Beef Cattle Production

f-1 heifersAg Biz News Column
By:  Chad Gulley
County Extension Agent—Ag/NR
Smith County


Beef Cattle Production


Texas ranks first in the nation in total cattle numbers with over 14 million head.  Texas also has the broadest spectrum of producers and variation in production environments. The beef cattle industry is by far the largest sector in the Texas agriculture industry.

Assets minus liabilities equal profit.  In the beef cattle industry, several methods can be used to reach a certain level of profitability.  One way is to increase revenues while maintaining the same expense level.   Another way is to decrease expenses while maintaining the same revenue stream.  A third way is to do both by maximizing revenues and decreasing expenses.  Each manager can develop their own business plan for their individual operation.

Here are several management techniques that can help a beef cattle producer move toward profitability.  These management techniques are to increase reproductive efficiency through breeding soundness exams for bulls and pregnancy checking the cow herd, maintaining body condition, vaccinating the cow herd, deworming, vaccinate the calves, and reduce cost by determining your production unit cost.

Reproductive efficiency is important in the cow/calf industry.  The herd that produces more calves per exposed female cattle will increase revenue by selling more calves.  Annually producers should perform a breeding soundness exam on their bulls.  Also, producers should pregnancy check the cow herd.  Non-productive cattle should be removed from the herd and replaced with more fertile, more productive cattle.

Body condition is another important factor in moving toward profitability.  Maintaining body condition of cattle, especially during winter months, helps reduce input costs while increasing fertility of the cow herd.  It is easier to maintain body condition during the winter months than to try to put weight on cattle in the cold winter months.  Are you raising hay or purchasing hay?  What supplementation will be needed according the quality of hay raised or purchased?

It is important to get with your local veterinarian to establish a vaccination program for your cow herd.  A good vaccination program can reduce input costs of treating sick cattle later.  Producers should design a vaccination program for each individual herd.  There is no one size fits all vaccination program.  It is also important to determine a vaccination program for the calves produced and how you intend to market your calves.

By reducing production costs this allows the managers to get through the bad times that arise in the cattle market and to take advantage of the good times in the cattle market.  Stocking rates of pastures is an important factor especially with the last several years of drought conditions.  Drought preparation should be something we account for as we manage our herds.  If we are stocked at the proper levels, the less stressful it is for us and the livestock species.  Avoid overgrazing as this is hard on the field as well as the livestock species.

Some people have been looking to buy cattle that were liquidated as a result of the recent years of drought.  Some are doing so cautiously while others are changing gears all together and getting into a different production level.

There are numerous workshops coming up in the near future to help educate producers on the various production levels.  The 59th Annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course is one such workshop.  This annual short course will be held August 5-7, 2013 on campus of Texas A&M University.  The TAMU Beef Cattle Short Course is one of the largest cattle courses in the nation.  This short course offers continuing education through 22 different cattleman’s college sessions and various hands on demonstrations through various concurrent sessions with top industry leaders instructing each session.  The cattleman’s college portion provides participants with an opportunity to choose workshops based on their level of production experience and the needs of their ranch.  Registration can be found by going to by August 1.

Extension programs serve people of all ages regardless of socioeconomic level, race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.


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