Dairy cattle: Which production system is most viable?

Dairy farming is an excellent option for investors. The first step before investing in the activity is defining the type of animal production system. First of all, this choice must be based on the needs of the producer. That is, the system must meet the demands of your property.

Today, in Brazil, there are several management methods, different breeds of dairy cattle with different characteristics and productivity. For this reason, some factors such as nutritional management and availability of food, local climate, animal genetics, and the financial availability of the rural producer are decisive for the definition of the most viable production system.

Brazil is the 4th largest milk producer globally, and the demand in the dairy market makes production a very competitive market. Therefore, professionals working in the area are looking for efficiency in the production process, given its demands. 

If you invest in dairy cattle, you need to understand some topics ranging from farm facilities, nutritional management, health, and milking animals. But, as we discussed earlier, the first step is to choose the production system.

To end this one of the main doubts of the professionals who work in the sector, we made this article with the production system types. He will surely guide you on your journey to success. 

Prepared? So, come on!

Types of production systems for dairy cattle

Extensive system

This type is characterized in the creation of animals on pasture. In such a way, the base of the feeding is the pastures. In this system, animals are also placed in rotated paddocks with irrigation to ensure that there is time for pastures to be reformed.

They are relatively simple about the facilities and are limited to a corral, in which the cows are milked. 

In conclusion, the great advantage of this method is a low investment. On the other hand, the disadvantage is the need for large spaces with the availability of pasture for animals’ occupation. Also, if the handling is not performed correctly, it can generate low productivity!

Semi-intensive system

In this case, the animals are raised on pasture and receive the reinforcement of voluminous supplementation in times of drought (with less growth of pasture) or some cases throughout the year. In the semi-intensive system, food is provided in the stable at the time of milking. Furthermore, it allows the application of technological processes in creation. So, it is widespread for farms with this system to adopt artificial feeding practices and artificial insemination.

In this system, dairy cattle are fed with forage with a high support capacity and voluminous supplementation (such as sugarcane, silage, hay, or other supplements) in the trough all year, especially during the dry season, when the forage supply is reduced.

As the installation of this system is relatively simple, it is possible to adopt some technological resources to increase milk quality and productivity. Examples of this are the practices of artificial feeding and artificial insemination. But, among the disadvantages is the greater availability of resources for milking and cooling the milk.

Intensive system

Here, dairy cows are kept confined in milking stables and fed into the trough with preserved fodder. For example, hay and silage. As it has a high cost for implantation and specialized labor, it is advisable only for cattle specialized in milk production or high genetic standards.

Some examples of intensive system installations are Free Stall, Loose Housing, Tie Stall, and Compost Barn. The great advantage of its use is the increase in the productivity of animals in small spaces. However, as mentioned above, it has a high investment and needs specialized professionals. 

What is the best production system?

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It is important to emphasize that the ideal system’s choice should not be a standard replicated by everyone. That is, the producer must choose the system that best adapts to the countless variables of his physical, plant, animal, and economic resources available.

Some basic requirements must be observed when choosing the system for efficiency (and productivity). Here are a few:

  • Use of specialized cows adapted to the region;
  • Ability to improve reproductive, nutritional, and health management;
  • Offering adequate comfort conditions for the animals to produce.
  • Investment and management capacity.

Another essential step for dairy cattle farming, which we cannot fail to address, is breed choice. Therefore, we will dedicate the next topic to the subject!

What is the best breed of dairy cattle?

Top 10 Reader-Favorite Cattle Breeds – Homestead on the Range

Knowing about the main dairy cattle breeds in Brazil and their details can make all the difference in your production system. Since the diversity of climates and soils marks our country, defining a single standard breed for the entire territory is impossible.

Also, choosing the best breed or cross will depend on several factors. The primary item to consider is directly linked to the type of production system of the property. 

To exemplify, in a more intensive system, where animals are confined, high production cows are demanded. However, in less intensive systems, in which the animal needs to walk to its food, it is advisable to choose medium cows that, although they have lower production than those that are confined, have a greater rusticity and withstand climatic diversity and errors management without significant losses.

The most common cows to invest in dairy cattle here in Brazil are:

# 1 Dutch

They have the most significant potential for milk production. This breed is recognized for its profitability, but it demands climate, comfort, and handling. Due to its sound characteristics, it became a matrix widely used in crossings.

# 2 Girolando

It was created to meet the climatic and topographic conditions of Brazil. It resulted from the crossing of the Zebu Gir breed with the Dutch European breed, which resulted in high milk production, rusticity, and sexual precocity. Currently, Brazil accounts for 80% of national milk production from this breed.

# 3 Swiss Brown

One of the oldest European breeds in the world. This breed can be used for both meat and milk production. But, it is generally more used for milk production. Its main characteristics are high fertility, longevity, and rusticity.

# 4 Jersey

It was elected as the second-best dairy breed is a more rustic European. In other words, cows adapt more efficiently and have high milk production performance. It is a docile breed, which adapts to any system in addition to having sexual precocity. 

# 5 Zebu Dairy 

They differ from the Dutch because they adapt faster and with excellent resistance to high humidity and excessive heat. The three most common Zebu breeds are: 

  • Guzerá: it has easy adaptation. It can also be used in the production of meat and milk. An essential characteristic of this breed is fertility.
  • Sindhi: of the Indian breeds, it is the most suitable for dry regions, and with few food resources, it can be used in both meat and milk production.
  • Gir: the Indian breed most used in crossbreeding, its main characteristics are reproductive and productive longevity and a docile temperament. 

Challenges of dairy farming

Brazil is responsible for producing 7% of all milk in the world. However, even if dairy cattle production has improved in recent years, the systems still need to evolve. By not having control of every detail, many producers end up losing their profit due to small errors.

If we analyze, the most significant bottlenecks are in the producers’ managerial difficulties, lack of technical assistance, and the low rate of lactating cows within the gate.

In fact, outside the gate, the obstacles to be faced are much more significant, like the “Brazil cost,” which involves other expenses such as taxes and logistics. They compromise the income, which is already shy from the producer. Also, this factor affects the competitiveness of Brazilian milk. Compared to other countries in Latin America, especially Argentina and Uruguay.

The dream of every producer is to produce a larger volume of milk while spending as little as possible on the production of each liter. However, for this to happen, it is necessary to improve the herd’s performance and the production chain as a whole. In short, the rancher must be trained! So, let’s dedicate the next topic on the topic; check it out:

Qualification: the key to making your farm a profitable company

Several aspects interfere in producing high-quality milk, affect the industrial yield, profitability of the dairy property, and food security. It is precisely for this reason that the training meets the profitability of the producer. It improves the quality of milk, efficiently and at low cost, to seek excellence in production.

The constant change of the current world impels the producer to keep on a continuous update. In this sense, only dairy property prepared for new changes in sustainable production and food security will be competitive. Thus, being trained became a prerequisite to improve knowledge and meets the demands of increasingly demanding consumers. 

Throughout the article, you have seen that the scenario for dairy farming is exceptionally favorable what’s more, with a tendency for growth over the next few years. But, you, the rural producer, must be attentive and willing to seek the professionalization of your property and keep up to date with market trends.

Dairy cattle: step by step to succeed in production!

Dairy Cattle

The creation of dairy cattle in Brazil has gained more and more prominence. After all, the activity is more modern, professional and, consequently, can be more profitable. However, this is a significant challenge since profit from production directly depends on adopting the right strategies to minimize costs while increasing productivity. 

In this article, we will present a step by step to raise dairy cattle, covering aspects ranging from the administrative part of the business to health and nutritional issues. Check out! 

Treat the property as a company.

First, a dairy farm and other economic activities should be seen as a company. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that producing large quantities of milk is not a certainty of profit. On the contrary, smaller herds can be very profitable, provided the correct management is adopted. The area’s market is quite uncertain and, therefore, one cannot neglect the financial monitoring indices.

These indicators help to identify where the financial resources are being used and also: 

  • Recognize times of the year that demand more money;
  • Plan short and long term investments;
  • Compare the planned objectives with those achieved;
  • Determine the operational cost of production.

It is also necessary to think that dairy cattle farming is only one of the links in an extensive and complex production chain. Within this market, we know that milk is influenced by several factors such as economic policies, seasonality of production, quantity demanded by the market, among others. 

Among the several factors that influence the price paid to the producer, we can highlight: 

  • Time of the year
  • Dairy consumer behavior;
  • Excess/scarcity of milk supply;
  • Economic policy.

These factors cannot be controlled. The producer must focus on what he can interfere with, how to calculate production costs very well, and identify possible points of waste. 

Get the animals right

Before choosing cows for milk production, you need to know their characteristics well and understand which one is the most appropriate on your property. Check out more information about each one! 

Dutch

The Dutch cow is one of the most traditional dairy breeds in the world. To produce between 6 and 10 thousand kg on average in 305 days of lactation, the Dutch were selected to develop animals with better feed conversion in the grazing system. 

However, it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that these animals do not adapt well to hot climates and pastures of seasonal products, as occurs in Brazil. These are animals recommended for sophisticated systems of high production.  

Gir

Gir cows are part of the dairy Zebu breeds. It has its origin in India and, therefore, its main characteristic is rusticity and the ability to adapt to higher temperatures. They also present an excellent feed conversion even in pastures with the lowest nutritional value. 

The Gir breed has reproductive and productive longevity and is the most used Indian lineage in crossbreeding.

Girolando

One of the most popular in Brazil, the girolando breed, is the cross between the Dutch and Gir. The idea is to combine the Dutch breed’s high productivity with the rusticity and adaptability of Gir. 

Thus, the Girolando breed is characterized by good fertility, longevity, and sexual precocity combined with flexibility in different management types. Therefore, it has good reproductive efficiency and feeds conversion, which gives a very satisfactory economic performance. Due to these characteristics, it is ideal for newcomers. 

Jersey

Jersey is also a European breed; however, it is more rustic than the Dutch. Due to their high production, they are considered the second-best dairy breed and adapt more quickly to adversity and have greater tolerance to heat. 

As they are smaller, it allows the producer to have more animals per hectare, leading to a lower food cost. It is also the earliest breed among dairy farmers and may have the first calf between 15 and 18 months of age. 

Swiss Brown

This is one of the oldest breeds of dairy cattle originating in southeastern Switzerland. Even with this Nordic origin, it has good heat tolerance and good milk production. They also have high rates of longevity and fertility and efficiently transmitting their characteristics in crosses between strains.

Guzera

The Guzera breed is also an Indian breed, and it is recorded that it was the first Zebu breed domesticated by man. It is a highly adaptable animal and has a double ability: milk and meat. 

Thanks to its rusticity, it has a lower production cost and is very easy to gain weight, even with less investment. Therefore, it is suitable for beginners in dairy farming. 

Do proper nutritional management.

The dairy cattle must necessarily go through the animal’s nutritional needs. This represents one of the main factors linked to the animal’s productivity. 

From nutrition, it is possible to change the composition of milk and optimize production and increase reproductive efficiency. 

However, managing dairy cows is not an easy task. Therefore, the most efficient way is to understand each phase of the lactation cycle’s particularities and overcome the challenges of each one.

