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Livestock 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:

Knowing how to handle snow and ice is important for a healthy herd. Keep an eye on animals that must dig through more than 6 inches of snow or ¼ inch of ice, especially when cold temperatures are thrown into the mix. At this point we need to start watching animal condition, and be ready to supplement.
While not something we typically look for when temperatures drop, 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.
While we often focus on the importance of knowing the energy and protein value of a forage, mineral and vitamin balances can be an equally crucial component of diets. Proper levels of Vitamin A are vital to the proper development of a strong immune system in newborn calves. When diets lack green forage, demand will increase and calf health can suffer if we don’t correct the imbalance with additional supplementation.
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. The one redeeming quality of the cedar is that they are relatively easy to kill.
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.