Beef Grist - Fall 2022

Page 1

Beef Grist


Dear Friends, I trust you enjoyed the beautiful summer we experienced this year and hope you weren’t too negatively affected by the spotty dry conditions pocketed around Ontario. The county of Brant, where I farm some Herefords and cash crop, was particularly dry in July and August although other surrounding counties fared much better. Despite these conditions it seems most beef producers have been able to gather enough hay for the coming winter months, either from a decent crop of their own, left over hay from last year’s crop, or found a neighbour willing to sell extra. When considering how to better graze your cattle for next year (provided you’re not a feedlot producer) make sure to read Tom Bowman’s article on the value and opportunity of cover crops or grazing corn stubble. While not always easy, this can be a great benefit to your herd and land. Koryn Hare, a graduate student at U of G, has provided a great article reminding us about the value of colostrum for our newborn calves. Hare’s article prompts us to consider how we can intentionally feed cows to provide an even more energy dense colostrum for our 2023 calves. Be sure to read this article as you plan what to feed your cows pre-calving this winter. Wishing you all a prosperous fall and blessed Christmas season. Sincerely, David Ross, VP & CMO


by: KORYN S. HARE, M. A. STEELE, AND K. M. WOOD Department of Animal Biosciences, University of Guelph, Guelph, ON


alving season is a demanding 24-7 job: we check our cows frequently, making sure that they are not taking too long to calve and intervening when needed. Next, once the calf is on the ground, we ensure that mom is mothering up and that the newborn does not get chilled and is on their feet as soon as possible. Finally, we make sure that they get the colostrum they so critically need at that age to establish their immune system. But how often do we think about the quality of colostrum our cows are producing? Are there steps we can take before calving to make sure mom produces the best colostrum she can for her calf?

much body fat the cow was mobilizing before calving, leaving less to be incorporated into her colostrum. While this is a good strategy for the cow to maintain condition, it might not be beneficial for the calf since newborns need energy-dense colostrum to support their metabolism; particularly, during the cold, wintery months during which they are born. In a follow-up study, we found that additional protein (both at 100% or 110% of requirements) at the same energy of the previous trial supported maintaining cow body weight, but in this study colostrum composition or passive transfer of antibodies to calves was not impacted. After looking at dietary protein, we started looking at dietary energy with a special interest in energy sources that would increase the cow’s blood glucose before calving. In Current studies at the Ontario Beef Research Center (University of Guelph), we fed cows and heifers three diets 8 weeks before calving that were designed to provide low, normal, and high amounts of energy. We used high-moisture corn grain and whole corn in the normal and high energy diets to increase the dietary energy density. We undertook milking a third of the cows after they calved using a portable milking machine, weighed the colostrum and sent samples for analysis (shown in Figure 1). A



Figure 1. A. Milking teat claw attached to the udder of an Angus-Simmental crossbred beef cow at the Ontario Beef Research Center.

How can late gestation nutrition help? At the University of Guelph and University of Saskatchewan, we have been working to understand what nutritional factors influence beef cow colostrum quality. We first started looking at the protein content of a beef cow’s diet during her third trimester. With adding more protein, 8 weeks before calving, we expected that the cow would produce more antibodies and therefore have greater antibody levels in her colostrum. We took colostrum samples at calving and analyzed the fat, protein, lactose, and antibody content. While extra dietary protein (~30% more than requirements) did not change the amount of antibodies in colostrum, we found it reduced the concentration of fat in her colostrum by half (7.0 to 3.4% colostrum fat, normal-protein compared to high-protein diet). What likely happened, is that feeding more protein reduced how

GRAND VALLEY FORTIFIERS LTD. PO Box 726 Cambridge ON N1R 5W6 1-800-567-4400

B. Full colostrum yield from a primiparous Angus-Simmental crossbred beef cow. C. Bottle-feeding colostrum back to an Angus calf after sampling colostrum.

From this energy supplementation study, we still decreased the amount of fat that was present in colostrum as we fed more energy and found that the cows on the high-energy treatment may have had some metabolic challenges that led them to mobilize their body fat regardless. However, unlike the protein supplementation study, when more energy was added to the diet, we decreased the colostrum protein concentration and increased the amount of colostrum lactose, likely because the cows had more circulating glucose to form lactose in the colostrum. The increased lactose led to greater colostrum yields with additional energy supplementation which, in turn, diluted the concentration of the rest of the colostrum

