Beef Grist Spring 2017

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Dear Friends, Over the last few weeks it would seem that we have been living in the days of Noah, with a significant amount of rainfall, preventing almost everyone from getting on the land. This week however, the sun has returned and we are encouraged that spring and some warmer weather really is going to arrive. The two articles contained in this summer issue of the Beef Grist are particularly helpful leading into the growing season. We are grateful to Joel Bagg for sharing his knowledge on how to maximize the value of your forage and Mark Bowman for his reminder that feedlot cattle also require minerals and vitamins in order to perform well. We look forward and hope that all will again be blessed with a bountiful harvest this year. Wishing you good farming and safe planting!. Sincerely on behalf of all our Grand Valley Fortifiers’ staff, Jim Ross, Founder & Chairman


by: JOEL BAGG Forage Development Specialist & District Sales Manager, Quality Seeds Ltd @JoelBagg


ith higher land costs, tighter forage inventories and stronger hay prices, increasing yield is becoming key to reducing our cost of producing forage. Three factors limiting our forage yields are: old stands, poor establishment and low soil fertility. Good soil fertility is essential to both yield and persistence of forage crops. Phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) fertility management is often overlooked, but is fundamental to producing forage to feed livestock and being competitive in today’s forage market. Fertilizer prices are currently lower than they have been in the recent past, and it may be a good time to catch up on P and K fertility. Soil Testing Soil testing and knowing how much P and K are available in the soil to start with is critical. Take a representative soil sample, send it to an accredited lab and use the results to determine optimum fertilizer rates. Keep records. Monitor whether fertility levels are increasing, decreasing or staying in an optimum range over time. Soil samples should be taken at least every 3 years. The time and effort it takes to do the soil sampling seems to be an obstacle for some, but with the cost of fertilizer there is likely no greater potential return on the cost and extra effort. The laboratory and mailing costs plus an incentive for the kids to do the sampling for you is small relative to your fertilizer bill and potential yield increases. Refer to OMAFRA Factsheet 06-031 “Soil Sampling & Analysis” . Relationship Between Soil Test & Forage Yield When you get your soil test report, check the “sodium bicarbonate” phosphorus (P) and “ammonium acetate” potassium (K) soil test levels (ppm). Use these tests, as other tests (Bray or Mehlich) cannot be interpreted using Ontario calibration data. How do your P and K soil test levels look? Research shows that the yield loss of alfalfa is significant when P soil test levels are much below 12 ppm and K soil tests are below 120 ppm. The yield losses at low soil test levels are significant. A positive yield response from applying fertilizer will be seen when soil tests are below these optimum levels. Identifying fields with the lowest soil tests can help you target those fields to get the most return from your fertilizer dollar investment. On the flip side, the yield curve at high soil fertility levels is fairly flat. Don’t expect any significant yield increase from applying fertilizer once the soil test have been built up to higher levels. In these cases, you can choose to apply fertilizer to replace the nutrients removed by the crop to prevent future nutrient deficiencies, but don’t expect extra yield from that maintenance application. GRAND VALLEY FORTIFIERS LTD. PO Box 726 Cambridge ON N1R 5W6 1-800-567-4400

Figure 1: Potassium deficiency in alfalfa is indicated by small, light dots near margins of the leaflets. (Source – OMAFRA)

