Thursday, August 30, 2018

Let the Cow Save You Money and the Bull Make You Money

Barrett Simon, Livestock Agent

No matter your business model, there are a couple of different schemes that make cow-calf producers profitable. The trick is, knowing your ranches game plan and sticking to it. Some producers are of the mindset that ugly cows wean just as heavy a calf as fancy cattle, and some producers believe that top end, typey cattle do not eat any more than ugly cattle. Whether you are a low input producer or a premium product type of producer, there are good management strategies to fit your operation and build profitability no doubt. I recently read an article from Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State Beef Specialist, that took an interesting spin on how producers could look at both sides of the equation; here is my spin-off of the article as I try to relate it back to North Central Kansas and the Post Rock District.

Ringwall openly agrees that there are a number of factors affecting profitability. While, in general, cattlemen enjoy running cows, a wider profit margin makes our smiles a little bigger and last a little longer. We have all heard the saying, “Make the cows fit the environment, never try to make the environment fit the cows.” I am a big believer in doing just that. Mother Nature is playing with a loaded deck and we simply won’t get around that. Consider moderately supplementing protein to encourage cattle to get out and graze more efficiently on those dead or mature forages. Even still, be leery of supplementing too often or too heavily as it will change the dynamic of the rumen and prevent cattle from going out and earning their keep on pasture. We have the luxury of grazing stalks heavily across most of the Post Rock District, once we make it to stalks, it’s found that on average the first 30 days on each field will provide enough crude protein that we can get by without additional supplements. At the same token, we can garner enough energy from corn or milo stalks to last about 60 days on any given field, depending on residue.

How else can we manage the cow herd to be more efficient? Some of you may scoff at this, but there is value to moderating mature size. While I will try to stay off my soap box, I do think we need to remain focused on pounds weaned per acre, not pounds weaned as a percentage of cow weight. Yes, those 1,150 pound females are going to wean a lighter calf than their 1,400 pound counterparts; however, by reducing stocking rate over time and increasing cow numbers on the same ground we can still capture more dollars.

So where does sire selection come into play? First and foremost, it comes back to the fact that we have to have an in depth understanding of our own end game. Some producers are strictly retained ownership operators that capture additional value from high quality carcasses. While this is a legitimate model, I urge you to increase understanding of maternal traits and keep a close eye on your cow herd and cull rates. Others may focus on developing their own replacements and sending steers to town post weaning or even off the cow. With a big end of their income coming from weaning weights, it is easy for those producers to let mature size go by the wayside and lose track of their number one goal. In short, I think both of those business plans can benefit from remaining fairly neutral in bull selection. Single trait selecting is a classic example of having too much of a good thing and can ultimately weaken the backbone of the operation we may be building. Ringwall states that we, as commercial cattlemen, should become comfortable with a bull battery that ranks between the upper 30th and 50th percentile within their breed and within our desired traits.

For more discussion on how to increase cow herd efficiency or on bull utilization, feel free to stop by and see me in Mankato or give me call any time. Better yet, give me a shout any given morning if you have an extra seat in the pick up or side by side, I’d love to come take a more in depth look at your operation and visit about what you have found to be successful within your own cow herd.

Feeder Calf & Stocker Management Meeting

Join us at Mankato Livestock’s new facility to discuss best management practices for receiving and weaning calves this fall. From limit feeding and nutrition to health protocol, K-State Research & Extension Specialist Dale Blasi along with Veterinarians Tim Parks and Stephen Russell will discuss how to protect your bottom line when taking in feeder cattle this fall. The meeting will be held on September 11th at 6:30 p.m. and is sponsored by Merck Animal Health and Mankato Livestock. Contact any Post Rock Extension office or email for more further details.

Post Rock Extension District of K-State Research and Extension serves Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Osborne, and Smith counties. Barrett may be contacted at 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 Follow us on Twitter @KSRE_PostRock. Also remember our website is

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Time: A Special Resource

Nora Rhoades, Family and Youth Development Agent

Time is a special resource for anyone trying to meet family, work, community, and personal needs.

Some say time is the most valuable of all resources because it is limited. Others think time is endless… thinking they can always do their tasks at another time. Most busy people have to plan carefully to meet all their time demands. Jobs, schools, and other events require you to be on time, even though you would prefer a more relaxed schedule.

Time itself is not the real problem: the key is how you use your time. Time cannot really be managed; you manage yourself in terms of time use.

Time is:
  • Measured – by clock or calendar, by season, by life stages.
  • Limited – we all have 24 hours.
  • Unique – we really manage ourselves in relation to time.
  • Perishable – we cannot save it for future use.
  • Money – it has a dollar value.
  • The key – to finding satisfaction and enjoying life.

Do first things first…

We all invest time, waste time and use time. Finding the time to do the things you need and want to do is often a big challenge. Effective time management means deciding what you want out of life and moving toward your goals.

To-do lists are a popular strategy to stay on track. When developing a list for the day or week, ask yourself:
  • “Why am I doing this?”
  • “When should I do it?”
  • “How will I do it?”
  • “Who will help me?”

