Isa Informer Newsletter

From the Winter 2003 issue of the Isa Informer

Eight items some of us have forgotten

1. A cow is a scavenger, which converts grass to protein-rich, nutrient-dense beef. She can do this with a minimal supplement of protein and minerals and no grain. Our national cow herd is an important part of our dwindling industrial infrastructure and a vital element in the critical issue of watershed management.

2. A cow-man is anyone who correctly fits his cows to his environment, i.e., they breed young, and reproduce themselves with minimal expense.

3. The environment and the task assigned to the cow determines ultimately the genetic finished weight of her steer progeny coming out of the feedlot.

4. It just so happens that beef cattle, which calve 24 months over several generations, under practical management, will produce steer progeny that genetically finish at the desired 1050-1250 weight, regardless of their environment of origin.

5. Cows that are required to be productive will put down enough back-fat to winter, calve and breed back under reasonable conditions. It just so happens that their steer progeny will, if fed a high-quality finishing ration starting at weaning, have just the right amount of intramuscular fat for tenderness and palatability.

6. Cattle selected for weight-for-age at weaning under practical conditions, will be heavy-weaning, heavy-milking, fertile, good-converting, high-cutability cattle. Cattle selected for weight-for-age as yearlings improve more rapidly that those selected for weaning weight.

7. It is said that a heifer can have a calf weighing about 7% of her body-weight. If the average heifer weighs 950-1000 at calving, that means that we need calves averaging 65-70 pounds at birth or less. A bull that cannot be bred to heifers should not be bred to cows.

8. A cow from any beef breed adapted to her environment for several generations, from a line of females that calves at 24 months, bred for 90 days or less to a bull of the same breed that has been performance-tested under practical conditions will produce feeder steers at or above the 90th percentile industry-wide and an optimum heifer calf to keep or sell. If you really want to know what your cattle are worth, retain ownership of your steers, take them through the feedlot and sell them on the formula to IBP.

—Laurence M. Lasater,