Daily Archives: March 3, 2006

The how, why, when and where of hay testing

The how, why, when and where of hay testing

Extension Specialists, Animal & Range Sciences,
Montana State University
Thursday, March 2, 2006 10:50 AM CST

Hay production and pasture conditions in Montana improved in 2005 for many areas on the heels of several consecutive dry years. During drought, most ranchers made significant changes in their operations to adjust for forage losses in drought-stricken rangeland and pastures. In most cases, the drought had expensive impacts such as shipping of herds to pasture, purchase of high value hay, and hauling stock water. Many ranches culled or weaned early to reduce feed costs for the upcoming winter.

Since hay and other stored forages are the major winter feeds, have hay analyzed to develop a good winter feed program.

How much hay do you need?

Depending on location and winter conditions, ranchers will need a one to four month supply of hay. As a general rule of thumb, regional ranchers have historically stored about one ton of hay per cow (this guideline was based on roughly 30 pounds of hay per cow for 60 to 70 days). This guideline is fairly useful; however, it does not make allowance for larger cows, poor quality roughages, extremely cold weather, or the possibility of feeding hay into May.

Regardless of winter precipitation, pasture conditions in the spring could still be limiting, so consider laying in 20 to 25 percent more hay than normal.


Cold temperatures in February extend chore time

Cold temperatures in February extend chore time

By ANDREA JOHNSON, Assistant Editor
Thursday, March 2, 2006 1:03 PM CST
Mark, Dick, Jill and Judy Pesek

TAUNTON, Minn. – There were two stories going on at the Pesek Cattle Farm in mid-February – the weather was cold, and the Peseks bought some good cattle.

Temperatures for the week of Feb. 13-19 in Yellow Medicine County reached a high of 38 and a low of minus 14. The average temperature for the week was 10.6 degrees F – that was an average of 10.4 degrees below normal.

Strong winds accompanying the cold temperatures took wind chills down to dangerous levels. The coldest wind chill in Minnesota was found at Thief River Falls at minus 54 degrees on Feb. 17.

For the Taunton area, wind chills bottomed out at about minus 40.

“It’s been so dang cold, I’m glad we didn’t get any calves born,” said Dick Pesek. “The cattle did okay. On those cold days they just stay up here and wait for feed to come.”

Anybody who had cattle during those coldest days had to plan on more time for chores.

“It takes more electricity with all the tractors plugged in, you have to let things warm up. When it gets cold, it takes about six hours to do all the chores. It takes about four hours when it’s warmer,” said Dick. “A couple of the drinkers froze, and it just takes more feed.”

The Peseks’ calendar for mid-February included beef shows and sales.

On Friday, Feb. 10, Dick and Judy attended the Watertown, S.D., Winter Farm Show Shorthorn and Maine Anjou sale. The trip to Watertown is about 60 miles.

Judy and her neighbor, Brenda Mamer, traveled back over to Watertown to watch a Simmental Show on Saturday, Feb. 11, because the family had a special connection to that show. Son Mark was serving as a fitter for Randy Reed, of Pipestone, Minn.

They were all quite pleased when one of Reed’s heifers stood in the Supreme Heifer Row.

Judy also needed to do some shopping in Watertown – calving supplies and ear tags.


Managing retained placenta

Managing retained placenta

University of Minnesota Beef Team

Thursday, March 2, 2006 1:02 PM CST

With the spring calving season in full swing, it is important not to ignore the cow.

Usually, the calf is our primary concern, because, for most cow/calf producers, calf sales in the fall determine the success of the previous year. However, post-partum cow health is very important for the successful future reproductive potential for the cow, and subsequent calvings.

Cows usually expel their afterbirth, or placenta, 3-8 hours after calving. If the placenta has not been expelled after 12 hours, it is considered to be “retained”. Incidence of retained placenta is about 10 percent in diary herds and 3 percent in beef herds.

Anything that complicates delivery of the calf will increase the likelihood that a cow will have a retained placenta (RP). Dystocia (calving difficulty) due to fetal-dam disparity (overly large calf) or malpresentation, twins, abortion (after 5 months of gestation), and short or long gestation are all reported causes of RP’s.