Crop Removal of P and K Forage crops remove a lot of nutrients and therefore have high soil nutrient requirements. With an alfalfa-grass mixture, a typical amount of P and K removed per tonne of hay harvested is equivalent to about 13.5 lbs (6.1 kg) of P205 and 54 lbs (24.6 kg) of K2O. As an example, assuming a mixed stand with a modest yield of 3.2 tonnes per acre per year, hay will remove about 43 lbs (20 kg) of P205 and 173 lbs (78 kg) of K2O every year. There is about four times the removal of K 2O than P205, so K is often the more limiting soil nutrient. Unlike nitrogen, forage crops cannot generate P or K out of thin air. Without replacing P and K with manure or commercial fertilizer, the soil tests will drop quickly. Because P and K removal is so significant, forage fertility needs to be managed within the life of the stand. As an example, let’s assume that it takes about 35 lbs/ac of P205 and 20 lbs/ac of K2O to move the soil tests by 1 ppm on some soils (these amounts will vary according to soil type and conditions). After only 4 years of harvesting forage without applying fertilizer or liquid manure, the P soil test could drop by 5 ppm and the K by 35 ppm. If the soil tests drop below the optimum levels during the life of the stand, this will significantly reduce forage yields. We also need to maintain soil nutrient levels for the next crops in the rotation. At lower soil test levels, this “soil mining” is not sustainable. Yet it goes on in many hay fields every year. There is a wide range of soil fertility levels found in hay fields across the province. Dairy farms that apply a lot of manure typically have higher P and K levels. However, K deficiency has become more common, even on some dairy farms! Hay fields that are infrequently (or never) rotated and seldom (or never) receive manure or commercial fertilizer, are typically very low in soil fertility and yield. In a soil fertility survey by the East-Central SCIA, 30% of the fields tested were below 10 ppm P205, while an astounding 81% of fields were below 100 ppm K2O! In a 2012 OMAFRA alfalfa tissue test survey, 37% of the samples were below the critical level of 1.7% K, indicating a deficiency of soil K. Ian Ross, President | Jim Ross, Chairman Clarke Walker, VP & COO Mark Bowman/Jeff Keunen, Ruminant Nutritionist David Ross/Patti Bobier, Publishers

Other Suggestions If manure is applied, reduce the fertilizer application according to the amount of P and K in the manure. There is beginning to be some significant yield responses in Ontario when applying sulphur (S) to alfalfa. In field trials, the yield response observed to applied S has sometimes been dramatic, while in others there is no response. Tissue sampling of alfalfa is a useful diagnostic tool in predicting whether there will be an economic response to applying S. Refer to “Sulphur On Alfalfa” at blog/7-sulphur-on-alfalfa. n


by: MARK BOWMAN Senior Ruminant Nutritionist, Grand Valley Fortifiers




Natures Blend Garlic Beef Cattle premix


hen it comes to growing and finishing feedlot cattle energy intake is king. The more energy cattle consume through high intake of energy rich feeds the faster and more efficiently they will grow and finish with higher carcass quality. Along with energy, protein intake and quality is also crucial to achieve maximum gain in these cattle. And of course, cattle being ruminants, adequate roughage intake is needed to keep cattle healthy and on feed. Feedlot managers rightly focus on these major nutritional requirements when choosing feed ingredient sources and feedlot diet formulations. Often overlooked are minerals and vitamins which are required by cattle for optimal health and performance. Minerals can be divided into two categories; macro minerals that are required in larger quantities and micro or trace minerals that are required in very small amounts. Macro minerals required by feedlot cattle are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, chloride, potassium and sulphur and their levels are reported as percent of a feed or dry matter intake with requirements ranging from 10 – 70 grams per day. The micro minerals include zinc, manganese, copper, iodine, cobalt and selenium with requirements of a couple to several hundred milligrams per day and reported as mg/kg of a feed or dry matter intake. Calcium, phosphorus and magnesium are needed for maintenance, skeletal growth and bodyweight gain. In typical corn based feedlot diets with little or no hay calcium must be supplemented in large amounts to meet optimal requirements for rapid growth. Very little or no added phosphorus are usually required in typical feedlot diets and when high levels of corn co-products such as corn gluten feed and distillers grains are fed care must be taken not to feed excessive amounts of phosphorus. Cattle require larger amount of potassium than any other mineral for feed intake and maximum weight gain and may often require additional supplementation from a premix or supplement on high corn diets with urea that include very little hay or soybean meal. Sodium is essential for feed intake, maintenance and growth and must be supplemented by including adequate salt in a supplement or premix in the ration. Micro or trace minerals and fat soluble vitamins A, D and E are also required for maintenance and growth (for example: vitamin D is essential for calcium and phosphorus utilization for bone growth), but they also have very important roles for immunity and health of feedlot cattle. Amounts required for immune function and health will vary according to the amounts of stress that cattle are under, everything from disease challenges, shipping and handling, to overcrowding and heat or cold stress. The greater the challenges from these stressors, the greater the requirements of cattle for micro minerals such as selenium, copper and zinc and for vitamins A and E. Hence, although we will seldom ever see classical deficiency symptoms, even in poorly supplemented cattle, health and performance may suffer when vitamins and minerals are supplemented at less than optimum levels. Feeding a superior quality premix or supplement more highly fortified with essential minerals and vitamins can help to maintain better cattle health and improve performance, especially in times of disease or environmental stress. When it comes to micro minerals, source of minerals is just as important as the amount of minerals that are supplemented. Organic sources such as amino acid complexed zinc and selenium yeast are much more highly available for absorption and result in superior health and performance benefits compared to the normal inorganic sources of these minerals. These can be very beneficial for improving immunity and health in highly stressed animals such as receiving calves during the first month on feed. Additionally, numerous research trials and commercial feedlot experience

