Nutritionists, along with producers, are always on the lookout for the next big thing to really improve livestock performance. In the case of nutritionists, we’re looking for products that pack a bigger nutritional punch per pound. Organic trace minerals are one of those advances that do bring a little more to the table. But what is an organic trace mineral?
USDA’s Weekly Crop Condition Report includes pasture conditions for each state. Pasture conditions are currently as poor for this time of year as seen in the last 16 years. The data for the whole US and selected states in cattle country are listed below. Some of the drier and warmer months of the grazing season are still to come and expectations are that pasture conditions will continue to decline.
Vitamin D is often known as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is synthesized in response to exposure to sunlight. There are two major natural sources of vitamin D, cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) and ergocalciferol (vitamin D2). Vitamin D3 is synthesized in the skin of many herbivores and omnivores upon exposure to UV light from sunlight. Vitamin D2 is not found in green forages, but is formed when the dying leaves are exposed to sunlight. Thus, sun cured hay is a good dietary source of vitamin D2. Livestock utilize vitamin D3 much more efficiently than vitamin D2.
Parasites are a drain on cattle performance and your wallet. While most people may not include flies in the parasite category, they should. Horn flies, in particular, are the most economically important external parasite in cattle production with estimated losses averaging $1 billion annually. Prevention and control are the keys to tipping the scale back in your favor.
Fescue toxicity is the most costly grass-related disease in the United States with production losses exceeding $600 million per year. An endophyte fungus within the fescue plant causes fescue toxicosis. This endophyte produces alkaloids that cause adverse symptoms in grazing livestock including: decreased weight gain or even weight loss, reduced milk production, higher body temperature, increased respiration rates, rough hair coat, unthrifty appearance, loss of blood flow to extremities, excessive salivation and poor reproduction.
We would like to continue with our theme of maximizing profitability from forages as we head into the summer and fall. The importance of making the most from your forage base is a key factor in reducing additional expenses as well as optimizing calf performance and cow reproduction. Summer and Fall grazing conditions bring upon new opportunities for capturing added value from your forages. I have outlined a few of those opportunities below that can pay dividends for most beef producers. We will also expand on these areas over the next 5 weeks to help provide you more information to determine if they have the potential to help you with your bottom line.
Rotational grazing is one of the best ways to maximize forage utilization by managing stocking rate and pasture size. The reality is pasture ground is hard to find and quite valuable. In some area, I see planters working fields that had been pasture for the last 50 years. With rotational grazing the concept is to divide the grazing area into paddocks that a group of animals can consume within 7 to 10 days.
Your largest feed expense is stored forage. Your hay and silage is worth more than ever before. Efforts to improve your management of forage storage will result in a good return on your investment.
Utilizing Annual crops as feedstuffs for livestock is a common practice, and in today’s environment of higher forage and pasture costs, it really makes sense. Many and maybe most livestock production systems today involve some sort of farming aspect to the operation. Yes, producing hay is considered farming in some circles but that’s not the point of this blog. In sustainable ranching practices, having the forage resource available and not having to purchase significant amounts of additional forages or supplements is a key indicator of profitability.
We have come through a very mild winter and are off to an early spring with record setting high temperatures. A negative affect is an early emergence of flies. This will be a year where an integrated fly control program will be needed for effective fly control. The tools for fly control include sanitation, feed through products, sprays, dust, rubs, fly tags and various fly traps. Determine which fly is the problem because control measures will vary by species. The early warm temperatures may allow the fly population to get an earlier than normal start. Below is a description of the common flies that impact cattle performance.