In general, the nutritional management of dairy cattle is divided into the following phases:

  • beginning of lactation; 
  • peak food consumption; 
  • half and end of lactation;
  • dry season;
  • transition and pre-delivery period.

That said, some factors are essential to the success of a dairy nutrition program. Below, see more details about each one. 

Prioritize forage production

Fodder represents one of the primary sources of bulk feeding for dairy cattle as it ensures fiber intake for animals. That is why it is necessary to ensure that the herd can access quality fodder throughout the year. 

One way to improve the forage supply is to invest in production to increase the return per hectare of forage and grain crops on your farm to maximize the quality and quantity of food grown.

Reduce food loss

The loss of food can generate severe losses for dairy cattle, so it is essential to develop strategies to minimize waste. The main points that can be controlled are: 

  • Handling and storage of food ingredients;
  • Mixing and supply process;
  • Management of the feeding trough;
  • Control of weather-related disturbances.

Also, some forms of food storage allow less losses, and these should be prioritized. Also, attention should be paid to the cleanliness and organization of the eating area.

Improve handling of feeding troughs

A good nutritional program can align the management of feeding troughs with the milking schedule. the Ideal is to provide fresh food when the cows go to the milking parlor and organize a filling of the troughs for 90 minutes after returning the cows.

Another important tip is to schedule additional supplies throughout the day to ensure that cows have access to food whenever they want. After all, each additional kilo of dry matter consumption is equal to two extra kilos of milk.

Beware of the transition period.

The transition period precedes delivery and demands a series of exceptional care with food and comfort. At this stage, you must formulate specific ratios for the period and maximize the comfort of the cows by providing adequate space to lie down and eat while minimizing movements in the corral. 

It is also essential to manage the feed trough by focusing only on good quality fodder in the right quantity. 

Cows in the period before calving must have more than 0.76 meters of space in the trough and a minimum of two sources of clean and freshwater available in each pen.

Implement daily monitoring of the cow, including examining body temperature, changes in activity, and feeding behavior changes.

Health management 

The health management of dairy cattle consists of a set of practices that deserve special attention from producers. In this sense, among the measures, we can highlight preventive actions about diseases (many of which are transmissible to men) such as vaccination and monitoring, cleaning and disinfection of animal facilities.

Crucial points for the health of the herd are: 

  • special care for newborns and calves;
  • management of pregnant cows;
  • effective control of ticks ;
  • vaccination up to date.

In milk production properties, there are significant losses due to errors or negligence with these handling. Among the various dairy cows, the most cited are usually reproductive problems, hoof, and mastitis. These are cited as the leading causes of involuntary disposal within the production system and can generate significant losses. 

Reproductive management and genetic improvement 

There is no doubt that cows’ reproductive management is an essential aspect of being successful in the production of dairy cattle. It is essential to implement systematic breeding programs to improve the efficiency of heat detection, improve the gestation rate at 21 days, minimize labor demand, and, finally, improve the herd’s overall reproductive performance.

Likewise, one must invest in genetic improvement since the animal’s low productivity may be linked to its lineages. 

Therefore, it is necessary to invest in reproductive biotechniques to accelerate the transmission of desirable characteristics to the descendants. In dairy cows, two criteria can be used:

  1. Probable production capacity: it allows the rural producer to forecast the animal’s production based on past lactations.
  2. The genetic value of production is estimated using the animal and relatives’ records.

There are two ways to make genetic improvement through biotechnologies or natural breeding. Undoubtedly, for the producer who wants to increase his milk production, biotechnologies are the best option. In this case, the animal is previously selected and proven superior, making the results faster. 

The techniques used for genetic improvement are:

  • Artificial insemination;
  • Fixed Time Artificial Insemination (IATF);
  • Embryo Transfer;
  • In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

You need to know what you’re doing.

Dairy farms require specialized care. That is why a production’s success depends on technical and practical knowledge of the best management strategies. The person responsible for the herd and his team needs to understand all stages of production and have a managerial view of the farm. 

A single wrong decision can take profit down the drain, and recovering may not be so easy, especially in the face of instability. 

Starting Beef Cattle Farming Business Plan (PDF) - StartupBiz Global

How to produce quality silage for cattle?

How to produce silage

The livestock feed is made up basically of roughage and concentrates. The big challenge in the supply of roughage, composed of vegetable fibers, is the regular supply throughout the year due to the scarcity of foliage during the dry season. In this sense, silage acts as an essential substitute to complement pasture feeding for the herd. And that is why many ranchers seek to understand how to produce quality silage on the property. Is this your case?  

The use of hay is essential to ensure the efficiency of livestock rearing throughout the year. After all, maintaining a balanced supply of nutrients must be part of the nutritional program to increase milk production and, consequently, greater profitability. 

However, to know how to produce silage, it is necessary to have the best ingredients, the correct techniques, and proper planning. 

Continue reading this article and understand more about this subject! 

Silage composition and its importance

In general, we can say that silage is food that results from the fermentation of forages stored in silos by bacteria. This process is called ensilage. This process must be done with the forage plant cut at the right time and then compacted in the silos that will later be sealed. 

If all steps are carried out correctly, its nutritional value is similar to that of green forage. In addition to being an alternative to pasture, it is also excellent for feeding confined cattle. 

The primary forage plants used in the composition of the silage are: 

  • Corn, sorghum, sunflower, and millet; 
  • Sugar cane; 
  • Brachiaria; 
  • Elephant grass; 
  • Mombasa, Tanzania, Colony, and Tobiathan

The production of silage on the property can bring benefits such as: 

  • Maintain a more significant number of animals per unit of land;
  • Assist in maximizing or maintaining production, especially in times of drought;
  • Have well-nourished animals; 
  • Provides storage of a large volume of food in a small space.

How to produce hay on the property? 

Firstly, to understand how to produce good quality hay, it is necessary to understand several processes. If executed with quality, it will reflect on the increase in milk production of the herd. 

For this reason, we can say that a good milk producer is also a good farm manager; after all, the excellent quality of the hay depends on a good crop and a fair silage process. 

In the following, we will explain each of the steps on how to produce quality hay for the herd. 

Planning

Planning is essential to measure production costs and risks. It is necessary to keep in mind the need to allocate tractors, mowers, trucks, and personnel to supply your farm’s demand. 

It is important to note that silage production cannot be thought of only in the dry season when animals need food. But instead, as an entire year planning as a way to increase productivity. 

The importance of soil

The plantation of forages needs to absorb nutrients in the correct form and quantity to guarantee its quality. That is why periodic soil analysis should be done to make corrections when necessary. 

It is also essential to nourish the soil with microelements that guarantee that the silage produced will meet the herd’s demands. And of course, dopest and weed control. 

More than that, once you know the soil, you will choose the plantation that will best develop according to these characteristics.

Care for the crop

To reach its maximum potential, the silo needs quality raw material. After all, even if the silage is done correctly, a low nutritional value input will not contain nitrogen and potassium. 

After soil preparation, planting should be done observing climatic factors of humidity and temperature. Planting usually takes place at the beginning of the rainy season, from September to November.

Harvest time

The time of harvest is one of the crucial points in the entire silage production process. All silage quality and productivity depend on this step is well executed. After all, harvesting at the right time improves the nutritional value by providing sugars necessary for bacteria to carry out fermentation.  

Usually, the cut-off point occurs around the 30th day after flowering. In corn and forage, the cut occurs when the ear has 2/3 of the milk line (between 30% to 35% DM) or with 70% of accumulated starch. 

Sealing and silage

This is one of the most critical moments in the entire process. It is necessary to ensure suitable packaging, storage, and sealing practices to correct fermentation. Compaction aims to remove as much oxygen as possible to enhance fermentation and, consequently, silage quality. 

Silage Removal

Reaching the final stage of the process, attention is needed to avoid unnecessary losses. At this point, it is essential to discard 15 cm of the silage surface as this is where unwanted fungi and bacteria are found. Then, the hay removed must be supplied to the herd as quickly as possible, never leaving overnight between the cattle’s removal and feeding.

Summary of Stages of silage production

  • May and June – Pasture soil analysis and fertilizer application
  • September – Withdrawal of animals from the pasture to regrow grass and form straw
  • October – Desiccant herbicide application
  • November – Direct planting of corn and two cover fertilizations
  • December – Spraying for pest control
  • February and March – Harvest and silage

Therefore, following all these steps is essential to ensure good quality and correct nutrition for the herd. 

What should a dairy cattle corral look like? Find out here!

The construction of the dairy cattle corral is a very important step in the planning of a property and it requires a lot of attention and care.

The construction of the dairy cattle corral is an essential step in planning a property, and it requires a lot of attention and care. The place must be designed to offer maximum safety to the animals, minimize their stress, and facilitate handling.

Also, they must offer the highest labor efficiency so as not to generate productive losses. With so many confinement types, how do I know which is the best corral project for my flock? 

The choice is directly related to the type of breeding system and the purpose of the exploration. To help you understand better, in this text, we will address the importance of having an adequate structure to raise dairy cattle and explain how the corral should be. 

Follow our tips, and learn how to create the best corral for dairy cattle

How should the corral be?

In planning the dairy farm facilities, many factors must be taken into account. Generally, construction requires a high investment, so once ready, it is worth paying attention to rational management to avoid losses.

But, before building, be aware of some factors that can maximize your investment:

Location

To choose the best location, it is necessary to consider the geographical orientation, the behavior of the winds, access to the location, the type of soil, and the position within the terrain. The best option is the center of the property, as it facilitates access and management. 

The chosen place must be dry, firm, not subject to erosion, and preferably flat. It is not acceptable to be close to rivers and lakes, as water contamination can occur with the corral waste. However, it is necessary to have a good water source to hydrate the animals and clean the place. 

Calculate the dimensions

The number of animals that will be kept in the corral must be taken into account to calculate the dimensions. The average space for each cattle is 2 square meters. 

It is also necessary to consider the other improvements attached to the corral, such as paddocks, corrals, and pickup sleeves, which facilitate handling and access. 

Land preparation

After choosing the best location, it’s time to prepare the land by cleaning it. To do this, you must make a circle and leave it free of vegetation and debris.

To facilitate the drainage of rainwater and prevent mud formation at the busiest points, it is recommended to move the earth where the corral will be built. The movement must be from the outside to the inside until a round surface with 2% inclination is obtained. Then, a layer of gravel must be compacted to the site and nearby.

Corral marking and recommendations

After going through all the previous steps, it is necessary to mark the corral position, taking into account the ease of access and the sunstroke. Many factors have already been considered in the choice of location. To reinforce, the corral’s ideal position is the east-west orientation, in its largest axis. This will prevent further sun penetration into the sides of the building. 

Before starting the actual construction, it is worth making markings with piles to visualize any problem that may appear in the development. The marking must start to be made by the shed, brete, containment trunk, and the apartment. External fences, gates, and subdivisions (vaccination corridors, rooms for veterinary use, etc.) will be marked later.

An interesting tip is to use a floor plan to visualize the place and facilitate the demarcation and construction. The choice of raw materials for the corral construction and fences must also be made with great care. It is necessary to consider the animals’ safety, the quality of the materials, and the cost/benefit. 

