TEXT 1. Beef production programs

The initial and most fundamental step in the beef enterprise is the production of a baby calf and raising it to weaning age. The calf is, so to speak, the raw material out of which the finished beast will eventually be made. The breeding herds in which calves are produced need little grain or other fattening feeds. Consequently, the raising of beef calves is confined chiefly to those sections that have an abundance of comparatively cheap, low carrying-capacity grazing land. Hence, we find the im­portant breeding centers located either in regions that aresparselysettled or in hilly areas where the land is too rolling to be farmed to advantage. Climate also plays an important part in determining the location of the breeding industry. The southern and southwestern states have a decided advantage over those farther norths with respect to climate. Because of the shorter winters in these regions, the calves are ordinarily born 4 to 6 weeks earlier than in the north, or they may even be born in the fall. Thus the calves are larger and heavier then they are marketed the following fall.

Commercial—that is, not purebred—cow herds can be grouped together in four broad categories which depend upon system of land management, available feeds and pastures, and the method of market­ing the calf crop, as follows:

(1) There are the large spectacular herds which sometimes consist of as many as a thousand cows or more, operated on ranches located principally in the Mountain region. These ranches usually consist of some deeded land situated along or near rivers or streams where the winter feed supply of hay or silage is produced on irrigated meadows and crop land. The remainder of the ranch usually consists of extensive acreages of low carrying-capacity, government-controlled land such as national parks or forests, which may be situated near or adjacent to the deeded land. The rancher has grazing privileges or permits for a given number of cows for the summer grazing season. The calf crop of this type of ranch is sold either as calves at wean­ing time in the fall, or as yearlings the following fall, after having spent another grazing season on the range. Little if any fattening is ever done on these ranches because grain is not grown to any extent.

12) Then there are herds varying in size from 30 to 50 cows to very large herds operated on ranches usually owned by the rancher or leased from private owners. Most of these herds are found in the Great Plains and the Pacific Coast regions. The operation of these ranches varies considerably, depending upon whether they are located in the northern or southern portion of these regions and upon the feed-producing capabilities of the soil. Although most of these ranches sell either calves or yearlings to other ranchers or to feeders, some may feed out their own production.

TEXT 2.Stocker Program

A stocker is a young animal that is being fed and cared for in such a way that growth rather than an improvement in condition may be realized. Stockers or stock cattle are of two kinds: heifers that are intended for use in the breeding herd, and steers and heifers that are intended for the market as feeders or are intended for fattening by the present owner. With both kinds of stockers the principal purpose in the mind of the owner is to affect as much econ­omy in feeding and management as is consistent with normal growth and development. Necessarily then, stockers are handled only by farmers or ranchers who have much cheap feed, either in the form cheap pasture or cheap harvested roughage such as hay, straw, fodder, and silage. Since stock heifers that are intended for breed­ing purposes are in demand principally in the breeding centers where they have been produced, few animals of this class are to be found outside such areas. In general, their method of management is much like that of the breeding herd.

With stockers intended for the market, however, we have a some­what different, situation. Such cattle may be grown out in the region where they were bred and reared, by allowing them to graze grass land of the same character as that used by their mothers: or they may be shipped soon after they are weaned, either to grazing areas that are not fully stocked with cows and young calves, or to grain- growing sections where they ultimately will be fattened. In grain sections their feed consists mainly of the aftermath of meadows, legume pasture crops grown in the regular farm rotation, stalk fields, oat straw, legume hay, and silage. Many cattle feeders of the Corn Belt make a practice of buying their cattle as calves or yearlings in the fall and carrying them on such feeds through the winter or for a full year before putting them into the feed lot. In this way the by­products of grain farming arc utilized; any undesirable or unthrifty cattle are weeded out before the use of expensive feeds is begun; and, what is probably most important of all, the cattle are purchased when market conditions are particularly favorable to the buyer.

Stock cattle may be put in at almost any time of year on a well-diversified farm.

TEXT 3.Cattle Utilize Pasture Crops

A more efficient utilization of all farm products is one of the important problems of the general farmer. With these coarse rough­ages beef cattle offer a solution that is usually found satisfactory. Mature beef cows can be maintained satisfactorily on rations com­posed of roughage alone, whereas steers that are being finished for the market consume 50 to 300 per cent as much roughage as grain, depending on the degree to which their grain ration is limited. Beef cattle are well adapted to utilize the surplus roughages that are produced under a system of general farming.

Cattle Utilize Pasture Crops. The importance of pastures and the place of beef cattle in their utilization upon ranches is taken for granted. On the contrary, the importance of pasture crops in the non- ranching areas of the country is often overlooked. Beef cattle make it possible for the permanent and rotation pastures to contribute a fair share of income on the farms in this vast area.

In less favored parts of the country, real efforts are being made to reclaim and rebuild soils no longer able to support cash crops. How­ever, without beef cattle and other ruminants to convert the grass and roughage produced on these lands into income, such reclama­tion is economically impossible.

Pastures necessarily occupy a large portion of the total farming area in this country.

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