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February 2009 Archive for Livestock Today

RSS By: Sara Brown, Beef Today

The Livestock Today blog is your place to learn the latest production news for the livestock industry.

Spring Fever is here!

Feb 26, 2009
By Sara Brown
I can’t wait for spring! I MEAN I CAN’T WAIT! I had to pull a photo from last summer just to see what green grass looked like. Today, it’s a rainy, 50°F day in central Missouri. Birds are chirping and car washes are lined up to the highway. You would think spring would be close by, but the weather forecasters are calling for snow showers on Saturday.
But spring IS coming. March is only a few days away. That means two things: calving season is in full swing and ranchers are transitioning the cow herd off winter feed as pastures begin to green up. Combined, those two factors can lead to one very big problem—grass tetany.
In basic terms, grass tetany is a magnesium deficiency that develops in spring calving herds grazing on lush forages high in potassium and low in calcium and sodium. Older cows are at the highest risk, as well as cattle grazing on nitrogen-fertilized grass pastures. (The high potassium levels in the forage interfere with magnesium intake.) To manage the problem, provide daily supplements of magnesium to the herd. Check out the grass tetany article in the Pasture/Forage area of the Cattlemen’s Notebook section of for daily supplement mixes and options to improve pasture mixes.
How are your calves hitting the ground? I’ve noticed that most animals in Missouri are hitting the ground running, baring any major rain or snow storm. While you are out checking head numbers, let us know how your pastures look by e-mailing your thoughts and photos to

Open the gate and here we go boys!

Feb 20, 2009

I love to hear the call of the opening of a cattle sale—and it doesn’t hurt that my favorite one is voiced by a certain retired auctioneer in Missouri. That call embodies how I feel as this blog begins. I’m ready to see the best, learn the most and see good things come through the process.
Right now, I know it’s tough to look at the cattle in the pasture and the hogs in the barn and wonder what is going to happen in a year. Do you bid on that next group of heifers or bring another load of kill cows next week? My advice—take a breath and remember why you began raising livestock in the first place. Does that reason still justify the work you do every day? 
It’s time to be smart. Get a handle on where you are—know your profit center and your cost corners. Look for ways to trim those corners while keeping the profit center intact. If you have great ideas to share, send me an e-mail.
Like many of you, I know the challenges you face everyday. My parents and brother raise cattle, hogs and row crops. I am still involved in the farm operation and active in the local 4-H and FFA programs. There is nothing more inspiring than watching young people get excited about the future of agriculture. And nothing is more comforting than knowing there are other farmers with the same concerns as you.
It is my goal to inspire discussion and explore the topics related to the livestock industry. I would greatly appreciate your comments and suggestions.

E-mail me at
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