Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Steps to Increasing Cow Herd Profitability

Barrett Simon, Livestock Agent

Understanding every financial aspect of your operation can be a daunting task. Feed, equipment, labor, and depreciation all enter into the equation. However, there are so many variables within those categories that a producer can often get exasperated and give in to what they deem is an insurmountable task.

Nevil Speer, Beef Magazine, recently published an article that highlighted profit margin research done by the Kansas Farm Management Association that shows only 1 year from 2005 – 2015 where Kansas cattlemen truly made a profit. Granted, it was a highly successful year where even producers with the highest inputs could have squeaked into “plus territory” due to record high calf sales. I think the graph below is enough to make most of us reflect on our production practices and hopefully take a closer look into our costs, both variable and fixed.

KFMA; Pendell & Herbel, BEEF Magazine

Of course, not every ranch sits right at the average. There is a wide window of producers from those with the desirable tandem of lowest input, highest revenue to those with a tougher system that yields the highest input, lowest revenue. Now for the burning question: Where do the differences lie and what does it take to jump into a more profitable sector in 2018? The first step is to realize that our industry is not an industry of “absolutes”, while many producers fall either into the category of chasing the lowest input or the highest gross income, the greatest number of producers who remain competitive year after year are those who understand profitability lies at the crossroads of the two.

While we all seem to know each year’s calf market like the back of our hand, cow costs are a number that are often put on the back burner and checked every 5-10 years. Yet data collected by the Livestock Marketing Information Center shows that annual cow costs have jumped more than $300 on average since 2010. Understanding the volatility and current inflation rate of the beef market is crucial beginning each year with a fighting chance.

How do we ensure that we are representing our finances accurately and truly understand cost benchmarking? The first step is to be completely open about all expenses that accumulate and the second is to remain organized in keeping track of those expenses. Include an account manager and build a relationship so that you can ask the tough questions and better understand issues when they come up. Clay Mathis of the King Ranch Institute reminds us that, “Feed and labor expenses are typically well understood, but depreciation is an expense often more difficult to grasp. The result is a considerable amount of unaccounted expense in livestock, equipment, and infrastructure depreciation. Managers should be aware of the effect depreciation of livestock, equipment, and infrastructure has on the long term equity of an operation. The ways to decrease livestock depreciation are: reducing purchase price of breeding stock, increasing salvage values, or increasing longevity of cows and bulls. Reducing equipment depreciation may be accomplished by sharing, renting, leasing, or contracting equipment.”

From there, producers should build, revise, and reference their own business plan. If your operations goal is to buy short term, broken mouth cows late in the fall and turn for a profit as spring pairs, the rest of your business plan should mesh with that; meaning that producers who aim to buy cows as cheap as possible probably do not need to buy the most expensive feedstuffs or mineral package. On the contrary, seedstock producers or those who strive to sell a premium product can be more willing to spend additional money on genetics and nutrition in order to ensure the cattle they aim to sell stand out amongst other lots. With that being said, always look closely at where exactly you’re spending money. If a low cost product does not meet the needs of your cows, it can turn into a high cost product awfully quick. If a more expensive product does not offer enough value to offset its cheaper competitor, then there is probably not a reason to spend the additional money. Every input should be tailored to exactly what your operation strives to achieve.

In addition to identifying the goals of your ranch, challenge your business to remain current with the applicable, proven production methods. Shortening the calving window, early weaning, intensive grazing, and late season protein supplementation are just a few options to explore to help jumpstart your operation. Assess what small change in production practices can reap the largest benefit to your business and then calculate the risk involved; the next step is putting your plan into action.

In short, the outline towards a more profitable system can be broken down into four steps: Define your business plan, understand costs completely, look for more efficient alternatives, and explore proven production practices.

• Mathis, C.P.; Machen, R.V. “Key Drivers of Cow Herd Profitability” King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management

• Pendell, Dustin; Herbel, Kevin “What’s the Difference Between High, Medium and Low-Profit Producers?” Beef Magazine http://www.beefmagazine.com/management/what-s-difference-between-high-medium-and-low-profit-producers 1/11/18

• Speer, Nevil “Whats Your Cost to Keep a Cow?” Beef Magazine http://www.beefmagazine.com/cow-calf/what-s-your-cost-keep-cow 3/17/16

For More Information
Barrett Simon
Post Rock Extension District – Livestock Agent
Barrett8@ksu.edu – (785)378-3174

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension” along with our blog site at postrockextension.blogspot.com. Follow us on Twitter @KSRE_PostRock. Also remember our website is postrock.ksu.edu

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Local Children Build Home Libraries with Dolly Parton

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

The Dolly Parton Imagination Library is a literacy program for young children. The program is available to the youngest residents in the Post Rock Extension District (Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith Counties).

