Author

Mike Fanning, Ph.D., PAS


Body condition in beef cows can affect reproductive performance, overall productivity and longevity in the herd. These energy reserves can significantly impact specific stages of the production cycle. The amount of body fat or body condition a cow has at calving affects the postpartum to estrus interval and rebreeding success. What is body condition scoring (BCS)?  Body condition scoring (BCS) is an effective way to estimate the energy reserves of a cow. The most common BCS system for beef cattle is a scale of 1 to 9.  A BCS of a 1 indicates an extremely thin cow while a BCS of 9 indicates a very fat cow.  A BCS of 5 or 6 is optimal for beef cattle. For the BCS to be most helpful, a producer must calibrate the BCS system under their own conditions. Examples of BCS Here are a few examples of what cows look like at different phases of BCS:  BCS 4  A cow on the thinner side where the 12th and 13th ribs are noticeable to the eye. The transverse spinous processes can be identified by the feel and are rounded, not sharp. There is straightness of the hindquarter muscling and it appears full.  BCS 5  A cow looks neither thin nor fat, but average. The 12th & 13th ribs are not noticeable to the eye unless the animal is shrunk. The transverse spinous processes can be felt with firm pressure and feel rounded but are not noticeable to the eye. The tail head area is fairly filled but not fat. BCS 6 A fleshy looking cow with ribs fully covered to the eye. Firm pressure is required to feel the transverse processes. Hindquarters are plump and full. As well, there is noticeable sponginess around the tail head. How does a lower score affect cows A BCS of 4 or lower results in lower reproductive performance and productivity. An increasing plane of nutrition for these cows will increase the probability of getting an animal pregnant.  The most economical way to increase these animal’s body condition is to separate them into their own group and feed them to reach the desired body condition. When is body condition critical to the production cycle? There are 2 main times when body condition plays an integral role in the production cycle: 1. Calving Body condition at calving has the greatest impact on a cow’s reproductive performance and her ability to stay in the herd.  As previously stated, a low body condition score can lead to a longer postpartum interval to estrus and low pregnancy rates.  Cows should be at least a BCS of 5 while first calf heifers should be at least a BCS of 6 to have the best possibility of rebreeding and having a calf every 365 days. 2. Breeding Season A low body condition at breeding, like a low BCS at calving, can lead to lower reproductive performance and her ability to stay in the herd.  An increasing plane of nutrition and body condition for the low condition cows can increase the probability of getting pregnant. Conclusion Body condition is a great indicator of reproductive performance in beef cattle. Timing of evaluating cow/heifer body condition is critical in making management decisions to change animal body condition as needed and in the most economical manner. Shop Animal Health products Find all of the animal health products you need by shopping online at the  FBN Animal Health store .  Sources: http://agrilifecdn.tamu.edu/victoriacountyagnr/files/2010/07/Body-Condition-Nutrition-Reproduction-of-Beef-Cows.pdf https://extension.sdstate.edu/sites/default/files/2020-10/P-00188.pdf https://www.crystalyx.com/blog/a-21st-century-supplement-for-21st-century-cattle/ https://animalscience.tamu.edu/2017/08/08/some-thoughts-on-body-condition-scoring-of-cows/ ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW LABEL INSTRUCTIONS The above is provided for information purposes only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of any condition. This information does not cover all possible variables, conditions, reactions, or risks relating to any topic, medication, or product and should not be considered complete. Certain products or medications may have risks and you should always consult your local veterinarian concerning the treatment of your animals. Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, “FBN Direct” are registered service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. Feed products are offered by FBN Inputs, LLC and are only available where licensed.


The USDA Risk Management Agency launched the Rainfall Index Pasture, Rangeland and Forage (PRF) insurance program to provide coverage against the lack of rainfall. The PRF insurance program was developed because ranchers and hay producers historically have not been able to insure their forage grown for grazing and haying. The PRF Insurance program is available in the 48 contiguous United States. How does PRF insurance work? PRF insurance coverage is based on rainfall rather than yields due to accurately measuring forage production and different management practices that affect forage production and yield. There is a high correlation between rainfall and forage production and indemnity payments to producers would offset the cost of purchasing replacement feed. The PRF Insurance program covers only established stands of perennial forages intended for either grazing or haying. A producer has to buy coverage by December 1 for coverage throughout the following year (January – December). Coverage is established on 2-month intervals, or mini insurance periods, county based values and coverage level. County based values are established by grazing and haying intended uses.   Who sells PRF insurance? The PRF Insurance program is sold by private insurance agents and coverage is guaranteed by private insurance companies and the USDA. The USDA also provides premium assistance by covering between 51% and 59% of the premium costs, based on the producer’s selected coverage level. Each county, rainfall Grid and 2-month intervals are individually rated and influences the cost of the program as do the coverage level and productivity factor chosen by the producer. What is the Productivity Factor in PRF? The Productivity Factor is the dollar value of forage production per acre set by the Risk Management Agency. Producers can adjust this amount up or down (60% to 150%), depending on whether they want more coverage or not.  Coverage and indemnities are based on the amount of rainfall measured in each Grid and 2-month interval. The rainfall measured is based on weather data collected and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center. The index reflects how much precipitation is received relative to the long-term average for a specified area (Grid) and 2-month interval. Documented rainfall amounts for a given area are drawn from precipitation data collected at NOAA climate reporting stations using the NOAA grid areas measuring 0.25° latitude by 0.25° longitude, which is about 17x17 miles. The Grid used for coverage are based on where the producer’s acres are located and the acres allocated by intended use. The Grid’s rainfall index value is calculated from rainfall data gathered at four NOAA stations nearest to the center of the GRID and not based on what the producer receives in his/her rain gauge. Rainfall indexes are generated for the two-month periods throughout the year. Producers can then choose insurance levels on individual PRF policies for coverage as high as 90% of the long-term precipitation averages for their grid area during those specific time periods. The producer can choose to increase the County Based Value, up to 150%, to increase the value of their forage.  Purchasing an annual PRF policy When purchasing an annual PRF policy, you must select at least two 2-month intervals for insurance coverage. The intervals chosen are determined by the producer and when the producer thinks precipitation is critical for a given forage type. Precipitation data is collected daily and index values are calculated and published about six weeks after the end of each two-month time period. If the rainfall index for a given grid triggers and 2-month interval is below the producer’s selected coverage level, an insurance indemnity is due. Indemnities are applied towards the producer owed premium and once the premium is covered, a check will be sent. Checks are sent soon after those index values are announced. If premium is owed, premium is billed in September of the coverage year. There is no loss adjustment associated with the PRF insurance program because the rainfall data is collected by NOAA and losses are not based on forage yields. Indemnity payments are paid more quickly than most crop insurance policies. FBN® Insurance Agents have access to a privately developed PRF analysis tool to assist producers in determining optimal coverage and display the historical performance of a Grid. Learn more about PRF insurance Click here for more information about the PRF Insurance program or to speak to an insurance agent . Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. "Farmers Business Network" and "FBN" are registered service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. We are an Equal Opportunity Provider. FBN Insurance services are offered by FBN Insurance LLC (dba FBN Insurance Solutions Services LLC in Texas, and FBN Insurance Solutions LLC in California and Michigan). FBN membership is not required to purchase through FBN Insurance LLC, but certain features may only be available to FBN members. FBN Crop Insurance is currently offered in all U.S. states.


