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Knowing what ranch records to keep

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The beginning of a new year often is an opportunity to reflect upon the past and set goals for the future. On a ranching operation, Kansas State University Beef Cattle Institute experts say it is a good time to make recordkeeping and management adjustments.

Speaking on a recent Cattle Chat podcast, the team of experts agreed what records to keep will vary from operation to operation, but in 2023 there may be some special challenges that aren’t typically a concern.

“As you think through your grazing plan in 2023, you need to factor in that many parts of the country are still in a drought. That may mean you need to have a contingency plan for your forage resources,” said Phillip Lancaster, beef cattle nutritionist. “It might be helpful to talk with someone with grazing expertise from the NRCS (Natural Resources and Conservation Service) to help you set up a plan for drought-stressed pastures.”

Meeting the herd’s nutritional needs is one aspect of an overall health plan, said veterinarian Bob Larson.

“A good overall cattle health plan includes good nutrition, good housing and good biosecurity,” Larson said.

Specific to housing, Larson said that cattle need to be maintained on pastures that are not overstocked and can be moved easily when needed. He encouraged producers to check water sources and fencing to make sure those are well maintained for the year ahead.

Regarding biosecurity, Larson said it is important to work with the local veterinarian to develop a vaccination program and protocol for introducing new cattle onto the ranch.

Veterinarian Brian Lubbers suggested ranchers take the time early in the year to touch base with their veterinarian.

“This is a good time to schedule a routine visit either on Zoom or when they are on your ranch to make sure you are in agreement on your health plan moving forward,” Lubbers said.

The veterinarian is just one of many local advisers who can offer expertise, said Larson.

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