“Don’t buy the cheapest mineral out there”

The mineral content of forages is always a concern when feeding the brood cow, but it’s of even greater concern after wet weather and rapid forage growth like that which was experienced the past two springs and early summers. In this 4 minute excerpt from the 2020 Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explains the benefits, and also his concerns for feeding the cow herd highly digestible minerals in the appropriate amounts.

Colostrum and Passive Immunity; Critical to the Health of a New Born Calf

Most know that calves are not born with any immunoglobulins, which are critical for the health of a new born calf. Immunoglobulins are supplied by the cow via colostrum, or first milk, and calves only have a 24 hour window to ingest these molecules through the lining of their gut before that window closes.

During his presentation at the 2020 Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop and excerpted in the 2 minute video below, Dr. Francis Fluharty further explains why a calf must receive adequate colostrum within the first 24 hours of life.

Why Does Particle Size Impact the Digestibility of Forages?

For at least the past dozen years we’ve shared how anything that decreases the particle size of forages also increases the surface area for the bacteria to attach, thus speeding up the rate of digestion and allowing the beef animal to receive more total nutrients in a shorter time. In short, processing long stem forages into smaller pieces increase their digestibility.

During the recent Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explained exactly why and how the digestibility of long stem forages can be improved by one third or more by simply processing them, or perhaps baling them with a ‘chop cut’ baler. Embedded below, in an 8 minute excerpt from that presentation on January 30, 2020, is Fluharty’s explanation.

Managing Mud Season

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

This is not a new topic or an issue that we haven’t seen before.  But this past year has really been a challenge for ruminants.  In a normal year mud season was early fall, then freeze in the winter and then reappear in March.  This year it started after last September’s dry weather, and since then it’s been mud season.  This has made feeding forages and maintaining pastures very difficult.  To further compound the problem last year’s first cutting hay was of very low quality.  I hope that you have taken forage samples and are maintaining body condition scores in preparation for the newborns arriving soon if not already.

Not only is the mud situation bad for our pastures and feeding areas, it also increases the nutrient need for our livestock.  Reports have indicated that cattle in muddy conditions may require 30% more net energy for maintenance.  Shallow depths of mud (4-8”) can reduce feed intake 5-15% and when mud is 12-24” deep, feed intake can be reduced by Continue reading

Forage Focus: Fungal Growth in Stored Forages

In this edition of Forage focus host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits Harrison County for an interview with Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Jefferson & Harrison Counties. Erika and Christine address concerns about fungal growth in stored forages.

Moldy hay is a common problem associated with the moisture content of hay at baling and in storage. It is also an issue in stored grains. Erika introduces us to the biology of fungi and symptoms that indicate a problem with fungal ingestion in ruminant livestock. Some important points and the Continue reading

Muddy Issues; Mastitis and Scours

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

Lactating animals are at greater risk of mastitis infections when it is muddy!

We finally got some snow and freezing temperatures! At our house, we didn’t get snow a single day that our Christmas decorations were up, but snow on Valentine’s Day was appreciated. Fresh snow provides a refreshing look to the landscape when it covers up all the muck and brown underneath it.  However, those cold temperatures are still not lasting long enough to firm up the ground and as soon as we track through that snow, our break from reality is over.

Mud creates challenges with mobility both for our animals and equipment. Aside from complicating the logistics of caring for the farm, mud increases our risks for herd health complications too. Many producers have babies on the farm right now. It is important to watch out for signs of mastitis with the mothers and scours with the young.

Lactating animals are at greater risk of mastitis infections when it is muddy. Contaminants on the udder tissue can enter the mammary glands through the milk ducts and cause inflammation. Mothers with mastitis may not Continue reading

Ol’ Man Winter is a Thief!

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

Last winter we had a dramatic increase in the number of cattle deaths compared to previous winters. Excessive rain contributed to these losses and led to wet haircoats and mud conditions in the fields. In the midst of last year’s muddy conditions, we did a series of meetings discussing the effects of rain and mud. I discussed the impacts of wet haircoats on lower critical temperatures and increases in energy for maintenance. When I looked back over a 110-day period that spanned November into February, the local Mesonet station had recorded precipitation 50 of those days. I think Ol’ Man Winter has stolen our winter weather and your profits heading for warmer weather to relax.

How big of an impact is this weather on cattle? Not much research has been conducted under the exact conditions many of you may be dealing with on your farms. We have to interpret the research that is available and make educated guesses on how much the energy needs of cattle increases due to these conditions. This said, you should plan on greater energy needs of cattle outside and closely monitor cattle body condition and health.

I like to show the old foot in the box research in meetings. Ag engineers published work in the 1970’s looking at the impact of mud depth and moisture on the energy needed to lift a leg. These researches obtained a cattle leg from an abattoir and fixed an eye screw to the top of the leg bone. The foot was placed into a box and surrounded by mud of varying depths and moistures. At 1” of mud depth, about Continue reading

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