Cows out in a pasture
Speakers at the BeefWatch webinar series discussed what time of the year it is best to utilize pasture feeding or feedlot feeding. Courtesy photo/ Mary Drewnoski.

At a recent seminar, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor said nutrition and timing of breeding is probably the most critical part of cattle nutrition.

The Nebraska Extension hosted the third installment of its BeefWatch Webinar series on Tuesday, Oct. 20, which covers topics relating to agriculture and ranching methods, strategies, and other ways for farmers to increase their profits.

Tuesday’s webinar featured Travis Mulliniks, University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s assistant professor, who discussed nutritional management of heifers and what strategies farmers should use to increase heifer weight and pregnancy rates.

Mulliniks referenced multiple past studies on heifer weight management to show what farmers have done in the past and compared them to what is happening now.

The studies looked at how a heifer’s weight changes depending upon the time of the year the farmer switches from feeding them in pastures to feeding them in a feedlot.

A study by Mulliniks in 2012 compared the weights of two groups of heifers, one fed from a pasture and the other from a feedlot.

“By May, we’re at a 100-pound difference between the two groups,” Mulliniks said.

However, the overall body weights between both groups were similar when it came time for the impregnation of the heifers. What did change was the pregnancy rates of the groups.

“Pregnancy rates in the feedlot group were 88%,” Mulliniks said. “Pregnancy rates in the range group were at 96%.”

These findings are used to help farmers increase the bodyweight of heifers to get the best pregnancy results.

“Losing weight for a week can cause a decline in reproductive performance,” Mulliniks said.

In 2020, one of the main concerns that farmers faced was the increasing drought conditions in northeast and western Nebraska. These conditions may bring challenges for farmers in feeding their cattle and managing them for future sales.

In a separate interview, Kacie McCarthy, an assistant professor at UNL and beef cow-calf specialist, said farmers should be more flexible with their animal options.

“Being able to have some flexibility with the types of animals you have will be pretty important to consider depending on the feed you have,” McCarthy said.

Casey Christensen is a senior Journalism and Sociology double-major at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.