What Is It?
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a 60 volume set of books. Each month a new, carefully selected book will be mailed, in your child’s name, directly to your home. By mailing high quality, age-appropriate books directly to a child’s home, the Dolly Parton Imagination Library encourages children and their families to be excited about books and to feel the magic that books can create. Reading is a valuable experience for young learners as it promotes positive brain development, helps a child understand the world around them, and enhances positive relationships with the caring adults they rely on. To learn more about Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library visit www.imaginationlibrary.com.

Who Is Eligible?
Preschool children ages birth to five who are residents of a county with an active Dolly Parton Imagination Library program. A child can enroll anytime they are eligible, though they graduate from the program the month of their 5th birthday. All counties in the Post Rock Extension District have an active program. These counties include Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne and Smith.

Is There A Cost?
Books received through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library are a FREE GIFT! There is no cost or obligation to your family. The Dane G. Hansen Foundation graciously provides financial support for the local programs.

What Are My Responsibilities?
  1. Be a resident of the county program you are enrolling in.
  2. Submit an official registration form, completely filled out by parent or legal guardian.
  3. Notify your county’s program manager any time your address changes, or make changes via your online parent account. Books are mailed to the address listed on the official registration form. It is your responsibility to properly report an address change in order to continue receiving books.
  4. Read with your child.

How Do I Register Online?
  • Visit www.imaginationlibrary.com.
  • Registration must be completed by the parent or legal guardian of the child.
  • Click the "Can I register my child?" link. You can find this link as you scroll the homepage, or under Getting Started, Parent Resources at the top of the webpage.
  • Select country and follow additional prompts.
  • Complete the four-step process to register your child (terms & conditions; check availability; check eligibility; parent's information).
  • After registering, pending/activation confirmation messages will be sent to the listed email address.
  • Information about how to access your parent account will also be emailed.

When Will I Receive Books?
Eight to ten weeks after your registration form has been received, books will begin arriving at your home and will continue until your child turns five or you move out of the county you are enrolled in. Children graduate from the program the month of their 5th birthday. A committee with the Dolly Parton Imagination Library selects quality, age-appropriate books. All youth will receive some books, regardless of age, as Dolly Parton and the committee have determined them to be essential additions to a child’s personal library.

Additional Questions?

To find out more about registering your young child for the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, contact any Post Rock Extension District Office or email Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, at nrhoades@ksu.edu.

How Can I Help Promote This Program?

Contact Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent, to discuss promoting the literacy program at your organization or business. She is willing to schedule a time to present to your group about this program and the value reading brings into the lives of our earliest learners. Nora can be reached at the Post Rock District – Osborne Office at 785-346-2521 or by email at nrhoades@ksu.edu.

County Specific Registration Information

Jewell County, KS ― Paper and online registrations accepted. The local program is presented by the Jewell County Resource Council, contact Amanda Anderson. Submit registration to:

     Jewell County Resource Council
     408 North Commercial Street
     Mankato, KS 66956
     (785) 545-5833

Lincoln County, KS ― Paper and online registrations accepted. The Friends of the Lincoln Carnegie Library and the Lincoln County Health Department present the local program. Submit registration to:

     Lincoln County Health Department
     114 West Court Street
     P.O. Box 187
     Lincoln, KS 67455
     (785) 524-4406

Mitchell County, KS ― Paper and online registrations accepted. The local program is presented by the Post Rock Extension District and the Mitchell County Community Foundation. Submit registration to:

     Post Rock Extension District – Beloit Office
     115 S. Hersey
     Beloit, KS 67420
     Mitchell County Courthouse Basement
     (785) 738-3597

Osborne County, KS ― Paper and online registrations accepted. The local program is presented by the Post Rock Extension District and the Osborne Community Foundation Inc. Submit registration to:

     Post Rock Extension District – Osborne Office
     113 N. 1st Street
     Osborne, KS 67473
     (785) 346-2521

Smith County, KS ― Paper and online registrations accepted. The local program is presented by the Post Rock Extension District and Smith Center Elementary. Submit registration to:

     Post Rock Extension District – Smith Center Office
     P.O. Box 287
     Smith Center, KS 66967
     Smith County Courthouse Basement
     (785) 282-6823

Thursday, January 18, 2018

How do I determine how much nitrogen my wheat crop needs for the topdress application?

