Life on the Farm: Cow/calf operations top Missouri beef industry

Cow/calf operations are the backbone of the Missouri beef industry.

Cattlemen across Missouri are nearing the end of the fall calving season. University of Missouri Extension estimates some two million calves will be produced each year in Missouri.

The most common type of cattle operation is the cow/calf operation.

KRCG anchor Teresa Snow's family raises beef cattle. In the attached video, see how her husband works to catch and ear tag each of the babies when they are just days old.

Spring is the traditional time to have calves in Missouri, but more farmers are choosing to add a fall calving herd to take advantage of strong prices at the cattle market in the spring. Calves born in the fall that will grow to 500 pounds by April could bring an estimated $800 a piece.

MU Extension Asst. Livestock Specialist Heather Smith says that helps a farmer take advantage of two market cycles. Otherwise they may take all their calf crop to market at one time, regardless of the price. She also notes that most farmers work jobs off the farm. Calving season can be labor intensive, so choosing when to breed cows could be determined by when labor is available and a farmer can take time off his or her "other" job.

Weather conditions lead some farmers to chose fall calving. Spring calves are often born in February or March when the ground is cold, wet and sometimes covered in snow.

Experts say cows also need certain conditions to breed back quickly. Fall calving cows enter the fall in good condition enjoying the benefits of spring and summer pastures. But, spring calving is preferred by some according to Smith, because after calving, the summer grasses help a lactating cow get the nutrition they need. For fall calvers, a supplement may be needed during the winter. ã??