have shown that amino acid complexed zinc, Availa-Zn, helps to improve foot health in feedlot cattle, reducing incidence of foot rot and increasing average daily gain and feed efficiency. Water soluble vitamins, the B vitamins, are produced by rumen bacteria in cattle and do not need to be added in premixes or supplements for normal health and performance. However, a couple of these vitamins, biotin and thiamine may be beneficial to supplement in some cases. Biotin is very important for strong hoof horn growth and for energy metabolism in cattle. Research in both dairy and beef cows shows that supplementing biotin reduces incidence of hoof claw disorders and in the case of dairy cattle, increases milk production due to improved energy metabolism. The application in feedlot cattle is fairly obvious – feeding biotin along with Availa-Zn may improve hoof health and increase rate of gain and feed efficiency resulting from reduced lameness and improved energy metabolism. Feedlot cattle on high grain diets are sometimes prone to thiamine deficiency and a nervous system disease called polioencephalomalacia. Thiamine, which has a central role in carbohydrate metabolism, is injected to treat cattle with this disease and some nutritionists recommend feeding thiamine to help prevent deficiency on high grain finishing rations and reduce the risk of this disease, although this has not been proven in research trials. Vitamin E and selenium are both major anti-oxidants that, in addition to their key roles for immunity and health, also have a significant impact on meat quality. Supplementing finishing cattle with higher amounts of vitamin E and feeding a selenium yeast source are well proven to improve the colour and increase the shelf life of beef. In conclusion, always be sure that your feedlot cattle are receiving optimum amounts of minerals and vitamins, not so much to prevent deficiency, but to maximize health and performance. Strategic feeding of higher quality premixes containing organic mineral sources and extra vitamins really pays off for highly stressed cattle such as receiving calves. Consider inclusion of Availa-Zn and biotin for reducing lameness and increasing rate of gain and feed efficiency in feedlot cattle – research shows that it pays. Failure to optimize mineral and vitamin nutrition can cost you performance and money. n For more information on Grand Valley Fortifiers Beef mineral products or if you desire to review your current mineral program, please call us directly at 1-877-567-4400. We are here to help maximize your herd health.

This is a new beef cattle premix that has been designed to:

• Enhance palatability • Help reduce fly pressure (repel insects) Available in 25 KG bags for $49.50/ bag or $1979/ tonne* When ordering please ask for product number B154300 *price based on order delivered in Southwestern Ontario prior to cash discount.

Thought for theDay Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. James 5:7

Stay connected to find out about upcoming events, new products & exciting promotions. /grandvalleyfortifiers @grandvalley


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