“Low-dose implants given at 2-4 months of age are one of the most underutilized technologies in the beef industry. This suckling implant will add about 20 lbs. to calf weaning weight.”

That's one of the points W. Mark Hilton, DVM, imparts in his “Vet's Opinion” column entitled “When to castrate calves” on page 14. Hilton takes a look at various studies and defines some best management practice recommendations for minimizing animal stress and optimizing performance.

“In today's environment of volatile input costs and cattle prices, a profit is a profit. Period. So even an extra $25/cow, while maybe not a windfall, is certainly something to carefully consider.”

Knowing how to balance those inputs without hurting cow performance can help capture that extra revenue, says Larry Stalcup. In “Would An Extra $25 Help?” on page 38, he outlines several input and herd management techniques that can enhance profits.

“Private grazing rates across the western U.S. inched up just 1.4% over the past year to $14.70/animal unit month, down sharply from the prior year's 5% pace and the smallest annual increase since 2006.”

More downward pressure on lease rates is expected as the impact of the global economic slump crimps consumer demand for meat, and ranchers respond to weaker operating margins by making deeper herd cuts, writes Mike Fritz in “Losing Steam,” on page 60.