Have you ever wondered who gets paid to think up names for cars, or any new product? You know, great names like Charger, Road Runner, Chevelle, Mustang, Cougar, and Corvette. Those names had some meaning behind them, and hopefully it translated quickly, when you heard someone mention them.
Weather has an enormous impact on our industry; everything from precipitation concerns to temperature extremes affecting our crops and livestock. This past winter was one for the record books, now it is time to prepare for warmer temperatures and reduce the impact of heat stress on your dairy and feedlot cattle. We now have a better understanding of the impact that brief periods of low rumen pH can have on animal performance. Periods of low rumen pH can result in reduced rumen function, death of rumen bacteria and systemic endotoxemia.
Regardless of your address, we can all agree that it’s been a long winter. Even though we’re officially in spring, it doesn’t look or feel like it in southern Minnesota. The long range forecasts are calling for cooler than average temperatures in most areas with average precipitation. The combination of cool weather and rain is perfect for cool season pastures to take off. While the green pastures are a welcome sight, they can potentially cause grass tetany.
I look forward to March most every year, even if the weather and my favorite basketball teams are so unpredictable. March Basketball is so unpredictable that a group is offering a BILLION dollar challenge for a perfect bracket. Good luck! The odds are against you. For dairy and beef producers some things in March are fairly certain; Fighting a few weeks of MUD and several days when Mother Nature will be confused about starting spring or holding on to winter. Weather changes impact feed intake and increase health risks for cattle. The odds of your cattle having consistent eating patterns or feed delivery in March are about as good as me have a winning basketball bracket with my UK Wildcats going all the way. We can’t control Mother Nature, however there are several CRYSTALYX® Self Fed Supplements that can help your livestock maintain performance through March Madness.
It’s no secret that Beef cow nutrient requirements start increasing prior to calving and continue up until the cow herd is bred. In spring calving herds many producers have matched these increasing nutrient needs with their calving season to take advantage of these actively growing pastures to help limit the amount of supplemental inputs needed. There has been a wide variety of conditions across the US this past winter with extremely dry conditions in the west and very cold temperatures in many other parts of the country. This is a strong reason for concern going into calving and supports the need to evaluate your nutrition program in order to ensure calf health and performance and timely rebreeding. Reports from the Extension Service in SW Missouri this winter have indicated reduced conception rates and even death losses in cows from the colder than normal weather conditions. Lingering cold temperatures could easily result in reduced cow body condition if energy adjustments were not made jeopardizing both calving and rebreeding. Shortcuts in the area of nutrition now can seriously affect your profitability given the current calf prices.
Early on as I entered into my Feed Industry career following a number of positions in the University Extension Service, I had the opportunity to participate in some Dealer focus group sessions. We were evaluating what they and their customers valued in non-confined Beef cattle supplement programs and primarily cow herd supplements. As we talked through what was available on the market, one concern that was mentioned has stuck with me over the years and is in regard to the packaging or containers used in free-choice or self-fed supplements.
Impact of FDA’s Plan to Phase Out Antibiotic Growth Promotion Use in Animal Production
Part of my “casual” reading this week was the FDA Guidance For Industry (GFI) #213, which was released on December 11, 2013. This GFI outlines the voluntary 3 year plan to phase out the feeding of antimicrobials for growth promotion and increased feed efficiency in animal production while maintaining the use of antimicrobials for the prevention and treatment of disease. The other component of this plan is to increase veterinary oversight using the Veterinarian Feed Directive (VFD).
A current buzz word in Agriculture is Precision. In crop farming it is a way to highlight the fact a new technology is being applied to a process; such as satellite linked Precision Planting and Precision Crop Nutrient Management. In animal nutrition, we also like to look for the newest thing or magic bullet. I am all for innovation and staying current with technology, but some proven methods should not be overlooked in the zeal to be new. This Precision Nutrient Delivery phrase may help some people understand and accept how low moisture block self-fed supplements like Brigade® and several of the Dairy CRYSTALYX® formulas such as Dry Cow™ Formula, Close-Up™ Formula and Transition Stress™ Formula work; even with modern ration balancing technologies.
When considering mineral supplementation, one of the more costly nutrients is phosphorus. One may be tempted to skimp on the phosphorus level in a mineral, thinking that forages will make up for it. That can be a costly decision when you consider that phosphorus has a significant role in reproductive efficiency and growth and it’s the most prevalent mineral deficiency in grazing livestock.
My last blog dealt with heat stress and dairy cattle. Heat stress will impact the beef cow and growing cattle. The most obvious negative impact is when 1000 pound fat cattle start dropping in the feed lot. However, reproductive and immune function will be can be diminished due to heat stress. Now is the time to prepare for management and nutrition changes that will help our beef cattle handle the heat.