Feed Your Cows and Your Forage

Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

The highest energy demand of the cow arrives approximately 60 days post calving.

Spring has arrived, a successful Ohio Beef Expo is in the rear view, and for many Ohio beef producers, there are calves on the ground. This is a critical time in the beef and forage production cycle for many producers, especially those with spring calving herds.

As we come into the forage growing season and wrap up much of the cold weather hay feeding, now is an important time to consider nutrition, not only for the cow herd but for our forage crops as well.

The highest energy demand of the cow is during peak lactation, approximately 60 days post calving. During this time in the production cycle, we also are asking that cow to return to estrous and be rebred in a timely manner. To maintain a 365-day calving interval, we have roughly 85 days between calving and getting that female rebred in which we need to supply Continue reading

Matching Nutrient Intake to the Production Cycle of Beef Cows

Allen Gahler, Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension-Sandusky County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

Could we reduce our total feed needs by more correctly matching the breeding season to our feed resources?

Whether you are jumping into or preparing for breeding season, or you calve in the fall and have recently turned out mid gestation cows, you certainly have had a lower feed bill on your mind as the winter feeding period comes to an end. That lower feed bill is usually a welcome beginning to a new growing season, and the worry of making it through another winter is replaced by the worry of making the right breeding decisions and weaning off a profitable calf crop.  But perhaps we could alleviate some of those other worries by focusing more on the timing of the breeding season as it relates to what we are feeding them, rather than which bull matches better with each group of cows and which bull is truly heifer safe.

What I am talking about is stepping back and taking a good hard look at when we calve and comparing it to the quality of our available feed at Continue reading

The energy requirements for an Angus beef cow throughout her annual production cycle

– Kirsten Nickles, Graduate Research Associate and Anthony J. Parker, Associate Chair and Associate Professor. Department of Animal Sciences, Ohio State University.

The nutritional requirements for beef cows change daily throughout their annual production cycle. The frequent change in requirements is caused by varying stages of production and environmental factors that affect the cow’s behavior and energy use. To give an example, a spring calving beef cow gestating throughout winter will have energy requirements for maintenance and gestation, and there may be further requirements for cold stress if winter climatic conditions place the cow outside her zone of thermal comfort. To appreciate how great the total net energy cost of a beef cow can be we have included the net energy requirements in Mcal/day throughout the annual production cycle of a mature 1200 lb Angus cow with a peak milk yield (PMY) of 18 pounds (Figure 1).  We included the requirements for maintenance, lactation, and gestation and assume this all occurs without any cold or heat stress on the cow. It is noteworthy to consider that thermal stress can elevate the requirement for maintenance substantially.

Figure 1. The energy requirements (Mcal/day) for an Angus beef cow throughout her annual production cycle.

Many beef cattle producers would agree that the Continue reading

Pasture Bloat Concerns and Responses

Last week in this publication we shared concerns for frothy bloat in pastured cattle. As a follow up, in this episode of Forage Focus, Host- Christine Gelley- Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County and Dr. Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist, dig deeper into the causes and possible solutions for frothy bloat occurrences in pastured livestock. Their discussion includes how pasture managers need to be observant of forage growth, weather conditions, and animal behavior to avoid conditions that commonly trigger bloat and to recognize and treat bloat quickly if it occurs.

Cow Nutrition and Implications for Reproductive Performance, Fetal Development, and Calf Performance

In beef cattle, the hierarchy for nutrient use of an individual animal is first body maintenance, followed by body development, growth, lactation, reproduction and then fattening. If a situation occurs where nutrients are limited, those items lowest within this hierarchy are the first to suffer. In this presentation, Dr. Francis L. Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Animal Sciences and presently Department Head at the University of Georgia Animal and Dairy Science Department, details the implications for reproductive performance, fetal development, and calf performance if nutrients are inadequate.

Weekly Livestock Comments for April 23, 2021

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle traded steady to $1 lower compared to last week on a live basis. Prices on a live basis were primarily $120 to $122 while dressed prices were mostly $191 to $193.

