Stage Two: Backgrounding

Approximately 751 total days makes up the complete lifecycle of cattle. For the first 205 days, the calf spends with its mother who provides it milk as its main source of nutrients, and at the end of this time the weaning process occurs. After the weaning process occurs, cow/calf producers can sell their calves to other farms and calves will enter what is called a backgrounding stage for 100 days.

The backgrounding stage is considered the second stage in the bovine lifecycle and is also known as the intermediate stage after weaning and before placement in a feedlot. Background feeding relies heavily on forages such as pasture grasses and hay in a combination with grains, if the producer chooses, to help increase the calf’s weight during this time frame. The goal during the backgrounding stage is for the calves to reach 700 to 800 pounds, as well as build up immunity to diseases before it potentially enters a feedlot. The duration of the backgrounding stage is 3 to 5 months.

Producers that focus consistently on backgrounding cattle maintain heard sizes of cattle that are around the same age, meaning the calves were all born within two to three months of each other. The concept behind keeping all cattle close in age helps with consistency and efficiency of feeding and gaining weight, as well as consistency of the timeline of the cattle growing before they enter a feedlot.

backgrounding

Cattle in the backgrounding stage of the bovine timeline are consistently the same age and weight and spend the majority of their time grazing on grass to convert into lean protein.

Producers by the name of ‘Stockers’ background cattle between the ages of six to twelve months where they will spend the majority of their life grazing on pasture grass with some grain mixtures as a part of the balanced diet. In this stage, cattle gain weight and convert forage and grass into lean protein.

With approximately 100 days out of the total 751 days in the complete bovine timeline (conception to harvest), it is safe to say that all cattle spend the majority of their lives grazing on grass, it is the last four to six months that determines if a producer will finish them out on a grain based or grass fed diet.

 

Check back next Tuesday to learn about the feedlot stages of raising beef cattle.

Have a great Tuesday!

-Demi-

 

Weaning: A Part of Life

The beef industry is more than just the tender and juicy steak that sits on your plate hot off the grill. It is more than just the baby calves running in the pasture or feeding hay to the mama cows; the beef industry is a connection of many different sectors and family farms all working hard to raise a healthy and wholesome product, so that at the end of the day we as producers, as well as consumers can enjoy a hardy cut of steak with both family and friends.

cow and baby

Calves spend the first five to seven months with their mothers receiving nutrients from their milk and learning to eat forages and grains

An essential sector of the beef industry is the cow/calf operation where producers’ birth mother cows and offspring are cared for. Caring for their babies is the top priority of the cow for the first five to seven months as the baby calves receive most of their nutrients such as protein from their mother’s milk. However, at the end of approximately 205 days, or seven months, calves are weaned from their mothers and begin living strictly on their own.

Weaning is known as the process of managing without something or someone on which a species has become dependent on, such as young dependent on its mother’s milk. The mothers need time to put weight back on and have a rest period before birthing another calf. The ruminate of the calf takes four months to develop and after this time frame, the older a calf gets the more mature it becomes and can eat other foods, such as grass, hay, and grain that will sustain its body. The weaning process can be completed in a handful of ways such as fence line weaning or gradual weaning. Both weaning processes allow the calves and cows to be in familiar surroundings, as well as see and smell their mothers during the process of learning to live fully on their own, without their mother’s milk.

calves at gate

Gradual weaning allows calves to be separated by gates from their mothers during the evenings and return with their mothers during the days for approximately 3-4 days

fenceline

Fence line weaning happens in one day with a fence separating the mothers and babies

During the weaning process, both the mama cows and their calves bawl because of being separated. The bawling is more of a psychological factor because the mother and baby are use to being together and bonding and being separated is a life change. As one looks at the process of weaning, mama cows seem to bawl more during the separation than the calves because as the calves get older and bigger, they spend more time away from their mothers playing with the other calves. Weaning is comparable to a mother sending her child to school for the first time, watching him/her get a driver licenses, or dropping them off at college. It is separation from what has been the norm, however it needs to happen and both the mother and child or calf has to learn to be on their own.

