But, the feed tag says only 1.5 pounds/head/day!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Understanding the ruminant system, and properly supplementing the energy source with protein will be one of the topics Dr. Fluharty covers during his presentation at the first session of the Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management Schools.

An article we published two years ago – Not all corn is created equal! – resulted in questions regarding feed supplement tags, the amount of protein in most of the supplements we’re using in some common small Midwest feedlot rations, and why we might need additional protein when the feed tag suggests only using 1.5 pounds per head per day of what is commonly a 40% protein supplement. Good question with a fairly simple answer . . . the tag doesn’t say you don’t need, or can’t use additional protein in order to optimize performance. It simply says to only use 1.5 pounds of that source of protein.

This isn’t a new question. In fact, I’ve discussed it with any number of beef cattle feeders who have asked the question over the years. If you’ve participated in one of Francis Fluharty’s Beef Feedlot Schools in the past, you know the answer as to why we could enhance performance with additional protein, but perhaps not how or why we find ourselves in this place where at first glance feed supplement tags might imply they can supply adequate protein to the ration at a rate of only 1.5 pounds of supplement per day.

Back in the 60’s I recall using a Continue reading

Choosing a Supplement for the Cowherd

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

The spring of 2019 delayed hay harvest in many parts of the state. This delay resulted in much of the hay being harvested at mature stages. Fescue was in full flower to soft-dough stage or even more mature in some cases. Mature forages have greater cell wall and lower digestibility.

I tried to demonstrate the impact of late cutting on feed value by clipping non-fertilized fescue plants the 3rd week in June. These plants were over three feet tall when I cut them. I proceeded to separate the bottom leaves, stem and seed head for yield and quality. The stem and seed head represented approximately 50% of the biomass. The stem had already matured to the point that it was tan in color. The leaves comprised the remaining 50% of the biomass and contained 10% crude protein and a calculated TDN of 54%. The stem itself was only 3.1% crude protein with a TDN of 45%.

Let me give you a reference to better relate the fescue stem quality (about half the biomass). As we all know, wheat straw is the aftermath from harvesting the grain. Wheat harvest often occurs in late June through July. Did you catch that? The book values for crude protein and TDN of wheat straw are 3.6% and 43%, respectively. Yes, that stem fraction on the hay cut in late June is similar in quality to straw! I know we can’t Continue reading

Keep the Trains Moving; Prevent Stomach Obstructions

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension (originally published in the Ohio Farmer)

This hairball came from a beef that was processed in Noble County by Pernell Saling. He estimates 5% of the cattle they process have blockage in the rumen resulting from twine, hair, plastic, etc..

The stomach is a fascinating part of the body, regardless of what species you study.

Digestion is an active and noisy process, from chewing, to swallowing, to breakdown, absorption, and disposal. People tend to associate the idea of a “churning stomach” with an illness, but really, the stomach should be churning (well, moving) to do its job. If it is not, you could be in trouble and experiencing a bowl obstruction.

Humans can tell that something is definitely wrong if they have a bowl obstruction. Within a couple days, the inflicted person will be completely miserable and perplexed, leading them to seek aide from a medical doctor if this occurs. Symptoms include bloating, diarrhea, vomiting, dehydration, and general physical weakness as a result.

Babies and animals are less descriptive when experiencing digestive stress. Observant parents (of human or animal offspring) may not know what is wrong, but should be in tuned enough to realize the situation is not good and seek assistance before symptoms of malnutrition or abdominal tissue death occurs.

Unfortunately, due to the Continue reading

Breaking the Ice

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

Happy Holidays readers!

With holiday gatherings a plenty right now, I thought maybe you would appreciate a suggestion for a conversation starter.

Why not break the ice about breaking the ice? Owners of livestock and pets will probably sympathize with you over a cup of hot cider by the tree.

With the cold finally settling in, keeping free flowing water available can be a challenge, especially if you do not have access to electricity or in ground waterers. Tis the season to carry a heavy blunt object with you while you check the livestock. To provide the best care possible to our livestock, water access 24/7 needs to continue to be a priority in the winter.

Below is some quality advice from Shawn Shouse – Agricultural Engineering Field Specialist for Iowa State University Extension & Outreach – about how to keep livestock water from freezing. Keep the water and conversation flowing during the Continue reading

Reducing Hay Storage and Feeding Losses

– Jessica A. Williamson, Ph.D., Extension Forage Specialist, Penn State

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%!

On most livestock operations, the greatest operational cost is stored and harvested feed, so it only makes sense that striving to reduce storage and feeding losses of harvested feeds as much as possible can help improve forage quality, quantity, and overall profitability of an operation. Reducing waste, even by a few percent, can have a direct reflection on farm financial status almost immediately. Dry hay has the potential to meet most ruminant livestock nutrient requirements if harvested correctly and at the optimal stage of maturity to meet the class of livestock’s nutrient requirements, and if quality is maintained throughout the storage period. However, supplemental nutrition is often a necessity as a result of hay quality and quantity losses through storage and feeding.