The USDA recently announced an updated livestock disaster aid addressing increased supplemental feed cost in 2021. The ELRP payment will be based on data from the 2021 Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP).  Producers do not have to apply for the ELRP aid, but must have the following forms on file with FSA by June 30, 2022 : CCC-853 (Livestock Forage Disaster Program Application) AD-2047 (Customer Data Worksheet) CCC-902 (Farm Operating Plan for an Individual or Legal Entity) CCC-901 (Member Information for Legal Entities, if applicable) FSA-510 (Request for an Exception to the $125,000 Payment Limitation for Certain Programs, if applicable) CCC-860 (Socially Disadvantaged, Limited Resource, Beginning and Veteran Farmer or Rancher Certification, if applicable) AD-1026 (Highly Erodible Land Conservation (“HELC”) and Wetland Conservation (“WC”) Certification) Phases of the ELRP payments Phase 1 of the payments is expected to total $577 million, basing the payments on percentage of an eligible producers’ gross 2021 LFP payment — 90% for historically underserved producers and 75% for all other producers. And, the payments will be subject to a payment limit. Phase 2: USDA said it was evaluating impacts of 2021 drought and wildfires on livestock producers as it develops the Phase 2 component.  Phase 1 ELRP eligibility Producer and livestock eligibility for ELRP aligns with the Livestock Forage Disaster Program (LFP) eligibility requirements. Only 2021 LFP participants are eligible for an ELRP payment under Phase 1. Livestock producers must have suffered grazing losses in a county rated by the U.S. Drought Monitor as a D2 (severe drought) for eight consecutive weeks or a D3 (extreme drought) or D4 (exceptional drought) during the normal grazing season of the 2021 calendar year. Livestock producers who were not allowed to graze their permitted federally managed lands due to wildfire are also eligible for ELRP payments.  ELRP payment calculation and limitations When calculating an eligible producer’s Phase One ELRP payment, Farm Service Agency (FSA) will use the producer reported (CCC-853 form) livestock inventories and forage acreage or restricted animal units and grazing days for the 2021 calendar year. Payments will be equal to the eligible livestock producer’s gross 2021 LFP payment multiplied by a payment percentage. For historically underserved producers (i.e., socially disadvantaged, limited resource, beginning, and veteran), the payment percentage is 90%, with a payment percentage of 75% for all other producers. Eligible producers with a CCC-860 on file with FSA for the 2021 program year qualify for the 90% payment percentage. Under ELRP, Adjusted Gross Income (“AGI”) limitations will not apply, however there are payment limitations for eligible producers. The payment limitations will be determined by the producer’s or legal entity’s average adjusted gross farm income, which is income earned from their agricultural operation. If an eligible producer or entity, other than joint ventures or general partnerships, has an average adjusted gross farm income of less than 75% of their average AGI for tax years 2017 through 2019, they cannot receive an ELRP payment of more than $125,000. For an eligible producer or entity, other than joint ventures or general partnership, with an average AGI of at least 75% that is derived from agricultural activities, they may be eligible for an ELRP payment of up to $250,000.  Eligible participants seeking the increased limitation must: File form FSA-510; Provide certification that their average adjusted gross farm income is at least 75% of their AGI; and Provide certification from a licensed Certified Public Accountant or attorney that the participant qualifies to receive the increased limitation. Additional USDA Assistance Opportunities The announcement also included information on a new crop-related disaster effort named Emergency Relief Program (ERP) . USDA announced a two-phase approach for diversified, row crop and specialty crop operations affected by an eligible disaster event in calendar years 2020 or 2021. USDA also indicated there will be additional relief through the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees and Farm-Raised Fish Program (ELAP) . The ELAP program provides emergency assistance to eligible producers of livestock , honeybees and farm-raised fish for losses due to disease (including cattle tick fever), adverse weather, or other conditions, such as blizzards and wildfires, not covered by LFP.  The additional ELAP funding will assist producers with the increased cost of hauling livestock to forage. The ELAP compensation is retroactive to 2021 and will also be available for losses in 2022 and subsequent years. The deadline to request all ELAP assistance for 2022 calendar year losses will be Jan. 31, 2023. Important Deadlines The deadline to file for FSA’s LFP program is 30 calendar days after the end of the calendar year the loss occurred (i.e. January 31, 2022 for loss in calendar year 2021).  The deadline to file for FSA’s ELAP program is January 30 following the end of the calendar year in which the loss occurred. Producers must file a notice of loss within 15 days after the loss is apparent for honeybee operations and within 30 days for livestock and farm-raised fish operations. More more information on USDA FSA’s Disaster Programs , please contact your local FSA office. To learn more about the Federal Crop/Livestock Insurance programs contact an FBN insurance agent by visiting the FBN Insurance page or calling 877-204-4645 .  Source: USDA Farm Service Agency Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. "Farmers Business Network", "FBN", “FBN Direct”, "Farmers First" and the Farmers First flag logo are registered service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. We are an Equal Opportunity Provider. FBN Crop Insurance services are offered by FBN Insurance LLC (dba FBN Insurance Solutions Services LLC in Texas, and FBN Insurance Solutions LLC in California and Michigan) and are only available where FBN Insurance LLC is licensed. FBN membership is not required to purchase through FBN Insurance LLC, but certain features are only available to FBN members. FBN Crop Insurance is currently offered in the following states: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY.