It is important that the weaning process takes place around the calf being five to seven months of age for the safety of the mama cows. The calves are old enough to function on their own, so if they are left with their mothers, they would continue to take the nutritional milk that needs to be reproduced for the next offspring. The bull calves would also begin to harass their mothers, which could result in stressful and unhealthy circumstances.

drinking milk

The older a calf gets the better it is able to care for itself. Weaning a calf at 5-7 months of age ensures the mother cow can rest and reproduce milk for her next offspring

Beef producers have the goal to produce a healthy product, on four feet or on the table. To produce a healthy product during the stage of weaning, the cows and calves need to have minimum stress and be closely monitored for injury and sicknesses. The stress level is also minimized when producers wean during adequate temperatures, meaning that the day of weaning is not too hot or cold and rainy which results in the least amount of stress and sickness which overall results in a better product.

calves eating grain

As calves learn to be away from their mothers full time, they eat grain, hay, and other forages to maintain a healthy lifestyle

Weaning calves from their mothers is a natural process that all (animals and humans) go through. For the overall health, safety, and low levels of stress on both the cow and calf, weaning is beneficial and is the beginning of another sector of the beef industry bovine timeline.

~Demi~

4th of July Cattle Facts

The average American eats 65 pounds of beef each year

cattle nose

Cattle can detect smells up to 5 miles away

footballs

One cowhide can produce enough leather to make 20 footballs, 18 soccer balls, 18 volleyballs, 12 basketballs, or 144 baseballs

cattle breeds

There are around 60 different beef breeds present in the United States-pictures is a Belted Galloway

pasture

The U.S. supplies 25% of the world’s beef with just 10% of the world’s cattle

bones

There are 207 bones in a cows body

chewing

The average cow has more than 40,000 jaw movements per day

scale

The United States produces approximately 26.0 billion pounds of beef each year

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99% of the beef animal is used when processed

burger

40 billion hamburgers are sold in the United States every year

 

Have a happy 4th of July!

-Demi-

 

 

 

Live a Flavorful Life

As a generation, millennials like to show off their creative side when it comes to cooking. Not using a recipe to create a delicious meal can be fun and challenging, yet turn into a delicious new way to prepare a favorite cut of beef! As a summer campaign through the National Beef Checkoff, the entitled, “No Recipe Recipe” videos are a way to showcase to individuals the basics to remember when preparing a cut of beef, but allow the imagination and ingredients used by the chef to be an unlimited supply. The videos simply feature a cut of beef, a way to cook the beef, and simple rules to remember when cooking beef, such as how to check the temperature of a steak, or to season steaks after they come off the grill with salt to keep the flavors in the meat. From taco creations to mixing it up with stir-fry meals and salads, these new videos give everyone a taste of summer and a boost of confidence when it comes to cooking in the kitchen! Featuring easy, quick, and delicious meals, these new ideas are a great way to impress your friends and family alike. These simple 30 second to one minute interactive videos allows the chef to create their own recipe with their own ingredients of choice for a savory eating experience!

Below is the link to view the five different videos on the beefitswhatsfordinner website. http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/easy-dinner-ideas.aspx  

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So go-ahead, you be the chef and create a masterpiece tonight!

Happy cooking!

~Demi~

 

 

Life Lessons from Dad

This upcoming Sunday is a day that we will honor our fathers for the courageous acts they have fulfilled, the lessons they have taught us as their children, and most importantly the love they have provided throughout every year of our lives growing up. I feel very lucky and honored to have been blessed with such a wonderful dad; the head of the household, the partner to my mother for 27 years, and most importantly a man that has taught me countless lessons throughout the numerous activities including cattle shows, cross country and track meets, driving the tractors, becoming a college student, and learning how to stand for my values. In honor of the man that I have always looked up to as my “Prince” and the man that has taught me valuable life lessons, I wanted to share a few of them with my readers today.

1. Hard work is the foundation to success

Spud

Showing cattle has always been a big passion of mine, but without the Sundays putting the fan cage up in the barn or the weeknights having my dad act as the showmanship judge helping me practice before the fair, I would not have enjoyed, nor had the success I have had showing. This picture showcases a favorite memory of mine the year before I was in 4-H. My dad left work to watch me show my brothers dairy beef feeder “Spud” in peewee showmanship. He always told me that if I wanted to do well showing and prove to myself that I could do something I had to put in the dedication and hard work prior to the event.

