Bunk Management; Impacts Animal Performance and Health

Feedbunk management plays an important role in both animal performance and preventing acidosis in the feedyard.

During the first session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School that was hosted by the OSU Extension Beef Team,  Dr. Francis Fluharty, Ohio State University Professor Emeritus and current Professor and Head of the Department of Animal and Dairy Science at The University of Georgia, focused a portion of his presentation on the significant impact that proper feed bunk management has on feed conversion, prevention of acidosis, and overall profitability. Here, in less than 8 minutes, Dr. Fluharty explains why bunk management is so important, nearly doubling the rate of gain and improving feed conversion by greater than 40% in one study.

Recordings in their entirety of the Beef School proceedings may be found under the link 2020 Ohio Beef School

Potential for Toxic Nitrate Levels in Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Plants readily take up nitrates from the soil, even under colder conditions

The recent cold and cloudy weather has raised the concern for higher nitrate levels in forages that could potentially be toxic to animals consuming those forages. It is true that any stress condition that slows plant growth and metabolism can increase the risk of higher plant nitrate levels. This article discusses factors to consider, especially given the recent cold weather we have been experiencing in Ohio and surrounding regions.

Plants readily take up nitrates from the soil, even under colder conditions, and especially since we have plentiful soil moisture to facilitate uptake. Once in the plant, nitrate is converted to nitrite, then ammonia, and finally into amino acids and plant protein. Any environmental stress that significantly slows down plant photosynthesis and metabolism can lead to excessive nitrate levels in the plant because the nitrate uptake from the soil will be faster than its metabolism into plant protein. Such stresses include frost, extended cold weather, cloudy conditions, hail damage, or . . .

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Backgrounding rates of gain effect carcass characteristics

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

People are currently investigating methods to control rate of gain. Anna R. Taylor  and Robbi H. Pritchard, South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD; and Kelly W. Bruns , University of Nebraska-Linclon, West Central Research & Extension Center, North Platte, NE, looked at backgrounding rate of gain on carcass characteristics.  Steer calves weighing an average of 690 pounds were backgrounded until they weighed an average of 880 pounds. The 3 rates of gain were compared.  Calves were fed a corn silage based diet and the targeted average daily gain (ADG) was achieved by limiting feed intake.  At the end of each backgrounding treatment, calves were fed the same finishing ration and harvested at a common backfat thickness.

Calves with a lower backgrounding rate of gain were fed for more days to reach the common backfat thickness. Calves had increased ADG during the finishing period when the backgrounding ADG was lower.  Hot carcass weights were also heavier when backgrounding ADG was lower.  However, the researchers commented that marbling appears to be best when calves are not grown to slow or too fast and this data set identified Continue reading

What’s in your Baleage? – Inadequate fermentation may lead to Botulism

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Botulism is a disease caused by one of the most potent toxins known to man. This toxin is produced by Clostridium botulinum, a Gram-positive bacterium from the Clostridia family. This bacterium survives in the environment as a “spore” and contaminates plant material during harvest. For the bacteria to multiply and produce toxin, an anaerobic (“without oxygen”) environment must be maintained. Under certain conditions, round bale silage (or “baleage”) can provide the correct place for botulism toxin to form. In the absence of oxygen (as is found in wrapped hay) and a pH greater than 4.5 (poor fermentation), the spores enter a vegetative state, multiply and produce toxin. This toxin, once consumed and absorbed into the blood stream, blocks transmission of nerve impulses to the adjacent muscles. Two forms of the toxin, Types B and C, occur most frequently in KY cattle. Type B is associated with improperly fermented forage while Type C occurs from the accidental feeding of dead birds, dogs, cats or poultry litter contaminated with dead Continue reading

Considerations for slowing feedlot cattle growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic

– published by William Halfman, WI Beef Information Center, written by: University of Wisconsin Extension Livestock Program Educators, University of Wisconsin Department of Animal Science Faculty, and Iowa State University Extension Beef Specialists

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt cattle markets. Cash sales for the week of April 13-17 were depressed as packing plants operated at reduced capacity or shuttered their doors due to labor issues spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. Having a market that will take finished cattle at a suitable date has become a concern. In addition, the current live market prices, and limited sale opportunities for fat steers have left many cattle feeders searching for solutions to reduce their economic loss.

In times of depressed markets many cattle feeders lean towards the “hold and hope” method of selling fed cattle, where they retain their cattle longer than is ideal with the hope of waiting out the down turn in the market.

The strategy to hold cattle longer will depend on the goals of the operation and the stage of feeding of the cattle. The good news is that cattle are adaptable to a variety of feeding systems and programs, and their growth can be programmed in a very predictable way through changing the net energy of the ration or using “programmed feeding”.

For cattle ready or near ready for market it may be best to . . .

Continue reading Considerations for slowing feedlot cattle growth due to the COVID-19 pandemic

“If you have high ash content in your forages, you’re feeding dirt”

According to Ted Wiseman, Ohio State University Extension Educator in Perry County, “If you have high ash content in your forages, you’re feeding dirt.” And, the feed conversion on dirt is not good!

During the second session of the 2020 Ohio Beef Cattle Nutrition and Management School that was hosted by the Ohio State University Extension Beef Team, Wiseman discussed the value of analyzing the nutrient content of forages. Included in that presentation was an explanation regarding ash content, what it results from, and why it’s a concern. In this brief excerpt from his presentation, he explains, in part, how 5 pounds of a forage with 18% ash content is equivalent to feeding a pound of dirt to the animal, and offers some thoughts on preventing high ash content in our forages.

“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