As we move into fall, harvest is in full swing, the drought is letting up, pastures are coming back and stocker prices are high. While your style of winter grazing will vary depend on your geography, the opportunity to boost gains is the same. Winter grazing is a low cost way to keep stockers and develop heifers, however, why not put a few more dollars to your bottom line by supplementing with an ionophore.
The composition of grass is reflected not only by stage of growth but by species, climate and geography. Green grass differs in quality due to differences in soil fertility, rainfall and heat. Cool season grasses grow as soon as it is warm enough to pull them out of their winter dormancy. They mature at different rates and basically quit growing when it gets too hot. Wheat and rye pastures along with brome and fescue pastures are good examples of cool season grasses. Yearlings are generally removed from wheat and rye pastures before a protein supplement is needed. It is rather obvious when wheat and rye start to mature that their forage component is now straw. Brome and fescue grasses do not mature as quickly or as dramatically as wheat and rye. These pastures do however decrease in protein enough to justify a protein supplement. As grasses mature, their protein content and the fiber becomes lower in digestibility. Providing supplemental protein will increase fiber digestibility in addition to providing protein to the animal.
Feed grains and commodity prices are high and the latest words of wisdom echoing throughout the industry indicate that cow-calf and stocker operators should look at all possible options to maximize performance from their forage programs. There are numerous ways to manage your forages as well as supplemental inputs. These can vary considerably by geographic regions, cattle type, grazing and climate conditions or land resources that you have available. I have put together a list of five ways to help you get the most from your forages. Our team of bloggers will be looking at expanding on these areas over the next five weeks to help you more fully evaluate ways to maximize returns to your beef cattle operation.
Most producers can’t wait for green grass to appear in the Spring and cattle to be turned out on pastures soon after. The demands for supplemental nutrition and feeding programs go by the wayside and thoughts turn to farming activities, breeding cows, making hay, etc. It is a great time to be in the cattle business as your herd does what it does best, turn forages into lean red meat or breed up for next year’s crop.
I recently had a visit with a 20+ year veteran of the livestock premix business. He told me his customers seem to be just as profitable, or more so, when feed costs are high. I’m sure that statement would open up a lot of argument, but there may be some interesting perspectives before jumping to any conclusions. One of which may be that fine tuning and optimizing nutrition for the best return on investment would make sense when profit opportunities are highest (high market value of cattle) or when managing overall high input costs.
Despite snowflakes flying through the air as I write this, spring green up has started in many parts of the country or is soon to come. With St. Patrick’s Day and spring arriving, it’s time to Celebrate the Green! Part of celebrating the green is looking at having strategies in place to make this a “green” and profitable year in your farm business.