Poor cow body condition (too fat or too thin) and nutritional deficiencies/imbalances (selenium and calcium) can also result in an increased incidence of retained placentas.

The specific cause of RPs may be extremely enigmatic. If a single cow in the herd calves early (or late) and/or has problems at calving, the likely cause of the RP is readily apparent. However, if you are seeing a greater number of RPs in your herd, you may need to do some investigating.


Pregnancy Diagnosis for the Beef Herd

Pregnancy Diagnosis for the Beef Herd

by Dr. Cliff Lamb, University of Minnesota Beef Team

With fall approaching and the breeding season coming to an end, it is time to make critical management decisions with regards to culling cows, and planning for winter. Because of the climate in the northern part of the United States it becomes an economic liability to feed cattle through the winter that are not productive. Generally, approximately 55 to 70% of the input costs associated with a beef cattle operation are nutrition related – primarily stored feed. To ensure that producers do not feed cattle that are not productive, culling nonpregnant cows is essential. This way the cows are removed from the herd prior to winter. However, in most reports and in discussions with producers many cattlemen fail to have a pregnancy diagnosis performed after the breeding season.

The National Animal Health Monitoring System (NAHMS) indicates that less than 20% of producers use a form of pregnancy diagnosis. These numbers are surprisingly poor considering the opportunity cost of diagnosing nonpregnant cows. Generally the average overall pregnancy rates after a breeding season of 60 to 120 days tends to be about 88 to 94%. Greater pregnancy rates than this can be achieved occasionally, yet poorer pregnancy rates are more frequent. Considering the annual feed costs associated with maintaining a female through the five to eight month winter feeding period are usually greater than $175. Therefore, for every nonpregnant cow removed from the herd prior to winter could result in significant savings.

Pregnancy diagnosis can be simply performed at the time that cattle work their cattle during the fall vaccination schedule or even at the time of weaning. There are two practical methods that can be utilized for pregnancy diagnosis in beef herds: 1) rectal palpation; or 2) transrectal ultrasonography. Rectal palpation is an accurate form of pregnancy diagnosis that can be performed after day 35 of pregnancy. Most veterinarians are proficient at pregnancy diagnosis in the form of rectal palpation and it is a simple procedure that requires little time in the cattle handling facility. However, rectal palpation does not provide any information about the viability of the embryo/fetus. Therefore, some animals with a nonviable embryo or fetus or in the process of degenerating might be diagnosed as pregnant.


Japan, U.S. ministers may discuss beef in London

Japan, U.S. ministers may discuss beef in London

KTIC Radio

TOKYO, March 2 (Reuters) – Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns are likely to discuss beef trade if they meet on the sidelines of farm trade talks in London next week, Japanese officials said on Thursday. Six ministers from major farm exporting and importing countries, including Japan and the United States, are preparing to meet in London around the end of next week to discuss farm trade issues ahead of an end-April deadline for agreeing a draft free trade deal at the World Trade Organisation. It has not yet been decided whether Nakagawa and Johanns will hold bilateral talks during the London meeting, which may start on March 10, Vice Agriculture Minister Mamoru Ishihara said.

“I think they will take up the issue of BSE if they can meet,” Ishihara said at a news conference on Thursday.

In January, Japan reinstated a ban on U.S. beef over fears about mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), after its inspectors discovered banned cattle parts in a veal shipment from New York.

The action came just a month after Japan had lifted a two-year-old ban on U.S. beef imports on condition that meat should come from cattle aged up to 20 months, and that specified parts seen as relatively risky were removed before the meat was shipped.

The Japanese government has said it cannot allow imports to resume until Washington finds the cause of the violation and takes steps to prevent a recurrence.

The U.S. Agriculture Department submitted a report on Feb. 17 that examined how the violation occurred and USDA steps to prevent a repetition. Johanns said on Monday the USDA would respond expeditiously to any questions from Japan about the report.

The Japanese government has been carefully reviewing the U.S. report and preparing a Japanese translation of it for public reference, Ishihara said.

