivery.” He suggests they buy a second-calf cow. His bred heifer sales with the Alliance remain good.  The operation uses bulls on half their herd and AIs the rest with known heat tolerance and efficiency phenotypes.

“We AI from bulls with additional qualities that complement what our bulls have,” Holt elaborates. “Our herd bulls are AI-sired and out of proven Pathfinder cows.” Brand of Choice tries to remain self-sufficient on forage resources.  Last year, Holt irrigated, fertilized and cut his hayfields until he filled the barn. He then subdivided his hayfields into paddocks and rotated his cattle through daily.  Holt supplements when needed to preserve his genetics and especially to maintain his developing bulls and heifers.

Despite the threats from rising taxes, depleted hay reserves and capricious weather, Holt is still confident that eventually “supply and demand will stabilize the [U.S.] cattle herd,” perhaps just as it always has.  Doug Slattery, chief operations officer of 44 Farms in Cameron, Texas, observed a short-term recovery this spring from “the worst drought in history.”

However, he believes people are still in a defensive mode. “Nobody is confident that the drought is over.”  Still, he adds, “There is good market optimism.” The spring cattle sale fared better than anticipated, likely due to high calf prices.  He noticed people bid higher for fewer bulls and heifers – “most people focused on quality, not quantity.” This year, 900 bulls received new homes.  Interest in both open and bred females this year especially accumulated out of state, with bids sourcing from California to North Carolina.

“Not for Texas. They are not building there,” commented Slattery, since moisture has remained low for the region. “It will be a slow process.” Slattery predicts the greatest challenge for those rebuilding is the cost of cattle, with fuel and feed costs posing a secondary challenge.  At 44 Farms, cattle managers rely on genetic efficiency and keep their feed regimen flexible according to the most economical commodity selection.  Last year, 44 Farms contracted a slew of gin trash and ground cotton burr, which they mixed with liquid feed and corn as needed.

They grow and cut coastal, common and Tifton 85 bermuda grasses, as well as native grasses. While last year’s weather induced a 50 percent decrease in heifer sales, 44 Farms is busily planning this fall’s female sale with plenty of optimism.  As they develop heifers, Slattery’s team breeds heifers at 14 to 15 months so they calve at 24 months.

He adds, “Early puberty is one great advantage with Angus,” which typically begin cycling at 10 months. The operation sells about three times more bred females than open females.  They anticipate sales of 200 registered females and 300 commercial females this fall.  Thankful for 44 Farms’ consistent teamwork and success, Slattery offers wisdom on toughing out the lean times: “Keep the stocking rates low. It’s easy when grass is green to overstock.  This year, Kim Cullen of Wheatland, Wyoming will help satisfy demand for bred heifers to restock the South.  She will accomplish this while at the same time preparing for her annual Red Angus Internet bull sale, running her custom AI business and representing Genex as a sales professional.  Cullen and her family manage a heifer development operation that is preparing for a task of national proportions.

Southeastern Wyoming provides an ideal environment for developing heifers. Cullen explains, “We have enough feed to grow heifers but not enough feed to finish cattle and compete with our neighbors to the east.”  All of the feedyards in Cullen’s region focus on heifer development for that reason. Tough winters and highly digestible summer grass have persuaded many highland producers to send heifers east to Wheatland “where the weather is milder, the feed is available and the cattle can be grown and wintered at a manageable cost.”

In Wheatland, heifers arrive in the fall and graze down the alfalfa, corn and oat stubble. They consume stored crops through the winter and in early spring enter drylots where they are synchronized.  In late spring, these cattle are then AI’ed and returned to the mountains to enjoy the summer’s bounty.  At her own operation, K2 Red Angus, Cullen lets her weanling heifers back out on the range with the cows.

“I believe this teaches the heifers to learn to graze with the cows and it also starts putting the selection pressure on them so that only the efficient females that are adapted to this environment will make it into the herd.”

Cullen requires that cattle be “functional, fertile and efficient.” She inspects udder, foot and leg structure and avoids genetics that will lower the quality of these traits.  “My cattle must be efficient and run in the harsh range conditions in the foothills of southeastern Wyoming – where rocks and cactus are more common than a good blade of grass.”  They must also conceive each year in about a 50-day calving window, with “absolutely no excuses.”  Of the Texas drought impact, Cullen remarks, “We had more heifers being set up to be bred this year, with the expectation of restocking going on in the Texas drought areas.”  The guidance she offers to those rebuilding is to “have their goal in mind. What type of cattle do they want or need to fit their operation, resources and environment?

Whatever genetics they choose to restock the herd will be long-lasting into the future and the results will have a huge part in determining the success or failure of the operation.”


Grass That Gives You More

Nine tips for extending your grazing season

Extending the grazing season can put you on the path to using less stored feed and to adding more money in your pocket. Former Missouri State Grazing lands Specialist Mark Kennedy outlines nine strategies to give you a jump in getting more out of your grass.

1) Use proper stocking rates. For every cow that you’re overstocked, you have to provide about 13,000 pounds (lb.) of
forage from outside sources, Kennedy says.