For those who want a lasting construction, it is essential to invest in resistant materials. In addition to specialized and qualified professionals to create the project, ensure the work’s smooth progress, and avoid future problems. 

What should be taken into account when planning facilities?

There are many types of pens, but the main concern is to create safe, comfortable, and healthy environments for animals. Therefore, the right corral for dairy cattle must be:

  • Broad;
  • Airy;
  • With right spots of natural and artificial light; 
  • Easy to clean;
  • With protection against rain and intense sun;
  • Have a ventilated and relaxed rest area;
  • With trough space suitable for the number of animals;
  • Have space for animals to walk;
  • Have drinking fountains with clean and freshwater;
  • Comfortable floor and beds.

In other words, the facilities must meet all the needs of the animals, also complying with safety, health, and environmental control laws.

Why is it essential to have a suitable structure for dairy cattle?

By investing in an adequate structure for the dairy cattle, it is possible to provide maximum comfort to the animals. This helps the owner to obtain a great return since they will better express their genetic potential. 

Also, a well-planned structure allows for rational exploration within the economic and managerial aspects. It also maximizes the use of labor, machinery, and equipment.

Whole Cottonseed Use in Beef Cattle Diets - Alabama Cooperative Extension  System

Preventive castration in cattle: What is the ideal time to perform it?

Preventive castration in cattle

Preventive casketing in cattle is one of the main ways to prevent hoof disease. But, to perform it correctly, it is necessary to observe some steps so that the problem does not worsen, worsening the animal’s state.

This is because one of the main reasons for the early disposal of animals is foot problems. That is why preventive castration is essential, and doing it regularly provides more health to your herd. Even more, it allows farmers to increase their profitability. After all, acting preventively costs much less than treating the injury after it has occurred.

Although the procedure is essential, many producers still doubt the ideal moment to carry out preventive wasting. You also have? Continue reading this article that we will explain to you!

What is the best time to perform preventive casquing?

The best period to perform the procedure is at the end of lactation and the beginning of the driest period. In this phase, the animal is taken to a dry place and separated from the herd, which will contribute to the recovery of its hoof.

It is essential to perform casquagem during this period. If performed on lactating cows, it will remove the most resistant layer of the hoof and make the animal more susceptible to new injuries. In short, follow these rules:

– Wait for at least 80 to 100 days after delivery

– Do the procedure invariably in the drying period

– Perform preventive wheezing at least twice a year

The preventive trimming and actions to improve nutrition, comfort, quality and hygiene of the floor prevent some cattle hooves’ diseases. But, you need to take action at the first signs of the conditions, do you want to know which ones? We will deal with this subject below.

Main signs of hoof disease in cattle

There are numerous changes in the hooves of cattle. For example, excessive growth, wounds, abnormal wear, and tear. These problems create stress for the animal, decreasing food intake, losing weight, and reducing milk production. In other words, it generates losses for you, the rural producer.

Thus, you must pay attention to the first signs of disease, among the main ones we can highlight:

– Claudication

– Limp

– Reluctance in locomotion

– Deformation of the affected hooves

– Inability to stay in the station

The major hoof diseases are laminitis, sole ulcer, white line disease, digital dermatitis, heel erosion, interdigital hyperplasia, pododermatitis, and hoof rot.

After reading this far, you must be wondering how to prevent this problem. Follow in the next topic, the primary care to leave your flock free from this type of illness.

Prevention is essential to prevent hoof disease.

As the causes of diseases in cattle hooves are multifactorial, it is essential to act with prevention. That is, adopting preventive and curative practices can bring excellent results to your business, a rural producer.

Know some precautions that can prevent hoof diseases:

– Provide a balanced and balanced diet

– Provide your flock with comfort and well-being

– Provide animals with a clean, sanitized environment with a dry floor

Learn more about the food management of dairy cows in transition

dairy cows in transition

Feeding dairy cows in transition is extremely important and advantageous. Among its many benefits are: achieving satisfactory production rates, good health and well-being, good milk production, or even preventing the animal’s death. 

The main intention of the control or feeding management of dairy cows is to meet the nutritional requirements at different production stages. Thus, act to prevent the excess or shortage of nutrients and avoid various problems and economic losses.  

But after all, do you know the transition period in the dairy cow and the importance of correct food management? This article will explain all of this and give tips on how the management should be done to obtain better results. Check out!

The transition period in the dairy cow

The dairy cow’s transition period consists of the interval between three weeks before and three weeks after calving. 

Several physiological, anatomical, metabolic, nutritional, and behavioral changes occur during this period, which prepare the cow for calving and lactation. 

How to feed dairy cows in transition

The first step in developing the cow’s food management in a transition period is to be aware of the animal’s nutritional requirements during each stage.

 Due to the change in the cow’s metabolic and physiological state, the intake of nutrients or dry matter usually decreases from the 20th day before delivery. However, during the transition, and especially in the pre-delivery period, it is essential to use techniques to maximize dry matter intake.

Therefore, it is up to responsible professionals to look for ways to improve food management by providing adequate access to food. The indication is to formulate a diet with a high density of protein and energy in the pre-delivery period.

Basic recommendations

The energy density recommendation is 1.25 Mcal ELL/kg MS (mega-calorie of net energy per liter of milk/kilo of dry matter) in the dry season. This value should increase to 1.62 Mcal ELL/kg MS in the final stage of pregnancy. 

To obtain this high energy density, the professional needs to invest in rapidly fermentable carbohydrates.

On the other hand, crude protein should be kept at a minimum level of 12% during the dry period to improve ruminal functioning and fiber digestion. Also, it will help the growth of the cow, fetus, and mammary glands.

The nutritional balance must also be associated with the animal’s physiology at birth. You should also be concerned with the ruminal flora and the pharmacological effects of certain nutrients in preventing metabolic and reproductive disorders or disorders.

Even during pre-delivery, it is essential to avoid excessive calorie intake to maintain the animal’s body condition and reduce fatty liver and ketosis. Choline is one of the alternatives used to help prevent weight gain.

It is also necessary to prevent hypocalcemia since close to calving; there is a decrease in the cow’s calcium levels. An alternative would be to invest in acidogenic or anionic diets.

In the postpartum period, it is essential to bet on diets that do not limit the intake of dry pasta, optimize milk production, and recover the cow’s body condition.

Another essential point that should not be overlooked is the supply of fresh, potable, and abundant water, in addition to pleasant environmental conditions to ensure the animals’ thermal comfort.

Importance of correct food management

During the transition, it is necessary to carry out adequate food management to ensure good preparation and development of the cow and the fetus. Also, avoid the occurrence of disorders that may occur before or after delivery. 

As the correct handling, it is possible to provide the animal with the maintenance and adequate corporal growth to guarantee the fetus’s growth, uterus, attachments, and the mammary gland. All of this will be essential to prepare the cow for significant changes during the transition. 

In addition to providing the dairy cow’s welfare, food management in the transition period is essential to prevent the onset of disease and prevent economic losses. However, to ensure its efficiency, food control must be established by a specialized and experienced professional.

Want to learn how to have a more profitable dairy production? Then invest in a specialization course like the CENVA Dairy Graduate. An online course with interactive debates that will give you complete knowledge in the area, complement your curriculum, and add even more value to your career.

In this course, you will find everything about dairy farming with solutions that will help you overcome the daily challenges of producing quality milk, increase profitability, and become a reference professional in the dairy industry. 

What are Good Agricultural Practices (BPAs) and how to apply them in food production?

good agricultural practices

Acceptable Agricultural Practices or BPAs can be understood as management practices, systemic and planned, within the property. The main objective is safe food production in social, economic, and environmental spheres.

These joint actions positively differentiate the product delivered to the final consumer. This is configured as a mechanism to achieve the sustainability of the system.

The proper use of this tool requires the training of technicians, producers, and employees to understand that isolated actions in each area of ​​the agricultural farm are a fundamental part of the results of the entire production complex.

Want to understand more about this subject? Read on! 

But then, what are the Good Agricultural Practices?

Acceptable Agricultural Practices are divided between fundamental and complementary. The fundamental ones have a direct influence on the final quality of the product, and the other actions are defined as complementary.

Thus, sanitary management practices, food management, and proper food storage from herds are considered essential for the productive maintenance of animals.

Water: food and input

In the case of meat and milk production, proper storage and refrigeration of the products is essential. Also, the provision of good quality water for cleaning and cleaning equipment.

A dairy cow consumes between 40 and 120 liters of water per day, which can vary according to environmental factors (temperature, humidity, etc.) and physiological (milk production, health, age, etc.). However, this consumption is highly influenced by the quality of the water offered; saline waters, for example, limit consumption.

When sanitized with low-quality water, the equipment and utensils that come into contact with the generated food can be vehicles of pathogens and other contaminants. They can also decrease the efficiency of the disinfectants used, which culminates in interference in the qualitative characteristics of milk and meat.

Animal welfare and rational management

Another point of coverage of Good Practices related to animal welfare and directly interfering in production by animals, whether dairy or beef cattle, is a subject of significant influence on the visibility of the activity by consumers. Thus, animal welfare maintenance involves the “five freedoms”: free from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition; free from discomfort; free from pain, injury, and disease; free from fear and free for regular expression of their animal behavior.

For that, owners, technicians, and collaborators must be aligned to maintain good human-animal relationships. They are also passing through the constant training of managers and employees of the rural property. In this sense, it is shown that the constant search for the improvement of the workforce is an essential tool for the development and increase of productivity of rural companies.

Environmental risk management

The incorrect handling of nutrients, effluents, and other residues in production can cause serious environmental contamination problems. Therefore, daily actions related to the mitigation of these negative impacts should be adopted. Some examples mentioned are the proper packaging of effluents, analysis of organic compounds from animal waste before application to crops, and separation of household waste for recycling.

Also, the use, storage, and disposal of chemical products (pesticides, veterinary drugs, etc.) must follow established rules, remembering to always use authorized products for the desired purpose.

Technical and financial management are also acceptable agricultural practices

Given the above, all actions within the BPAs seek, in a way, to ensure the financial viability of the farm. Thus, routine notes on the use of inputs, health, birth, and reproduction of animals (births, companions, inseminations, etc.) and expense receipts are also considered within the context of Good Practices.

How to achieve BPAs?

The adoption of Good Agricultural Practices often occurs naturally on the property. Still, in some cases, it needs to be qualified for technical guidance, and for that, there must be interest from them. Therefore, participation in courses that address the concepts of acceptable practices is essential so that it is possible to achieve sustainable rural development through the joint work of producers and technicians. 

Thus, it becomes possible to manage the property so that it is within society’s legal requirements and expectations. Do you want to know more about BPAs and become an expert in Dairy Cattle?

Beef cattle: understand about the best breeds and profitable management!

Raising beef cattle efficiently, producing more meat of better quality in a shorter time is the priority for 10 out of 10 successful producers. 

To better understand the subject, we start from the definition that beef cattle are bovine breeds whose genetic characteristics are ideal for slaughter to produce meat and meat products. In Brazil, the creation of beef cattle is undoubtedly one of the main economic activities, being also responsible for a considerable part of our gross domestic product – GDP. 

