NCERA87: Beef-Cow-Calf Nutrition and Management Committee (new project)

(Multistate Research Coordinating Committee and Information Exchange Group)

Status: Inactive/Terminating

NCERA87: Beef-Cow-Calf Nutrition and Management Committee (new project)

Duration: 10/01/2006 to 09/30/2011

Administrative Advisor(s):

NIFA Reps:

Statement of Issues and Justification

One-third of the 33.06 million beef cows in the United States are located in the 12 states comprising the North Central Region. Adding the additional 2.06 million, 0.64 million, 0.71 and 0.76 million cows found in Oklahoma, Colorado, Virginia, and Wyoming respectively, almost 46% of the beef cows and beef cow operations in the United States are present in states with representation on the NCR-87 Cow-Calf Management and Nutrition Committee. Beef cows are particularly well suited to profitability utilizing not only high quality pasture and hay crop forages, grown as part of sustainable cropping systems in the North Central Region but they also effectively utilize crop residues, grain processing byproducts, and feed grains, which may be in abundance in the North Central Region. The rapid expansion of the ethanol industry in the northern plains states (SD, NE, ND) has dramatically increased availability of ethanol byproducts in those areas. In fact, these three states account for approximately 26 to 28% of the ethanol production capacity in the United States (Renewable Fuels Association, 2005; Iowa Department of Agriculture, 2004). Pasture values increased 7 to 9% from 2003 to 2004 for ND, SD, and Nebraska (ND Agricultural Statistics, 2004). In many cases, summer grazing costs are as great, or greater than winter feeding costs. Byproduct feeds may be a more economical and sustainable source of nutrients than rangeland forage in situations where pasture forage is expensive.

Inefficiencies in reproductive and health management of calves, heifers, and cows also limit profitability of cow-calf enterprises. These inefficiencies may result from excessive or inadequate investments in management tools and/or improper application of management practices. In the next stage of the cattle cycle, prices for feeder calves will be likely be below the breakeven for many cow-calf producers, particularly in situations where the unit cost of production is high due to either low production costs, high input costs, or a combination of both.

The original NCR-87 justification statement included the objective of "the development of nutritional and management data which permit economic evaluation of systems by simulation models." During the last renewal period, the committee published refereed journal articles on managing the two-year-old beef cow as well as an invited manuscript in the Journal of Animal Science which details recommendations on using the 1996 NRC Beef Cattle Requirements computer model for grazing beef cows. In addition, the committee has sponsored symposia at the Midwest Section of the American Society of Animal Science meetings on topics related to management of the two-year-old beef cow, management for improved carcass quality, and the use of the 1996 NRC Beef Cattle Requirements computer model.


  1. Development of cow-calf production systems which reduce unit cost of production while still producing high quality beef that meets the demands of todays consumer.
  2. Development and integration of reproductive management technologies into management systems.
  3. Development of profitable, environmentally sound, cow-calf production systems which encouraging efficient use of feed resources in cow calf operations.
  4. Maintain and enhance formal and informal linkages which facilitate outreach and information sharing among committee members and with beef cattle producers in the region.

Procedures and Activities

As a North Central Education/Extension and Research Activity, the primary purpose of the NCERA 87 is to facilitate information transfer regarding beef cow-calf nutrition and management among the participating institutions. This is primarily accomplished via the annual meeting which rotates location among the participating states. The annual meeting features station reports of current research and extension programs from all participants. These reports are compiled and published for distribution to the participating institutions. The annual meeting also provides time for discussion of current issues facing the industry and strategies for addressing these issues. This planning session results in coordination of research across the participating institutions and the integration of the most current research into coordinated producer education programs in the region.

The beef cow-calf nutrition and management area of research is vast, thus NCERA 87 will focus their efforts on (1) systems approaches to reducing unit cost of production, (2) increasing the use of cereal grain co-products in cow-calf nutrition programs, and (3) enhancing the adaptation of reproductive management strategies into cow-calf operations.

Gathering and compiling data on the effects of weaning age and/or weaning management strategy, strategic supplementation and feeding programs, calving season, and forage and grazing management on the quality and consistency of the resulting beef products will become increasingly important as the industry continues to develop linkages and alliances which link the various production sectors in the beef industry. The resulting effects on economics, reproductive performance, and productivity must also be documented. Committee members will work collaboratively to conduct research which investigates these research areas and will work collaboratively to disseminate results at regional committee meetings, symposia, and other joint activities.

Reproductive efficiency plays a major role in profitability in the cow-calf enterprise. The focus will include environmental and management factors affecting fertility in beef heifers and cows, economic implications of improved reproductive technologies, and development of reliable fixed-time artificial insemination protocols for beef heifers. Committee members have a strong history of collaborative research in this area and work will continue in the future to this end.

Increasing land cost and availability of grain and oilseed processing byproducts will likely change how resource managers approach cow-calf production in the North Central region. Defining optimal resource utilization will require a focus on not only profitability, but also sustainability and environmental soundness. By collaborating and sharing information across state lines, committee members will strengthen extension and research programs in the region the committee the serves.

Even though developed as a North Central committee, recent participation in NCR 87 has included states as far east as Virginia, as far south as Oklahoma, and as far west as Colorado and Wyoming. Membership represents a strong mix of applied researchers and extension specialists. NCERA has strong linkage to other NC committees, most notably NC 1020, NC 1021, and NCR 206. Members are also engaged in numerous industry activities and organizations including the National Cattlemens Beef Association and various state beef councils and state producer associations. These linkages create opportunities for integrating technologies and assessing impacts along the entire beef production system, extending from the natural resource base to the end product.

Expected Outcomes and Impacts

  • Development of cow-calf production systems that have lower unit cost of production.
  • Increased use of grain and oilseed processing co-products in cow-calf operations.
  • Reduced reliance on expensive forages.
  • Increased adaptation of reproductive management strategies such as fixed-time artificial insemination which will enhance the improve productivity and genetic progress in beef cow herds.

Projected Participation

View Appendix E: Participation

Educational Plan

NCERA 87 considers county and regional educators to be a primary target audience. To reach that audience, a symposium at Midwest section of American Society of Animal Sciences will be sponsored by this committee on some aspect of their findings. Authors will be requested to write an extension fact-sheet on their presentation. Collaboration with other NCR and NC committees and beef industry organizations to develop programs and disseminate information will also serve the mission and objectives of the committee and strengthen outreach and collaborative efforts.


The recommended Standard Governance for multistate research activities include the election of a Chair, a Chair-elect, and a Secretary. All officers are to be elected for at least two-year terms to provide continuity. Administrative guidance will be provided by an assigned Administrative Advisor and a CSREES Representative.

Literature Cited

Anderson, R.V., R.J. Rasby, T.J. Klopfenstein, and R.T. Clark. 2005. An evaluation of production and economic efficiency of two beef systems from calving to harvest. J. Anim. Sci.83:694-704.

Clark, R. T., K. W. Creighton, H. H. Patterson, and T. N. Barrett. 2005. Economic and tax implications for managing beef replacement heifers. Prof. Anim. Sci. 21:164-173.

Fricke, P.M. and G.C. Lamb. 2005. Potential Applications and Pitfalls of Reproductive Ultrasonography in Bovine Practice. In: Veterinary Clinics of North America: Food Animal Practice (In Press) Elsevier Inc. Philadelphia, PA.

Janovick, N.A., J.R. Russell, D.R. Strohbehn, and D.G. Morrical. 2004. Productivity and hay requirements of beef cattle in a Midwestern year-round grazing system. J. Anim. Sci. 82:2503-2515.

Lardy, G. P., D. C. Adams, T. J. Klopfenstein, and H. H. Patterson. 2004. Building beef cow nutritional programs with the 1996 NRC beef cattle requirements model. J. Anim. Sci. 82:E83-92.

Spiehs, M. J., M. H. Whitney, and G. C. Shurson. 2002. Nutrient database for distillers dried grains with solubles produced from new ethanol plants in Minnesota and South Dakota. J. Anim Sci. 80: 2639-2645.

Stokka, G. L. and G. P. Lardy. 2005. Health Management Programs: Integrating Biological and Management Principles in Analysis, Design and Implementation of Programs for the Two-Year Old Beef Cows. In Press. Prof. Anim. Sci.

Tjardes, K. and C. Wright. 2002. Feeding corn distillers co-products to beef cattle. SDSU Extension Extra. ExEx 2036, August 2002. Animal and Range Sciences.

Whittier, J. C., G. P. Lardy, and C.R. Johnson. 2005. Pre-Calving Nutrition and Management Programs for Two-Year-Old Beef Cows: A Review. In Press. Prof. Anim. Sci.


Land Grant Participating States/Institutions


Non Land Grant Participating States/Institutions

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