County Agent Update
November 29th and 30th there were two great programs in our area for beef producers. Lisa Pederson, North Dakota State University Extension Beef Quality Specialist presented on strategic culling of beef cattle. One thing that was mentioned was that there might be some reasons to cull beyond the “2 O’s”, old and open. Another thing that was mentioned was the economics, that there might be some more potential value for heifer calves and lower culling rate to retain more cows. There are some traits that could be used for culling that are more than just convenience, such as looking at feet, legs, and structure. Issues with feet, lets and structure can occur by injury, disease or even nutrition limitations, but it also can be because of their structure which could come from genetics. There is little research on the genetic component of feet/hoof issues, but the link could be heritable. Vertical cracks, also known as sandcracks, can be found on up to 64% beef cattle, on their outside claw on their front foot. Seems to be a genetic component. Another possible heritable trait is corkscrew claw, most common in hind hooves. This is observed most commonly in cattle three years old and older. This is also a heritable trait, good to be able to see dam and grandma if possible. Another feet/hoof issue is horizontal cracks, which is equally prevalent in dairy and beef cattle, if cow is horned, you will also see the changes in the horn rings at the same time. Horizontal cracks occur during calving.
Another issue is udders, the structure and genetics are important with cows that have many calves. Pederson states that all breeds are created equal regarding good and bad udders. Having equal size teats and tight suspension of the udder is important. If there is large teat size and poor suspension there is the chance of having to milk out that cow for the calf. Looking at the dam of the bull is important, genetics of the bulls mother. Of course, disposition. Safety for you and yours on your operation is most important. No cows to get a pass, even if they are your favorite. Sometimes temperament issues do not occur until cattle are older.