In this sense, beef cattle production is profitable since it is an excellent investment option; after all, the Brazilian herd has developed a lot, becoming the largest in the world. Also, there is a growing demand for our products, both in the national and international markets.

Suppose you are thinking about whether it is worth investing in beef cattle. In that case, you need to understand some topics ranging from the farm structure, management of pastures to the creation and management of the property, which is commonly overlooked by some producers.

It is a fact that everyone wants to succeed with beef cattle breeding, but it is not a simple path. So, read on, understand everything it takes to have a profitable production! 

How to raise beef cattle? 

Firstly, to raise beef cattle, it is necessary to pay attention to several aspects, ranging from breed to care choice with food and farm management. Here, we summarize what you need to know to invest in beef cattle step by step. Check out! 

  1. Define the breed that best meets your expectations and is suitable for the region of the property; 
  2. Invest in genetic improvement of the herd
  3. Understand about the bovine breeding phases – create, recreate, fatten; 
  4. Be careful with nutritional management; 
  5. Make sure the facilities are adequate; 
  6. Do administrative management planning;
  7. Make your farm profitable! 

Throughout this article, you will see more about each of these items. Next, see more about the main beef cattle breeds! 

Main breeds of beef cattle

In Brazil, most beef cattle are zebu, reaching 80% of production. The great acceptability of this animal is because it adapts very well to tropical climates. In general, they are rustic animals with less nutritional requirements and more excellent resistance to diseases. However, taurine-type breeds are also used for providing quality meat. 

Check out below the main breeds of beef cattle raised in the country! 

Nellore

Nelore cattle are the Zebu breed with the highest production in the country; after all, they are very adapted to the country’s climatic conditions. It was also one of the breeds that received the most money for genetic improvement to reach an efficient nutritional requirement standard. 

Tabapua

Tabapuã animals are recognized for their excellent maternal ability and high fertility, making them desirable for reproductive biotechniques. It is the only breed of zebu developed in Brazil, and its breeding has been increasingly common in the country. 

Brahman

Zebu breed has an excellent feed conversion: the number of kilos of meat produced per kilos of food consumed. Also, the Brahman breed females have a short calving interval about the others and have good milk production. This results in weaning calves with a reasonable fattening rate. 

Guzera

This breed’s differential is the double aptitude because the animals are suitable for both meat and milk. Females are easy to give birth to as calves are born smaller. Another characteristic is that the cattle of the breed are used as a genetic basis for other crossings. 

Genetic improvement in livestock

Today, the animal breeding industry generates around 5 billion dollars in the world. With all the technological advances, it is essential to use reproductive biotechnologies for genetic improvement, increased slaughter, and productivity levels of the herd.

In general, we can say that beef cattle’s genetic improvement aims to increase feed conversion, reduce the time between calves, and produce calves more resistant to local conditions. That is, for those who want to raise beef cattle with excellence is a mandatory requirement. 

See the main breeding biotechniques available to cattle breeders and which has provided significant advances in improving the herd: 

  • Artificial insemination;
  • Fixed Time Artificial Insemination;
  • Embryo transfer for IN VIVO production
  • IN VITRO Embryo Production.

However, to put them into practice, it is necessary to know animal anatomy and technologies that assist in the application and ultrasound. 

Management in the stages of beef cattle rearing

To understand how the cattle production cycle takes place, we need to know all its stages.

The stages of beef cattle breeding comprise:

1- Create 

2- Rebuild 

3 – Fattening

In this way, profit on creation depends on each phase being carried out with the correct management strategies. Next, check out more information about each one. 

1- Create 

This phase goes from genetic improvement, the calf’s growth to weaning, which happens between 6 to 8 months of age.

First, to ensure success in the animal reproduction process, the breeder must have the best bulls, cows, and heifers. That is, they are all in excellent condition and at the best age for reproduction. Thus, invest in breeding programs to obtain calves with desirable characteristics. 

After birth, the calves must be managed appropriately. There are two essential precautions during this stage: colostrum feeding and navel healing. These two practices together are responsible for up to 70% of disease prevention.

Calves are fragile and must take special care to be free of disease—for example, diarrhea, one of the leading causes of animal loss. 

In general, this phase’s main objective is to make the calves live healthily and still reach weaning with the most significant possible weight. However, pre-weaning weight gain is influenced by some factors, such as:

  • Nutrients provided
  • The maternal ability of the cow
  • Genetic potential of the calf

Consistent strategies and small details can make the difference between weaned calves’ production with high rates of profitability and having an activity that provides losses.

In this context, it is essential to evaluate each animal separately and check the fertility index to guarantee the return on investment. 

2. Recreating – Development

This phase’s main objective is the development of the animal to express its genetic potential to the maximum. To develop with the structure and weight gain of the breed in the shortest possible time.

The rearing phase begins after weaning the calves. It is a critical phase because if the development is not well executed, the fattening process will be impaired. The excellent development of the animals depends on the care and food provided during this phase.

If there are any management errors during the development phase, the fattening process may be compromised. After all, the main objective of the rearing is to guarantee high gains and anticipate the next phase. For this to happen, it is possible to invest in supplementation to produce a more efficient and economical sign. However, supplementation control is essential, ensuring consumption at the correct dosage and use of the appropriate component, according to the responsible technician’s recommendation.

Finally, efficient breeding of animals, especially in the pasture, also requires control of the zootechnical indexes, management, and fertilization of pastures to obtain high performances.

3. Fattening – Termination 

Fattening, or finishing as it is known, is the final stage of beef cattle rearing. In this stage, the cattle are subjected to a specific diet for weight gain to produce more meat and better quality.

During termination, an appropriate diet or diet should be provided for weight gain and so that the quality of the meat is the best possible, adding all the value of the work done in the two previous phases.

Fattening herds may consist of adult animals, steers over two years of age, weaned calves and withers. From the biological point of view, animals in the fattening phase do not have as efficient growth as inbreeding and rearing. Because, as the animal approaches its mature weight, the intensity of its growth decreases.

In calves’ fattening, the food requirement is high, as they have to maintain their body, grow, and put on weight. For this reason, the use of food supplementation at this stage can also make it possible to slaughter younger animals, with better quality carcasses, more significant weight gain, and deposition of subcutaneous fat.

At any calf rearing stage, the animals’ nutritional requirements must be respected to achieve the expected results. For example, do you know what type of feed is ideal for beef cattle? Check it out on the next topic!

Nutritional management as an excellent ally

There is no doubt that feeding is essential for all stages of beef cattle breeding. However, it goes beyond providing food in the right amount. It is necessary to think about the nutrients essential for developing the animal, prioritizing energy expenditure and weight gain. 

The beef cattle nutrition is one of the leading production costs. That is why it is necessary to have knowledge about what is necessary and to avoid losses. 

That said, beef cattle need to receive two types of feed, basically: 

Bulky

Foods called roughage are those with high fiber content, such as fodder (hay, grass, and silage in the form of pastures), straw (remaining crops after grain harvest), and sugar cane. They are essential for the proper functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and provide essential nutrients. 

Concentrates

Concentrated foods are those that are low in fiber and can be energetic or protein. Energy foods have a low protein content and high energy value, such as wheat bran, corn grain, cassava root, and rice bran. Protein concentrates, in addition to energy, have a high protein concentration. As well as cottonseed, soy, or peanut meal.

The combination of the two types gives the animal access to the amount of energy and nutrients needed for weight gain. 

Supplementation

In addition to bulky and concentrated, you can also opt for supplementation, such as mineral and vitamin compounds. However, for diets to produce more significant weight gain, it is necessary to balance each food amount. In this way, the final mixture will meet the requirements of the animal category’s organism to be fed.

It is essential to highlight that it should always contain foods that encourage rumination in cattle’s diets because ruminants must receive a certain amount of fiber for the rumen to function correctly.

If you are interested in nutritional management, access our free and practical Guide to profit even more from beef cattle breeding!

Pasture management for beef cattle

Likewise, grazing management is also a crucial factor for those who want to raise beef cattle efficiently. However, it requires care so that common mistakes are not made, such as the inadequate number of animals per area, type of forage, intense exploitation, or lack of adequate supplementation.

Pastures represent the most practical and economical way to feed cattle. That is, it is the support base for beef cattle here in Brazil. For this reason, it is necessary to create excellent and competitive measures to use the soil for cattle breeding, facing other possibilities. Thus, it is possible to intensify the activity and adopt techniques such as the supplementation of roughage in the dry period and the rotation of fertilized pastures.

The rotation of pastures is nothing more than alternating pasture, in which the animal is “running” between the built paddocks so that the grass grows again. It can be used following the height of the paddocks’ entry and exit according to the type of grass. Another characteristic of this system is fertilization and maintenance to obtain maximum productivity.

It is worth mentioning that this is a fundamental management technology that provides increased productivity, increased support capacity, better use of the total available area, and prevents degradation of pastures over the years.

Cattle facilities

The facilities must be another priority in breeding beef cattle, regardless of the type of breeding system that will be adopted. In summary, if they are made available in the right way, they can significantly facilitate livestock management and the quality of the animal’s life.

The best corral for cattle must be characterized by characteristics such as:

  • Simplicity
  • Durability
  • Functionality
  • Resistance
  • Safety for workers and animals

In principle, it is essential to be aware of nails, wood, and screws that can cause wounds, bruises, and cuts in the animals’ leather.

The best type of installation will depend on the production system adopted. But in general, the essential items are:

  • Fences
  • Corral
  • Water tank
  • Mineral water trough and troughs

How to create the right corral for cattle?

In this sense, the right corral for beef cattle should allow all the necessary handling with cattle to be carried out efficiently, comfortably, and safely. For example, vaccination, marking and identification, dehorning, insemination, weighing, andrological and gynecological examination.

For the construction of the corral, in addition to periodic cleaning of the premises, it is essential to follow the recommendations:

  • Water points (tap and drinking fountain)
  • Containment logs
  • The suitable waste collection container
  • Dock with slope ramp
  • Smooth internal walls and free from protrusions (nails, screws, or hardware)
  • The firm, dry elevated terrain in a strategic location to facilitate animal handling

Another guideline is the construction of creep-feeding, which is nothing more than surrounding a small area within the pasture. Only calves have access to it, and troughs with concentrated feed are placed. This is a practical form of management to supplement the calf’s feeding during lactation.

Beef cattle planning

An indispensable factor for any successful investment is production planning. Thus, all strategies must aim at quality, creation productivity, cost of production, and economic efficiency.

Some details must be evaluated continuously through various technologies and constant monitoring of production to obtain the best results.

Acting with an entrepreneurial vision may seem complicated, but it becomes practical and easy to perform with some tools. For excellent results, you need to learn to focus on beef cattle production’s technical and economic management.

How to turn the farm into a profitable company?

Many producers want their farm to be profitable, but they do not treat it as a company and do not have a concrete plan for the next actions. As in any economic activity, management and administration mainly comprise four actions:

– Planning

– Organization

– Direction

– Control

All this combined with efficient reproductive management, counting on the biotechnology’s decision for the genetic improvement, whether it is natural, artificial insemination, or IATF (insemination in fixed time). Such a decision must always be based on a careful analysis of what is most advantageous.

