Caldwell County Cattlemen: Key Tasks for Early Year Success

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As we step into the new year, it’s crucial for Caldwell County cattlemen to focus on specific tasks to ensure a successful year ahead. This isn’t about New Year’s resolutions; it’s about actionable steps you can take right now to set yourself up for success.

First and foremost, join the NC Cattlemen’s Association. This provides a wealth of resources, networking opportunities, and up-to-date industry information that is invaluable. Membership in the Association is $25 per year. With this, you get the Carolina Cattle Connection which has good articles, advertisements, and information on cattle sales. The NC Cattlemen’s Association is also an advocate for cattlemen and farmers with elected officials in NC. Join online at nccattle.com.

Attend the Area Beef Meeting (Jan 18), the Southern Farm Show (Jan 31 – Feb 2), the NC Cattlemen’s Conference (Feb 23 – 24), or the NC Forage and Grasslands Conference (Feb 22). These are all excellent and convenient opportunities for learning and networking.

The Area Beef Meeting is in Iredell County this year. The meeting will start at 5 p.m. Topics will be beef reproduction, foot health, and foot scoring. For more information and to register, visit go.ncsu.edu/areabeef.

The Southern Farm Show is held at the NC Fairgrounds in Raleigh. The Farm Show is the largest annual agricultural exposition in the Carolinas and Virginia. There will be over 400 exhibitors, agricultural meetings, workshops, and trainings. Caldwell Farm Bureau is sponsoring a bus for this event on February 1. For more information and to register, go.ncsu.edu/farmshow.

The NC Cattlemen’s Conference will be held at the Hickory Convention Center. Conference topics include: making the most of your pastures, exploring additional opportunities for your cattle, identifying slaughter-ready cattle, and building a successful freezer beef operation. The NC Forage and grasslands Council Meeting will also be held at the Convention Center. Sign-up for both events is through nccattle.com.

Soil and hay testing is another critical task for this time of the year. Soil testing helps you understand nutrient needs and plan your fertilization strategy effectively, ensuring optimal pasture growth. Similarly, testing your hay ensures that you are aware of its nutritional value, which is vital for effective herd management. It also gives you a measuring stick to know if you are making quality hay that meets the needs of your animals.

Don’t ignore your veterinarian. Say hello and renew your veterinary-client relationship. Discuss your herd health plan and be sure you are on track to avoid unnecessary and costly train wrecks. Your veterinarian is essential for maintaining herd health and ensuring you have access to necessary antibiotics throughout the year.

Given it was unusually dry this fall, be prepared to tackle buttercup. Over grazed pastures in the fall will have buttercup in the spring. Plan to spray 2,4-D in January or February. It should be controlled before you see the yellow flowers. For best herbicide activity, wait until daytime air temperatures are greater than 50° F for two consecutive days. Always read the herbicide label before using. Remember to use 2,4-D Ester when temperatures are cool and switch to 2,4-D Amine when temperatures warm up.

Prices are high for feed, fertilizer, diesel fuel, tractors, etc. Be efficient with the resources you have. Stay proactive and stay informed, and you can navigate these challenges and maintain a thriving cattle operation.

If you have questions about this article or would like additional information contact the Caldwell Extension Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us at caldwell.ces.ncsu.edu.