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The Beef Cattle Manual is designed to help beef operations increase their production one step at a time. (Photo by Molly Sawatzky)

Until the Vacas Come Home

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Media Contact: Kristin Knight | Communications and Marketing Manager | 405-744-1130 |

Imagine driving 11 hours and 30 minutes from Stillwater, Oklahoma, to the southern New Mexico border with books piled in the back of your car. No stops. Just pushing forward to your destination.

Derrell Peel, professor and Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist in the OSU Department of Agricultural Economics, made this trek to meet his colleague Enrique Sanchez Granillo, a longtime associate of the Chihuahua Cattlemen’s Association. Peel brought Granillo copies of the Beef Cattle Manual translated into Spanish for the state of Chihuahua, Mexico.

First published in 1983, the Oklahoma Beef Cattle Manual was a concise resource on beef cattle production and management developed by various professionals in the agricultural industry.

The main contributor was animal and food sciences professor Keith S. Lusby, who spent 19 years in OSU Extension, research and teaching within the department.

This manual included information about nutrition, reproduction, animal health, genetics and the design of cattle-working facilities.

“The Beef Cattle Manual has always been there to help assist cattle producers no matter where they are from,” said Kellie Curry Raper, professor and livestock marketing extension specialist in agricultural economics.

Raper along with David Lalman in the animal and food sciences department are two of the co-editors of the latest English edition of the Beef Cattle Manual.

“The first four editions of the Beef Cattle Manual were limited to nutrition, reproduction, animal breeding, animal handling facilities and general management topics,” Lalman said.

“In 2004, our interdisciplinary team decided to expand the manual to include business management, industry issues, beef quality assurance, forage production, grazing management, herd health, biosecurity and a few other related topics,” he added.

Lalman served as an editor with Damona Doye, associate vice president of OSU Extension, for the expanded fifth edition published in 2005.

“Our interdisciplinary team continues to update the manual content,” Lalman said.

Today, the eighth edition of the Beef Cattle Manual focuses on being a valuable communication tool that delivers both production and economic education to producers, Peel said.

“The manual is a technical innovation in animal production used worldwide,” Sanchez said. “We share a lot of common problems. Even with the differences of environmental conditions, the basics of cattle production are likely the same.”

Each new update reflects recent research-based information from across disciplines relevant to beef production systems, Raper said. These disciplines include faculty and OSU Extension specialists in animal and food science, biosystems and agricultural engineering, veterinary medicine, entomology and plant pathology, plant and soil sciences, natural resource ecology and management, and agricultural economics, she said.

“This approach to the Beef Cattle Manual has enhanced its capability to remain a relevant and valued resource over time,” Raper said.

In 2015, Doye started the process of creating a Spanish version of the Beef Cattle Manual.

Prior to 2016, OSU’s Beef Cattle Manual was distributed to five foreign countries, 37 states and eight universities, Raper said. Now, manuals are distributed to even more states and countries than before with about 1,300 copies of the eighth edition already in use, she added.

“Feedlot operators and other large producers expressed the need for a Spanish version of the Beef Cattle Manual to share with the people who work with them,” Doye said. “However, finding the translation service that could understand the technical language and translate it appropriately became more complicated than we originally thought.”

 As a master’s graduate of the OSU animal science program in 2020, Sanchez collaborated with Peel to provide a complete translation of the new eighth edition of the Beef Cattle Manual into Spanish.

“The most important part of my job was to find the right words and terminology,” Sanchez said. “In Latin America, the terminology is different between the formal social speaking to how these producers talk at home on the ranch.”

In recent years, Peel and Sanchez have worked closely with each other in Mexico and the U.S., Peel said.

“When I first asked Sanchez if he was interested in helping us translate the manual, he right away said yes and translated the whole thing,” Peel said.

The newest version of the Beef Cattle Manual consists of 45 chapters with 37 authors across eight disciplines. Working closely with Peel, Sanchez translated all 45 chapters.

“Sanchez has been a great help in assisting with translating the manual into Spanish, especially when it comes to understanding the technical language of the original Beef Cattle Manual,” Doye said.

The goal of this new translated manual is to help Spanish-speaking cattle producers increase their production value by providing them with new science and methods, Raper said.

“The manual will help communication among people, and it’s going to help with communication among Spanish-speaking individuals who are working on their own,” Raper said.

As the team worked on the Spanish edition, the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, preordered more than 250 copies of the manual for its cattle producers. Peel volunteered to escort the manuals to Sanchez at the border between U.S. and Mexico so the state of Chihuahua, Mexico, could receive copies, Peel said.

“I loaded up my vehicle full of as many manuals as I could and started toward the cattle border in Santa Teresa, New Mexico,” Peel said.

Peel hopes more people will choose to adopt this new Spanish Beef Cattle Manual, he said, whether in more Mexican states, or other Spanish-speaking countries.

Once the Spanish Beef Cattle Manual is out there, more people will be interested, Raper said.

“This manual is an excellent contribution for Mexico and many other countries in Latin America,” Sanchez said. “We expect many more countries will join us in using this manual.”

The manual is now in Central and South America, including Argentina, Sanchez said.

The faculty involved with the Beef Cattle Manual are excited about continuing their international efforts, Raper said.

“The manual will help cattle production be more uniform throughout the U.S. and other countries,” Peel said. “Hopefully this will create an increase in production to meet the needs of the growing population today.”

The Spanish and English versions of the Beef Cattle Manual are available for purchase online at

Story By: Molly Sawatzky | Cowboy Journal

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