Another point that can help make the farm even more profitable has a differential. There are not a few people who reduce the number of times they consume beef to consume a product of superior quality. Indeed, the search for noble cuts with guaranteed quality is a powerful trend.

“Premium” products have been gaining ground with consumers. However, there is still a lack of trained professionals to meet this certified meat market’s demand.

Think about it, a piece of meat hanging from a low-value butcher’s hook can be transformed and enhanced simply by cutting it ready for consumption, attractive and hygienic packaging. Also, the addition of the brand is recognized as a guarantee of product safety and quality.

Investment in knowledge

Indeed, another characteristic of all successful beef cattle breeding is an investment in knowledge. Both for employees who deal directly with cattle and for those who manage the property. Because there is no way to have a competitive creation, engaged team, and success in the activity without having the practical knowledge on the subject.

Is profitability in beef cattle related to productivity or commercialization?

Over more than 20 years working in the sector, with agronomic and administrative training, I experienced many discussions focused on-farm productivity and management within the gate, vigorously defending these solutions as the primary way to profit from livestock. However, the administrative view and performance in the management of farms provided a more excellent perception of the business and the understanding that the management capacity outside the gate, focused on commercialization, also has a high impact on the farms’ profitability. The most profitable companies I had the opportunity to meet are very good at managing in and out of the gate.

Photo Braham - Carlos Lopes

Balancing diets is a bet on the success of your confinement

Oxen in confinement.

Is the cost analysis critical?

A simple cost analysis shows us the importance of management focused inside and outside the gate. It is important to note that the more the activity moves from brood to fattening, the greater the management’s relevance outside the gate.

In 2018, Brazil returned to the position of the world’s largest beef exporter. It remains one of the largest producers of red meat on the planet, with prospects for a massive increase in productivity for the coming years. For this, investments in technologies will be needed to improve the efficiency of current production systems.

In the last few years, the termination in confinement has been growing and is one reason that led the country to gain prominence in world cattle raising. As a result, there is also a need to improve management conditions and the adequacy of feedlot diets because they have a fundamental role in this new scenario.

Despite the encouraging advantages, cattle production in confined systems is driven by the price of the main inputs – corn and soybean meal -, which represent about 70% of the production costs and the fat cattle, these being the main activity bottlenecks.

Due to these characteristics, there must be no food waste. Likewise, all the nutritional needs of animals need to be met. For this reason, the formulation of balanced diets for cattle finished in the feedlot is an excellent ally of the producer who seeks at the end of the production cycle to obtain massive animals that will have excellent carcass yields.

A balanced feed provides high-quality food with the necessary amount of nutrients that will provide the animal with an ideal level of daily production.

Confinement diets mainly use processed cereal grains (milling, rolling, flocculation) and a low inclusion of fat foods, essential for maintaining rumen health and reducing digestive disorders, especially acidosis.

It seems complicated to assimilate so much information on this subject. It is necessary to know the nutritional requirements of the animals and the nutritional characteristics of the available foods to achieve a balanced diet.

Cattle kept in confinement have only requirements for maintenance and weight gain. The maintenance requirement is the same for all animals and varies depending on each animal’s size and live weight.

On the other hand, the weight gain requirements depend on the desired average daily gain rates established by the feeder. Using an example, a Nellore breed weighing 400 kg live weight has an energy requirement for a 4.96 Mcal / GPCVZ (empty body weight gain).

To achieve a desirable, productive performance described above, ruminants need water, protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins. These nutrients are removed from the food fed to the animals daily and usually in confinement, in the form of a complete diet.

Concentrated foods are those that have the most significant inclusion in feedlot termination diets. In this sense, corn is used as an energy source and soybean meal as the primary protein source. Other foods may be part of the diet’s concentrated fraction, such as cottonseed, soy husk, and citrus pulp. What matters is knowing how to properly handle these foods to provide the ideal amount of nutrients to animals.

In recent years, ranchers have been offering high amounts of concentrate, such as 1.8% of live weight. That is, a finishing animal weighing 450 kg eats about 8 kg of concentrate per day. These formulations should contain additives and buffers to try to reduce the risk of metabolic disorders.

Despite this, finishing diets, even though they are strategically balanced, are very challenging to the rumen of cattle and the appearance of metabolic diseases is not uncommon. Therefore, it is essential to include in the formulation minimum levels of fiber that will promote salivation and rumination, helping to balance the rumen pH to prevent these problems from happening. It is possible to achieve good results when foods such as Tifton hay, corn silage, or even sugarcane bagasse are included in the diet formulation.

But how is it possible to gather all this information to arrive at an ideal confinement diet?

First, you need to know the animal for which the formulation is being made. Nutritional requirements vary widely between Zebu and Taurus.

After that, know the available foods. But don’t worry, all of this information has already been studied extensively and is now available in nutritional requirements and food composition tables. These tables can be explored by using diets to produce efficient animals (relation between quantity consumed of food and number of arrobas produced).

Although these tables are essential tools for formulating diets, it is recommended to carry out bromatological analysis of foods in specialized laboratories.

It is interesting in all this history that the termination of cattle in feedlots optimizes the production system and brings several other advantages, both for the rancher and for the consumer.

Getting the diet formulation right is key to delivering more massive animals and, consequently, with better fat deposition.

For the producer, this helps in the marketing of their animals and will help them achieve better sales prices over time, which will bring success in business as the main result.

Ruminal acidosis: How to prevent this disease so common in dairy cattle

Ruminal acidosis is a prevalent metabolic disease in dairy farming. The disease is due to the ingestion of high amounts of hyperglycemic foods (carbohydrates), readily fermentable or low management of the trough in confinement. This change, which can be acute or chronic, is a frequent ruminant problem with diets rich in concentrates.
The disease is nothing more than the excessive production of acids (AGVs and lactic acid) in the animal’s rumen. The biggest problem caused by this acidification is the mortality of part of the bacteria and protozoa since they are essential for the balance of the rumen microbiota.
About 10% of confined animals have ruminal acidosis. If not treated in time, the mortality rate due to this digestive malfunction can reach 90%. In general, feed is one of the main ingredients of feed-in dairy herds. Since it helps to optimize the animals’ weight gain, increases milk production, and, consequently, the rural producer’s profitability.
Animals fed a concentrate-rich diet (grains or other non-fibrous carbohydrates) must undergo an adaptation period. But the problem is that ranchers do not follow this cycle and suffer from losses, which are often invisible to the eyes.
For this reason, in this article, we will clearly explain all the details of this disease. Want to know everything? So, read on!

Causes of ruminal acidosis

Ruminal Acidosis

As you have already followed, the disease’s leading cause is the high and sudden carbohydrates intake. They ferment quickly and cause the accumulation of acids in the animal’s rumen.

Acidosis is usually caused when there are sudden changes in diet. That is, at the moment when the form of grain consumption is increased without prior adaptation, what’s more, when the animal accidentally consumes a high volume of grain. An example is an unprepared employee who provides an enormous amount of grains or even when the animal breaks into the food tank.

It can still happen because the cattle receive a completely irregular feeding with unusual food. Some attitudes can favor the onset of the disease:

  1. avoid depriving animals of food; 
  2. increase the grain level of the feed without prior adaptation.

Types of ruminal acidosis

The disease can manifest itself in two ways, clinical and subclinical; this is the most frequent in the properties.

The subclinical form of ruminal acidosis occurs when the pH is below 5.8, which compromises the total diet’s digestibility. That is, in many cases, the producer still does not notice the signs of the disease.

In the appearance of the disease’s clinical format, the signs are more apparent and more evident. What’s more, the animal may die if treatment is not carried out quickly.

Both clinical and subclinical acidosis cause several economic losses to rural producers. That is why it is so important to be aware of the first signs. Check out the main ones in the next topic!

Signs of illness

The signs of ruminal acidosis appear between 12 to 24 hours after eating the food. Among the most characteristic, we can highlight:

  • cramps;
  • weakness;
  • dehydration;
  • loss of appetite;
  • staggering;
  • dark and acidic diarrhea;
  • fluctuation in milk production;
  • drop in rumen movement.

These signs must be observed daily by the responsible keepers who must be specialized and trained to identify the problem. To interfere in time and minimize the damage caused. In more severe cases, when curative treatment does not happen in time, the disease can even lead the animal to death. 

Diagnosis and treatment

The diagnosis of ruminal acidosis is based on the observation of clinical signs combined with feeding history if it was caused by readily fermentable foods or in large quantities of grains.

It is important to remember that the correct treatment will be indicated by a veterinarian who will prescribe medication to evacuate the intake and dehydration. However, more severe cases of the disease may need the aid of a tube to empty the rumen content.

During the recovery period, the animal must receive roughage and good quality water. Thus, the reintroduction of grains into your diet should be done gradually. 

Without a doubt, the most effective solution to this problem is prevention; see all the tips below. 

Tips to prevent ruminal acidosis

Simple actions, mainly aimed at the correct nutritional management, can help in preventing the problem and guarantee good performance on your property:

  1. Limit up to 40% the number of grains about the dry matter;
  2. Avoid serving the number of grains at once;
  3. Split meals two or three times during the day;
  4. Do not serve feed or concentrate when animals are hungry.

Did you realize that simple measures can prevent animal loss from ruminal acidosis and the disease that can be easily prevented, without costs that affect your profitability? Many producers end up having losses due to nutritional management errors that seem silly, but that makes a real difference in the final profit!

Beef Cattle: Everything the farmer needs to know

Photo extensive beef cattle production system

Producing quality meat in large quantities has become one of the main challenges for ranchers worldwide. Many advances have already been achieved due to improved genetic improvement techniques, management, and beef cattle nutrition. These techniques have made animals much more efficient at converting nutrients received via diet into the meat. And it has been helping beef cattle to thrive worldwide.

The term beef cattle refers to the rearing of sheep, goats, and cattle capable of producing meat. Although sheep and goat farming are essential activities, the most massive production is still due to cattle exploitation. Beef cattle is a widespread and well-established activity worldwide. It is characterized by the creation of cattle to produce meat and its derivatives. Several essential characteristics have made this activity unique and responsible for improving economic rates in several countries. In addition to being an essential source of animal protein for the population.

In this text, we will talk a little about the main characteristics of this activity. Understand a little why today it is one of the flagships of the economy of several countries. And yet, it is one of the great hopes to supply the need for food for the coming years for a population that grows every day.

  • The largest beef cattle producers in the world
  • The production of beef cattle in Brazil in numbers
  • Most used beef cattle breeds in Brazil
    • Nellore
    • Tabapua
    • Brahman
    • Guzera
  • After all, who is responsible for producing beef cattle?
  • The breeding system in beef cattle is key to productivity
    • Extensive System
    • Semi-Intensive System
    • Intensive System
  • Management is differentiated in each production phase
    • Create
    • Recreates
    • Termination
  • Nutritional and food management
  • Health aspects
  • Aspects of animal welfare and behavior
  • Adequacy of facilities to the needs of animals
  • Staff education and training

The largest beef cattle producers in the world

India, Brazil, China, the United States, and the European Union have the largest cattle herds globally. In India, it is expected to find the largest herd of cattle due to its culture. But having large herds is not always synonymous with highly productive and efficient herds.