Storage losses of uncovered hay can be upwards of 30%, including weather and respiration, resulting in one of the largest outlets for lost dollars on a livestock operation. Some factors affecting the amount of forage loss due to weather include bale density, weather and climate conditions throughout the duration of storage, and Continue reading

Hay Sampling

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Agriculture & Natural Resources Educator, Wayne County

I have received several phone calls recently where the caller describes their hay; date baled, whether or not it got rained on before baling, general appearance, and sometimes smell. The question is how to best use this hay, is it suitable for horses or cows or sheep to eat?  Physical evaluation of hay is useful to sort hay into general categories such as high, medium or low quality.  To move beyond general categories and predict animal performance requires a forage chemical analysis.

This is a good year to sample your hay for analysis.  I have seen some first cutting hay forage test results with nutrient values comparable to straw.  Feeding low and medium quality hay without a Continue reading

Supplementing Poor Quality Hay

Clif Little, OSU Extension, Guernsey county

Forage can provide most of the nutritional requirements of a beef herd during the fall and winter months. The challenge becomes the management of supplemental energy and protein due to low quality hay. Several options available to the cow-calf producer for the management of forage and supplement are discussed here.

Determine the Nutritional Value of the Existing Forage

To properly supplement livestock, each forage should be sampled and analyzed. Forage testing laboratories describe the proper sampling techniques for various forages. Contact your local Agriculture Extension Educator for a test probe and instructions for submitting the sample to a laboratory. Forage quality may have a dramatic impact on dry-matter intake. The higher the NDF (neutral detergent fiber) content of forage, the less forage an animal will be able to consume. Cattle will generally consume 1.2 to 1.5% of their body weight per day in forage NDF depending on Continue reading

Have a Palatable Thanksgiving!

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

This Thanksgiving turkey is certainly very palatable! Are you equally confident your livestock feeds are palatable?

I doubt anyone has ever wished you a “palatable Thanksgiving” before. It seems like a strange greeting, but it is genuine from me to you, and also to any animals that you are feeding at home or on the farm. I hope the interactions you have consist of sweet and savory words, rather than bitter or sour ones as you gather around the table for dinner. I hope the same for the food!

Why did I use the word “palatable”? Well, let me explain.

On two difference occurrences in November, I had the chance to talk with groups about how important palatability is for animal intake of feed rations.

The word “palatable” is an adjective. It describes the how preferable an experience is, most often, an eating experience. The scale of preference though is very difficult to quantify. Especially when we think about animal intake, because Continue reading

Buying Hay; Consider Quality and Value

Garth Ruff, Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator, OSU Henry County Extension

While there are some visual and sensory characteristics to look at, the only sure fire way to determine quality is to pull a sample and do a forage analysis.

As 2018 was a lousy year for making dry hay across the state, 2019 wasn’t much better or perhaps worse yet. For those who have to purchase hay this winter there are a few things to consider in terms of hay quality and value. There are some visual and sensory characteristics we can look at, as a gross indication of forage quality. The presence of seed heads (grass forages), flowers or seed pods (legumes), indicate more mature forages. Good-quality legume forages will have a high proportion of leaves, and stems will be less obvious and fine. While we tend to favor bright green forages from a visual perspective, color is not a good indicator of nutrient content, but bright green color does suggest minimal oxidation.

Smell of the forage and moisture content are also valuable indicators in determining hay quality. Good quality hay will have a Continue reading

Feeding High Ash Forages

Bill Weiss, Department of Animal Sciences

Forage analysis is suggesting that in some cases soil conditions at harvest of some of our cover crop forages is increasing ash concentration by 6 or more percentage points.

We have received reports of some forages, including cover crops that were planted in later summer, having very high concentrations of ash. Ash in forages is comprised of minerals contained within the plant (for example, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and copper) and soil contamination that was either splashed onto the surface of the plant while in the field or was picked up during harvest. On average cool season grasses such as orchardgrass or fescue harvested as hay or silage have about 7-9% ash and legumes such as alfalfa harvested as hay or silage average 10-12% ash. Generally mineral concentrations decrease as plants mature and is greater in forages grown in soils that contain high concentrations of available potassium (luxury consumption). These factors will change plant ash concentrations but generally by only a few percentage points.

On the other hand, harvest practices and soil conditions at harvest can increase ash concentrations by 5 to more than 15 percentage points with only small changes occurring in major mineral concentrations. Soil contamination can greatly increase concentrations of trace minerals especially iron, manganese, and aluminum. A study from the University of Delaware evaluated the composition of Continue reading