The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $121.36 live, down $0.57 compared to last week and $192.11 dressed, down $3.52 from a week ago. A year ago, prices were $96.95 live and $154.27 dressed.

Precipitous is the word that comes to mind as it relates to finished cattle markets and live cattle futures contracts, because that is the type of price decline that has taken place this week. Seasonal beef demand is strengthening, which is sending beef prices higher, but cattle feeders are watching fed cattle prices decline as packers have an ample supply of cattle to hang on the rail. This is one challenge that must be navigated with a non-storable product such as cattle. The primary method the beef industry navigates this situation is by keeping cattle on grass longer. However, cattle cannot be kept indefinitely. The supply of market ready cattle will likely Continue reading

April Cattle on Feed and 2020 Comparisons

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

Last month Kenny, Josh, and I wrote about the challenges with making year-over-year comparisons to 2020. Comparisons will be based on periods in 2020 when COVID was having major impacts on the beef sector. Last week’s highly anticipated Cattle on Feed report was the example we had in mind when we wrote that article. The Cattle on Feed (COF) report includes estimates for feedlot placements, inventory, and marketings, and each was hard to predict.

The graph above shows feedlot placements for 2021 (blue line), 2020 (dotted blue line), and the 2015-2019 average (red line). March feedlot placements totaled 1.997 million head, a 28.3 percent increase over March 2020. The cattle placement estimate is a product of two events. First, recall this time last year was when the Continue reading

Pasture (Frothy) Bloat; Beware when grazing legumes!

Stephen Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Bloat has been described in agricultural writings since A.D. 60. Names for bloat have changed over the years: hoove, hoven, tympany, and blown have appeared in English journals of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Bloat occurs when rumen gas production exceeds the rate of gas elimination. The gas accumulates and causes distention of the rumen (left side of cattle). If the situation continues, the inflated rumen interferes with respiration. The problem is worsened by the absorption of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the rumen. Death is normally due to suffocation.

Bloat is often associated with discontinuous grazing, such as the removal of animals from legumes pastures overnight. Pasture bloat may occur when grazing is interrupted by adverse weather, such as storms, or biting flies. Anything that alters normal grazing habits will increase the incidence of bloat. The following are a list of forages and their bloat potential:

Forage species and their potential for causing bloat in cattle Continue reading

Will Forage Stands Be Damaged by Predicted Freezes?

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Figure 1. Alfalfa stem wilting caused by freezing.

The weather forecast this week is indeed concerning for forage stands in general and especially for alfalfa and red clover. The low night temperatures in the forecast may potentially cause severe frost injury to both annual forage crops (e.g. winter rye and winter triticale) and perennials forages.

Growers should scout and evaluate their forage stands several days after the cold nights because predicting freeze damage is difficult to impossible. Freeze damage and plant recovery from it are influenced by many factors, including the absolute minimum low air temperature, soil temperature during the freeze event that can moderate near-surface air temperatures in the canopy, field topography, snow cover during cold nights (that provides insulation), age and stage of plant growth, and stand health and vigor as influenced by soil fertility and prior cutting management.

The overall vigor of the stand will determine the tolerance to freezing and . . .

Continue reading Will Forage Stands Be Damaged by Predicted Freezes?

New FactSheet is published on Nutrient Removal for Field Crops in Ohio

Did you know a hay field producing an average yield removes as much potash annually as more than 600 bushels of corn removes?

Find detail on that as well as more information about the crop nutrient removal of hay and other crops linked in this recent post in the C.O.R.N. newsletter: https://agcrops.osu.edu/newsletter/corn-newsletter/10-2021/new-factsheet-published-nutrient-removal-field-crops-ohio

Or, more specifically, learn about the “Fertility requirements that prolong the life, quality & productivity of hay and forage crops embedded below in Jason Hartschuh’s presentation from last winter’s Ohio Beef Cattle Management School.