2. In order to do your best in something you have to enjoy yourself or it isn’t worth it

Bluffton

As a collegiate runner my freshman year in college, my dad was my biggest supporter and ‘sideline coach’. Running was something that we bonded over ever since I started competing in 5th grade. There were many weekends that we spent running workouts together on the track in high school and my freshman year in college. As a collegiate runner, there were some meets that I remember getting down on myself because I did not compete the best that I had hoped I would. I always remember a part of the ‘pep talks’ he gave to me before a race including “you have a gift and a talent to run and if you do not enjoy yourself while competing than the activity is not worth it anymore.” He always made me realize that you have to enjoy life because we only get to live one.

3. Make the most of every situation because there is always something to learn

KHS

After finishing a cross country or track race I would always find my dad to recap the race and talk about what I should do better for the next competition. The end of both my junior and senior year of track however I broke my foot and was beyond disappointed I could not compete to the best of my ability in the conference and distract meets. In all situations, both the good and the bad, my dad tells me to look for the positive because God has a reason. From the two times breaking my foot I remember dad telling me to be grateful I will come off of this injury stronger and be able to still walk, run, and compete because not everyone has that ability.

4. Winners never quit and quitters never win

Expo

Showing livestock is the basis of this quote. Showman know the joys of winning and how hard it is to accept defeat. My dad has always been a firm believer in never quitting something I have started. He always reminded me that whether I won or lost in the show ring, on the cross country course, or on the track, I must congratulate my competitors and offer a “job well done”.

5. Everything happens for a reason

tractor pull

I am so grateful for the relationship my dad and I have. He has taught me countless lessons and reminded me to always have a smile on my face. Growing up running and showing cattle were my two main activities and through both of them he gave countless hours of support and guidance and continues to remind me to trust in The Lords plan because he has a reason for the paths we walk on.

I wanted to use this blog to not only honor my dad, but allow others to possibly learn from the lessons he has taught me throughout different events in my life. To all the fathers, Happy Father’ Day and to my wonderful, loving dad, thank you for all you have done and I Love You!

~Demi~

 

Celebrate Dairy Month

Last month we celebrated beef month and are grateful for beef cattle being the single largest segment of American agriculture. As the month of June is now ahead of us, we celebrate dairy month and are thankful for this industry being a part of the beef industry too! It is estimated that up to 20 percent of all beef in the United States comes from dairy animals and as both the dairy and beef industry, we are proud to work together as cattle producers.

June is Dairy Month NBAP

No matter the livestock production segment that a producer may be a part of, at the end of the day, both beef producers and dairy producers are working together to produce a safe, wholesome, and nutritious product that they, along with consumers, can enjoy.

Many dairy farms are primarily dairy producers, but they understand that they are just as much a part of beef production as they are the dairy industry. Although milk would account for most of the dairy farms income, bull calves and market cows make a difference. Bull calves on dairy farms can be sold to another farmer at one to three weeks of age where they are raised and fed out as dairy beef steers. In addition to the bull calves, after a cow is no longer able to profitability produce milk, she is sold as a market cow for beef as well.

dairy cattle eating

Today we honor our dairy herds, who work hard to be a part of the dairy industry, but also a part of the beef industry!

Veal production is also a part of both the dairy and beef industries combined. Veal is the meat of young cattle, in contrast to the beef from older cattle. Veal can be produced from a calf of both sexes and any breed, however most veal is produced from male calves of the dairy industry.

From both the beef and dairy side of production, survival would not be possible without the consumer. It is the job of producers of beef and dairy herds alike to work on behalf of the industry producing a safe, wholesome, healthy, and nutritious product, on four feet and on the table. As dairy month continues, we want to thank both our dairy and beef producers for the countless hours of dedication and hard work they put forth to raise a product we all enjoy.

dairy and beef calves

Male calves of the dairy and beef industry alike are raised so we as consumers can enjoy a delicious and nutritious juicy steak

 

Happy Tuesday!

