Drought Strategies: Herd Inventory Decisions
Dr. Scott P. Greiner, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, Virginia Tech
Producers in many regions in Virginia are evaluating strategies to cope with drought. Successfully getting through the drought challenge will best be accomplished by applying a combination of strategies such as alternative forage and pasture management practices, feeding alternative feeds, strategic cattle management practices (such as early weaning), and herd inventory reduction. Each of these strategies must be evaluated on a case by case basis, and their implementation will vary for each producer based on their feed inventory and future needs, as well as impact of drought both short and long-term on their operation.
The prospects of having to reduce cattle numbers is a harsh reality that must be considered, although a strategy that none of us like to face. Considerations involving herd reduction need to be evaluated in concert with their impact on both viability and profitability, and the severity of herd reduction will depend largely on the extent of feed and forage shortage, and cost of purchased or supplemental feed. Long-term, the immediate benefit of herd reduction vs. cost of feed/forage to maintain inventory needs to be evaluated against the cost of rebuilding the herd at a future date along with the reality that total herd income will be reduced in future years as a result of reduced cow numbers.
Wet Distillers Feeds for Feedlot Cattle
Iowa Beef Center
Distillers by-products have a long and nearly as colorful history as the distilling industry itself.
The Bourbon Beef Association established the Bourbon Beef Show in Louisville, Ky. shortly
after World War II to showcase prize beef animals raised on distillers wet grains. Prize money
was sizable, even by today’s standards. Iowa State College research in 1936-37 showed a
$7.92 per head advantage to distillers grain fed cattle compared to soybean meal fed cattle,
including the hogs that followed the cattle (Distillers Feed Research Council, 1951).
FULL STORY PDF
Correct Timing Makes the Best Silage
University of Nebraska
High-quality corn silage often is an economical substitute for much of the grain in finishing and dairy rations. Corn silage also can be an important winter feed for cow-calf producers. All too often, though, we fail to harvest and store silage in ways that give the best feed value.
Harvest timing is a major factor in maintaining quality and needs to be based on moisture content of the silage. Lots of corn silage in our area is cut too late.
Silage chopped wetter than 70% moisture can run or seep and often produces a sour, less palatable fermentation. More frequently, though, we chop corn silage too dry, below 60% moisture. Then it’s difficult to chop and pack the silage adequately to force out air. The silage heats, protein and energy digestibility declines, and spoilage increases. If your silage is warm or steams during winter, it probably was too dry when chopped.
Many corn hybrids are at the ideal 60-70% moisture level as corn kernels reach the one-half milkline. This guide isn’t perfect for all hybrids, however, so check your field independently. Good silage usually can continue to be made up until black layer formation.
Transmission Of BVD
BVDV rapidly loses infectivity outside the host, and is very susceptible to detergents, light, temperature changes and other environmental conditions. It is mainly transmitted by close contact with persistently infected or acutely infected cattle via the oral or nasal routes. Acutely infected animals only shed the virus for a short time (about 2 weeks1), whereas PI animals shed constantly in all bodily secretions for life. Acutely infected bulls shed virus in their semen for at least 2 weeks; PI bulls shed virus constantly in their semen, thus, semen is another potential source of infection in natural mating.
Selecting “Computer Cattle” only may Lead to a Wreck
by: Heather Smith Thomas
The beef industry has come a long ways toward producing animals with better performance and more predictable desirable qualities like low birthweight, high weaning and yearling weights, higher yielding carcasses and more red meat. Much of that progress has been through diligent record-keeping, recording weights, doing ultrasound testing, using EPDs for selecting breeding stock, and crunching the numbers with computer technology. This technology will continue to help us improve our cattle, but it has certain flaws that every producer needs to remember. The numbers that come out of the computer are only as good (or reliable) as the data put in. There are also some very important cattle traits that cannot be measured and numbered. A herd of broodcows (or a bull battery) selected by numbers and computer alone may be heading for a wreck.
Dry weather is tough on California cattle industry
By JIM DOWNING
From Interstate 505, it’s hard to tell that the grass in the hills west of Winters, Calif., is any less plentiful than it was last August.
But drive up Salt Creek on the Clarence Scott Ranch, where 18 of Rick Harrison’s cows huddled in the shade of an oak tree, and the pastures are close-clipped, the springs dry.
Harrison stopped his flatbed pickup in a spring-fed gully that often runs with water through the summer. This year, the creekbed clay crunches under his tires.
“It wouldn’t bother me if it started raining in October and didn’t quit till May,” he said.
Ethanol byproduct helps farmers and ranchers by offering high-protein livestock feed
By Dirk Lammers
San Diego Union Tribune
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The rising demand for corn to make renewable fuel might be hurting some dairy farmers and beef ranchers, but others are finding advantages to staying close to ethanol plants.
Converting corn into ethanol produces a byproduct called distillers grains, which can be used as high-protein livestock feed. Most are dried so they can be shipped across the country and overseas, but cattle ranchers within 50 miles or so from an ethanol plant can save money by buying wet distillers grains.
Anthrax kills northeastern Montana cattle
State livestock officials say more cases of Anthrax deaths in cattle may follow after eight cows in northeastern Montana died from anthrax last week.
