Cost control in a beef cow herd enterprise is in the details, says “Market Advisor” columnist Harlan Hughes. In the third part on his series on benchmarking, page 10, Hughes presents some benchmarking details for implementing a cost-control program for your herd in “Cost control is in the details — Part III.”

One doesn't hear as much about alliances these days. Perhaps that's because they've become a standard part of cattle management and marketing in the modern U.S. beef business. Wes Ishmael details the changes in such value-added cattle marketing programs, as reflected in the first five years of our BEEF Alliance Yellow Pages listings. See his comments in “Alliances impact is growing — sort of” on page 11.

The cattle market's recent great prices won't last forever, writes Mark Hilton, DVM, in his page 16 “Vet's Opinion” piece, “Develop a portfolio on your cattle.” The Purdue University assistant professor of beef production medicine says now's the time to track and document your herd's performance. A portfolio will allow your calves to command the prices they deserve when high calf price levels retreat.

Alan Newport details how a marketing pool of 50 southeast Missouri farmer-feeders consistently hits the “sweet spot” on packer grids. In “Making The Grid,” on page 20, Newport explains how their formula combines artificial insemination, EPDs, individual animal ID and a lot of data sharing.

When it comes to heifer development, producers should remember that calves on the ground still rule profitability, writes Penn State University's Dan Kniffen on page 32. In “Grab The Pendulum,” the Extension beef associate and assistant professor of animal science says too many folks don't take a long-term perspective in selection decisions.

Seth Gudmunson is BEEF magazine's summer intern. A first-rate creative talent, the Black Hills State University (BHSU) senior came our way via a top recommendation from someone also at the top of her game — former BEEF managing editor Kindra Gordon, who now teaches journalism at BHSU. Gudmunson fashioned the look for our 2005 Alliance Yellow Pages that appear on page A1 of this issue. The listing includes the contact info, specs and payoffs of more than 30 beef marketing alliances doing business in the U.S.