Demi

#truthTuesday

An ongoing conversation within the beef industry regards to hormone usage in the beef animal. There has been a graphic circling around social media that I wanted to share with you today for #truthTuesday.

As consumers we often hear that beef is not safe to eat because it is “loaded with hormones.” This chart allows us to see and understand the levels of grams that are in other foods we eat daily, as well as a steak. Some perspective can be found showing the levels of hormones in beef, in nanograms, which is 1 billionth of a gram. Hormones are naturally occurring in the body, and this chart shows the final level of hormones in these products, ready to eat.

chart

From within conversations had on facts about beef, feed additives can be added in small amounts at specific times in the cattle’s’ lives to help them make the most of the food they eat resulting in more lean muscle instead of fat. It is important to understand that all feed additives, also called beta-agonists or growth hormones are reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to use to ensure that the product is deemed safe for the animal, the environment, and ultimately humans.

As individuals, eating a balanced diet including all food groups is important. I choose to share this chart simply for perspective for all of us as consumers because I view it as eye opening and it is my hope that you do as well.

 

-Demi-

The “Rock” on my Family Farm

Yesterday was a day that as a country we stopped to remember and thank those Veterans that had fought, served, and died so that we may live in a land that is free. Because of them we are able to graze our cattle on our green grassy pastures, rope the newborn babies on breezy sunny days, and most importantly live under the American flag flying high in the sky knowing that we are able to happily raise our beef cattle hand in hand with family and friends by our side. We have those brave men and women whom fought for our freedom to thank!

We all have someone that has been a part of our life and passed before us that have helped shape us into who we are today. From their bravery, encouragement, endless lessons and support, having them as a part of our lives have proved to be a blessing.

Yesterday was not only a day that as a family we honored and remembered the fallen soldiers, but also a day to remember and honor my grandma who would have been 75 years old, but passed away three years ago. As a farming and livestock family there is always one person who is the backbone of the farm and family, who you know you can always count on to have a watchful eye or give the right advice when times are tough. For my family, that was my grandma.

momo

A fantastic and beautiful women, my grandma, whom my brother and I called ‘momo’ always had a smile on her face!

My grandma grew up in the city, married my grandpa who milked cows, and then became the wife of a dairy farmer. Talking to my grandma as a young girl, I always remember her saying she would not have had it any other way and loved looking out the kitchen window seeing the cows laying in the pasture. Whether having dairy or beef cattle on the farm, she was always the rock that held our family together.

momo showing

My grandma showing her cow at the county fair in 1972. From milking the cows, feeding the baby calves, to showing, she enjoyed being a part of every step of the cattle production.

As cattle producers it is important to have that one person in your family that can always find the good in all situations. My grandma always saw the glass half full rather than half empty and had endless love and faith in her Christian beliefs. It was important to her that we gave thanks for our blessings and being able to grow crops and produce livestock in a free country. Whether it was early mornings, late nights, rainy days, or the long hours spent at the county fair, her love for her family and producing cattle ran deep.

Producing cattle and crops on the land of the free is a blessing that we should not take for granite. As many of us as beef producers are, I am very thankful for being able to live a life producing a product so that others may eat. With the love and support from my grandma as the family “rock,” it is easy for me to be thankful growing up on the farm with the many life lessons she, as well as farm life has taught me.

momo and me

One of the last pictures that was taken with my grandma after a cross country meet. She was one of my biggest supporters throughout all my different activities, including farm life and sports.

So as the business and hectic lifestyles return after this holiday weekend, let us continue to show gratitude to those that have passed before us; those that have allowed us to produce on the land of the free, and those that have had a hand in shaping how we live and produce our beef cattle on a day-to-day basis.

Happy Birthday Momo and thank you!

~Demi~

 

Five Tips to Master Memorial Day Grilling

With Memorial Day next Monday, beef is the number one protein of choice for this holiday, and grills will be heated up cooking steaks and hamburgers across the United States. As we invite family and friends over to enjoy a juicy steak or hamburger, here are five tips that you need to remember so you have the most savory and best experience this holiday.

1. When cooking steaks, cook for a total of 14 minutes, seven minutes on each side, flipping only once.

timer

Set a timer for 14 minutes, flipping the meat only once at seven minutes to get an even grill on both sides.