Ian Ross, President & CEO | David Ross, VP & CMO Mark Bowman | Jeff Keunen | Kathleen Shore, Ruminant Nutritionists Curtis Ebanks, Publisher

components. However, when we corrected for these differences in yield, cows that were fed more energy produced more fat and protein than their companions that were fed a lower energy diet, meaning that their calf had more nutrients in colostrum available to them right at birth. More importantly, we showed with energy supplementation, it is possible to affect antibody concentration in beef cow colostrum. We found that the antibody concentration in colostrum decreased when we provided the cows with more energy before calving. However, similar to the nutrient components, this is a dilution effect because the cows that ate higher energy diets also produced more total colostrum, therefore producing more total antibodies in their colostrum then the others. So, what can we take away from these studies? Nutrition in late gestation is an important factor that affects the quality of colostrum that beef cows produce. Dietary energy appears to have more impact on colostrum than dietary protein when supplemented 8 weeks before calving and can increase the total amount of nutrients and antibodies that are available to beef calves at their first meal. That said, we cannot discount the importance of adequate dietary protein because cows need to have enough protein in their diet to support body condition and make use of the extra energy they are provided before calving. These changes in colostrum quality can also potentially have longer lasting impacts on calf health, growth, and performance. Continuing research in our lab groups is trying to better understand these lasting impacts and what the best strategy to “supercharge” colostrum.


by: TOM BOWMAN Beef Specialist Grand Valley Fortifiers


ith the decline in availability of pastureland in the province and higher costs of supplementing grain, many producers have looked at alternative grazing as an option to feed animals at a low cost. Alternative grazing methods help to extend the grazing season. Two of the most common approaches include grazing cover crops and grazing corn stalks after harvest. While these are great opportunities for producers to extend their feed at a2low 0 2cost, 2 there are certain considerations they must take into account to make these systems work.

In recent years producers have had success putting cattle out onto cornstalks after a corn crop has been harvested. The cattle can eat what is left behind by the combine - the extra corn cobs and grain is a great energy source and cleans up the field in preparation for the next season or if in a rotation the next crop. As a rule of thumb, producers should expect to graze cows at a rate of one acre/cow/month depending on corn grain yield. Producers should make some considerations about this, the first being that they will need to supplement cows with a protein source such as dry hay, distillers grains or canola meal. Another thing to consider is the amount of grain corn which is still in the field. If there is too much, then this can lead to acidosis and grain overload problems. The last consideration is the weather. Ontario can be unpredictable so make sure that cows are not damaging soil structure if it is too wet or if in the winter months, that there isn’t too much snow as cows can only graze corn stalks up to 3-4 inches of snow. Both alternative grazing methods are great opportunities for producers, however their crop fields may not be adequately setup for grazing cattle so producers need to plan how they will maintain adequate perimeter fencing and how they will provide water. In conclusion, these alternative grazing methods have a list of benefits for both the cattle producer and cash cropper. Cattle producers can enjoy an opportunity to increase their available low-cost feed sources and cash croppers have the benefit of increasing soil health and biodiversity.


Dear Friends

In order to help us provide you with the best service possible during the holiday season, please be advised of the days we’ll be closed.

A N D Order N E early W Yto Eensure A R you ’ S don’t S Crun H Eout. DULE





DEC. DEC. 26 26

DEC. DEC. 27 27

JAN. JAN. 02 02

JAN. JAN.03, 03,2023 2023





Thank you for your business in 2022. Beef cows grazing corn stalks after harvest.

Growing cover crops has become more common place as crop farmers have realized the agronomic and environmental benefits of implementing them. Some cover crops that can be grazed include mixes of oats, peas, rye, radishes, turnips, beets, clover, buckwheat, and sorghum. The cover crops that have many different agronomic benefits include peas and clover which fix nitrogen into the soil, radishes, beets, and turnips which can help soil structure, and rye and buckwheat which can help to suppress weeds. Many producers have realized the benefit of grazing cattle on cover crops. Cattle can reduce the amount of residue left and cycle the plant nutrients into a more available form benefiting the following cash crop, as well as graze many weed species. Being able to put cattle onto a cover crop can help to provide late season grazing as well as providing producers the opportunity to give their pastures a rest while the cows are on the cover crop. There are specific considerations producers should consider when grazing cover crops. First, make sure that producers aren’t becoming too reliant on cover crops as a feed source as there will be less feed in dry years or when there isn’t a good cover crop catch. Second, select the cover crop species to ensure they will not be a host for pests to subsequent cash crops. The last consideration is to make sure the cover crop species are not going to be toxic to cattle; such as species which are prone to producing high levels of nitrates during drought or frost stress.

Thought for the Day Freely Give “Freely you have received, freely give.” | Matthew 10:8b When we begin to struggle in giving what we have to others, we have forgotten where we received our possessions. Every good thing we have ever received has come from God (James 1:17). All that we have acquired has been dependent upon His grace (1 Cor. 4:7) If you struggle to give freely to others, you have become more attached to the gift than to the Giver. The account of the rich young ruler shows the tragedy of becoming too attached to worldly treasures (Luke 8:18 – 24). Take time to reflect on all that you have been blessed with, and freely give. - Adapted from Experiencing God Day by Day, Henry T. Blackaby & Richard Blackaby

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.