THE UNIVERSITY of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is seeking beef cattle producers for a program to demonstrate that Extension-recommended practices can significantly reduce winter feed costs.

“In today's beef cattle business, profit is something everyone talks about, works for and looks forward to but is increasingly difficult to obtain,” said Tom Troxel, state leader for Extension's animal science section.

Troxel said the university's Arkansas Beef Improvement Program (ABIP) has shown that cattle producers can lower their winter feed costs significantly.

“Working with Arkansas cow-calf producers, ABIP has demonstrated that supplemental feed costs can be reduced $20 to $30 per cow,” said Troxel.

He said profit in cow-calf operations mainly depends on four factors: calf crop percentage, calf weaning weights, selling price of calves and cost of production. The production and use of forages and feed supplements influences all of these factors. The major expense is the cost of feed.

The top five ABIP cost items and their percentages of the overall cost are: fertilizer (16.9), supplemental feed (15.5), purchased hay (8.5), grazing lease (7.6) and medicine (6.1). “Four of the top five are related to the cost of feeding the cow herd and make up nearly half of the expenses,” Troxel said.

The ABIP focuses on these practices to reduce costs: stockpiled forages (warm- and cool-season forages), forage testing and determining supplemental feed needs, planting winter annuals and rotational grazing.

Troxel said Extension wants to extend the program by looking for additional cattle operations.

“These practices will be implemented on cooperating farms, and production and economic data will be collected to determine the cost-effectiveness of the practice,” Troxel said.

If you're interested in being a cooperator in the ABIP program, contact a local Arkansas county Extension agent.