Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, late fall 2017 issue)

Color is seldom an accurate indication of hay quality!

Across most of Ohio, 2017 has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business.  In 2016, while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down.  Since the end of June, however, 2017 has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days.

With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices.  However, for the astute cattleman that either makes his/her own hay or knows the nature of the business, this also means high quality hay may just be the proverbial needle in the haystack, and for the most part, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While there are many options to manage the situation, Continue reading

Cull Cows and Stockpiled Forage

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator, Ag/NR Monroe County (previously published in Farm & Dairy)

At this time of year many cow-calf operators are weaning/selling calves and determining which, if any, cows are going to be culled and sent to market. The sale of cull cows can be a significant source of cash flow for cow-calf operators. Data shows that 15-25% of cow-calf business’ returns are a result of selling cull cows in the fall, after weaning. For this reason, cow-calf operators should carefully consider how and when they market their cull animals.

If you decide to delay marketing cull cows in an effort to add weight, improve quality, and capture a stronger early spring market, stockpiled forage makes a good feed source.

Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension Cattle Specialist, said, “It is important to understand the Continue reading

First-Calf Heifers Require Different Management

– Jason Smith, University of Tennessee

First-calf heifers. Let’s face it – we all struggle with them at least to some degree. And it’s an issue that we face not just here in Tennessee, but across the entire country. If one comes up open, we’re faced with one of two choices. The first (and recommended) is to sell her, which will generally result in an overall loss on that female. The second would be to keep her, and try again next year. Will she get pregnant after a year off? Maybe. But how many of us can operate a profitable bed and breakfast where our guests don’t pay? Most of us can’t – myself included. So if neither of these are viable options, what is? Being proactive at preventing the issue. But before we address ways of doing that, there are few fundamental concepts that are important to understand.

So why are they so dang hard to get bred back? Or, come preg-check time, why is it that the majority of the open cows are coming Continue reading

Transitioning Calves from Receiving to a Feedlot Diet

Dr. Francis L. Fluharty, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University (Originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

When starting calves pull feed to the center of the feed bunk every 4 to 6 hours for the first 48 hours. Do this slowly so the cattle are intrigued, but not scared.

Transitioning newly weaned calves from a forage diet to a grain and grain byproducts based diet is a critical time period in the feedlot. Since many farmer feeders only receive calves once a year and fall weaning is just around the corner, here’s a quick reminder of things to consider.

Corn has twice the energy density, and twice the digestibility of most forages, so a pound of corn yields four times the amount of digestible energy as a pound of grass. Allowing animals an adequate time to adjust to corn, metabolically, is critical as the Continue reading

Won’t Bicarb Keep My Cattle From Bloating?

Stan Smith, PA, OSU Extension, Fairfield County

Two weeks ago in this publication Dr. Francis Fluharty discussed concerns regarding acidosis and classic feedlot bloat in his article Did My Feed Grinder Cause My Cattle to Bloat? One of the many responses from readers came in the form of this simple question:

If feed grade sodium bicarbonate – or bicarb – is the overall standard rumen-buffering supplement for dairy cows, why don’t we include it in beef feedlot rations in an effort to reduce the incidence of acidosis?

Dr. Fluharty’s response: Continue reading

Manage for High Quality Corn Silage

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County

Corn silage harvest will have an extended season this year, reflecting the range of corn planting dates. Some of the late April planted corn will soon be ready for chopping. Producing a consistent, high quality corn silage requires planning and management. The goal is to provide an environment conducive to a quick and favorable anaerobic (without air) fermentation process. Characteristics of high quality silage include a pH below 4.5 and a lactic acid content of 65% or greater of the total volatile fatty acids. To accomplish this requires Continue reading

Did My Feed Grinder Cause My Cattle to Bloat?

Dr. Francis L. Fluharty, Research Professor, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Acidosis is a prerequisite to classic feedlot bloat. Acidosis is most prevalent when high-grain diets are fed.

1) whole corn kernal; 2) whole corn kernal split in half; 3) whole corn kernal quartered; 4) one whole corn kernal broken into many smaller pieces. Each time corn or other grains are ground or split further the total surface area of the feed increases, and the rate of ruminal fermentation is increased.

When cattle are over-fed large amounts of starch Streptococcus bovis bacteria that make lactic acid increase rapidly. In this instance, bacteria that use lactic acid (Megasphaera elsdenii, Selenemonas ruminantium, and  Selenomonas lactilytica) cannot keep up with production of the lactic acid.

The normal rumen pH with cattle fed high-grain diets is between 5.5 and 6.2, but when lactic acid is over-produced, the rumen pH continues to decline and can fall below 5.5, at which point many other rumen bacteria species begin to reduce their reproductive rates. When the rumen pH drops below 6.0, bacteria that digest fiber decrease Continue reading

Feeding Tomatoes to Livestock

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

This week I was contacted by a food distributor that wants to move several tons of tomatoes to interested livestock producers. Culled tomatoes may be damaged, too small, misshapen etc. and do not meet the grading standards for sale in the fresh market or for processing. There is information on tomato pomace (tomato peels, seeds and small amounts of pulp) but very limited information on the tomato itself.

Can you feed tomatoes to livestock? Yes, but Continue reading

Feeding Steers on Corn Gluten or Distillers Grains? Learn to Recognize Urinary Calculi and How to Prevent Them

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

“Urolithiasis” is the veterinary term used for the disease resulting from the formation of stone-like structures (“calculi”) inside the urinary tract of cattle, similar to kidney stones in humans. If a stone lodges in the urethra, it can partially or completely block the flow of urine and eventually lead to rupture of the bladder or urethra and ultimately death. Emergency surgical intervention may be performed or humane euthanasia recommended due to the extremely painful condition in affected animals. Stone formation is due to many factors but high phosphorus/ low calcium intake is perhaps the most important cause. Corn and corn-based coproducts such as dried distillers grains and corn gluten feed both have high concentrations of phosphorus and low calcium content. When feeding these feedstuffs without supplemental Continue reading

How Early is Too Early to Wean?

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Can I wean 90-day-old calves that weigh 300 pounds?

The answer is yes. Dry weather has made this – and variations – the question of the day.

In an ideal world, mother and calf should enjoy green pastures from birth until weaning at about 7 months of age. The typical weaning age is 192 days for producers in the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System (CHAPS) program. However, some calves are weighed along with the administration of preweaning vaccinations prior to the actual weaning day, so the average age at weaning could be a few days older.

The CHAPS profile shows steers weigh 566 pounds, heifers 535 pounds and Continue reading