Despite having a smaller herd than India, Brazil appears as the second-largest meat producer in the world. According to the USDA (North American Department of Agriculture), there is an expectation of 63 million tons of beef in 2019, 1% more than in 2018. And Brazil has a prominent place in this ranking. The projections for 2018 showed that the country should reach the number of 232.35 million heads of cattle, emphasizing the creation of Zebu cattle. For 2019, there is the hope of a 3% increase in production and 5% in exports ( USDA, 2018) of red meat.

The production of beef cattle in Brazil in numbers

In Brazil, 80% of beef cattle are Zebu cattle. The success and expansion of these animals in the national territory was mainly due to their adaptation in tropical climates and made the country one of the world leaders in meat production. With emphasis on Mato Grosso, the Midwest region has the largest number of heads with about 30 million animals ( IBGE, 2016). Despite this, the northern region of the country deserves its due mention, as, in recent years, there has been a huge jump in meat production, and today, it represents around 22% of the national herd.

Most used beef cattle breeds in Brazil

It is possible to produce quality meat in large quantities from north to south of the country. From the states of São Paulo to the Rio Grande do Sul, most animals are of Taurine breeds such as Charolais, Angus, Bradford, and their crosses with Zebu breeds.

However, the predominance of Zebu cattle is undeniable and deserves to be highlighted. They are more rustic animals, translating into lower nutritional requirements and more excellent resistance to diseases than European cattle. The main breeds produced in the country are:

Nellore

It is the most produced breed of beef cattle in Brazil. They are animals that have adapted very well to the country’s climatic conditions. And those who invested more money and research in genetic improvement and understanding of their nutritional requirements.

Nelore Beef Cattle Photo: Miguel Rudes

Tabapua

They are animals that stand out in livestock production due to their maternal ability and high fertility. It is the only breed of zebu developed in Brazil. And it has been receiving a lot of attention from farmers and researchers in recent years.

Tabapuã Beef cattle.  Photo: Associação Goiana do Tabapuã.

Brahman

They are animals that have excellent feed conversion (kilos of meat produced per kilos of food consumed). Females have a short calving interval compared to other breeds and are excellent milk producers. This results in weaned calves with good weight gain.

Brahman beef cattle.  Photo: Casa Branca Agropastoril.

Guzera

They are animals of double aptitude (cut and milk). Because the calves are low birth weight, females have an easy calving. In addition, this breed is the genetic basis for many industrial crossbreeding of zebu beef cattle in the country.

Guzerá Beef Cattle Photo: José Maria Matos

After all, who is responsible for producing beef cattle?

As previously mentioned, meat production involves a very complex and dynamic system managed by a rancher. He is responsible for thinking about the day-to-day life of the farm and has a long list of tasks such as:

  • motivate employees
  • calculate production costs
  • buy inputs
  • assess the efficiency of animals
  • interpret data together with consultants (Zootechnicians, Veterinarians, and Agronomists)
  • evaluate the main zootechnical and economic indexes of the property

The role of the rancher is fundamental to the beef cattle chain.

The breeding system in beef cattle is key to productivity.

There are three production systems where beef cattle can be allocated for their exploitation. 

Extensive System

The extensive system is characterized by animals’ creation in large extensions of pastures with little inputs, equipment, and labor. In this regard, Brazil stands out, as around 75% of its bovine herd is produced in this system. The main advantage of this is the low cost of production. The big problem is the seasonality imposed by the adverse climate conditions in the country. During the water season, food is abundant in the field, while during the drought, the pasture becomes of low nutritional quality and scarce, leading the animals to lose weight, which increases the time for slaughter and the profitability of the activity. Also, rising land costs also hamper the continuity of extensive activity. 

Extensive beef cattle production system.

Semi-Intensive System

This system can be applied in different situations. The most common is the termination of the animals. Thus, cattle raised in the field receive reinforcement of food in the trough. Supplementation can be either energetic (ground corn or citrus pulp, for example) or bulky (mainly corn silage ). This will accelerate weight gain and improve the profitability of the rancher. Another situation in which semi-confinement is widely used is when there is a lack of forage or low nutritional value, which happens in periods of drought. The diets used must be formulated following the same principles as those used for confined cattle.

Photo semi-intensive beef cattle production system.  Photo: Rafael Anselmi

Intensive System

This breeding system is considered the most modern and brings the best results from production efficiency. This system is used mainly for finishing animals and results in well-finished carcasses, with good deposition of subcutaneous and intramuscular fat. A disadvantage of this system is the high cost of implementation and production costs since the system is guided by the purchase of inputs such as corn and soybean meal and animal replacement. Despite this, high levels of productivity and the opportunity to slaughter animals all year round made this system a success and helped increase red meat production.

It is essential to mention that the breeding and recreating phases are carried out in extensive and semi-intensive Brazil systems. Termination can be carried out either in these two systems or in confinement. What will decide this is, mainly, the price of corn, the potential for appreciation of live cattle, and their relationship with the price of live cattle when livestock will enter the feedlot. For example, when the price of a bag of corn falls, this is an incentive for ranchers to fill their feedlots. Otherwise, the animals are finished on pasture or in semi-confinement.

Photo confinement / intensive beef cattle production system.  Photo: Rafael Anselmi.

Management is differentiated in each production phase.

As previously mentioned, beef cattle’s production cycle is divided into breeding, rearing, and finishing. Let’s talk a little bit about each one.

Create

This phase extends from birth until the weaning of the calves that lasts six to eight months. The mothers play a vital role since part of the offspring’s nutrients are the milk produced by their mothers. Animals can reach between 25 to 50% of their adult weight during this period, and this is due to the high efficiency of the offspring that result in optimal feed conversions. Ideally, these animals should be weaned, weighing between 5.5 and 7 arrobas.

In this phase, the main challenges are to reduce mortality rates, which are around 15%. This occurs due to the inefficient healing of the umbilicus and colostrum (secretion produced by the cow in the first two to three days after calving that has antibodies, essential for the calf’s excellent development) poorly performed. Unfortunately, this low colostrum is often associated with the mother’s lack of maternal ability, especially first calves.

Breeds beef cattle.  Photo: Carlos Lopes.

Recreates

After calves are weaned, the withers enter the growing or growing phase, which will extend until puberty. This phase lasts an average of 12 months, and the animals reach around 10 to 12 arrobas. This period’s objective is to exploit the genetic potential of the steers to the maximum to obtain animals with good structure and uniform carcasses, of course, in the shortest possible time. This is the phase in which the diet has the most significant influence on the development. Therefore, it is necessary to use the right supplementation strategies to avoid adult animals with low production rates.

Breeds beef cattle.  Photo: José Maria Matos.

Termination

This phase, also known as fattening, is carried out on pasture or in confinement. In Brazil, animals are traditionally finished on pasture with no supplementation. Due to forage seasonality and higher maintenance requirements for animals kept in this breeding system, they are slaughtered older and have smaller carcasses. Contrary to this, cattle finished in feedlot achieve better carcass finishing (deposition of subcutaneous and intramuscular fat), depending on the high energy diet they receive. The cattle remain an average of 80 to 90 days in confinement and reach between 16 and 18 arrobas.

Finishing beef cattle Photo: José Maria Matos

Animals at different stages of life and in different rearing systems respond to the management developed on animals. Each phase and system has different needs for balancing diets and food supply, health, and well-being. Not to mention the reproductive management carried out in the sows.

Nutritional and food management

Beef cattle raised on pastures are more demanding in maintenance energy since they need to travel to capture the field food. The most widely used tropical forages in Brazil have low nutritional value, mainly in energy and protein. Combined with pasture seasonality, cattle raised on pasture have low weight gains and longer time to slaughter. This problem can be partially corrected when supplementation with energetic foods such as ground corn and protein such as soybean meal. Already in confinement, although the results in weight gain are better and if we have the opportunity to obtain heavier and better-finished carcasses, there is a great challenge that is to prevent animals from suffering from metabolic diseases and also the seasonality of the price of the inputs and the replacement of the animals.

Health aspects

In the beef cattle production cycle, special attention must be given to using preventive measures to prevent the animals from becoming ill or even the need to dispose of the entire herd. In the breeding phase, proper navel healing and colostrum is essential. Any infectious, parasitic, or deficient disease can reduce animals’ performance in all stages of life. For this reason, every farm must respect a sanitary schedule of vaccinations, deworming, and control of ectoparasites, such as flies and ticks.

Aspects of animal welfare and behavior

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommends five principles that must be observed within the farms so that it can be affirmed that aspects of well-being are being respected, they are: 1) avoid hunger, thirst or malnutrition; 2) avoid fear and anguish; 3) avoid physical and thermal discomfort; 4) avoid pain, injuries and diseases and 5) create conditions for animals to express their natural behavior. These requirements tend to increase as Brazil increases the proportion of animals exported and serves more demanding markets.

Adequacy of facilities to the needs of animals

It is necessary that all the animals, such as corrals, pens, pastures, stables, are clean and in the ideal storage capacity. All of these areas must be provided with shade, which can be artificial with shades or natural, from the use of trees.

Staff education and training

This is a fundamental issue in the sense of seeing the quality of beef cattle breeding. The training of employees, regardless of their role within the farm, is essential for animals’ performance and to avoid accidents at work. Engaged people are responsible for the success of the farm. To work with animals, it is necessary to understand their behavior and, through rational management, try to meet the needs to express their natural behaviors.

The beef cattle industry is quite complicated and requires trained professionals to be ahead of the flocks. With the aid of new breeding techniques, genetic improvement, nutrition, and optimization of the facilities, it was possible to increase the efficiency of meat production and the improvement of quality aspects. New challenges still need to be overcome, but the need to increase food production means that new technologies are launched every day. Therefore, much study and dedication are still needed to improve beef cattle’s productivity indexes in Brazil and worldwide.

How to think about replacing the lean ox for confinement?

VFL confinement

The essential truth of all is “without replacement, there is no confinement,” and, to make a profit, you need to buy your replacement well. So you should see this video!

We have been addressing the subject “Replacement” for a few days, see the article Replacement: Window of opportunity closing. We know that the end of the waters means for most ranchers, the moment to start confinement. More than the appropriate time to analyze the lean ox’s replacement, we are talking about the main cast of a feedlot and its relationship with profitability.

With the market steady and prices rising, we need to find strategies that can guarantee a higher profit margin for our confinement, right? To answer this question, we asked Alberto Pessina , CEO of 

For those who do not know, the Livestock Decision is a tool capable of helping in the decision making of your farm, whether in the purchase and sale of animals and/or inputs. It was developed to make life easier for the producer who wants to maximize his profit, working with market analysis and consulting with one of the leading specialists in the agricultural market.

The market for lean beef is rising; that is, the price has gone up, and the producer has already felt it in his pocket. However, according to Pessina, the value is still lower when compared to previous years. “As shown in the video, we have a value below what was achieved in the years 2015 and 2016, for the same period of the year when values ​​of R $ 177.58 and R $ 172.71 were reached, respectively “.