2. Steaks should be cooked to a minimum of 145 degrees whereas hamburgers should be cooked to a minimum of 160 degrees. The only way to ensure your beef is cooked to the proper temperatures is to use an instant read meat thermometer.

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Insert the instant meat read thermometer sideways into the thickest part of the beef to get an accurate temperature reading.

3. Use tongs rather than a fork to flip steaks and take steaks off the grill. A fork will pierce your steaks or hamburgers and the juices inside that add flavor and tenderness will be lost.

grilling[1]

Flipping steaks and hamburgers with tongs rather than forks ensures juices will stay inside the meat as it cooks and rests.

4. Let your steaks and/or hamburgers rest at least five to seven minutes before serving. The heat from the grill causes the juices inside the meat to flow and without letting your steaks or hamburgers rest prior to cutting them open, all the juices would flow out onto your plate and not cause as juicy or flavorful eating experience.

resting steak

Allowing your steaks or hamburgers to rest prior to serving it will ensure you and your guests enjoy a flavorful, tender, and juicy eating experience this holiday!

5. Cut against the grain of your steaks. Hamburgers, because they are ground beef, do not have a grain, but all cuts of steak do. It is important to cut against the grain of the meat so you do not have a chewy eating experience.

against the grain

Cut against the grain to keep the juices and flavor into the meat and avoid chewiness.

As you celebrate your Memorial Day with firing up your grill, remember these five simple tips so you and your guests have the best eating experience with the steaks and/or hamburgers you grill. Although this day is your time to shine as a chef, do not forget to thank the Veterans that have served so we can live in a free country.

flag

Happy Memorial Day, happy grilling, and thank you Veterans!

~Demi~

Beef Connection in the World of Ag

Beef producers work countless hours to ensure they are up-to-date on current beef products and practices. Raising their herd of cattle is their livelihood and depends on the current education and seeking out of answers. Beef producers however do not focus just specifically on successful beef production; they are also continuously gaining knowledge about other agricultural realms.

This past week I had the opportunity to travel with the Collegiate Young Farmers Club from The Ohio State University to take a 5-day road trip to Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina to tour equipment production headquarters, southern plantations, and crop facility headquarters. At the end of the trip, I was very grateful that I, along with six other OSU students had the opportunity to gain more knowledge about different sectors of agriculture. Being a part of the beef industry and seeking out continuous education is important, but the world of agriculture is combined through many different pieces and parts.

One of my personal favorites was touring a tea plantation and learning about the tea making process, different equipment used to harvest, as well as the history. Although making tea does not directly correlate to beef production, production methods and innovation is directly compatible between tea production and beef production. As a tea plantation, it is most important to start the new cuttings, or seeds, off with the upmost care for production, which correlates to starting off a baby calf, making sure that it receives the appropriate nutrients and vitamins to grow healthy.

tea combine

The tea harvester ‘combine’- unique to only the production of tea.

Another educational part of the trip was the Phosphorous Mine. As an important part of growing crops all around the world for people and livestock alike, phosphorus is a needed nutrient. While at the mine we had the opportunity to learn about the mining process, as well as see the process in action while in the mine. Spending the morning at the mine learning about the process of mining and why phosphorus is so important to the world of agriculture proved to me the connection between phosphorus, crop production, and beef cattle. Without phosphorus being mined, crops would not yield a product and beef cattle would lack food and nutrients.

mine

Phosphorus Mine in North Carolina

machine

The phosphorus mining machine that scooped up the phosphorus ore

mine2

The part of the mine that loads the phosphorus onto both train and barge.

Learning about the world of beef cattle and beef production as well as promotions and educations is important to me and something that I continue to strive for through learning. However, being a part of agriculture means more than just feeding my cattle, it means understanding the world of agriculture and how different aspects, systems, and other lines of production all correlate and work in conjunction with beef cattle and beef production.

Monsanto

As a final stop of the trip, we toured Monsanto company and had the opportunity to learn and ask our questions about biotechnology corn and soybeans as a grain for livestock, including beef cattle.

 

.Demi