Nebraska is nationally known as the Beef State. Our team provides research-based information and resources to beef producers to help them provide an economical, safe, quality product to consumers while protecting and preserving Nebraska's vast natural resources.

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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:

Winter tetany is something we need to keep an eye on just as closely as we do grass tetany in the spring, especially for fall calving cows. During the winter months, a low magnesium diet can be just as big of an issue as in the spring. Properly testing hay and adjusting mineral and diets to balance out magnesium, calcium, and potassium can keep this nutritional problem at bay.
When animals can’t forage, hay is often the feed of choice to get our animals through. While an invaluable feed resource, the cost of getting a herd through the winter can be substantial. One of the easiest ways to overspend feeding is by providing animals more than they need. On the flip side, underfeeding can lead to thin cows and down the road calving issues and low conception rates. Feeding animals what they need can keep the heard happy and healthy and your pocket book full.
One of the biggest threats facing pasture and rangeland across Nebraska is the encroachment of the Eastern Red Cedar. Although a native tree, and very useful in a number of circumstances, its slow takeover of what used to be grassland has put much of the state in a difficult situation.
Taking this time to look back on last year is beneficial, but resist the temptation to compare things to normal. Very rarely, do things in the ever-changing world of agriculture really meet average or normal. When you take time to look back on the challenges and successes of this past year, try to see where adapting to a problem worked or how a bit more flexibility next year could keep an issue from arising.
Corn residue can be a very cost effective forage resource, but using it correctly and continuing to meet animal needs while grazing is critical to success. Typically, corn residue can run around 5-6% Crude Protein (CP) and 50-60% total digestible nutrients (TDN) which is a measure of energy. For some classes of livestock this may be enough to get by without supplementation, but for others, some extra feed is required. Make sure you adjust supplementation to the class of livestock you are grazing and keep an eye on condition to make adjustments as conditions change.