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Beef Systems

Click to view Archived News Articles by Ben Beckman
Ben Beckman is a beef systems Extension Educator serving the counties of Antelope, Cedar, Knox, Madison and Pierce.  He is based out of the Cedar County Extension office in Hartington.  You can reach him by phone: (402) 254-6821 or email:

While forage crops may not always be the main product for most producers, they do play an important role in our production systems, particularly for those of us who own livestock. Having a clear idea of the goals and expectations you have for a forage crop are critical to planning success. Lay out your resources, goals, and animal needs, as they occur over the course of the year then find the forage or forages that fit. Once the general plan is formed, take some time to look at species or variety options that could impact final cost or productivity. You’ll find time planning is time well spent.
Beef feedlot managers, owners, employees and allied industries will learn new information related to feedlot management at Nebraska Extension’s 2021 Beef Feedlot Roundtables via webinar in February and March. University and industry leading representatives will speak about animal handling practices, fed cattle marketing, research updates, the value of manure, using cover crops and more. Read more for the full schedule and to register for which webinar(s) work best for you.
The time for spring planting alfalfa is just around the corner. Selecting the right seed is crucial, and two traits to consider are fall dormancy and winter survival. These traits are often treated the same, but are different. A winter survival rating of 3 is about as high as we want to go and areas with open winters or regularly colder temperatures should be even lower. For fall dormancy, a rating of 5 is about as high as we want to go to balance yield and survival. Spring recovery is important, but don’t forget fall dormancy also impacts maintaining dormancy, harvest schedule, and yield potential.
Calving is a busy time at best, and heading into the season unprepared certainly doesn’t help. As calves start to hit the ground this year, make sure that you’re ready with plans and a toolkit to deal with any calving difficulty that may arise. Calving can be a hectic time, but going in prepared can keep the twists and turns Mother Nature throws our way manageable.
Winter is typically a time for using the resources we have on hand and planning ahead to next year’s growing season, possibly taking time to improve next year’s pasture with some alternative legume seeding options. Interseeding improves pasture production in two main ways, through fertility and quality. Most legume species; alfalfa, clover, birdsfoot trefoil, are high in protein and energy. Alternative seeding methods like frost seeding and feeding seed may be ways to improve pasture performance with lower labor requirements and not having to worry about seeding during busier times this spring.