When we analyze the graph below, we notice that the beef ox market shows a seasonality that accompanies the market of fat cattle. A tip for the cattle rancher, the graph shows that the months of July and August, generally, have the lowest prices in the lean beef market, which can be a great opportunity to buy these animals,” emphasizes Pessina.

Do different scenarios in the country challenge confiners?

Boitel VFL Brasil Confinement

Meat consumption are factors that must be taken into account.

Our articles have mainly addressed the issue of the replacement window and the lean beef market. 

When we analyze Brazil’s markets, São Paulo stands out due to the high price of the arroba and the exchange ratio between the ox and corn. That favored and maintained an optimistic scenario for confiners. This scenario, however, did not materialize in other regions. You can find more details in the exclusive video below.

With the market steady and prices rising, we need to find strategies that can guarantee a higher profit margin for our confinement, right? To answer this question, we asked Alberto Pessina, CEO of Agromove and creator of Decision Livestock, to illustrate these scenarios to help in our decision making.

The price of inputs in most regions is below average when we compare their representativeness in a fat ox’s revenue. The feed’s cost represents something close to 22% of the revenue obtained with an 18 @ fat ox. This proportion is within the average of the last ten years, which varies from 20% to 24%, depending on the region. Those who did not despair about the high corn between January and February and followed the Livestock Decision set up better relations than this.

Newborn calves: 5 vital cares to decrease the mortality rate in herds

The success of the entire livestock production system, whether dairy or beef, depends directly on obtaining low mortality rates and morbidity in the breeding phase. Therefore, the first days of the animal’s life are the most critical of this whole process. And because of this, some precautions are essential for newborn calves to gain immunity, not to become malnourished, and not even have infections.

You, the rural producer, must know very well that when this process is successful, it influences your property’s positive result. After all, it is not only the correct handling of newborn calves, but this procedure must begin even before birth, from feeding and vaccinating pregnant cows to providing specific areas for them to give birth.

Cows must calve in the so-called maternity paddocks, a separate, clean, dry place with adequate shade. This location can help ensure:

  • the health of the female and her calf;
  • adequate conditions for the development of the fetus;
  • decrease in future losses due to management errors during pregnancy;
  • decreased risk of embryonic resorption, abortion, death of the offspring, or matrix.

It is essential to pay special attention to animals’ health, especially in the first 60 days of life. The development of future dairy cows or calves depends essentially on this stage. Also, losses at this stage are hardly recovered. In other words, if you don’t take care of it, it is an inevitable loss for you, the rural producer.

Many producers still have doubts about the ideal time to cure the navel, carry out medicines, and avoid the leading diseases in newborn calves. If you also have them, you will be able to solve them in this post. Come on!

# 1 Colostrum ingestion: the first step for newborn calves to gain immunity

newborn calves

Colostrum has a high nutritional value and should be the first food to be consumed in the first hours of life. But, the cow’s udder must be clean for this first feed.

Indeed, it can be considered as the first “vaccine” that the animal receives. Mainly because in cattle, the immunity of the mother to the child hardly happens via the placenta. The calf is born practically unprotected and free of antibodies, so it must ingest it in the right quantity and as soon as possible.

To illustrate, colostrum, especially from the first feed, is five times richer in protein than regular milk, which is low in lactose and fats. Furthermore, it is abundant in vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and has a slightly laxative action. So, the animals that have just been born depend on colostrum to acquire resistance to the diseases that can affect them.

The antibodies absorbed by calves in the first 12 hours of life, through colostrum, remain in their blood circulation on average until the 4th month of life, by which time they are already able to produce their defense cells. At this stage, passive antibodies (absorbed via colostrum) are eliminated and exchanged for those produced by the animal itself.

It is essential to clarify that when calves are born, they should not eat any food or even water before colostrum. Because the small intestine of the animal as soon as it is born is highly permeable, making it highly vulnerable to intestinal diseases before the ingestion of colostrum. In addition to the mouth, the main gateway for infections is the navel. So, to prevent contamination, some care is necessary. Check out a little more about the next topic!

# 2 The importance of navel healing in newborn calves

The umbilicus must be healed immediately after the colostrum is fed and daily until its 5th day of life. This is because newborn calves have an unhealed portion of the navel exposed. That way, if not correctly cared for, it can be a gateway to infections and bugs.

The best way to correct the animal’s navel healing is to cut it from 2 to 3 fingers below its insertion. That is, cutting is not necessary if the navel is smaller than this. The alcoholic iodine solution, with a concentration between 7% and 10%, must be used to disinfect the remaining portion. This procedure must be repeated at least twice a day until complete dehydration and fall occur.

This is a simple procedure, but very important. It prevents the entry and multiplication of microorganisms responsible for omphalophlebitis, commonly known as “navel inflammation,” a prevalent disease in newborn calves, causing several sequels and affecting several organs.

# 3 Deworming and vaccination

All calves must be dewormed at two, four, and six months of age. And after weaning, the animals must enter the strategic deworming program adopted on the property.

The vaccination protocol will be passed by the veterinarian and must be followed strictly. Vaccines to be administered to young calves include:

  • rabies, from 4 months, with annual reinforcement;
  • foot-and-mouth disease, applied to calves aged 3 to 6 months;
  • brucellosis, only females between the 5th and 8th month of life;
  • symptomatic carbuncle, 4 months old and repeated every 6 months until the calf turns 2 years old.

Other vaccines are applied only in specific situations, in which the veterinarian evaluates case by case. Among them we can highlight:

  • parasite, two doses at 15 and 45 days of life;
  • leptospirosis, after 2 months of life, with reinforcement after 6 months;
  • botulism, 2 months old and after 4 or 6 weeks after the first dosage.

# 4 Attention to cleanliness

A critical point in the care of newborn calves is cleaning. That is, any system of raising calves must have hygiene as a fundamental concern. That is, the animals must be housed in a clean, dry, and well-ventilated place, but without drafts.

Utensils, such as baby bottles and buckets, also need to be thoroughly cleaned. Because milk is a great culture medium and, thus, they are subject to carry a large number of microorganisms. On the other hand, the troughs must be cleaned daily to prevent spoilage and fermentation of the feed.

# 5 Balanced power

Finally, but not least is the food. Both during the cow’s gestation period, because the colostrum produced will be nutritious enough, presenting high levels of antibodies needed by the calf and after calving. The calf must receive a balanced diet composed of milk, concentrated foods, hay, and grass.

By investing in good quality food, you, the rural producer, will guarantee a healthy and quality herd. Not to mention that it can help prevent some common diseases. See below what they are and how to avoid them.

Most common diseases in newborn calves

Diarrhea

Diarrhea in calves is caused by various infectious agents like bacteria, viruses, and protozoa infection. It can result from the combination of the animal’s low immunity, contact with infectious agents, and the inappropriate environment. It is a major cause of animal loss.

Animals with diarrhea may show the following clinical signs:

  • apathy;
  • tail raised;
  • pasty stools;
  • loss of appetite;
  • dry mouths and snouts;
  • fast weight loss.

Simple measures, such as keeping the environment clean and sanitized, supplying colostrum correctly, and preventing calves’ overcrowding, prevent disease.

Pneumonia

It is a multifactorial disease caused by the interaction of one or more microorganisms with stressful conditions. Its manifestation can be subclinical to acute and fatal. Much of the onset of the disease occurs when the calf is between 6 and 8 weeks old.

The main clinical signs of pneumonia are:

  • diarrhea;
  • weakness;
  • High fever;
  • catarrhal secretions;
  • breathing difficulty.

To prevent pneumonia, it is essential that calves are clean, comfortable, and protected from weather conditions. Also, the intake of colostrum is essential for its prevention. Another way to avoid it is with vaccines that act against its causative agents.

Bovine parasitic sadness

It is a disease transmitted by ticks or blood-sucking insects. Animals with low resistance, such as calves in their first months of life, are more susceptible to developing the disease.

Main signs of the disease:

  • fever;
  • anemia;
  • dehydration;
  • panting;
  • dark urine (similar to blood).

The primary measure to avoid parasitic sadness is to carry out reasonable control of ticks.

Omphalophlebitis

It is an inflammatory process of the umbilical vein, caused by the incorrect healing of the newborn calf’s navel. This infection causes omphalitis, which prevents healing. Thus, the navel channel remains open and facilitates the entry of microorganisms into the animal’s body.

Among the main signs of this disease, we can highlight abdominal pain and enlarged navel. Then, the condition can generate hepatitis, peritonitis, or liver abscess.

To avoid this inflammatory process, it is essential to correctly cure the navel, with disinfection with recommended products such as iodine solution.

As you have seen several problems with your cattle herd, they can be avoided and quickly, if you are prepared!

But, many breeders still have significant losses for not having on their property someone who acts correctly in emergency cases. Are you prepared to act in case of accidents with a bovine? Click on the image below, and don’t miss any more animals in your herd!

Beef Productive Chain, Trends and Challenges!

Photo: Carlos Lopes.

To work in any sector, one of the first things an entrepreneur or entrepreneur needs is to know the market and the environment in which it is inserted. It is necessary to understand the Value Chain and analyze the forces that influence the activities developed and the prices of commodities. Let’s understand the Beef Production Chain.

Bargaining Power of Suppliers

It is the size of your dependence on your suppliers. It is how much your suppliers can influence the price of your raw material. Example: imagine the Petroleum Production Chain, where there are a few raw material suppliers. These have tremendous power to control supply. At the other extreme, agricultural commodities tend to be. Because of the large number of producers, they are not in a position to control the market. Therefore, prices are influenced by Supply and Demand.

Buyers Bargaining Power

Some chains have few buyers, so they can easily control prices when buying and selling. We can mention here the concentration of retail in the world. The five largest retail chains sell between 60% and 70% of beef in Brazil in beef alone. In the USA, the 3 largest slaughterhouses slaughter 60 to 70% of the animals.

Barriers of Entry to New Competitors

These barriers are characterized by the difficulty or ease of entering a particular sector. High investments, high technology, and high concentration in a given link are factors that hinder the entry of competitors. For example, the oil industry is characterized by concentration in the sector and high investments.

The Threat of Substitute Products

Here are similar products that the buyer can choose when making their purchase. For example: in the meat production chain, we can mention chicken, pork, fish, and cattle as substitute animal proteins.

Rivalry between Competitors

The rivalry is characterized by the number of competitors that a given link has. The more significant, the greater the competition. For example small restaurants have a large number of competitors. Thus, they need to specialize in individual characteristics (prices, service, quality) to differentiate themselves.

It understands the Beef Production Chain and its strengths.

If we define producers as the central link in the figure in the beef production chain, we could say that it links with the intense rivalry between its competitors due to the number of existing producers. According to the IBGE, we have more than 3,000 properties operating in Brazil. With a herd of more than 180 million heads.

In the world market, we are among the largest exporters. However, 70% of world exports are in the 5 largest exporters (Brazil, USA, Australia, India, Argentina).

Some countries have competitive advantages in price and quality (Australia, USA, Argentina, and Uruguay), others only in price (India).

