Use of technology in the production of beef cattle | Agriculture


I know I sound like a familiar note when I say that it seems like every day a new form of technology is introduced to the beef industry. Sometimes it’s just an “app” for your phone or a new delivery system for horn fly control.

I remember reading an article that said the poultry industry used about 90 percent of the technology it had, dairy and pig production about 70 percent, livestock feed about 50 percent, and cow production – calf about 10 percent.

A few years ago, a national beef magazine asked its readers about the top 10 new technologies in the beef industry. The results were 1. round / square bales, 2. AI, 3. knowledge of consumer attitudes, 4. insecticides to be poured, 5. video feed markets, 6. grain co-products, 7. market data in time actual, 8. labeling and identification systems, 9. food safety interventions in packing plants and 10. low stress livestock handling.

I would have put the Internet on top, but it was not on the list. On the other hand, I can see why the round balls did it.

I was writing an extension bulletin on the use of reproductive management practices – especially pregnancy testing, bull breeding exams, and reproductive disease vaccination – on the cow-calf profitability, and I was wondering what the adoption rate was for these practices in the United States. went to the USDA National Animal Health Surveillance website for beef cow and calf studies and searched for the most recent survey (2007-08) on beef management practices.

He reported that only about 18 percent of U.S. beef producers said they used pregnancy tests on their cows, while 20 percent performed breeding tests on their bulls and 40 percent vaccinated for any disease. reproductive. In addition, the percentage for pregnancy tests and reproductive fitness exams was much lower (around 10 percent) in small herds (less than 49 heads) but increased with herd size. But even in the largest herds (over 499 head), only 50 to 60 percent of producers reported using either. The most frequently cited reasons for not doing so were manpower / time, cost and difficulty. The lack of vets was not a problem. I find it hard to believe that ranchers don’t use these simple tools to improve their profitability.

After releasing all the numbers in the newsletter, pregnancy tests alone increased net income by 117 percent (more than double from “doing nothing”). This was done mainly by identifying open cows and replacing them with pregnant cows. Tests on bulls for reproductive soundness increased net income by 102 percent, assuming at least one bull would not pass their test each year. And if only reproductive vaccines were given, the net income would be 77% higher than doing nothing, mainly due to the lower abortion rate of early and late calves. In the scenario where the three things were done regularly, the net income increases by 120%. With the prices we get for the cattle, that’s a pretty good return. More breeders need to adopt these practices.

I realize that there are many technologies that cow-calf producers can consider adopting, and some of them can be quite expensive to start with or have a pretty steep learning curve (or both), but if you’re into the smartphone and maybe the internet, i don’t expect there to be too many tech that the average beef farmer can’t master and figure out if it’s profitable!

Joe C. Paschal is a Livestock Specialist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service in Corpus Christi. Contact him at [email protected] or 361-265-9203.

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