2) Utilize pastures more efficiently through improved grazing management. As pastures are subdivided into smaller units and grazed for shorter periods of time with the same number of livestock, Kennedy says spot-grazing decreases and utilization increases.

“Typically, with a four-pasture rotational-grazing system where livestock are moved every seven to 10 days, utilization is 35%,” he says. “With a 12-pasture system where livestock will be moved every two to four days, utilization of pasture should be around 65%.”

3) Utilize legumes to extend the grazing season into the summer. “Legumes continue active growth longer into the summer than their companion cool-season grasses,” Kennedy says. Legumes also provide free nitrogen fertilizer for companion grasses.

4) Add warm-season grasses to the forage base. According to Kennedy, cool-season grasses dominate most Midwest livestock farms. “Cool-season grasses typically produce 60% of their growth in the spring, 30% in the fall and 10% in the summer if moisture is adequate and temperatures aren’t extreme.” He adds that warm-season grasses provide optimum growth with temperatures from 85° to 100° F and they provide active growth from mid-May until frost in the fall.

5) Stockpile tall fescue for winter grazing. Utilizing stockpiled fescue is the cheapest winter feed we have available, Kennedy says. “Typically, feeding stockpiled tall fescue by strip-grazing it will cost one-third to one-half as much as feeding hay and the quality is just as good or better.”

6) Remember winter annual forages will provide high-quality winter feed at a cost lower than hay or silage. In a study at the Forage Systems Research Center in Linneus, Mo., it cost $172 per cow to winter on hay for 130 days; $108 to utilize winter annuals for 90 days and hay for 40 days; and $70 per cow to utilize stockpiled fescue for 90 days and hay for 40 days. While winter annuals cost more than stockpiled fescue because of seed and machinery expense, Kennedy says they are still cheaper than hay

7) Graze crop residues. This is an option for some livestock producers in the Midwest. Kennedy notes that a field that produces 120 bushels (bu.) per acre of corn will contain 3-4 tons of roughage dry matter per acre.
“Beef cattle will normally consume 30% to 40% of the crop residue providing an additional 65 to 110 days of grazing,” he explains. Depending on the cow’s physiological stage, he adds, supplemental feed may be needed to meet the nutritional needs of the cow, especially if she is lactating.

8) Graze dormant alfalfa and other hayfields. It is recommended to allow growth to accumulate in alfalfa and other hay fields for six weeks before the first killing frost. Once cold weather has ensured dormancy, Kennedy says the accumulated growth can be grazed safely for livestock. Plus, he adds, grazing dormant alfalfa tends to reduce the alfalfa weevil population the next spring.

9) Graze dormant warm-season grasses. Studies in Oklahoma and Arkansas have shown that stockpiled Bermuda grass will maintain crude-protein levels of 10% if grazed by the end of December.


Black Line Angus 09

Practical Advice In Making Calving Season Easier

As calving season draws near, there’s a myriad of situations ranchers find themselves in. Ron Skinner, DVM and seedstock breeder from Hall, MT, gives his advice for cattlemen during delivery.

What’s the best way to check delivery progress?

In checking a cow, the first thought is to determine if the calf is alive, as this may make a difference in your strategy. When you reach in to find the calf, a live calf generally will jerk its foot when you handle its legs or pinch the skin between its toes. You can also stick a finger in its mouth; a live calf will suck or gag.

Read more

Black Line Angus 4567

Updates to National Cattle Evaluation

Evaluation released April 6, 2014, includes several important changes:

  • Updated EPD/$Value percentile tables, breed averages and
    revised Main and Supplement sire listings.
  • Updated economic assumptions that impact the $Values. Click here for details.
  • Genomic-enhanced EPDs are impacted by a recalibration of the HD 50K predictions which
    is applied to both the Zoetis HD 50K and GeneSeek GGP-HD tests. Click here for details.
  • Heifer pregnancy EPDs include HD 50K predictions as part of the weekly evaluation.
  • Updated genomic percent ranks (1-100 scale).

Read more

Black Line Angus

Who Wouldn’t Want Sustainable Beef?

Sustainability means different things to different people.

“If we’re not sustainable in what we do, we’re out of business,” said Nebraska cattleman Bill Rishel. “Many of us in the cattle business grew up thinking of sustainability as making enough money to keep ranching the next year. Of course that meant we had to care for our natural resources and manage them in a responsible way.

“That’s not as obvious to today’s consumer,” he said, “so we need to be part of this movement to redefine the concept.”

To some, it’s about increasing efficiency, to others it centers on land management. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) did an assessment on the topic, and issued a comprehensive report last year.

Read more


“” Launches Today

Angus Production Inc. and DV Auction partners to launch the community.

Angus Productions Inc. (API) is proud to collaborate with DV Auction to better serve the Angus community through

API, the American Angus Association’s award-winning publishing entity, and DV Auction, the originator in online livestock auction broadcasting, announced the partnership today, which includes the creation of a marketing website for cattlemen to buy and sell Angus genetics. Read more