Cattlemen’s Update swings through rural Nevada

Carson Oney presents information on the development and management of heifers at the 2022 Cattlemen’s Update in Fallon.

Carson Oney presents information on the development and management of heifers at the 2022 Cattlemen’s Update in Fallon.

The College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno recently hosted the annual Cattlemen’s Update in various sessions across rural Nevada.

On the first day of their visits, the Cattlemen’s Update first stopped at Gardnerville for a midday session and then to Fallon for its evening presentation.

Carson Anderson Oney, who obtained her master’s degree in 2021 in Animal Science-Reproductive Physiology from the University of Missouri, spoke in Fallon. Her presentation discussed the development and management of heifers. She raised key points in either reproducing or replacing the herd.

“Replacement heifers are the future of the cowherd,” she said.

Why does it matter, she asked.

Oney said replacements are very economical and will also influence cow longevity. She urged, though, cattle producers to consider all economic and general management issues that will be specific to each operation.

“No one answer is right for all producers,” she said.

Key points for raising or buying replacement females, Oney said, is to select replacement candidates born early in the calving season and to manage breeding season to determine productivity and the proper nutrition.

Oney said a small farm owner may look at replacement compared to a larger farm owner. The larger farm, on the other hand, may keep their heifers rather than purchasing.

Oney also pointed to other considerations to factor into a decision. Most of Nevada, which has been in drought for two years, is a major determining factor. In a drought, Oney said producers will reduce herds, while in a wet year, the producers increase their herds like they did from 2016 to 2020, the last wet cycle to affect western Nevada.

“There’s a strategy to buying or raising each year,” she said, citing an example. “Replacement buying females from outside your herd brings in superior genetics.”

A disadvantage, Oney said, is an outside heifer is not coming from the original herd. She also advised if buying or replacing, to find heifers who have grazed in similar conditions.

Oney also spent time on the number of calves needed to develop, and the target weight for calving.
Paul Meiman, extension specialist for Range and Livestock/Wildlife Interactions with CABNR, discussed virtual fences, especially in northern Elko County. He said virtual fencing provide 100% containment and can subdivide a larger area by changing the width or zone.

Staci Emm, a Cooperative Extension educator out of Mineral County, updated the Mobile Slaughter Trailer Project and the progress being made with the units.

Before coming to Fallon, the Cattlemen’s Update visited Gardnerville.

Ranchers are optimistic that the demand for beef will expand as consumers recognize the value of keeping grocery store shelves stocked.

“All of us in agriculture were helped in one way by the pandemic,”

Mori Ranches’ Sam Mori said. “Consumers went to the store and the realization set in that the people raising our food are probably the most important people in the world, right now.”

The Lovelock rancher said that if the drought softens some, ranchers could see good times ahead. Mori joined Barnes Ranches’ Tom Barnes and David Stix of Stix Cattle Co. on a panel discussing cattle markets and production.

Gardnerville veterinarian Randy Wallstrum and State Veterinarian Amy Mitchell participated in a panel on animal health.

Barnes said that the new variant of the coronavirus is expected to affect packing house staffing in the first quarter of the year.

The ranchers briefly discussed proposed slaughterhouses in Carson City and Carson Valley.

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” one said. “If they couldn’t build one in Yerington, getting it done in a more populated area would be even more difficult.”

They were more optimistic about a slaughterhouse that is expected to be done by the end of 2022 north of Twin Falls, Idaho.

True West Beef is building a 500-animal a day plant in Jerome.

There are about 245,000 head of cattle in Nevada, which one rancher described as “too many to feed and not enough to pay the bills.”

Barnes said that consumers are seeking more choice and prime cuts of beef.

“Consumers like prime beef, but you need to make sure the type of cattle fit the environment you’re trying to raise them in.”

Stix said lighter calves are selling faster now with those less than 400 pounds going quickly.

“Prices are not as high, but plenty high for light-weight cattle and they were gobbled up,” he said. “A lot are going to the California (grass-fed) market.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is conducting its five-year Census of Agriculture this year. In 2017, the Census indicated there were 15,562 cattle and calves in the county. The county had 118,320 acres in farms in 2017, with almost three-quarters devoted to livestock, poultry and products.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment