Sometimes, people have forgotten
workable strategies. When operators
work with a trusted specialist who
can keep them out of trouble, they
also make more money.
“No matter how big or small the animal
is, it requires vitamins and minerals
every day,” Abney advises. “We
know that, and we talk about that, but
it’s important to put our money where
our mouth is. Don’t just buy minerals,
but put them out and monitor intake.”
BELIEVING IN MINERAL
Established in 1885, near Ashland,
Kansas, fi fth-generation family members
operate the Gardiner Angus
Ranch. Mark Gardiner is passionate
about developing the right genetics
for his herd, but he believes beef
production also requires mineral supplementation,
quality forage and hay,
and a top-notch herd health program.
Gardiner says the key to any operation
is to design forage availability so
animals can graze all year. Although
the ranch is located in an arid climate,
receiving a yearly precipitation average
of 18 inches, cattle are on pasture
11 months of the year. The Gardiners
have added triticale, spring oat mix,
sorghum-sudangrass, and improved
grasslands to their grazing program.
“That gives us the fl exibility some
folks may not have,” Gardiner explains.
He also stores wheat silage, which is
fed during dry spells, and alfalfa, a vital
source of protein. All cattle receive a custom
mineral package with added zinc
and copper to overcome defi ciencies.
He tests all forages, hay supplements,
soils, and water annually to check for
changes in mineral concentrations.
Gardiner prefers his cows develop a
BCS of six as a buffer for stress incurred
during tough times, such as cold, wet
conditions, blizzards, or drought.
“Making up a BCS is a hard thing
to do, so we don’t want to get below
fi ve,” Gardiner shares. “With genetics
cattle, I don’t want them to ever have
a bad day. I make a point of getting
out of the pickup to observe cattle
and handle them well.”
By banking BCS’s, fat reserves create
margins in feeding programs. For
instance, during drought, operators
can wean calves early because feeding
calves is often more economical
than feeding cows that are also nursing
calves. In late summer, producers
should think about cows’ future
BCS’s when they calve in the spring.
Consider how to maintain BCS’s as
a built-in margin for either winter
weather or dormant grass.
Gardiner runs stockers on grass or
wheat, putting 400 to 500 pounds
on them before shipping them to the
feedyard. The key to profi tability is
understanding the cost of gain. For
this operation, grazing on native or
improved pastures is an opportunity
not to be wasted. By allowing animals
to gain signifi cant weight before
moving to the next production phase,
Gardiner makes more money per
pound. If livestock do not graze on
available grass or triticale, Gardiner
feels he has wasted an opportunity for
added weight gain.
Be aware of the challenges when
raising either heavy and/or thin cattle.
By applying mineral and protein supplementation
and feeding strategies,
producers can have productive animals
that increase the bottom line.
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