Date of this Version
Considerations for getting the most from your beef cow herd are covered in this NebGuide, including calving season, factors affecting nutrient requirements, cow rations and more.
Feed costs are the greatest expense in keeping a cow herd, and the nutrition program dictates reproductive performance. The ultimate goal for a cow/calf manager is to keep feed costs low, but still meet the nutrient requirements of the cow herd so reproductive performance is not impaired. Once these two factors are balanced, producers, through new genetics of added growth or milk production, can match increased weaning weight with the most economical feed resources available.
The nutritional program should be simple and should supply the needed nutrients for the cow to give birth to a strong, healthy calf, milk reasonably well, and rebreed by 80 to 85 days after calving. Managing feed resources to attain a consistently high reproductive rate at a low cost is important in maintaining profitability for the cow/calf enterprise.
Individual producers have little control over calf prices even though the breeding program yields calves with high market appeal. Calf supply and demand have the biggest influence on the price received.