“What's a bred heifer worth this fall?” asks Harlan Hughes in his “Market Advisor” column on page 10. Hughes examines the economic potential of bred heifers bought during the next year or two, and determines them to be quite profitable. But, he warns that the economic value of heifers will decline in the next couple of years as the cattle cycle begins its downturn. A bred heifer is worth all of her future annual net incomes, including future cull value, and at today's prices, which are still very high, Hughes recommends not waiting to add heifers to the herd.

“Here are seven tasks to do now to greatly influence your 2005 calving success, weaning rate and rebreeding rate,” writes Purdue University's Mark Hilton, DVM, in this month's “Vet's Opinion” column on page 18. The steps include preg-checking cows, vaccinating according to a herd health plan, practicing optimal deworming, body condition score early, separate heifers from cows to minimize competition, feed for reproduction and provide windbreak.

“We're now using low-moisture protein blocks to draw cattle to grass in places that they wouldn't otherwise find,” David Voldseth, a Lennep, MT, producer, tells Clint Peck in his story “Block Management” on page 23. Protein blocks are being used by Western producers to even out rangeland grazing and maximize forage utilization. That can add up to grazing time on federal grazing allotments.

By the reckoning of some, the all-American hamburger turns 100 this year. Diana Barto takes a look at the history and the progress of America's favorite sandwich in her story “Happy 100th, Hamburger” on page 26. Her timeline follows the hamburger's development from inspiration to the “bunless” burgers of today's low-carb diet craze.

“We really feel it's important to begin to express genetic values in useable measures in terms of talking about dollars and cents,” says Sally Northcutt, American Angus Association (AAA) director of genetic research. She explains to Stephanie Veldman in “What Are Your Traits Really Worth?” on page 31 that AAA developed the Dollar Value indexes to simplify genetic selection by combining multiple traits into one value and attaching an economic value to those traits. The piece explains the first three indexes and provides perspectives on how to use them.

Paul Genho says ranchers need the ability to identify the innovations they should use in their management program and those they shouldn't. In his monthly column, “Cattle Economics,” on page 16, Wes Ishmael details how the vice president and general manager of King Ranch goes about making those types of decisions.