Tips on Using Lesser-quality Forages

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer
(Previously published online with Farm Progress: January 27, 2023)

Testing the forages is the key, along with diluting them and allowing livestock to be selective.

Hay and forages after last summer’s extreme [weather conditions] come at a premium price and are of great value, especially with winter storms that piled snow on top of potential winter grazing resources.

After a snowy winter in parts of the Great Plains, producers might be digging into their feed piles and notice spoilage or mold. Molds can occur any time of the year, and the risk of problems can show up early or late in the year as well.

“In hay, excess dust can be a sign of mold spores, and can actually cause respiratory issues in humans and livestock,” says Continue reading

Adjusting Feed Requirements for Cold Weather

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County

A few years ago, I used to smile a little when my wife complained that our house was too cold at 64°F. Now, I find myself sneaking over to the thermostat and bumping it up a couple of degrees.

It is easy for us to know when we are cold, but how do we know when livestock are cold? In some situations, it is easy to see, such as if they are hunched up and shivering. Often, though, it is hard to tell when they are cold. Their comfort range is not the same as ours.

Research has shown that below a certain point, our grazing animals will increase their metabolism to produce heat. This maintains body functions such as rumination and keeps the animal comfortable.

To meet the needs of increased Continue reading

Late Gestation Management Considerations

Dr. Andrew Weaver, North Carolina State University, Small Ruminant Specialist

Ewes are bred, the holidays are just around the corner, and for all of us with winter lambing flocks, lambing season is almost here. Over the last year, we have invested in high quality genetics to move our flocks forward and now it’s important that we make sure our next generation of lambs get off to the right start. This begins with good late gestation management.

I have summarized nutritional requirements in Table 1 (think of this as nutrient demand by the animal). Requirements for energy (as indicated by total digestible nutrients) and protein increase substantially for late gestation and lactation compared to maintenance. Two-thirds of fetal development take place during late gestation. Additionally, ewes should be gaining body condition to prepare for lactation with a goal of BCS 3.5-4 at the time of lambing. Therefore, nutrients demands are high.

Table 1. Nutrient Requirements (Demand) at Different Stages of Production
150 lb. ewe raising twins Dry Matter Intake (lb./d) Total Digestible Nutrients (lb./d) Crude Protein (lb./d)
Maintenance 2.6 1.4 0.2
Late Gestation 4.0 2.7 0.4
Lactation 4.4 2.9 0.7

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Grain and Livestock Producers: Dealing with Vomitoxin and Zearalenone

Yet again, reports from the 2022 harvest have indicated concerns with Vomitoxin and Zearalenone in grains harvested this fall. Some species of livestock are able to tolerate these toxins better than others. However, how do you know if you have a problem this year? Thankfully, our OSU Extension team from Delaware County reviews important considerations when addressing these concerns.

Alternative Feeds: Is Variety the Spice of Life?

Eastern Alliance for Production Katahdins (EAPK) Communications Committee
(Previously published online with EAPK: November 6, 2022)

When it comes to sheep feed…it depends. With staggering increases in feed costs due to inflation, supply chain disruptions, impacts of international conflicts affecting energy, grain and fertilizer production along with regional weather events, now might be a good time to investigate alternative feedstuffs. Alternative feeds are those that are not commonly used on a regular basis as part of the usual livestock feed ration and are often cheaper than typical feed, such as corn and soybeans. Availability and cost of certain alternative feeds will vary based on geographic region so it pays to do some research on what might or might not be available in your area. Most alternative feeds are by-products or residuals, and so the energy, protein, and mineral content, as well as the costs can vary widely. As with any feed, there are potential concerns with some alternative feedstuffs that producers should be aware of prior to incorporating them into their sheep feeding program.

Dried Distiller’s Grains:
DDGs are a by-product of bioethanol production from grains, usually corn. It can be an inexpensive source of Continue reading

Iodine Deficiency in Small Ruminants

Lucienne Downs, New South Wales Government District Veterinarian, Central Tablelands Local Land Services
(Previously published online with New South Wales Government Local Land Services)

A severe deficiency of iodine causes a lack of essential thyroid hormone production and the thyroid gland enlarges. The enlarged thyroid gland is called goiter. The swelling occurs in the throat area and can be as large as an orange. Goiter is mainly a disease of lambs and kids, it rarely occurs in calves. Goats have a higher requirement for iodine than other livestock.

Causes of Iodine Deficiency

  • It mostly occurs due to insufficient intake of iodine from the pasture.
  • Iodine deficiency may also be caused by goitrogens – substances within the feed which inhibit the utilization of dietary iodine. Goitrogens have been detected in some legumes and forage crops, but are considered unlikely to be a significant cause of goiter.

Continue reading

Nutrient Value of Wheat Straw

Dr. Laura Lindsey, Associate Professor, Soybean and Small Grains Specialist
Lee Beers, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Trumbull County
Ed Lentz, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Handcock County

Before removing straw from the field, it’s important farmers understand the nutrient value. This is especially important now with high N, P, and K fertilizer prices. The nutrient value of wheat straw is influenced by several factors including weather, variety, and cultural practices. Thus, the most accurate values require sending a sample of the straw to an analytical laboratory. However, “book values” can be used to estimate the nutrient values of wheat straw. In previous newsletters, we reported that typically a ton of wheat straw would provide approximately 11 pounds of N, 3 pounds of P2O5, and 20 pounds of K2O. According to June 2022 fertilizer prices and nutrient removal “book values”, one ton of wheat straw would remove N, P, K valuing approximately $30.31. Continue reading

How Do Sulfates in Water Affect Livestock Health?

Robin Salverson, South Dakota State University Extension Cow/Calf Field Specialist
(Previously published with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

Water sources that are often assumed to be safe, such as spring fed reservoirs and clear appearing water, can still be high in salts/sulfates. The visual appearance of water should not be used to determine if the water is good or bad. The only way to know if water is suitable for livestock is through testing.

Health Considerations
Poor-quality water will cause an animal to drink less. As a result, they also consume less forage and feed, which leads to weight loss, decreased milk production, and lower fertility.

Sporadic cases of polio can be Continue reading

Reading Your Feed and Forage Analysis Reports

Anita Heeg, Feed Ingredients and Byproducts Specialist, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs
(Previously published online in Progressive Forage: February, 28, 2022)

Over the last 25 years, animal production has improved significantly to have more milk and meat production per animal. To support our ability to feed and manage modern animals, technology to better analyze feed ingredients has also changed to keep up with production.

Feeds are more thoroughly analyzed today than they were before, allowing feeds to be utilized to their full potential. Although the layout of reports may be different between laboratories, the various parameters required for nutritionists are included in most feed analysis reports. In the subsequent paragraphs, I will describe the type of information found in a feed analysis and what it means.

Every report will include the dry matter of the feedstuff. The reason for obtaining the dry matter is because moisture dilutes the concentrations of the nutrients present, and it is standard practice to evaluate the feed and balance rations using a dry matter basis.

Crude protein (CP) is a term well-known among producers and is calculated based on the nitrogen content of the feedstuff. Without looking at the type of protein it is made up of, it doesn’t tell us more than Continue reading