Daily Archives: May 1, 2007

Sulfur can make a difference

Sulfur can make a difference

Court Campbell, Ph.D., Land O’ Lakes


During the every day challenges of feeding cattle, you may not put much thought into the sulfur level in your finishing diet, but sulfur can play a major role in the performance of your cattle. Sulfur is a required mineral for all animals, where it plays an important role in protein, fat, carbohydrate and energy metabolism.  However, this is one of those cases where more is not always better. The suggested sulfur requirement of cattle is .10 – .15%. Dr. Richard Zinn at the University of California recently obtained some interesting results when he fed diets containing sulfur levels of .15 to .25%. When sulfur exceeded .20% of the diet dry matter, dry matter intake and average daily gain decreased while feed to gain increased. Also, they noticed that rib-eye area decreased. High sulfur intake can lead to decreased dry matter intake and poorer daily gain in cattle, possibly by causing a copper deficiency.

Sulfur can come from several different sources. Corn by-products such as corn gluten feed, corn steep liquor and distillers grains tend to be high in sulfur. We have known for some time that these by-products can contribute to Polioencephalomalacia (Brainers, Polio), a disease created by a thiamine deficiency. It appears that sulfur can destroy thiamine in the rumen. However, studies evaluating thiamine supplementation under sulfate induced polios are very inconsistent. Polios can also be caused by a drop in the rumen pH resulting from acidosis. This drop in rumen pH can result in the release of bacterial enzymes in the rumen that can also break down thiamine. At Land O Lakes, we typically do not include thiamine in the diet, but rather, approach the problem by stressing the importance of bunk management and recommending immediate injectable treatment of individual animals showing signs of Polio.


Cattle Producers Can Prioritize Managing Costs & Making Wise Investments

Cattle Producers Can Prioritize Managing Costs & Making Wise Investments


Priorities First: Identifying Management Priorities in the Commercial Cow-Calf Business by Tom Field, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colo., and sponsored by the American Angus AssociationSM, is the first comprehensive effort to prioritize management and economic issues for cow-calf producers.  (A detailed summary can be found at http://www.angus.org or contact the American Angus Association to obtain a printed copy of Priorities First.)  Dissecting a portion of the Priorities First research findings provides an important perspective on the issue of controlling production costs.  When the survey was conducted, a cost control question was included with five of the fifteen management categories.  The survey simply asked how important it was to maintain below industry average costs within individual aspects of the operation.  The category “Harvested Forages and Supplemental Feeds” carried some important results, which parallel industry findings.

Survey respondents believed strongly that harvested forage and supplemental feed costs must be monitored.  This area was identified as the most critical cost-control point of the five surveyed.  However, overall survey results identified herd nutrition as the highest-ranking management priority for cow-calf producers.  Respondents are precisely committed to satisfying the cowherd’s nutritional needs.  Yet there was a large difference in how the survey prioritized pasture and range management versus where it ranked harvested forages and supplemental feeds.  The message is clear that herd nutritional needs should be met through grazing.  Harvested forages and other supplemental feedstuffs should be secondarily used with a critical eye on costs.


Corn Stalks For Ethanol? Maybe Not

Corn Stalks For Ethanol? Maybe Not

Cow/Calf Weekly

If conservation of organic matter in taken into account, farmers have to cut in half the amount of cornstalks that can be harvested to produce ethanol, according to USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists.

Jane Johnson, a soil scientist with the ARS North Central Soil Conservation Research Laboratory at Morris, MN, found that twice as many cornstalks have to be left in the field to maintain soil organic matter levels, compared with the amount of stalks needed only to prevent erosion.


Predicting Doability

Predicting Doability

By Bill Zimmerman

Beef Magazine

There’s something almost mystical about “doability” in cattle. We all think we know what it is when we see it — steers that keep gaining during a Panhandle snowstorm, cows that maintain body condition through a Dakota blizzard — but what really is doability? How is it objectively measured? Can we predict and select for it? Is it economically important?


Grass Tetany in Beef Cattle

Grass Tetany in Beef Cattle


At this time of the year, depending on rainfall, temperatures and factors we don’t understand, cattle can be catastrophically affected by the condition known as Grass Tetany. This is a complex metabolic disease that usually affects lactating beef cattle in California; although it can affect younger cattle on lush pastures, range, or wheat pastures.

The underlying problem is a shortage of magnesium both in the cattle and in their diets. High levels of plant potassium and nitrogen both interfere with magnesium absorption by the animals. Therefore, fertilization with potash and/or ammonium sulfate can increase plant growth and also increase the risk of Grass Tetany. The demands of lactation deplete the cow of both magnesium and calcium and the clinical signs are caused by the combined shortage of magnesium and calcium in these cattle. In addition to low magnesium intake combined with higher levels of potassium and ammonia, cattle that are consuming low levels of calcium, phosphorus, and salt are at greater risk of developing Grass Tetany.


Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Is Pinkeye Preventable?

Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Is Pinkeye Preventable?


Yes. There are several steps producers can take to reduce the risk of their cattle contracting pinkeye. Pinkeye often gets its opportunity from eye irritations due to face or horn flies, dust, pollen and pointed seeds. You can reduce these threats by mowing pastures to reduce grass and weed seedheads and control flies with an endectocide pour-on, dust or tag.


Tax Option Letters Important to Ranchers

Tax Option Letters Important to Ranchers

by: John Alan Cohan

Attorney at Law

Cattle Today

A great number of companies do not make a profit, but instead have operating losses for an extended period of years. Of companies that have decided to start selling stock to the public in initial public offerings (IPOs), about 75 percent of them have never made a profit. Their newly issued stock is being bought in droves–and is somewhat akin to buying lottery tickets, in my opinion.

Many people do not make a profit in their farming ventures — and the IRS is well aware of this fact. For most farmers and ranchers, the activity is not the taxpayers’ primary occupation. One Tax Court case said that it would be “foolish” for a taxpayer to give up other employment until he was sure he could support himself with the proceeds from farming or livestock.