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.