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Trying our best to beat expectations

Thursday, February 16, 2012

We may think about calving season as one of new beginnings, but it’s really just part of a cycle that started at least nine months earlier, and hopefully before that, when breeding plans were set. Done right, calves should be born into great expectations, and not just hope the market will be up next fall. […]

Achieving the two important qualities in beef: marbling and tenderness

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Marketers try to sell what they have, even if it’s not the most complete product on the market. The phrase “guaranteed tender” may sound like it’s all that matters, the one true path to great meat. But that’s not all there is.

Black Ink: Finding the common ground in ag

Thursday, December 22, 2011

They say it takes all kinds to make the world, and the adage is all about people. Look around the mall, watch TV or check out the Internet and you find ready evidence of the individuality of individuals.

Black Ink: Happy people lead to happy cattle

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When ranchers or feedlot employees are unhappy or feeling stress, how much pride can they take in the job they’re doing? Call it mammalian empathy or stress-related errors of management, but those bad feelings are contagious across species.

Black Ink: Critical mass in the beef industry

Thursday, October 20, 2011

It takes so many plants to make a stand, cows to make a herd and drops to make a rain. Before turning that herd out to pasture, you look for enough plant mass to support their grazing. If you’re watching a couple of bred heifers for a month, you might as well be watching 20 or 30.

Black Ink: The ag business of social media

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Farmers and ranchers tend to be on either side of the fence when it comes to social media. There are the hold-outs, the staunch supporters, the occasional users and the clueless.

Planning to cope with emergencies

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Flood water forces the exodus of cattle to higher ground. Drought does the same on a wider scale, only to greener ground. And in the case of wild fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters, there might not even be time for that. Count your blessings As if the job of beef producer isn’t hard enough, […]

Top grades and relationships: You have to work at it in farming, too

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nobody likes to be told that they’ve done a bad job. Think of the situation-comedy or movie scene: A junior high student has worked for weeks on a final science report or English paper, eagerly awaiting the grade. When the teacher delivers it, she shakes her head in disappointment. The young one’s heart sinks, seeing […]

Tagging the right calves not easy

Thursday, February 17, 2011

As you tag another calf and write the information in that little book, do you ever think about how well it will hit the target? If you are going to the trouble of establishing identity (ID) at birth, you should at least think about the future these calves will face. Some beef brands and most […]

Long cattle life comes with a cost

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The oldest cow on record died in Ireland in 1993 at the age of 49, having been born on St. Patrick’s Day 1944 in Kerry and producing 39 calves over time. So she missed a few years — big deal. She was in a herd that allowed for maximum longevity. Cow’s life span Typically, cows […]

Where do you find your information?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Take another look at your cattle. Get out your records and take a deeper look. You think they’re the right kind, but you may have plans to “improve” them through breeding and management. What would constitute improvement? How do you know you’re on the right track? What informs you on matters of breed type and […]

Picking genetics may save time sorting

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Low-stress cattle handling is becoming a mainstream practice, but have you ever thought about the ultimate low-stress sorting system — right from your computer? Advocates of low-stress handling suggest using animal behavior to your advantage. If you’ve seen a demonstration of this technique, or employ it on your farm or ranch, you may recognize something […]

Put more black ink on your bottom line

Thursday, November 12, 2009

If Walmart were in the cattle business, it would probably serve as an operating definition of “least-cost producer.” People might refer to its cowherd enterprise as the model for slashing expenses. That’s the way to make more money in this margin business, isn’t it? The simple economic equation is income minus expenses equals profit, so […]

Keys may unlock cellular doors to marbling mysteries

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Knowing more about marbling helps cattlemen produce the best beef. All four National Beef Quality Audits said consumers want more of it, yet many producers manage so as to inhibit rather than enhance marbling. Scientists offered new insights at the Reciprocal Meats Conference this summer. “Three major things affect the beef eating experience: flavor, juiciness […]

Summer steak sales equal CAB record

Thursday, October 1, 2009

A steak sizzling on the grill is to a consumer what a cash register cha-ching is to a grocer. Despite economic conditions, those sweet sensations were in the air this summer as demand for high-quality beef cuts picked up for the world’s largest branded beef program. Records The Certified Angus Beef brand set repeat records […]

‘Power Cards’ are keys to success

Thursday, August 20, 2009

If you make a living on a ranch, that’s a success. Just living on a ranch is a success. Heck, just taking one more breath can be a victory. Everybody is a winner, at least in some small way. Success does not always manifest itself with visual clues, but you often see the trappings of […]

Going once, going twice…

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sold. That word can be cause for celebration or the beginning of a personal pity party. It all depends on what dollar amount follows that auctioneer’s decree. Studies have found and quantified just about everything that can make you more money at the salebarn or on the video auction: lot size, breed type, sex, preconditioning […]

Why ‘trade down’ in beef selection?

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Demand for beef is down. Can you blame the recession? Not entirely, but it’s a darned inconvenient coincidence. It’s hard to argue that beef quality was too low, because production of every class of premium beef has been trending up for some time. The supply of Choice beef in particular has increased for six years, […]

It’s possible for producers to have it all

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Stop trying to get maximum production. No more topping last year’s average daily gains, enough with the peak efficiencies and quit angling for record marbling scores every time. Does that advice cause a pause? Reaching those goals takes years of focus, so it can be hard to let go, even if the long-term profitability of […]

You need cows that are worth owning

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cows can’t do math, but their owners should at least do some counting. From financial balance sheets to stocking rates, a precise inventory is a must. Beyond that, you need cows that are worth owning. Cows that matter, that count because of what they can profitably produce. That’s true regardless of herd size and it’s […]


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