The Bargaining Power of Buyers also not high. The 3 largest industries in the sector acquire something close to 43% of animal purchases. However, there are some regions where specific industries are more concentrated—with more than 70% of the slaughter among the 3 most massive, resulting in greater bargaining power. In 2018, according to the IBGE, Brazil presented 1,109 plants registered among municipal, state, and federal slaughterhouses.

In meat imports, there is also a tendency of concentration towards exports from China.

As for the Bargaining Power of Suppliers, we can mention the high competitiveness installed in this industry. In addition to the great diversity of inputs, these, for the most part, do not have a large share of costs. Even if there were a concentration in a given input, there would be no significant impact on production cost.

A peripheral threat to watch for is the supplementation industry, which represents one of the relevant production costs and has been concentrated in the last decade. However, today this is a very competitive industry with advantages because it benefits the country with new technologies that we have not yet found here.

This link is also characterized by not having a significant barrier of entry for new competitors. Since small and large farms can produce beef cattle. Investments to enter the sector are not large, just as the technology to become a producer is not high.

India has emerged as a new competitor in the world meat market. Due to its large stock of animals and changes in culture and its regulations, in less than a decade, the country has become one of the world’s largest exporters. The most significant competitive advantage is in its logistics and prices. However, it has disadvantages in terms of quality, genetics, and technologies in Brazil.

Beef is one of the most consumed animal proteins in the world, behind pork and chicken. We find several Threats of Substitute Products; however, these are the most direct. As mentioned above, the most consumed meat globally is pork and has been threatened by the rapid growth in chicken consumption—culture influences this consumption, as in India, a vegan culture and non-consumption of beef. Recently, we have seen an increase in the number of vegans in the world. Therefore, this trend becomes a threat to meat consumption.

The competitiveness of these meats in terms of costs and production efficiency also poses a constant threat to beef.

What would be the main trends in the beef production chain?

To understand the trends in a chain, we must work on several aspects, such as:

  • technological trends
  • regulatory trends
  • social and cultural trends
  • socioeconomic trends.

We will address each of them.

Technological Trends

The main technological trends are related to the intensification of the sector, management tools, and increased productivity within the gate. Many external forces have been pushing livestock to acquire technologies. Among them, we can mention the best land use, environmental and economic pressures.

We observed an increase in agricultural activity regarding land use, which, by intensifying land use, increased profitability. In this way, livestock has two options to yield to agriculture or to intensify with greater productivity per area and animal.

There is tremendous pressure to reduce carbon emissions and avoid opening up new areas on the environmental side. Both take the producer to intensify.

We must also look at the technological threats coming to the sector, such as laboratory meats, and attempts to create vegan meat.

The management tools are also bringing a new business perspective to the producer. With better access to the internet in the field, several technological tools are reaching the sector like robots that touch cattle, drones that count cattle and assess the state of pastures, even tools that help the producer better market his production. An example is the Livestock of Decision, which, through analysis of the chain’s information, helps the producer find the appropriate moments to sell the products or buy its inputs.

With the reduction of labor and its low quality, producers need to adopt technologies that improve their production efficiency and the use of labor.

Regulatory Trends

Distribution Panel Market Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Trends and  Forecast 2024

The opening of markets and more significant world trade also pose challenges for Productive Chains. We now have to respect the rules of other countries, in addition to those that regulate our market.

Here we can mention the environmental and health regulations. Many global retail industries are already demanding the origin of products from regions where there is no deforestation. This demand has led many industries to demand certificates of origin from the producer.

In China, given the high risk of contamination and the population’s fear of intoxication, several surveys have indicated that meat safety issues come first in consumer demands. Suppliers that present more information about the origin will have a preference and better price conditions.

Socioeconomic Trends

Socioeconomic trends can also bring risks or threats to the productive chain. According to FAO, lower world growth and slowing population growth have reduced the rate of growth in demand for beef from 1.7% in the last decade to 1.2% in the next decade.

The chart below, from M&C, also shows that per capita income and culture define the trends in meat consumption in the world.

Social and Cultural Trends

Cultural trends can also strongly affect a productive chain. As we mentioned above, India and some regions that are growing in the world have cultural issues regarding the consumption of beef. Between 1994 and 2012, only 29 Indian states reduced vegetarians by more than 10 percentage points and many states banned the slaughter and sale of cattle.

China, on the other hand, is the largest meat market for the coming decades, despite the slow growth in demand.

As noted in the chart below, from the same work from M&C mentioned above, there is a need to build strategies to capture the growth in this demand.

Conclusion

Conclusion – Islamophobia اسلام فوبیا

The Brazilian beef production chain is exceptionally competitive in the world. According to FAO, the world meat trade is expected to grow 30% in the next decade, with a large part of this demand from developing and emerging countries (China). We must, together with India, representing 2 / 3 of these exports.

However, there are significant challenges to be solved in the environmental, regulatory, sanitary, logistical, tax, and bureaucratic areas to conquer a larger share of the market.

With the growth of world trade, the producer will have to participate more and more in these discussions. These issues will not be resolved without your effective participation in the Productive Chain. For this, the development of strong institutions is increasingly necessary for the discussions to be useful in the Beef Production Chain.

7 signs that indicate if your company is buying inputs and selling production on time!

Oxen in confinement

You work all year to increase production. And when he goes to close the accounts, he realizes that he did not have the expected Result. Is the problem in production? Are you dedicating your time to the right activities? Is it buying inputs and selling products on time?

We separated seven signs that indicate whether the problem is inside or outside the gate.

  1. Its productivity is one of the best in the region. But the market is always affecting your business and consuming your profit.

If you felt that the phrase bothered you, don’t be surprised. More than 80% of the market focuses its attention and time on production in our surveys and ends up being frustrated by market fluctuations.

It is common for people to enjoy producing, as this is a pleasurable and challenging activity. We like to be the best and considered a reference in productivity.

However, as we have shown in our articles, a significant part of livestock profit is related to commercialization.

  • Commercial Efficiency in Livestock: how to improve?
  • Is profitability in beef cattle related to productivity or commercialization?

To change this situation, it is necessary to identify the problem. Here are some suggestions:

  • structure a good Business Plan.
  • Establish the Selling Price that produces the expected Result.
  • Observe if the market conditions are favorable for this scenario to occur.
  • Establish positive and negative scenarios.
  • Structure a Plan B.

2.You meet your boss in the hall, and he asks, “How are the projections?” And you answer: “The production is great, but you know, nobody controls the market.”

This statement is very wise. However, we have to be careful not to use it to justify our failures or difficulties.

As we demonstrated in the article “Commercial Efficiency in Livestock: how to improve? “Being efficient in productivity represents only 50% of the result. The other 50% are related to knowing how to exploit market opportunities.

Taking care of production is not a simple activity, as it involves technical knowledge and several risks that we do not control. However, we feel more comfortable, as we can carry out technical actions that minimize risks.

Seeking opportunities in the market is also a technical activity that involves risks that we do not control. However, if we want to extract the maximum profit in the activity, we must learn to look at the market, dedicate effort, time, and resources. Although we do not control the market, several tools also help us to minimize the risk.

3. The price of live cattle or calves is going up. You call the three best friends, and they say not to sell because it will go up more. The market turns, and you miss the opportunity.

One of the lessons I learned in more than 20 years working in Livestock is that people have different market views. Sometimes the intentions are different, one needs to buy, and the other needs to sell. Other times, people’s commercial time diverges, one needs to sell next month and the other only six months from now, thus affecting perceptions.

Anyway, the lesson I learned is that we need to be well informed and be impartial in decisions. Studying the market and understanding the forces that affect it is essential for sound decision making.

Doing good planning and being very clear about where we want to go and the risks involved help us make decisions.

The live cattle market usually fluctuates by up to 18% in less than 60 days. Therefore, we need to know how to identify if we are close to an end of the movement and a possibility of reversal.

We know that this learning is slow, and each person is in a stage of knowledge. Whether from experience (mistakes and successes), age (very young), or the evolution of technologies. Thus, we created the questionnaire below, participate, and indicate a material to help your growth.

4. You have a feedlot, and the price of corn is falling. You have that feeling that it will fall further, wait, take no action, and the market starts to rise.

Our intuition is powerful and often gives us essential signals. It puts us in a situation of alertness and fear, which makes us seek more information for decision making.

The market for inputs (grains) is more volatile than the market for live cattle. In less than 60 days, the price of corn can rise by more than 35%. These moments of indecision can lead us to miss opportunities.

Due to the speed of reaction in prices, we need agility in decisions. It is at this moment that intuition comes into play.

We know that the search for information to assist in the decision is slow and can generate more doubts, as discussed in item 3. Therefore, it is essential to create decision models free of intuition. These analysis models should indicate if we are already close to one to the end of the trend. They are models supplied with market information, and that brings us neutral information, free from intuition. Only after having supplied this data will the decision-maker validate his information with his best sources of knowledge.

5. Your productivity is better or equal to that of your neighbor, but he always has a better result.

Unfortunately, livestock and agriculture are still very lacking in economic indicators. Due to bureaucracies and high taxes, management controls and balance sheets are still little used in the activity. Many farms and rural entrepreneurs still have their business models focused on individuals and use accounting to reduce taxation.

We do not create indicators to reference the activity, so it is common for the entrepreneur to seek information from neighbors and friends. However, in this case, it is always important to check how the calculations were performed. As there is no standard, it is straightforward to come up with surprising and exceptional numbers. The best way is to seek good managers and create a transparent relationship.

Having done the above warning and if your source is reliable, your problem is probably in marketing. In our article, “ Is profitability in beef cattle related to productivity or commercialization? “, We commented on the importance of separating variable costs from fixed costs and suggested some indicators for comparing businesses (Gross Profit Margin and Internal Rate of Return). However, even though we identify that the problem is commercial management, we still return to item 4.


6. The culprit is the “Forward Market.”

The “Mercado a Termo” is a way for producers to guarantee the sale price of production with industries without using the Futures Market Exchange (B3 or BM&F). For this, the industries request in return the products in the guarantee.

Many producers complain about this type of contract, as it guarantees production to the industry, which, once the future scales are guaranteed, pressures prices.

In our research with more than 400 producers across the country, less than 25% use some form of price protection. If we consider that only a part of these performs price locking via the Forward Market, we can say that less than 20% of production is linked to this type of contract. That is, it is too little to affect the price trend.

7. Your strategy is to buy and sell every month, so you have an average exchange ratio.

Many producers use this strategy to reduce the impact of market fluctuations. However, this is a clear sign that there is a management problem outside these companies’ gate.

DID YOU KNOW THAT THE PROFIT OF COMPANIES THAT WORK IN THE AVERAGE MARKET IS 3 TO 5 TIMES LOWER THAN THOSE THAT MANAGE OUTSIDE THE GATE? AND THAT THE RETURN ON INVESTED CAPITAL IS 50% TO 90% LOWER!

As we mentioned in item 1 of this article, most producers focus on problems within the gate and use strategies, such as this one, to protect themselves from market forces.

The problem is that Commercial Efficiency represents the other 50% of the result. And even worse, commercial errors often end up consuming the result obtained with production. For this reason, good commercial management often more than doubles the farm’s profit.

Anyway, if any of the above pains is taking your sleep away, you probably need to redirect some of your time or your team to off-site management.

Photo: Calves