Officials with the Montana Department of Livestock say that the dead cows were part of a single herd on a ranch near Raymond which is between Plentywood and the Canadian border.
Drought forces local farmers to haul water for cattle
By JEFF LENNOX
WATE 6 News
KNOX COUNTY (WATE) — Due to the continuing drought, cattle farmers are having trouble getting enough water for their herds to drink.
Life on the Dewayne Cole’s farm isn’t a very plentiful one these days.
“It’s rough. Our pond is dry. Our creeks are dry. We’ve been hauling water in since March.” Cole says. “As hot as it’s been, above the 90’s, they drink a lot of water when it’s really hot, about 150 gallons a day.”
To keep his thirsty cows and one horse well hydrated, Dewayne uses a 300 gallon tank to haul water every other day.
But the difficult task is taking its toll. “Tuesday night, it took me a good hour just to get a 300 gallon tank full and a lot of it was mud,” Cole says.
Cattle Feeding: Distillers Grains With Solubles
The Wet Distillers Grains with Solubles are approximately 30% dry matter (70% moisture) while the Dried Stillers Grains with Solubles are approximately 90% dry matter. The wet version may have greater energy than the dry product. This is due some of the volatile compounds escaping during the drying process. Distillers grains can be sold without solubles but it appears that the most prevalent form sold includes the solubles. Some processing plants market modified wet distillers grains plus solubles (50% dry matter).
Drought Hurting Area Cattle Farmers
WSET.com Josh Farmer
Amherst Co., VA – Add Amherst County to the growing list of localities applying for Federal drought relief. Area cattle farmers prefer to beef up their herds this time of year, but the summer months have not been kind.
We spoke with one and he says a lot of them are hurting right now. And there’s not a whole lot of relief out there, at least for now. Matthew Fariss of the Lynchburg Livestock Market says more cattle are coming to auction than normal this year as people struggle to keep their animals fed.
Smithfield Foods turning from growth to paring debt
By Bob Burgdorfer
WILLIAMSBURG, Virginia (Reuters) – U.S. meat company Smithfield Foods Inc.’s once ravenous appetite for growth may be abating as the company may now focus on paying down debt, according to comments made on Wednesday by its chief executive.
Smithfield is the world’s largest hog producer and pork processor, a leading U.S. beef processor, co-owner of a huge U.S. turkey operation, and co-owner of the largest U.S. cattle feedlot.
The acquisitions that produced those levels of scale were largely made in the past 10 years.
Ethanol: Friend Or Foe?
Biofuel May Irk Farmers Now, But It Could Fuel Their Future
By Hannah Northey
Daily News Record (VA)
ROCKINGHAM COUNTY — Splotchy drought, the rising cost of energy and supplies, and the demand for more corn for ethanol production is leaving Valley farmers feeling a financial pinch, according to the Virginia Farm Bureau.
But change may be on the horizon, according to Andrew Smith, senior assistant director of governmental relations at the Virginia Farm Bureau.
Smith said corn prices may even out in five to six years, if plants start producing ethanol from cellulosic biomass such as corn fodder, straw, switch grass, and material left over from logging.
“That’s when Virginia’s really going to be a player,” Smith said. “[The state] is very wealthy in hay-type products and forests.”
Smith said the ongoing discussion about the production of ethanol, an alcohol-based alternative fuel that can be blended with gasoline, is important in decreasing the country’s dependence on foreign oil.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Announces a Real Back to School Special for Texas Youth
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo officials announced that all of the Show’s four-year college scholarships will increase from $12,000 to $15,000 each, a 25 percent increase. The increase takes effect with the scholarships to be awarded in 2008, and brings the Show’s total yearly commitment to the youth of Texas to nearly $16 million.
“Texas students who are about to enter their senior year of high school are getting a great opportunity,” said Skip Wagner, president of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. “Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo scholarships always have been highly sought after by the state’s best students. We’re proud to be able to increase our help for the top Texas students as they and their families deal with the increasing cost of a college education.”
More cattle farm cash sought
By Sarah Watson
Some Lynchburg-area counties hope to secure more grant money through the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission to help cattle farmers enhance their herds.
The program, known as the Value-Added Beef Initiative, helps farmers migrate from tobacco-oriented farming to sustain agricultural environments, said Mike Davidson, Campbell County community economic director.
Managing Your Drought Stressed Pastures This Fall
It has been a tough summer for graziers in many areas of Ohio. Dry weather and high temperatures have limited forage growth. Many pastures have been grazed closer than they should. With the recent rains pastures have started to recover but the high temperatures that followed the rains have kept growth slower than many have needed.
As we head into cooler temperatures and traditionally more forage growth we need keep protecting our forage resources. Even though we need the feed we also need to keep from overgrazing. Grasses stressed by months of drought and in some cases overgrazing will need care to fully recover.
The first thing is keep from overgrazing. Overgrazing can be avoided by paying attention to forage residual, grazing time and rest. Forage residual, leave at least 1200-1500 lbs. of DM per acre or 2-3″ when you pull animals from a field. Grazing time, remove the animals before the forage starts to regrow. Rest, let the pasture recover to above 2400 lbs. of DM acre or 6-8″ before grazing turning the animals into a field.