Image of cow looking into the camera with three other cows nearby in the background
Dr. Mary Drewnoski spoke about best practices for feeding cattle in the Beef Watch Webinar Series in October.

The Nebraska Extension, designed to provide research-based answers to the agriculture family, hosted its first-ever “Beef Watch Webinar Series” in October. The topics covered in the webinar are grazing conditions, nutritional management and heifer development.

An online series began as a way to connect the public with farmers and producers safely during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, Mary Drewnoski, a Nebraska Extension Beef Systems specialist, spoke about feeding growing calves protein. 

Drewnoski talked about how important it is for calves to get proper nutrition. One thing she stressed is that growing calves need to be provided enough protein in their diet. The source of protein also matters because it has long-term effects on their health, she said. 

In western Nebraska, producers have accessed distillers grains making it easier for them to ration and feed their calves a healthy protein supplement. In eastern Nebraska, however, there’s a lot of alfalfa hay. From year to year, the quality of the forage varies which makes it difficult to rely on that consistent source of protein.  

Drewnoski works with farmers and cattle producers to find solutions and best practices. The biggest effect COVID-19 had was backing up the cattle slaughter she said. The delay is still impacting the feedlot’s supply and demand.

Nebraska also had a drought this year which resulted in the cows having abnormally low levels of Vitamin A. This impacted the cow-calf producers, especially in western Nebraska Drewnoski said. They had to get their cattle off of the pastures earlier this year and now will have to feed them hay or other stored food for longer than usual. Drewnoski is now researching and advising farmers and producers on how to solve that problem.

The webinars are scheduled for an hour in the evening. Educators and specialists presented on their topic and then are available for questions afterward. With cooler weather and people being indoors more often Drewnoski said she hopes the webinars will be a good resource for farmers and producers to collaborate and bring their questions.

“That’s what extension is here for, right?” Drewnoski said.