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

You might think it is too early to think about fertility management for your wheat, but now is a good time to start planning for topdressing nitrogen (N) application on your winter wheat crop. The first task is to access or evaluate your wheat stand to determine the potential of your crop. With limited soil moisture in most areas of the state, it might be a rather challenging decision as some of the wheat in many fields is small due to late planting and dry weather during the fall and winter. So there are some key elements that need to be considered when deciding on exactly what to do. These include timing, N source, application method or placement and N rate.

“Timing is the key for your topdress application as the N in your topdress application needs to be into the root zone, with precipitation, by rapid plant growth and nitrogen uptake well before jointing begins in order to be most efficiently utilized by wheat,” according to Dr. Dorivar Riuz Diaz, K-State Research and Extension Nutrient Management specialist. With some of the wheat out there with fairly limited growth, having adequate N available to support spring tillering when it breaks dormancy will be important. The following will discuss some of the issues to consider when making topdressing decisions.

While some producers often wait until spring just prior to jointing, this can be too late in some years, especially when little or no N was applied in the fall. For the well-drained medium-to fine-textured soils that dominate our wheat acres, the odds of losing much of the N that is topdress-applied in the winter is low since we typically don’t get enough precipitation over the winter to cause significant denitrification or leaching. For these soils, topdressing can begin anytime now, and usually the earlier the better. However, remember there are conditions when it is NOT recommended to apply nitrogen such as frozen ground or snow covered where runoff can occur and interfere with the distribution of the nitrogen.

The next factor that can affect the efficiency of the topdress application is the application method or placement. Most topdressing is broadcast applied. In high-residue situations, this can result in some immobilization or “tie-up” of N, especially where liquid UAN is used. “If no herbicides are applied with the N, producers can get some benefit from applying the N in a dribble band on 15- to 18-inch centers,” added Riuz Diaz. This can minimize immobilization and may provide for a little more consistent crop response.

Source is another important factor in nitrogen utilization. The typical sources of N used for topdressing wheat are UAN solution and dry urea. Numerous trials by K-State over the years have shown that both are equally effective. In no-till situations, there may be some slight advantage to applying dry urea since some of it will fall to the soil surface and be less affected by immobilization than broadcast liquid UAN, which tends to get hung up on surface residue.

Lastly, but certainly not the least is the rate. As discussed earlier, the rate would depend on the potential of the crop or more ideally, based on soil tests, specifically a profile N test, that was collected on your fields. It is not too late to use the profile N soil test if taken in late winter/very early spring before the wheat greens up. While it won’t be as accurate as when sampled in the fall, it can still point out fields or areas in fields with high levels of available nitrate N. Remember, topdressing should complement or supplement the N applied in the fall and the residual soil N present in the soil. The total N application, at planting and topdressing, should equal the target recommended rate.

To address the nutrient management topic, our Post Rock Extension District will be hosting a “Nutrient Management Update” meeting on Thursday, February 1 in Sylvan Grove at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The meeting will start at 3:00 p.m. and include at 6:00 p.m. Supper will be served following the program. RSVP is requested by Monday, January 29 either ONLINE at www.postrock.ksu.edu or any of our Post Rock District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center. NO COST, thanks to our sponsor 181 Ag Supply.

For further questions on nitrogen management in your wheat, contact me at any Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center. 

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Sandra may be contacted at swick@ksu.edu or by calling Smith Center, 282-6823, Beloit 738-3597, Lincoln 524-4432, Mankato 378-3174, or Osborne 346-2521. Join us on Facebook at “Post Rock Extension” along with our blog site at “postrockextension.blogspot.com. Also remember our website is www.postrock.ksu.edu and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Stay Strong, Stay Healthy is your ticket to better health.

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Our bodies are made for activity, but modern conveniences allow us to be increasingly inactive. Physicalinactivity can place our health at risk for many chronic diseases.

Here’s the good news! We have something fun planned to get you up and moving. The Kansas State Research and Extension Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program!

Two sessions will be offered beginning February 21st in Beloit and Jewell. This eight-week program can help you get started on the road to better health. The Stay Strong, Stay Healthy program is built on simple, strength-building exercises that will improve balance, health and state of mind. No, it’s not difficult or complicated weight-lifting. You’ll start at a level that’s right for you. No one is too inactive to participate. Building strength promotes quality of life and independence, especially for adults over 50. Instruction is provided by Kansas State Research and Extension faculty.

NCK Wellness Center, Beloit
Mondays and Wednesdays
February 21st-April 23rd

Jewell Christian Church, Jewell
Mondays and Wednesdays
February 21st-April 23rd

Preregistration is required and due by February 16th. To register, please call or visit the Post Rock Extension District offices in Mankato (785) 378-3174 or Beloit (785) 738- 3597. All equipment for the class will be provided. Cost is $20 for the 8-week series.