Usually, you end up with a list that can be broken down into things that must be done today, should be done today, or should be done sometime – but there is no hurry. You may even have a category of things that should not be done at all because they do not align with your goals. The use of visual cues to inform and remind yourself about priorities will help you stay on track.

For example, mark each to-do item on your list with a priority ranking:
  1. ★★ (two stars) = Urgent, must be done immediately!
  2. ★ (one star) = Important, do as soon as possible.
  3. ✔ (checkmark) = Should do.
  4. 🙂 (smiley face) = Want to do, but there is no timeline or consequence for not doing.
  5.  X (cross out) = Don’t do because it doesn’t align with my goals.

To take a closer look at how to positively invest your time, you can watch a recent virtual learning experience provided by Nora Rhoades, Post Rock District Family and Youth Development Agent. Mindful Daily: Back to School Mindfulness was presented on August 21, 2018 via Facebook Live at Post Rock Extension. Here’s the recording:

You can contact Nora at or 785-346-2521. Content for this blog is from K-State Research and Extension’s Essential Living Skills: Time Management Skills. The resource is available at

Monday, August 13, 2018

Evaluating your wheat performance and making variety selections for 2019!

Sandra Wick, Crop Production Agent

Clearly, the yield potential of a wheat variety is a top priority, but resistance to diseases and insect pests is also an important factor to consider when selecting a wheat variety.  This year was definitely a challenge with the 2018 wheat crop, however, many producers are evaluating the performance of their wheat varieties and considering new varieties they should plant here soon.   The Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings publication from K-State Research and Extension can help growers identify the best varieties for their farms. The publication also provides helpful summaries to help producers better understand the historical risk of diseases in their area and quickly identify the varieties with the best overall disease resistance.  The 2018 KSU Wheat Variety Disease and Insect Ratings publication can be found online at or at any of the Post Rock Extension District Offices.

The Post Rock Extension District had four wheat demonstration test plots in our district, with the Mitchell County plot an official K-State Research and Extension “replicated” plot which simply means varieties were planted multiply times in one specific area of the field.  This particular yield report will be listed in the KSU wheat performance booklet.   All of the yield reports are posted on our district website at and are available at any of our Post Rock Extension District Offices in Beloit, Lincoln, Mankato, Osborne or Smith Center.  Be sure to also look at the K-State Research and Extension experiment field yield reports across Kansas with close fields in Belleville and Hays which are also online at or at any of our Post Rock District Offices. If you are looking for an opportunity to participate in our Wheat demonstration test plot program, contact me at any of our Post Rock District Offices.

The use of wheat variety blends is also a big question with producers.   Blends can offer producers some yield stability in most cases. While any one variety may do much better or worse than other varieties in the same vicinity, having a blend of two or three varieties can usually even out those ups and downs. Using blends also reduces the chances of having a landlord possibly upset because the variety planted yielded considerably less than other fields in the area.  There are just a few guidelines to remember when using blends.  Use varieties with different disease resistance.  Although the cost effectiveness of fungicides now may reduce the importance of this factor, there is still value to having at least one
natural source of resistance to diseases.  Use varieties with slightly different maturities. If producers can spread out the maturity just a bit, there is a better chance that at least one of the varieties can benefit from a given weather pattern.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to try new varieties in a blend. If you have additional questions on selecting wheat varieties or wheat production contact me at any of the 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 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”.  Also remember our website is and my twitter account is @PRDcrops.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Stay Safe While Walking to School

Ashley Svaty, Nutrition, Food Safety and Health Agent

Children should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day; allowing your children to walk to school will greatly help your children reach this goal. There are many benefits of walking to school, but it’s best that young children don’t begin walking to school without an adult until they are about 10 years old or in 5th grade. recommends this because younger children are more impulsive and less cautious around traffic and may not fully understand potential dangers. Use walking with your child as an opportunity to talk about the rules of the road, such as teaching about traffic signs, street signs, directions, and model correct behaviors when crossing streets. This is also a great time to familiarize your children with their neighborhood and to have great conversation with your child. Some towns have worked to improve student safety by designating “Safe Routes to School”. If your community has a Safe Routes to School program, follow it or begin a walking school bus and invite families in your neighborhood to walk to and from school together as a group. Parents can take turns walking with the group, but make sure parents observe all traffic signals, always observe safety laws, and look both ways before crossing the street and continue to watch for vehicles. Remind children often that drivers may not always see them so they have to be on the look-out. give the following tips when your child is ready to walk to school on their own:
  • Make sure they continue to use a safe route.
  • If they need to cross any streets on the way to school, practice safe street crossing with them before the start of school.
  • Ideally, they should walk with at least one neighbor child or older sibling.
  • Make sure they know how to say “no” if someone they don’t know offers a ride, and that they yell and run for help if needed.
  • Explain to them that it is not safe to use a cell phone or text while walking, which makes them less aware of traffic.
  • Choose brightly colored backpacks, jackets and other accessories, ideally with reflective materials for days when it begins to get dark earlier.

For more information about walking or biking to school, please visit