“Now we are finalising the translation, and want to publish the translated report as soon as possible,” he added.

Ishihara also said after the government completes the official translation, it will submit any questions about it to the United States, possibly at the ministerial meeting in London.

Before the initial ban, Japan had been the top importer of U.S. beef. In 2003, it imported 240,000 tonnes of U.S. beef valued at $1.4 billion, about one-quarter of total Japanese beef demand.

The Japanese government, under fire from opposition critics who say it lifted the ban too quickly under U.S. pressure, is cautious about an early resumption of beef imports.

The U.S. report said a U.S. firm made an ineligible shipment because the exporter and the USDA inspector were not sufficiently familiar with the requirements of Japan’s beef export programme.

The veal was shipped by Atlantic Veal and Lamb and supplied by Golden Veal, both of which were certified on Jan. 6. USDA personnel confirmed at that time that both understood the requirements of the programme.

4-H tagged to join animal ID pilot

4-H tagged to join animal ID pilot

Garden City Telegram
Posted on Thursday, March 2, 2006 3:05:49 PM

Members of Finney County 4-H groups will participate in a pilot program aimed at tracking livestock electronically so there can be a swift response in case of an outbreak of disease, the state’s Animal Health Department commissioner said Tuesday.

George Teagarden, who spoke before about 45 4-H members and their parents while visiting Garden City, said electronic animal identification is still in its early development stages with currently only limited use. The technology, which will be used nationwide, is expected to be fully operational by 2010.

The call for a nationwide livestock tracking system came from the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. in December of 2003. Mad cow disease, Bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is linked to a similar form of the incurable and fatal brain-wasting disease in humans, called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, or vCJD. There have been a small number of cases of vCJD reported worldwide, primarily in the United Kingdom, in people who ate BSE-contaminated meat.

Teagarden said the pilot program will involve 4-H members using state-of-the-art, low frequency ear tag transmitters that will trace the livestock’s location and keep data regarding the animal’s health.

Teagarden said about seven counties would be involved with the pilot program, which will be funded and managed through the Kansas Animal Health Department.

Barbara Addison, a Finney County Extension office agent who oversees the office’s 4-H and Youth Development program, said local 4-H members who show their cattle and sheep at the county fair this year will participate in the pilot program. They also will assist other 4-H members who are not participating in the fair in getting their animals registered.

BeefTalk: Good beef management includes forage planning

BeefTalk: Good beef management includes forage planning

By KRIS RINGWALL, NDSU Extension Beef Specialist
Thursday, March 2, 2006 10:50 AM CST

Spring is just around the corner – officially less than a month away. Those with agronomic tendencies have, are or should be pondering the cropping system for the coming year and future years.

The beef industry tends to focus only on beef some days. Cows and calves are the main points of discussion; however, for anyone actively involved with farming or ranching, the beef industry is a land-based business.

Cows and calves harvest the plants produced by the soil available to the producer. Practices that distract from the soil also distract from plant production and ultimately take away from the beef business. Several years ago, the Dickinson Research Extension Center started to evaluate more integrated approaches to the relationship among soil, plants and animals. Actually, the process began back in 1905, when the center was established.

The central mission of the center has been one of learning to understand how these relationships exist and how producers might extract some form of livelihood from these relationships over time. If one uses current population demographics as an indicator of success, the conclusion would be one of failure.

In reality, many who have tried to harvest a lifestyle from these relationships are simply not here anymore and no one has replaced those who have left. Obviously, the inability to muster a living wage ultimately overcame many strong wills intent on a desired lifestyle.

As decades passed, the need for increased dollars has developed into the concept of utilizing the space for the placement of more inputs. As the inputs were increased, so were the associated costs.

The desired return on investment became the driving force. This principle, unfortunately, negatively impacted the relationships of soil, plants and animals. A redirection of effort needs to be the next focus for production agriculture as we take what we know and try again.

As a producer of beef, the management of rangeland is critical, but so is the management of cropland. More recently, the center has approached land as a source of forage rather than cash grain crops. This change has meant all crop production is marketed through beef and the cropping systems need to reflect forage-based cropping.