In response to the severe drought conditions in many parts of the United States, the USDA RMA is suspending the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) 60-day ownership requirement. The lack of rainfall is causing producers to sell cattle earlier than they normally would due to the difficulty in finding adequate forage. The USDA Risk Management Agency (RMA) has released a memorandum stating, for Specific Coverage Endorsements (SCEs) they are suspending the Livestock Risk Protection (LRP) rule requiring livestock owners to own their livestock up to the last 60 days of the endorsement (coverage) period. This is in effect as of May 19, 2022 . What it means for producers With producers facing a shortage of available forage due to drought conditions, the suspension of the LRP 60-day ownership rule allows producers options to consider. These options include feeding additional hay/supplement to maintain the cows and growth of the calves or selling calves before the expected sale date. Selling the calves “early” will also allow producers to reduce grazing pressure on the remaining forage and to maintain their existing cow herd genetic base.   The SCEs are still subject to verification of proof of ownership. Proof of ownership can include sales receipts, kill sheets, or other documentation that verifies ownership during the insurance period showing the date the livestock were sold or slaughtered.  If you have questions, please reach out to your agent or contact FBN at 877-204-4645 . Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. "Farmers Business Network", "FBN", “FBN Direct”, "Farmers First" and the Farmers First flag logo are registered service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc. We are an Equal Opportunity Provider. FBN Crop Insurance services are offered by FBN Insurance LLC (dba FBN Insurance Solutions Services LLC in Texas, and FBN Insurance Solutions LLC in California and Michigan) and are only available where FBN Insurance LLC is licensed. FBN membership is not required to purchase through FBN Insurance LLC, but certain features are only available to FBN members. FBN Crop Insurance is currently offered in the following states: AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY.


The Rainfall Index - Annual Forage (RI-AF) Insurance program allows livestock and hay producers to purchase an insurance policy designed to provide coverage against the lack of precipitation on acreage planted annually to forage, used for grazing or as hay for livestock. RI-AF is currently offered in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota. While similar in design to the Rainfall Index Pasture Range and Forage (RI-PRF) Insurance, based off of the rainfall index data provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the difference lies in the type of commodity covered. The insured crop under RI-AF is ALL annually planted acres grown for forage or fodder with the intended use including, but not limited to grazing, haying, green chop or silage, which includes commodities such as, but not limited to, wheat, triticale, oats, Sudan haygrazer, etc. In contrast, RI-PRF encompasses perennial grasses, rangeland, and hay types such as alfalfa that are not planted on an annual basis. How does it work? A producer would have to sign up by July 15, 2022 to be eligible to participate. There are four (4) different growing seasons (Insurance periods) which are determined by dates the acres were planted. Producers are able to divide their liability into two-month index intervals targeting when precipitation is important for the crop being planted. Each grid covers an area equal to 0.25 degrees in latitude by 0.25 degrees in longitude. NOAA creates the grids, which do not follow state, county or national boundaries. Each grid is individually rated based on the data for that grid. The program is designed to insure against a decline in an index value that is based on the long-term historical average precipitation for the same area for the same period.  Dual use option RI-AF does offer a Dual Use Option allowing a small grains producer to insure under Annual Forage for grazing in the winter/early spring and then insure their grain crop with a separate MPCI policy and would be eligible to maintain both benefits. The “Dual Use” coverage option is available in counties where grain/grazing is considered a good farming practice and is available for select counties in Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico and Colorado. The dual use option is only available for Growing Season One and primarily used for wheat, some counties may include barley and oats. Your agent should check the Annual Forage and small grains special provisions of insurance. Indemnity payments After the two-month interval ends, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Risk Management Agency (RMA) will release a Final Grid Index value representing how much precipitation was recorded for the Grid to compare against the producer selected coverage level. There is no loss adjustment. If there is a loss, the indemnity is automatically calculated and then paid. The Annual Forage program has been a very good risk management tool for producers, especially in the last few years during times of drought. Take control of your risk and gain greater peace of mind Your FBN Insurance agent can tailor an Annual Forage insurance policy to meet the specific needs of your operation. Learn more about this program or connect with an agent by visiting the Annual Forage page or calling 877-204-4645 . Copyright © 2014 - 2022 Farmer's Business Network, Inc. All rights Reserved. The sprout logo, “Farmers Business Network”, “FBN”, "Farmers First" are trademarks, registered trademarks or service marks of Farmer's Business Network, Inc.  We are an Equal Opportunity Provider. FBN Crop Insurance services are offered by FBN Insurance LLC (dba FBN Insurance Solutions Services LLC in Texas, and FBN Insurance Solutions LLC in California and Michigan) and are only available where FBN Insurance LLC is licensed. FBN membership is not required to purchase through FBN Insurance LLC, but certain features are only available to FBN members. FBN Crop Insurance is currently offered in the following states: AK, AL, AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, FL, GA, HI, IA, ID, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY.