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APRIL 2016

GET YOURS Details Inside


Flexible Grazing Sealing in the Quality ABC’s of Grass Management

st e B e th f o t Bes Roping 23 Calf ge a p n ils o a t e D

SPRINGFIELD, MO Permit #96 P O Box 634 Carthage, MO 64836



APRIL 2016



APRIL 2016

Field Representatives



e’re having a little trouble keeping the fat cattle trade propped up. They’ve been trading in the $136.00 to $139.00 range. We probably need to be selling them around $140 at least to get any confidence back in that market. Feeder calf prices and the small yearlings that can go to grass or to a backgrounding yard where feed is fairly cheap are just holding their own. As we go into spring and start selling fat calves right off the cow, I think we’ll see this calf market trend lower. We might have another week or two of good prices, but a lot of the buyers are getting their orders full for spring and summer grazing. Once that happens, the value of the cattle will go down. We’re just treading water right now. So, if you’ve got some calves in green condition that need to be sold before summer, you probably should go ahead and sell them. The yearling cattle will

likely just trade sideways as long as the fat cattle market holds where it is. You’re going to have to pay attention to the market and the situation at hand to figure out how to make some money in this situation. Replacement cow trade is still pretty good, especially if you’ve got quality cattle. Everybody tells me the bull market is off about $500 from where it was a year ago, but the yearling cattle are off about that much, too. So, the bull market is running sideways as well, just following the yearling and calf markets. I expect stock cow and bull prices will hold together as long as it rains. Slaughter cow and bull trade has gotten quite a bit better. June is typically the time when we see those prices gain momentum, so I think we’re on pretty solid ground there. Spring is here. It’s time to keep rolling on.


Bailey Moore: Granby, MO M(417)540-4343

Skyler Moore: Mount Vernon, MO M(417)737-2615

ARKANSAS Dolf Marrs: Hindsville, AR H(479)789-2798, M(479)790-2697

MISSOURI Dan Haase: Pierce City, MO M(417)476-2132

Billy Ray Mainer: Branch, AR M(479)518-6931

Jim Hacker: Bolivar, MO H(417)326-2905, M(417)328-8905

Jr. Smith: Melbourne, AR M(870-373-1150

Bruce Hall: Mount Vernon, MO H(417)466-7334, M(417)466-5170

Kent Swinney: Gentry, AR H(479)736-4621, M(479)524-7024

Mark Harmon: Mount Vernon, MO M(417)316-0101

KANSAS Chris Martin (Video Rep): Alma, KS M(785)499-3011

Bryon Haskins: Lamar, MO H(417)398-0012, M(417)850-4382

Alice Myrick: Mapleton, KS H(620)743-3681, M(620)363-0740 Bob Shanks: Columbus, KS H(620)674-3259, M(620)674-1675 LOUISIANA James Kennedy: DeRidder, LA M(337)274-7406 CATTLE RECEIVING STATION OKLAHOMA Russell Boles: Watson, OK M(903)276-1544 Chester Palmer: Miami, OK H(918)542-6801, M(918)540-4929 Dennis Raucher M(417)316-0023 John Simmons: Westville, OK M(918)519-9129, M(417)310-6348 Shane Stierwalt: Shidler, OK M(918)688-5774 Troy Yoder: Chouteau, OK M(918)640-8219 MISSOURI Rick Aspegren: Mountain Grove, MO M(417)547-2098 Clay Barnhouse: Bolivar, MO M(417)777-1855 Sherman Brown: Marionville, MO H(417)723-0245, M(417)693-1701 Joel Chaffin: Ozark, MO M(417)299-4727 Rick Chaffin: Ozark, MO H(417)485-7055, M(417)849-1230 Jack Chastain: Bois D’Arc, MO H(417)751-9580, M(417)849-5748 Ted Dahlstrom, DVM: Staff Vet Stockyards (417)548-3074 Office (417)235-4088 Tim Durman: Seneca, MO H(417) 776-2906, M(417)438-3541 Jerome Falls: Sarcoxie, MO H(417)548-2233, M(417)793-5752 Skyler Fisher: Collins, MO M(417) 298-9051 CATTLE RECEIVING STATION Nick Flannigan: Fair Grove, MO M(417)316-0048 Kenneth & Mary Ann Friese: Friedheim, MO H(573)788-2143, M(573)225-7932 CATTLE RECEIVING STATION Fred Gates: Seneca, MO H(417)776-3412, M(417)437-5055 Brent Gundy: Walker, MO H(417)465-2246, M(417)321-0958

Doc Haskins: Diamond, MO H(417)325-4136, M(417)437-2191 Mark Henry: Hurley, MO H(417)369-6171, M(417)464-3806 J.W. Henson: Conway, MO H(417)589-2586, M(417)343-9488 CATTLE RECEIVING STATION Joe David Hudson: Jenkins, MO H(417)574-6944, M(417)-342-4916 Steve Hunter: Jasper, MO H(417)525-4405, M(417)439-1168 Larry Jackson: Carthage, MO H(417)358-7931, M(417)850-3492 Jim Jones: Crane, MO H(417)723-8856, M(417)844-9225 Chris Keeling: Purdy, MO H(417)442-4975, M(417)860-8941 Kelly Kissire: Anderson, MO H(417)845-3777, M(417)437-7622 Larry Mallory: Miller, MO H(417)452-2660, M(417)461-2275 Kenny Ogden: Lockwood, MO H(417)537-4777, M(417)466-8176 Jason Pendleton: Stotts City, MO H(417)285-3666, M(417)437-4552 Charlie Prough: El Dorado Springs, MO H(417)876-4189, M(417)876-7765 Russ Ritchart: Jasper, MO H(417)394-2020, M(417)237-0988 Lonnie Robertson: Galena, MO M(417)844-1138 Justin Ruddick: Anderson, MO M(417)737-2270 Alvie Sartin: Seymour, MO M(417)840-3272 CATTLE RECEIVING STATION Jim Schiltz: Lamar, MO H(417)884-5229, M(417)850-7850 David Stump: Jasper, MO H(417)537-4358, M(417)434-5420 Matt Sukovaty: Bolivar, MO H(417)326-4618, M(417)399-3600 Brandon Tichenor: Fairview, MO M(417)540-4717 Mike Theurer: Lockwood, MO H(417)232-4358, M(417)827-3117 Tim Varner: Washburn, MO H(417)826-5645, M(417)847-7831 OFFICE: (417)548-2333 Sara Engler VIDEO CATTLE PRODUCTION Matt Oschlaeger: Mount Vernon, MO M(417)466-8438 APRIL 2016


inside this issue About the Cover

Dividing pastures with electric fencing can get you more, better quality grass. Learn some tricks of the trade on page 26. —Cover photo by Joann Pipkin

Features 14 16 18 22 24 26 28 30 32 34 38 42

So, You Thought You Were Buying the Family Farm Not Your Neighbor’s Grazing System Sealing in the Quality Beyond Fescue A Dance with Grass Keep it Simple Flexible Grazing Icing on the Cake A Life-Changer ABC’s of Grass Management Plagued by Poison Pastures Quantity or Quality?

In Every Issue 3 5 6 8 10 44 45

View from the Block Beef in Brief On Target with Justin Sexten Health Watch with K-State’s Dr. David Rethorst Next Generation with Darren Frye Event Roundup Market Watch

Contact Us

Publisher/Advertising: Mark Harmon | Email: Phone: 417-548-2333 | Mobile: 417-316-0101 Fax: 417-548-2370 Editor/Design/Layout: Joann Pipkin | Email: Ad Deadline: 2nd Monday of Each Month for Next Month’s Issue Cattlemen’s News, PO Box 634, Carthage, MO 64836 Subcription questions can be answered by calling 417-548-2333. Although we strive to maintain the highest journalistic ethics, Joplin Regional Stockyards limits its responsibilities for any errors, inaccuracies or misprints in advertisements or editorial copy. Advertisers and advertising agencies assume liability for all content of advertisements printed, and also assume responsibility for any claims arising from such advertisement made against the Stockyards and/or its publication.

If you wish to discontinue a subscription to Cattlemen’s News, please send request or address label to: Cattlemen’s News - PO Box 634, Carthage, MO 64836

Cattlemen’s News, published by Joplin Regional Stockyards, is a nuts and bolts news magazine dedicated to helping cattle producers add value to their operations. From “how-to” articles to economics and industry trends, our mission is to put today’s producers in touch with the information and products that will make them profitable for tomorrow. Published monthly. Circulation 10,000.

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APRIL 2016

beef in brief Missouri Beef Referendum Vote Takes Place this Month The St. Louis Post Dispatch and The Warrensburg Daily StarJournal report 8,850 beef producers registered to vote in the Missouri beef checkoff referendum that takes place this month. In 2014, Missouri had approximately 59,000 beef producers. The referendum will determine whether beef producers will pay an additional $1 per head checkoff for cattle sold in the state. The Missouri Department of Agriculture is conducting the referendum and will mail ballots to registered producers on April 4. Those ballots must be returned by April 15 with results announced April 25. Beef producers currently pay $1 per head checkoff to the U.S. Beef Checkoff program, which returns 50 percent to Missouri for education, promotion and research. —Source: St. Louis Post Dispatch.

$2.4 Million to Expand Cover Crops on Missouri Farmland The Missouri Department of Agriculture has received $2.4 million to expand the use of no-till and cover crops in Missouri as part of USDA’s Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP). The funds will be used to assist Missouri farmers and ranchers plant 20,000 acres in cover crops annually. The state project, titled “Cover Crops for Soil Health and Water Quality” will expand the understanding of soil conservation by encouraging producers to consider land management practices that address both soil health and water quality resource concerns. This project will help expand the use of cover crops and no-till management throughout the state. With help from partner agencies, the department has established a goal of 20,000 acres planted in cover crops annually on acreage that qualify as highly erodible and/or have organic matter content less than 2 percent. Cost-share funding for cover crops, a demonstration farm, demonstration plots, Missouri Soybean Growers Bay Farm, NRCS Cover Crop Economics tool, Missouri Nutrient Tracking Tool and Revised Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE 2) calculations will be used to help producers understand the importance of and proper implementation of cover crops to foster successful experiences and encourage wide-spread adoption among fellow producers. —Source: Missouri Department of Agriculture.

Frazier Named to Lead NCBA The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association has named Kendal Frazier its new chief executive officer. NCBA president Tracy Brunner made the announcement, saying he is confident that the nation’s oldest and largest cattle industry association is in good hands. “Today, we can say with confidence that Kendal Frazier is the right leader for the association,” said Bruner. “With many years of experience working for state and national beef organizations, he has helped to guide our industry through some of its greatest challenges.” Frazier was raised on a diversified cattle and grain operation in south-central Kansas. He is a graduate of Kansas State University and began his career as a farm broadcaster for WIBW Radio/ Television before joining the staff at Kansas Livestock Association as director of communications. He joined the staff of the National Cattlemen’s Association in 1985 and has held several staff leadership roles during his career with the association. He most recently served as interim director of NCBA. “As CEO, I will continue to focus on working to ensure we are implementing NCBA’s contributions to the Industry Long Range Plan,” said Frazier. —Source: National Cattlemen’s Beef Association release.

APRIL 2016


On Target

Add Value to Your End Product Challenge grows to produce better-than-average cattle Story By Justin Sexten


his year I’ve had the opportunity to visit with folks from both ends of the beef supply chain: seedstock and commercial ranchers and foodservice specialists from across the nation. While both are in the beef business, the differing perspectives these groups bring to a beef and cattle conversation is interesting to say the least. Our growing beef herd brings the sharpest contrast in opinion. Ranchers are excited to have enough feed and forage to support an expanding cowherd, but they worry the increase in beef supplies will mean lower prices at the ranch gate. Record profitability and favorable weather in many areas since 2014 resulted in a quick million-head expansion in that beef herd.


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Logic says that many more calves will challenge prices. The larger supply and expected lower beef prices comes as good news to foodservice specialists, who are once again excited to feature beef on the menu at more affordable prices. Restaurants and related businesses did amazingly well last year, considering beef was 57 percent higher than pork and 207 percent higher priced than chicken. End-users who feature a USDA Select product will tend to lose beef business because of more favorable prices for pork and chicken, and less opportunity for quality differentiation. Demand continues to grow for high-quality beef because of the focus on taste, rather than trying to

win a price battle with less expensive proteins that need a sauce for acceptable flavor. Rancher and foodservice perspectives might differ, but both are ultimately selling a beef product. Both determine gross value as price times weight, yet ranchers detest lower prices and foodservice specialists have been anticipating lower prices since the start of the rebuilding phase. The difference lies in ability to increase sales. At a lower price point for beef, the foodservice specialist can begin to compete with other center-of-the-plate protein options while providing end-users with a high-quality eating experience. Lower prices allow greater sales volume to existing customers and another reason to visit new prospects with a more affordable quality product. When you talk with ranchers, they often suggest those end-users have an advantage because they can increase volume at a lower price, just passing along their costs, plus

margin, to the diner – a luxury not afforded to the rancher selling calves at auction. Yet the foodservice specialist considers the ranch options of controlling input costs, adjusting quality and quantity of calves and the resulting carcass as primary opportunities to set their own course. As winter turns to spring, the time for winter feed cost cutting comes to a close and the opportunity to add value to the next crop of calves is upon us. Ranchers have historically used cost reduction as a way to improve profitability when prices trend lower, since it’s not easy to increase production and quality in the short term. Ranchers are limited to increasing volume or number of calves produced by the ranch environment. Continued selection for greater weaning, yearling and carcass weight might offer the chance to increase production over the long term, thus growing ranch volume. Even though CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


Full Access for U.S. Beef, Beef Products to Peru Secured Agreement expected to increase beef exports to Peru, which topped $25 million in 2015


griculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman announced the U.S. government has reached agreement with the government of Peru to remove barriers for U.S. beef exports to Peru that have remained in effect since 2003, opening one of the fastest growing markets in Latin America to all American beef and beef products. In 2015, the United States exported $25.4 million in beef and beef products to Peru. Since the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA) entered into force in 2009, U.S. beef and beef products have grown substantially but have been hampered due to burdensome certification requirements installed by Peru

in 2003. This agreement, reached during Secretary Vilsack’s trade and investment mission to Peru, removes those barriers – called the export verification program – and assures American ranchers of expanded market access. Bilateral trade of agricultural, fish and forestry products between the United States and Peru topped $3 billion in 2015 and has grown more than 110 percent since 2009. The agreement reflects the United States’ negligible risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Through an exchange of let-

ters, the United States and Peru have agreed to changes in certification statements that will allow beef and beef products from all federally inspected U.S. establishments to be eligible for export to Peru, rather than only those beef and beef products from establishments that participated in the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Export Verification (EV) programs under the previous certification requirements. Since 2009, USDA has removed numerous unfair restrictions to U.S. trade to help farmers export more. Peru is a member of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which concluded negotiations in October 2015 on a historic trade agreement. Passage of TPP by the U.S. Congress will provide new market access across the board for America’s farmers and ranchers by lowering tariffs, eliminating barriers, boosting exports and supporting jobs in America’s rural economies.

ADD VALUE FROM PREVIOUS PAGE more weight drives profit, an increasing beef supply puts more pressure on quality to sustain demand. Herd management must look beyond cost cutting and simply adding cheap pounds at the lower end of Choice or Select. As the nation’s average quality grade continues to improve, the challenge to produce better-than-average cattle grows. From a mathematical perspective, half of every population is below average. If you ask a group of ranchers how many raise below-average cattle, rarely do you get an even split in the audience. As the grass turns green, take every opportunity to add value to your end product, beef, and offer your buyers aboveaverage cattle. —Source: Justin Sexten is director of supply development for Certified Angus Beef.

—Source: United States Department of Agriculture.

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APRIL 2016



Conception to Consumption Are you doing all you can to produce better beef? Story By David Rethorst for Cattlemen’s News


he production of safe, wholesome beef that will provide an enjoyable eating experience AND comes from cattle that have been properly cared for from conception to consumption This statement is designed to help us think about doing all we can to reduce the waste that occurs within the beef in-


APRIL 2016

dustry associated with weaning. As an industry, we waste many resources that have been entrusted to our care when we treat high numbers of calves with antibiotics due to mismanagement at the time of weaning. Mismanagement at weaning also leads to increased death loss each year as a result of bovine respiratory disease (BRD). The conception

to consumption philosophy implies that we should begin planning our end product before the bulls are turned out for breeding season. One of the largest potholes in the beef production road from conception to consumption is BRD associated with weaning. BRD creates potential residue, injection site and eating-experience issues, as well as perceptions in the eyes of the consumer that we aren’t doing things quite right for the cattle. To change this outcome, we need to improve the function of the immune

system of the calf at the time of weaning. While vaccine use is part of this immunological equation, it is not the complete answer. In this column, we have previously discussed fetal programming that shows protein supplementation in late pregnancy has a positive effect on the lifetime performance of the calf, trace mineral supplementation and its effects on immune system function, as well as the intake of colostrum in the prevention of calf CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


a viral vaccine, campylobacter and leptospirosis. Testing bulls for trichomoniasis at this time is recommended in many areas.

scours. Colostrum also affects how the calf’s immune system functions in the prevention of respiratory disease at the time of weaning.

Consult your veterinarian to find out what vaccines are recommended in your area. They will likely have suggestions for internal and external parasites, and fly control that can be done at this time as well.

With calving well underway in most herds, it is time to begin thinking about the next step in the prevention of respiratory disease and other nursing calf diseases as well as getting the cows and bulls prepared for breeding season and next year’s calf crop. One of the more important things to do before turnout is to make sure the bull calves get castrated. If castration is delayed until weaning or after, it creates a huge stress on these calves and increases the risk for BRD at the time of weaning. The use of a calf-appropriate implant at the time of castration of young bulls will result in calves similar in weight to calves left intact until weaning.

Proper care for from conception to consumption began with proper protein, energy and trace mineral nutrition while these young calves were in-utero. The next step along this road is to provide for the prevention of respiratory disease and other young calf diseases during the summer in preparation for weaning. Let’s do all we can to reduce sickness, death loss and antibiotic use, as well as improve consumer perception of our product, that high-quality red meat protein called BEEF. —Dr. David Rethorst is director of outreach for the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University.

Next on the pre-turnout list is the use of a viral respiratory vaccine. While both killed (KV) and modified live (MLV) vaccines are available, I prefer using a MLV in these calves, usually a 5-way product containing antigens for IBR, BVD Type I, BVD Type II, BRSV and PI-3. At this stage of life, nearly all calves have some maternal antibody present, so getting an antibody response to a vaccine is going to be difficult regardless of whether we use a KV or a MLV vaccine. Modified live vaccines have the ability to stimulate cells called “T-helper cells” that are essential in providing viral immunity for the calf when the antibody response is limited. The ability of killed viral vaccine to stimulate these cells is very limited. This stimulation primes the immune system so there is viral immunity present over the summer. Additionally, when a viral vaccine is given to these calves at weaning, the immune system is primed, and the vaccination acts as a booster rather than as a primary dose. Proper vaccination timing and administration is critical in producing an immune system that can reduce the viral load in these calves at weaning. A 7-way clostridial (blackleg) vaccine is also necessary for these young calves. The use of a pinkeye vaccine is another consideration at this time, depending on the history of the herd. Pre-breeding is an excellent opportunity to immunize the cows with viral vaccine in addition to campylobacter (vibrio) and leptospirosis vaccine. The use of a viral vaccine at this time not only protects the soon-to-be conceived calf, but also reduces the potential viral exposure of the nursing calves by reducing the viral pool in the cows. I prefer to use a MLV 5-way vaccine for the cows. This should be given 30 days prior to breeding in previously vaccinated cows and 45 days before breeding in heifers. Thirty to 60 days prior to the start of breeding season is also a good time to have breeding soundness examinations performed on the bulls to be used. A physical examination of the reproductive system, feet and legs should be done along with a semen evaluation. Vaccination of the bulls should include

APRIL 2016



Sorting Out the When, How Farm families’ biggest concerns about the future Story By Darren Frye for Cattlemen’s News

hen it comes to the future of the family farm operation, family members might face a lot of unanswered questions. It can be tough to live with a lot of uncertainty about the future, especially when you’re passionate about your family farm and want to see it continue to be strong.


Meanwhile, the next generation has worries of their own. The worries can be more intense if conversations about the future haven’t started yet. They might be reluctant to introduce the topic with the older generation, believing it’s not their place to bring it up.

If the questions remain unanswered, they can turn into worries. The older generation might worry: When will we be able to retire? Are we going to have enough income during our retirement? How will our family handle estate taxes?

Because of the unknown, they might start worrying: Do Mom and Dad want us to continue the family operation? Are they going to put a plan in place so that can happen? What will the timeline look like? Are we going to have enough money to buy into the operation, however that will happen? Will our ‘sweat equity’ – our years working in the operation – be considered?

How will we give an inheritance to both our farming and non-farming children? How will we handle the emotions that might come up during the process – our own emotions and the next generation’s?

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Work together The two generations might have different worries around the farm’s transition, but the overall goal is the same: to be able to honor and continue the family farm that the older generation poured their hearts into. Starting concrete plans for the farm’s transition can often begin to ease the worries of each generation. When lines of communication about the farm’s future are opened, the planning process is fully kick-started. Maybe that starts with the older generation’s decision to

begin working on a timeline for how they want to retire. Maybe it’s the younger generation sitting down with the older generation for a heartto-heart conversation about their love for the farm, and their concerns about the future of the operation and their potential role in it. These initial conversations help get both generations on the same page, knowing that they’re working toward the same goals. But often, families aren’t sure what to do next. They might turn directly to an estate planning attorney, yet might not be entirely sure how they want the transition to happen or the type of timeline they’d like to have it happen within. These questions, along with many others, need to be answered first, before the family ever goes to meet with an estate planning attorney.

Get a guide Sometimes, farm families find it helpful to have someone guide them through these discussions. A guide can help focus the discussions, making progress toward solving the biggest questions the family members have about the future. A legacy advisor plays this ‘guide’ role, as well CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


First steps

as helping the family with the transition planning process in many other ways.

What one step do you need to take now to start getting your questions answered about your family farm’s future? You might start by talking with a legacy advisor about your family’s situation. They might be able to help you figure out the next step of your operation’s transition journey.

Having someone to help with navigating through the legacy planning process can be a major relief for a farm family. A legacy advisor has been through the process with other farm families and knows the biggest pitfalls where families tend to get stuck. A legacy advisor knows the most important questions family members need to ask – before they ever go visit an attorney to get legal documents put in place. They know how to help families navigate tricky emotional territory. They can help them successfully discuss the emotional topics that might come up along the way.

Get more information about farm business planning and ideas for today’s farm leader in our quarterly publication, Smart Series. The most recent issue features information on how to start planning for a farm transition. Your free issue is available at: —Darren Frye is President and CEO of Water Street Solutions, a farm consulting firm that helps farmers with the challenges they face in growing and improving their farms – including the challenge of transitioning the farming operation to the next generation. Contact them at or call (866) 249-2528.


Tighten Up the Belt Ag outlook for 2016 a bit harsher than recent years


n the last few years, farmers have seen record prices and high profitability. But that might not be the case in 2016, says University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist Scott Brown. “We’re going to have lower livestock prices across the board,” Brown says. “I don’t care whether you are a cattle, hog or dairy producer.” Brown expects hogs to be down $3 to $4 per hundredweight after dropping $30 from 2014 to 2015. Fed cattle prices will be in the $120 per hundredweight range, down from $140-plus a year ago. Dairy producers will also take a hit with farm milk prices dropping a dollar to $16 per hundredweight.

The outlook for grains is similar. “One could suggest we’re going to have lower corn, soybeans and wheat prices,” Brown says. “A lot of that is going to hinge on what kind of weather we have as 2016 unfolds, but another good crop in the bin probably assures us more pressure on corn and soybean prices as we look ahead.” Farmers are likely to plant more than 90 million acres of corn with a decent spring. Brown says that will put pressure on prices, and he doesn’t expect increased demand from exports due to a stronger dollar. USDA projects net farm income to fall below $55 billion this year, down from more than $120 billion in 2013. Brown says that will affect more than just farmers. Machinery, fertilizer, seed and chemical suppliers are all trying to adjust to this tighter agricultural economy. —Source: University of Missouri Cooperative Media.

APRIL 2016


economic indicators

Understanding Historic Live Cattle Price Volatility K-State agricultural economist explains reasons for current market trends Story By Katie Allen


attle buyers and sellers have been experiencing a fluctuation of sorts, not just in the live cattle markets over the last eight months, but also in their within-day trades. The live cattle market volatility in the last year, but particularly in the last eight months, shows a major downturn in

price, explained Ted Schroeder, Kansas State University livestock economist. For example, live fed steers have gone from selling in the mid-$160s per hundredweight (cwt) about this time a year ago, all the way to $115/cwt in late December 2015 and averaged $137/cwt the week of March 11, according to the U.S. De-

partment of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service. “That magnitude of price movement across just a few months and that kind of volatility is something we haven’t

seen historically in terms of total dollar magnitude in fed cattle markets,” Schroeder said. Buyers and sellers are also experiencing within-day volatility in the futures market and the sometimes wide range of prices between the high and low price for the day, he said. “Any time a market is in rapid movement, whether it’s upward or downward movement, there’s going to be a tendency for within-day variability to also escalate,” Schroeder said. Part of the reason for this is market participants are looking forward and contemplating where the market is headed as they negotiate trades. They are anticipating market direction without full information, and information is flowing at an accelerated rate. “The market is grappling to some extent for the latest information,” Schroeder said. “Transactions, as a result, end up with more volatility within the day, because there’s a lot of uncertainty about where the market is going next.”

Areas of uncertainty Part of the uncertainty comes from price discovery, which happens as information is gathered. Schroeder said those who are selling are using the knowledge they have to establish an asking price, and those who are buying are trying to put together a bid price. The collective information each side has is used to generate an agreeable transaction price. When the market is experiencing rapid movements, whether in domestic supply and demand or in exports, those who are involved in that market – CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


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Advice to buyers and sellers

UNDERSTANDING LIVE CATTLE PRICE VOLATILITY FROM PREVIOUS PAGE buyers and sellers – are both striving to try to figure out where the next price is, day to day and within the day, he said. Then, there’s the question about who is using cash trade information for price discovery and in what ways, Schroeder said, adding that there has been a recent reduction in the number of cash transactions being negotiated in the live cattle market. “When we reduce the volume of trade that’s establishing the price in the market, as we’ve done in a big way in the cattle market over the last three years or so, we’re reducing the amount of information that’s being impounded into that price,” he said. “Transactions themselves create information for the trade, so part of this goes back to the cash trade. Information flows both directions between futures and cash.”

The best advice Schroeder has for cattle buyers and sellers in the current market is to stick with a plan. “If you’re placing the hedge, place it as soon as you’ve established the feeder cattle purchase price,” he said. “Don’t wait two days, because who knows where you will be. If you’re doing this in the morning, don’t wait until the afternoon. You can’t work off averages; an hour from now that average could be at a different point. There’s that much variability.” Schroeder said he doesn’t think this is a new normal in the cattle markets, but is mainly due to current uncertainty. However, the variability is probably not going away for a while. —Source: Kansas State University Extension.

Fewer transactions and a spottier trade environment have led to other concerns as well, Schroeder said. In the last eight months, some buyers have witnessed situations where cattle on negotiated trade were getting too heavy partly because sellers could continue to take advantage of low feed costs and feed cattle while waiting for the right time to sell.

“The biggest thing is that you don’t have to catch your cows out in the middle of the summer for fly control.”

High-frequency and large-volume trading The presence of high-frequency electronic trading, or exchanges in the market that occur rapidly, can influence within-day price variability, Schroeder said, especially if these rapid exchanges are large in volume.

— Lee Holtmeier


“To get another trade executed on the other side of that large trade, the market may have to move before that next trade is executed,” he explained. “The fact that large volume trading may be occurring more quickly could add a little more volatility.”


However, from the data he’s seen that CME Group has shared, high-frequency trading in live cattle has for the most part not been of large volume, even during some of the most volatile trading days. On average, 10 percent of the volume is of high-frequency trade in the live cattle market, according to the CME Group estimates. Schroeder added that any type of trade – whether high or low frequency, large or small volume – increases liquidity in a futures market. “That’s the ability of you as a seller to rapidly make a sale order without having the price go down to do it or me as a buyer to be able to buy without having to make the price go up to get that transaction to occur,” Schroeder said. “If you have large volumes of trade on both sides of that market occurring, you can easily make that trade without forcing price to move for your trade to occur,” he continued. “While high-frequency trading could add to variability within the day, it also provides liquidity for those who do want to make a trade quickly without a lot of slippage in that market.”


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APRIL 2016 Cattleman’s News 6.25" x 10"

Due to the pub: 7-20-15 Today’s date: July 15, 2015 11:35 AM



You Thought You Were Buying the Family Farm Succession planning helps continue the family farm legacy Story By Brittni Drennan for Cattlemen’s News


assing down the family farm can be a sensitive subject, but it is one of the most important discussions a family can have. Plans about the future of the farm are most often assumed. However, not having a written, well-communicated plan is one of the biggest mistakes a farm family can make. How do you make sure the family farm’s legacy will remain intact without creating division in the family? “Most families have an estate plan and/or a family will, but very few actually have a farm business succession plan,” said Ron Hanson, professor of agribusiness at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a featured speaker at this year’s Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference. “A successful succession plan spells out the process for the farm to remain in the family if something unexpected happened to the farm or even to a farm family member. Too many times personal obstacles as well as the fears of succession planning become road blocks, preventing a farm family from developing and implementing a succession plan for their farm.” Although a difficult topic to discuss, Hanson urges farm families to start succession planning now. A good succession plan enables everyone in the family to clearly understand what would happen if something unexpected occurred, such as a family death, sudden illness, farming accident, legal obstacles or a divorce. Legal problems often bring lawyers into the middle of the family situation, resulting in bitterness and resentment among family members. This might put an end to a family legacy with the farm being sold and/ or the farming operation dissolved without the next generation getting the opportunity to gain ownership and a chance to carry on the family farming operation, Hanson said. It is important to first identify the issues facing the family as


APRIL 2016

well as the operation, and recognize potential roadblocks, Hanson said. Most obstacles fall into the following nine categories.

1. Who is family? Identifying who is real family is an issue most families avoid and never openly discuss. When it comes down to money, wealth, property, and especially land ownership, Hanson said it is important to identify who is considered family members. Are only the “blood-related” family members included in financial business decisions or even ownership? Are the inlaws considered family and allowed to have a voice in business matters? What if a son or daughter dies? Will his or her spouse be able to take possession of their interest? The succession plan needs to be clear in identifying family.

2. Lack of vision The parents must have a clear vision for the future of their farm and be willing to share their wishes with their children, especially if the child or children return, or plan to return, to the family farm. A clear vision will enable the steps of succession planning to progress more smoothly if clear goals are set.

3. Parents cannot agree. Parents are the starting point to the planning process and a good succession plan. They have worked most of their entire lives to build and accomplish what they have. Now what is going to happen to their hopes and dreams? “If the parents fail to reach agreement with each other and are unable to work through this succession process together, nothing will ever happen,” Hanson said. “No farm ownership will ever be put in place. Unfortunately, some parents will pretend or ignore these issues even exist or take the approach that after they die, they

will not be there when the kids start to fight it out, so why care and worry now?” If the family farm legacy is to continue, parents must agree on a plan. Tough discussions need to be initiated by the parents and discussed openly among every member of the family. Plans for potential situations need to be made, for example, if Dad dies before Mom. Will Mom operate the farm according to the family plan or will she start making changes that Dad never allowed? Will farmland be leased or even sold? What if Mom remarries? These discussions are not easy, but they are easier to undertake than the alternative destruction of a family.

4. Communication. Hanson said communication, or the lack of, is the biggest obstacle families have to overcome. Lack of communication with all family members is the number one cause of misunderstandings, family conflicts, bitterness, resentment and eventually the failure to pass on the family farm legacy. “Parents must sit down with all their adult children and begin these conversations,” Hanson said. “That is the starting point (of implementing a plan. Most importantly, each of the adult children must have the opportunity to express their feelings and reactions in an open and honest family conversation while everyone listens to what is being shared.”

5. Treating siblings fairly. “To avoid problems of smiling jealousy and resulting grudges, parents must devise an estate plan in a fair and equitable manner to all children,” Hanson said. If favoritism is a factor, parents need to set aside personal feelings and develop a plan that will not cause resentment between siblings. In the case where an adult child moved away from the family farm to pursue an education, career or to start a family of his or her own elsewhere, his or her inheritance should be fair. “Farm family operations are the most difficult to handle in terms of fairness among all the children since some children worked harder than others and may have contributed more to the parents’ farming

operation,” Hanson said. “Also, remember some children care more about the farming operation while other adult children are only interested in how much money they might inherit from the parents’ final estate.

6. Entitled children Some children might feel entitled to the family farm, particularly if he or she has already been working on the family farm and invested time, expenses and labor. “It is important for these adult children to understand their parents actually owe them nothing,” Hanson said. “Parents do not owe their children the farm or even an inheritance; it is a gift of love and generosity. Children must respect the decision being made by their parents even if they do not agree with those decisions. Parents have the right to settle their estate according to their wishes.”

7. What is a fair selling price? “Here lies a real problem with many farm families,” Hanson said. “The largest share of parents’ financial investment for retirement is tied up in their farming operation.” If parents decide to sell their farm at market value, there is the potential issue the farming son or daughter could not afford to pay the purchasing price, not to mention the amount required to buy out the shares from the other sibling(s). On the other hand, parents expected to live beyond retirement will need financial security. They probably cannot afford to simply give their farm or retirement away. “One solution to consider is for parents to help a farming son or daughter from the very start to acquire assets so someday they have the net worth necessary to financially take over the farming operation,” Hanson said.

8. When will the transfer of ownership actually happen? Will ownership transfer occur at the time the parents retire? Or, will the parents still retain ownership after retirement while someone else does the work? Will the parents retain ownership until their death? Which children will have the chance to gain a share of the CONTINUED ON PAGE 17

APRIL 2016



Not Your Neighbor’s Grazing System

How to apply flexibility to your grass management plan Story By Elizabeth Walker for Cattlemen’s News


ver the years, I have written a few articles for Cattlemen’s News on the topic of rotational grazing management. On a discussion board I follow, smarter people than I have been discussing the merits and challenges of rotational grazing and some have even combined it with stockmanship. One professor from my home state of Texas, Dr. Tim Steffens, was quoted

in an article saying, “Don’t apply someone else’s grazing system. Figure out what your farm has and put together a plan based on that.” You don’t have to be overwhelmed by a grazing management plan. You have

to have a plan, or attempt to have a plan, and then manage what you have. Grazing plans are based on our natural ecosystem and the minute details of our ecosystem are different on every farm. You cannot have a grazing plan identical to the one my husband has for our own farm. You might be able to copy or borrow some ideas, but your farm and your management has to be yours. Here is the kicker — you have to be able to adapt to Captain Chaos, Mother Nature, or even Murphy. Last year, my husband was going to brushhog, but Murphy showed and that water pump is still being worked on. I was going to spray thistle and lo-

cust, but Captain Chaos came along and made the 4-wheeler catch on fire. Adapt and overcome; be flexible in your management system. When all else fails, go back to the basics. What are the basic elements of a rotational grazing system? Take half, leave half, is sort of basic concept No. 1. Of course, cows don’t have rulers and simply cannot estimate what half looks like. Your job is to manage the pasture so as to move those cattle when half the forage has either been temporarily removed, or has been trampled down. Basic concept No. 2 says graze, rest, repeat. Graze the animals, move them by referring to concept No. 1, then you rest the pasture. How long rest the pasture is variable. Time might be irrelevant at this point. You rest for as long as each pasture needs to be rested. If you want to rest a pasture until after you have combined fescue seed, then you might need to rest for a longer time than if you want to prevent seed heads from developing. In some pastures, you might need to rest a year; in some, you might need to rest 3 or 4 months. Basic concept No. 3 is you cannot starve an animal into production. I don’t recall who told me that the first time, but it is true. You cannot expect first-calf heifers to be productive on a piece of ground better suited for dry cows. There is a science to grazing management, but there is also an art or a husbandry to it. Basic concept no 4: animals do not graze evenly. Factors such as stocking density, season of the year, growth phase of forages, species of forages, and proximity to water, shade and mineral can all influence grazing patterns. Even though you might be rotationally grazing, you might also be overgrazing but on a small scale. Remedy the problem by either increasing stock density — giving them less land or increasing numbers in your herd — or adjusting your grazing movements to try to alter the grazing habits of the cattle. Timing is everything is basic concept No. 5. Defoliation of a mature plant during the dorCONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE


APRIL 2016

NOT YOUR NEIGHBOR’S GRAZING SYSTEM FROM PREVIOUS PAGE mant season is not necessarily a bad thing. My husband will sometimes do this before he reseeds a pasture. Many of you are doing this now, getting the pastures mowed so that when the sun and warm spring rains return, a more uniform distribution of light and warmth exists and all forages have an equal opportunity for growth. Defoliation during the growth phase — that phase that is close at hand this time of year — can be detrimental, especially if you are trying to encourage new plants to grow. If plants are defoliated more than once before they have matured, plants will die because the root system is too immature and insufficient quantities of energy are available to re-establish growth in the plant. The economic benefits of rotational grazing are more animal units per acre of land or, in some cases, more income per acre grazed. Some studies have shown an increase in wean-

ing weights of calves managed on a rotational grazing system. Others have also noted an increase in grazing days and a subsequent decrease in hay use for farms using rotational grazing systems. Historically speaking, the wild ruminants used to rotationally graze the North American continent well before us humans decided to tinker with it. Mother Nature might be onto something here. Just keep in mind, Captain Chaos, Mother Nature, or perhaps our buddy Murphy and his law, might find their way to our farms causing challenges for each one of us. Be flexible and have a back-up plan — maybe even more than one. Understand the basics of soil, forage and animal management. Take take what you know and apply it to your grazing management system. —Elizabeth Walker is associate professor of animal science at Missouri State University.

YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE BUYING THE FAMILY FARM FROM PAGE 14 actual ownership? All questions need to be addressed, and the whole family needs to clearly understand when, where and how ownership transfer will occur.

9. The power struggle. Having control offers a sense of power, and parents often have a difficult time handing over control. The mistake of hanging on to too much for too long can cause interference and animosity among family members. Hanson said with parents now living into their 80s and 90s, some of these farming children could be in their 70s before they ever have a chance to own part of the family farm. “If parents are not willing to share ownership or are not willing to give up management control of their farm or business, how does the next generation - their adult children - ever have an opportunity to take over,” Hanson questioned. “Does this limit their ability to build their own net worth? Would their years of sweet equity ever be fully recognized and rewarded? Worse yet, some parents may even outlive their farming children. Then what happens?” A successful family business succession plan could make the difference in preventing the family farm from being divided and sold due to family conflicts and disagreements. A succession plan helps ensure the family farm remains intact and is successfully passed down to the next generation to continue the family legacy. “Why would you work your whole life to build something and not put a plan in place to protect it,” Hanson said. The question is whether the farm family members themselves are willing to invest the effort, time, emotions and set aside personal agendas to continue the family operation. It is never too early to develop a plan, but it can often be too late.

APRIL 2016



Sealing in the Quality Baleage helps capture quality in hay production Story By Rebecca Mettler for Cattlemen’s News


aleage, or round-bale silage, has been relatively slow to catch on with southwest Missouri beef producers until the last few years. But, as veteran round-bale silage wrappers will tell you, it’s worth the effort. “There’s not that much to it,” said Champ Colley, Colley Farms, Sarcoxie, Missouri. “It’s not that much different than regular baling except we are getting it wrapped in 24 hours.” Colley has been wrapping baleage for 20 years, and he credits an increase in quality as the main benefit of the higher moisture baling technique, especially with alfalfa hay production. “You can get much better hay if baling it into haylage (baleage),” Colley said. “When you dry it out, you can lose half of the leaves.” Alfalfa leaves have 30 percent protein, and the stem has 10 percent. If half of the leaves are lost during the baling process, the resulting hay can have only 12 or 13 percent protein, according to Col-

ley. However, if a majority of the leaves are captured in the bale, the protein content can reach up to 20 percent. Colley mentions that in some areas of the country, producers are able to dry-bale alfalfa hay at night in order to keep the leaves attached to the stem, but options are limited in southwest Missouri. “We can’t bale at night like they can in Kansas because the moisture is too high,” Colley said. Speaking of moisture, baleage offers a way to put up a highquality first cutting of hay early into the spring, according to Tim Schnakenberg, University of Missouri Extension agronomy specialist. It’s all about flexibility; instead of hay requiring up to a week to dry during early spring, producers can cut hay one day and bale the next. Or if it’s extremely hot and dry, hay can be cut in the morning and baled that same evening. “Farmers are starting to realize that it’s very beneficial to deal with the wet weather in

May for high quality alfalfa, clover, legumes and even fescue,” Schnakenberg said. Colley recalls many times when he’s had hay down and the weather forecast called for rain the next day. He is able to bale the hay at higher moisture content and wrap it to save the hay’s quality instead of letting it get rained on and then waiting for it to dry out again. Along with alfalfa, Colley produces wheat baleage and will wrap hay cut from fescue pastures. Also, unlike many, Colley wraps dry-baled hay as well. Dry hay is wrapped to prevent hay loss from being left out in the elements. What started as a great option for feeding dairy cows has turned into feed for beef cows and feeder steers at Colley Farms. Roughly 80 percent of the baleage goes through the total mixed ration (TMR), 50 percent of the dry fescue is fed through rings with the remaining going through the TMR to feed the steers. “When you feed a silage bale in a ring there’s hardly any waste,” said Lance Burk, Colley’s grandson. “You just get a lot more out of your hay.”

Keys to wrapping success “Wrapping hay got a bad name because people got cheap and didn’t put enough plastic wrap on the hay,” said Burk.

Forage quality is dependent on the amount of plastic wrap that is placed on the baleage bales. “Don’t short on the plastic,” Colley said. “If you are bragging about getting 100 bales out of two rolls of plastic, you are doing it wrong.” Colley estimates that approximately 50 to 60 4-foot by 5-foot bales can be wrapped out of two rolls of plastic with an inline wrapper. At that number, plastic costs are around $2.50 per bale. Schnakenberg suggests four layers of 1 millimeter plastic with a 50 percent overlap and has data to back up the importance of proper wrapping. At the University of Kentucky, cattle consumption of oneyear-old stored forage was dependent on storage methods. Cattle consumed 64 percent of the hay stored in a traditional barn, 53 percent of hay that was wrapped with only two layers of plastic, 84 percent of hay wrapped in four layers and 88 percent with six layers of plastic. “How hay is wrapped can impact long-term storage and palatability,” Schnakenberg said. Bale field preparation is also important for maintaining the integrity of the plastic wrap CONTINUED ON PAGE 20

Each row of baleage is capped two deep with “plug” or “end-cap” bales, most often lower quality dry bales, to seal off the row. Notice the bare ground and wide spacing between the bales. —Photo by Rebecca Mettler


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APRIL 2016



Weather’s Effect on Controlling the Alfalfa Weevil Weevils are most active in temperatures between 45 and 80 degrees Story By James Schmidt


he alfalfa weevil can wreak havoc on an alfalfa field, so it’s important for growers to know all current methods of controlling and preventing them. The weevils are incredibly durable and can survive low temperatures, said Jeff Whitworth, Kansas State University associate professor of entomology.

started hatching in February,” he said. The eggs can be difficult to find, as they are laid in the stem. This can make finding the right time to treat them also difficult. “Whether (the stem is) horizontal or vertical, the alfalfa weevil will still lay the eggs

that insecticides aren’t very effective when the temperature drops below 45 degrees.” Therefore, insecticide effectiveness can be an issue when temperatures fluctuate regularly. In addition, fall treatment tends to kill off beneficial insects that help control non-beneficial insects on an alfalfa field, he said. It’s also important to note that alfalfa weevil insecticide isn’t systemic, meaning that it only affects weevils that come into contact with the spray. This can be troublesome, according to Whitworth, because when it’s less than 45 degrees the weevils hide under the leaf litter and don’t come into contact with the insecticide.

“The alfalfa weevil is a cool-weather insect, so that means it does best between 45 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit,” Whitworth said. “Once it gets too warm, it ceases activity, and once it gets below 45 degrees, it will cease activity.” However, just because the temperature drops, doesn’t mean that the weevil is gone for good, he said. It has a knack for being able to survive in relatively extreme temperatures for a creature of its size. Adult weevils are only about three-sixteenths of an inch long. “Anytime the tempera- The alfalfa weevil is a cool-weather insect, thriving between 45 and 80 ture is less than 45 de- degrees Farenheit. Kansas State University Entomologist Jeff Whitworth grees, the (alfalfa wee- recommends alfalfa growers wait until 50 percent of the plant stems are vils) crawl down into infested before treating. —Photo by Kansas State University. the leaf litter around the soil. They don’t really inside that stem,” Whitworth hibernate; they just become said. Spring treatment timing inactive,” Whitworth said. The current inclination for al“When it warms back up, they Fall treatment concerns falfa growers will be to treat start moving and start laying eggs.” The biggest problem, Whit- the weevils at the first sign of worth said, is finding the right damage in early spring. HowHardy creatures time to treat them. Treating ever, Whitworth recommends them before they can lay eggs waiting until later when there The survivability and deter- might seem like a good option, are more weevils present. mination of alfalfa weevils to but this method has proven lay eggs is what makes them a difficult to time accurately. “Those first few larvae will troublesome pest, Whitworth Because of their hardiness, feed a little bit, but there’s said. From October to March, alfalfa weevils tend to be out more to come,” he said. “Wait the weevils lay eggs, which and active for a majority of until you have a 50 percent infestation, meaning 50 percent will hatch anytime the tem- the year. of the stems are infested with perature is above 45 degrees. “We have put out fall treat- live larvae. That’s probably a “I’ve seen eggs hatch as early ments, where we tried to kill good time to spray.” as late February and contin- the adults in the fall before ue on through May, because they lay the eggs. The prob- —Source: Kansas State University some of those eggs that were lem with that is timing,” Whit- Extension. laid in October and November worth said. “The difficulty developed enough that they with these fall treatments is

20 APRIL 2016

SEALING IN THE QUALITY FROM PAGE 17 and, consequently, the quality of the hay. The bale storage field needs to be void of any tall grass or weeds, as that environment is susceptible to rodent infestation. Colley uses herbicide to spray in between bales to keep the vegetation to a minimum. Rodents attract cats, coyotes and foxes. Those predators are prone to digging around the bales while hunting and often puncture the plastic. Predators also commonly sit atop the wrapped bales in their pursuit of rodents and, again, puncture the plastic. Air is the worst enemy to baleage. Any punctures in the plastic allow airflow to penetrate the bales, which causes mold growth. “It’s just like this kitchen floor,” Burk said. “Mice aren’t going to stand in the middle of this floor. It’s the same with bare ground. Keep the tall grass away.”

Learning the ropes Schnakenberg cautions that there is a learning curve with producing baleage, and it’s not for everyone. “When talking to producers, they are used to cutting 50 to 60 acres at a time and the (dry-baling) process is straight forward,” Schnakenberg said. “Most of them say, ‘I have to slow the process down. There’s no way we can get it all wrapped in the timely manner.’ That’s one of the things I hear most,” Schnakenberg said. Ensuring the proper moisture level for fermentation is also important. Producers should shoot for 50 to 60 percent moisture, according to Schnakenberg. If it’s too dry, the fermentation process will be compromised; too wet, and the feed quality is reduced. Schnakenberg also reminds producers to make sure that the cost of the bale wrapper pencils into the farm budget. If it does, it’s just one more tool to add to the unpredictability of southwest Missouri’s hay season.

APRIL 2016



Beyond Fescue What are your options for summer grazing? Story By Austin Black for Cattlemen’s News


escue dominates pastures across the Midwest. This cool season forage grows well in spring and fall, but during the summer it matures, loses quality and often goes semidormant. To provide quality summer grazing, producers should consider incorporating warm season grasses. “In summer forages, we’re looking for what will grow when the fescue won’t,” said Rob Kallenbach, state forage specialist, University of Missouri Extension. This means identifying grasses that can handle warmer temperatures and reduced moisture. “Our standby has been crabgrass as a safe summer annual forage,” said Doug Shoup, Kansas State University agronomist. Crabgrass is a warm season annual that can grow in drought conditions. It provides grazing from midJune to late fall. Research shows it can produce adequate tonnage with as little as 50 pounds of nitrogen.

Crabgrass grows best between 78 and 80 degrees. It is more adaptable to shallow soil and grows well under harsh conditions. Kallenbach said crabgrass is the highest quality warm season grass. Other warm season annuals include sudan grass, sorghum and several varieties of millet. Sudan grass and sorghum produce a lot of tonnage, but also produce prussic acid. “You can kill an animal pretty quick,” Shoup said. The acid is found in new leaves. Waiting to graze until the grass is 18 inches high reduces the danger of prussic acid. Millet is leafier than Sudan grass and doesn’t produce prussic acid.

22 APRIL 2016

These grasses are popular in Kansas, but Kallenbach said they aren’t good options for Missouri farmers. “In good years, they produce really well, but we don’t need as much of them when water is plentiful,” he said. “In drought years, establishment is pretty hit and miss which is a disappointment when I need a strong stand.” Kallenbach likes sudan grass, sorghum and millet for transitioning between Kentucky 31 and novel endophyte fescue. But, his research shows they aren’t profitable on a consistent yearly basis. Producers wanting a more permanent grazing option can incorporate warm season perennials. Kallenbach said big bluestem, bermuda grass and caucasian bluestem are good options. Switchgrass and eastern gamma grass are good native species for summer grazing. Warm season grasses produce under tougher conditions with less water than cool season. Kallenbach said warm season grasses use water 30 percent more efficiently than cool season grasses. “They like warm temperatures and are very productive and efficient in biomass production through the use of nitrogen,” he said. But warm season grasses are susceptible to cool weather. “They cannot take a frost,” he added. “At first frost, they burn up.”

Getting started Producers should know how many acres of warm sea-

son forage they need before changing their grazing plan. “The further south you go, the more warm season grass you should have in the system,” Kallenbach said. He recommends cow/calf producers in southern Missouri have 15 to 30 percent of pastures in warm season grass. Farms in northern Missouri should only maintain 10 to 20 percent of pastures in warm season forages. “Every acre I commit to warm season grass is an acre I can’t use for cool season,” he said. Producers must balance between improving summer grazing and having enough fall and winter forage. Establishing warm season grasses requires planning. For native perennial grasses, Kallenbach said to spray the field with glyphosate and plant a summer annual. When fall comes, spray the field again and plant the native perennial in December. He said Mother Nature preserves the seeds, assisting in germination. In the spring, new growth will occur. Perennials such as caucasian bluestem, big bluestem and switchgrass work best when no-tilled. A clean field is important. “Ideally, we would come in and spray in the fall. In the spring when the grass comes back green, we spray again and no-till in the new forage,” he said. Planting should occur once the soil is 65 degrees. For bermuda grass, producers should have a tilled pasture and use the same herbicide spray program. Bermuda grass is planted with sprigs, not seeds. A sprig digger collects different parts of the plant from an established field. Those parts are planted in the new field in place of seeds. Annual warm season grasses such as crabgrass, millet and sudan grass require no-till. Spray in early spring to kill

new grass, then plant afterward. “If we plant in May, there’s usually enough kill to get rid of fescue,” Kallenbach said. The goal is to get a good kill and plant a smother crop to prevent fescue regrowth. Kallenbach said producers can graze native species when they are 18 to 24 inches high. “I would graze them down to about 6 to 8 inches then get out,” he said. This leaves enough growth for photosynthesis and protects the root system. Producers can graze bermuda and caucasian bluestem when they are 8 to 10 inches tall until a 2 ½-inch stubble is left.

Learn how to manage Management is key for quality grazing. One method that works well is interseeding legumes with warm season grasses. Clovers help extend grazing two to three weeks in the summer. They can lift water through the soil to other grasses, but they need deep soil to perform. Lespedeza is a hardy legume that provides growth in July and August. It handles tough growing conditions better than most warm season grasses. Alfalfa produces the most forage of all legumes, and Kallenbach likes to use it as a hedge for summer grazing. Producers can graze it in the spring, then again in late summer. In drought conditions, producers should avoid overgrazing forages early. “Overgrazing taps into root systems on the plant,” Kallenbach said. “That system is going to be important to get water.” Nitrogen is important to promote growth when moisture is lacking. Kallenbach said 60 pounds of nitrogen in April and May can start growth. Another application in mid-June or early July helps maintain quality forage through the summer.

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APRIL 2016



A Dance with Grass Grass: the foundation for everything on the farm Story by Brittni Drennan for Cattlemen’s News


arrel Franson and his wife, Anita, moved to Lawrence County, Missouri, to fulfill the life they had always wanted. They bought 118 acres, 50 crossbred cows, a herd bull and a 35-year-old tractor, and they were living the dream of owning and operating their own beef cow-calf operation. They called their place Shiloh Land and Cattle Company. Twenty-three years later, Franson operates his farm business by the motto, “You cannot manage what you do not measure.” After 22 years of maintaining records, Franson can clearly see how his business has progressed.

“Pregnancy rate, pounds weaned, cull rate, dry matter forage and pounds of live beef sold per acre all improved, and we can see that because we measured and recorded,” Franson said recently at the Southwest Missouri Spring Forage Conference. “What was the difference and cause for improvement? Twentythree years and 11 different strategies employed all comes back to the grass.” Table 1 on the next page shows Franson’s forage yields, from grazing and hay combined, and performance data for the first five years in operation compared to the most recent five years. Franson puts it like this. If soil plus rain plus sun equals grass, then grass equals 402 pounds of live beef per acre per year, which was his average from 2011 to 2015. Each operation’s success is measured on its own terms, but Franson considers a 70 percent increase a success. How does he know that? The an-

swer is in the years of records he kept and maintained. Keeping records does not have to be difficult. Franson said he spends less than one hour per week entering data, but spends two or three times that much time reviewing and analyzing records to find ways to improve his operation. He records the grazing days and hay harvest using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. To record performance data on cows and calves, Franson uses two data tables in Microsoft Access. The data table for the cows records 29 data points on each female brought into the herd for reproduction. Another data table records 33 data points on each exposure of a female to a breeding experience, whether a pregnancy occurred or not. The live calf data then follows, Franson said. “While no claim is made that the data in (Table 1) is good, fair or poor, it is data by which we can evaluate the success or failure of management strategies implemented,” Franson said. Franson said he does not chase weaning weights. Instead, his goal is improved forage yields in terms of grazing cow days and hay and pounds of beef sold per acre. His management practices do

not include creep feeding nor supplementing cows or lactating heifers with anything but mineral. The only grain fed goes to weaned calves for 45 to 60 days and to developing virgin heifers, he said. “The management strategies or practices implemented to bring about this improvement are many and varied in approach,” Franson said. Much to the credit of his records as well as trial-and-error, Franson has developed a top 10 list of management strategies.

1.Management-intensive grazing. Grazing management practices allow for more efficient use of forage. Franson said by giving livestock just enough grass for half a day or one day at most, utilization is maximized. Less forage is wasted by feces and urination and prevents cattle from only eating more favorable patches. “Moving the cows to new grass before they eat below 4 to 6 inches ensures the plants maintain adequate leaf surface to photosynthesize for re-growth,” Franson said. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

Darrel Franson Photos by Joann Pipkin

24 APRIL 2016

Franson also encourages fence-line weaning and suggests putting feed bunks in the pasture for the calves. By day three, Franson said calves are eating the five pounds he wants them to have, and then he takes them back down to three pounds, encouraging them to go out away from the fence to graze.


2. Precision soil nutrient management. One of Franson’s most notable lessons has been the broad variability of soil nutrient levels within a small area. Something he learned from a professor is the phrase “soil is variable and soil is patchy.” Franson said in the 1990’s his initial applications of plant food and lime were spread across the entire farm due to low nutrient levels across the board. “Then, in 2001 and again in 2011, we drew soil samples on the entire farm on a 2.5-acre grid,” Franson said. “Then, based on GPS-guided recommendations, we applied the lime, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and magnesium as needed in each specific 2.5acre area.” Collect, submit and analyze soil samples to understand what nutrient levels are and what needs to be applied to better support a foundation for good forage.

3. Novel endophyte (non-toxic) tall fescue. In 2013, Franson converted and renovated 16 acres of rented land to novel endophyte fescue. He said toxic fescue was his greatest nemesis. Now, he is happy about not having to fight so hard against endophyte-infected tall fescue while still having a hardy, persistent plant, but Franson still insists on a rotational grazing management practice. “I am convinced, looking at my records, having non-toxic forage has added more to our bottom line than any other practice we have employed with the possible exception of managed grazing,” he said.

4. Artificial insemination. Franson said implementing AI in his cattle breeding program has progressed his operation from having a typical commercial herd, commanding the average price at the sale barn, to having consistently-sized, phenotypicallycorrect, fast-gaining, quality-grading calves. He places emphasis on expected progeny differences (EPD) accuracy and breed rank. “I lay no claim to being a good cattleman,” Franson said. “However, I do know that if we keep reaching into a liquid nitrogen tank for our genetics and keep pulling out straws of semen from bulls with high accuracy EPDs placing them in the top five to 10 percent of the breed, our cattle cannot help but become better and better.”

5. Steer feed out. By retaining ownership through the feedyard, Franson obtained data about how his calves gained and how they graded on the rail. More data meant he was able to measure and, therefore, appropriately manage. With the data he knew what heifers to keep and what to bring in as new momma cows. By doing so, he was able to increase the quality of cattle he was producing, which improved his reputation at the sale barn. “We have in seven of the past nine years retained ownership and sent 100 steer calves to Southwest Iowa feedlots under the University of Missouri and Iowa State University Extension programs,” Franson said. “Our calves will gain about one-third pound per day more than their pen peers. They will grade close to or over 70 percent Choice or better and 70 percent yield grade 1 and 2. Depending upon the Choice-Select

spread, that makes them worth $125 to $150 per head more than the average calf going through the sale ring any given day.” Franson said it is not always more profitable to retain ownership, but the data they get back is more valuable. Having the information briefly read by the auctioneer as the calves go through the sale ring allows him to receive a premium and has improved his reputation among buyers as a producer of quality cattle that will gain and grade.

6. Immunization program. After purchasing his farm 23 years ago, Franson immediately began vaccinating all his cattle with a modified-live viral vaccine with the mindset to allow the chips fall where they may. He was pleased when everything remained alive and well. Franson said keeping a closed herd, including raising his own cleanup bulls, gives him peace of mind moving forward.

7. The Sand Hills Shuffle. By the time Franson’s calves from the clean-up bull hit the ground, which is 10 to 15 percent of the calf crop, they are mingled with and exposed to calves 30 to 50 days older. Franson said calf scours were a problem in the late-born calves, particularly calves in his management-intensive grazing program where he might have 150,000 to 175,000 pounds of livestock per acre. But, he found a solution to remedy calf scours. As soon as the cows calving from the fixed-timed AI program he implements are fresh, he splits the herd, sending cows still pregnant to another part of the farm. “It works,” Franson said. “A clean pasture for late babies makes a big difference in health.”

Franson challenges each producer to take just a little time to observe. Once a chore is complete, take a few minutes to observe the cattle, the grass, the flies, the seedheads, the blades of grass and even the cow pies. “If you take time to observe, you’ll notice things,” he said. “That plant is a living, breathing organism. It has a life of its own, and I’m in charge of managing that life in a way that will allow it the fullest expression of its potential. The same is true of the livestock.”

9. Adapt, improvise and overcome. “With ever-changing weather patterns, government programs and regulations, new technology, shifting consumer preferences and volatile market prices, we cannot afford to get into a rut,” Franson said. “We must keep reading, listening, studying, learning and adapting. We must never become oblivious to the metamorphosis that is upon us, our grass, our cattle, our soil and our industry.”

10. Records. Franson has said it time and time again: you cannot manage what you do not measure. “Those who ignore history are condemned to repeat its mistakes,” Franson said. “I can make enough new mistakes as it is. I sure don’t need to be repeating the old ones.” At the end of the day, it all comes back to the grass that provides the fundamental foundation for everything on the operation. “Without it our cattle’s genetics mean nothing,” Franson said. “Our animal health program means nothing. Nothing else we do will be successful if we fail to correctly manage the grass.” APRIL 2016


He prefers standard powered chargers over the solar variety, thought Forest does recommend having a solar unit on hand that could be installed when needed.


Keep It Simple No-frills philosophy helps Weaver Forest manage grazing with electric fences

While grazing experts likely recommend high-tensile wire for electric fencing, Forest is a proponent of cable, citing its stability against dogs and wildlife. “I use 3/32nd’s cable,” he said. “We’ve had that since 1994. It’s a lot better.”

Story and Photo By Joann Pipkin, Editor


e was electric fencing when electric fencing wasn’t cool. Since 1966, Weaver Forest has used electric fence in his cattle operation. And during his 40-year tenure he’s learned a thing or two about not only electric fencing, but also managing his grass. Forest’s “keep it simple” philosophy has served him well. “You listen to the cows, you watch the grass and observe their manure,” he said. “Take half, leave half. Take it all the way down. Everybody has got (his or her) own opinion. I just keep it simple: listen to the cows, watch the grass and check the manure.” Still, the native Oklahomanturned southern Missourian has learned some tricks to making electric fencing work in a cattle operation. First and foremost, Forest said cattlemen must be flexible with their grazing management plan. He manages his Kentucky 31 fescue with the

take half, leave half philosphy year ‘round. That helps him control fescue foot. He does not stockpile fescue. “I’ve been mob grazing for years, and there’s an advantage and a disadvantage to everything you do with intensive grazing,” he said. “Decide what will work with you and what will work with your cows; then, be smart enough to change if you need to change.” Forest admits the rain this year has made grass management more challenging. “You have to be flexible with the forage, the cows and how you handle it,” he said. When Forest bought his farm near Verona, Missouri, in 1966, he inherited a lot of 10acre pastures. In the beginning, electric fence was held up by rubber tires and rims welded to sucker rod. He’s come a long way since then. Now, his preference on posts is a 5/8-inch suckerrod with an insulator on it; a

5 Tips for Better Electric Fencing Story By Joann Pipkin, Editor


f you’re ready to install an electric fence, make sure you have your I’s dotted and T’s crossed. Here are five tips to get you started on the road to a positive electric fence experience.

1. Grounding.

Is your electric fence grounded? If not, that could be the reason it’s not working properly. According to Mark Green, lead resource conservationist, Greene County Natural Resources Conservation Service, about 90 percent of the problems landowners have with electric fencing is poor grounding. “We tend to not put in a good grounding system,” Green said. “So, that’s really the first key (to electric fencing), is thinking about the grounding.”

26 APRIL 2016

2. Fence posts. Green said nonconductive options on fence posts are available and those are a better option for producers because avoiding ground-outs in new construction is worth considering. If using t-posts, he said to use a good insulator. “A good rule of thumb is that if it’s plastic and it’s outside, it needs to be black because the others all seem to have trouble breaking down from the sunlight,” Green said. Other options are composite posts, fiberglass posts and a G2 post, which is a form of plastic. “Posts are competitively priced anymore,” Green said, “and I would definitely consider those if I were looking at new construction for my posts.”

few tumble wheels still grace the farm as well. Forest has hung on to those jewels since the first year they were introduced. The tumblewheel, which creates a portable fencing system, can help graziers move an entire electric fence line with greater ease. They work especially well for strip grazing, although the wind can be tough on them, Forest said. “The wind will flip them.” Forest’s No. 1 tip for electric fencing begins with a good charger. “You don’t even start until you can buy the best and most proven fence charger on the market,” he said. “They’re worth their weight in gold.”

3. Wire.

Green said to realize that electricity is traveling around the outside of the wire. “It’s just like pipe size to carry water. The smaller the wire, the less electric it’s going to carry and the more problems you’re going to have with breaking.” Industrywide, Green said 12 ½ guage high-tensile, galvanized wire is suggested.

4. Installation. “Think of where you can put shut-off switches because if you can shut off an area that you need to work on instead of walking clear back to the charger, it’s going to make it a lot easier to maintain the system,” Green said. He also recommends not cutting corners on the quality of insulators used.

5. Charger. “You want to invest in a good charger, because it’s the brains of the outfit,” Green said. “You want to make sure

Forest suggests aluminum cable, though it is more expensive. “Don’t go any higher than 3/32nd’s cable,” he said. “That is plenty. It’s easier to handle and you get the aluminum because it will pay for itself.” Relying on flexibility is key for Forest in making electric fences work on his cattle operation and observing what’s happening in the industry. “To me the most important things are to talk to somebody that has been at it a while,” Forest said. “Go to meetings and pick up information you may want to bring back to your place and try. You become stale if you don’t, and there’s always something new out there.” Electric fencing and grazing management is not a cut-anddry thing, he said. “It’s not a recipe book.”

it has plenty of joules, which is the horsepower.” Green also recommends a charger that can be expanded when wire needs to be added to the grazing system down the road. Solar chargers, as a general rule, are not strong enough to support an entire grazing system, Green said. “They might do great for a temporary fence to split a pasture in half or run around a bale lot, but they don’t have enough joules or horsepower to charge all the feet of wire that we’re talking about (in an entire grazing system). If your only option is solar, invest in a larger solar panel, hook it to a deep marine cell battery to power a larger battery-powered charger that has a higher joule rating than the small, compact solar chargers.” Editor’s Note: For additional information on electric fencing, visit your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office.

APRIL 2016



Flexible Grazing Using annual forages in beef production Story By Lisa Henderson for Cattlemen’s News


f your cattle operation needs more grazing flexibility this year, you should consider the supplemental forage options offered by summer annuals. Extension forage experts say May and June are ideal times for planting a warm season annual crop as those forages not only thrive in summer heat, but also are drought-tolerant and can be used for either grazing or as a stored feed. Forage experts identify the following benefits to summer annuals:

Drought-tolerant. Fill forage void.

Summer annuals can fill the forage gap during the July-August summer slump when perennials aren’t producing well.

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Weed competition.

Because of their rapid growth, summer annuals can thrive over weeds, providing another tool to use against invasive species.

Risk management.

Summer annuals also help with risk management as they can be used as forage to graze or harvested for silage, baleage, grain or seed. Summer annuals include sorghum, sudangrass, sorghumsudangrass hybrids, millet, crabgrass, corn and teff. A relatively new grain to North America, teff was imported from Ethiopia where it is used as fodder and as a cereal crop. It has thin stems and a leafy nature, tolerates many soil types, regrows rapidly

Winter annuals like rye and ryegrass are winter-hardy and provide an alternative for spring grazing. —Photo by Joann Pipkin.

and is extremely drought-tolerant. Forage specialists say with adequate soil fertility and minimum moisture, these species are capable of producing three to five tons of dry matter over the summer months.

Beginning 30 to 45 days after planting, most of those species can provide two to three grazing passes or cuttings for stored feed.


FLEXIBLE GRAZING FROM PREVIOUS PAGE Tammy Holder, beef farm manager at the College of the Ozarks, Point Lookout, Missouri, says annuals should be incorporated as an integral component of beef grazing programs. She also recommends using winter annuals such as rye and oats. “The advantage to using any annual is that there is quick growth and you have a crop to graze,” Holder says. “Many of the summer annuals are drought-tolerant and do well even in dry years.” All of the summer annual species can be mechanically harvested for stored feed. With the exception of teff grass, forage specialists say baleage and silage are the best harvest and storage options for summer annuals because they have high moisture content and are difficult to dry. Typically, forage sorghum, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and sudangrass are harvested at 36 to 48 inches in height while millet and teff grass are harvested at the boot stage or approximately 36 inches in height.

In other situations, Holder says producers can seed winter annuals all the way into November for spring grazing. “If you plant late, you plant rye or ryegrass because they are more winter-hardy.” Holder recommends crimson clover, winter peas or hairy vetch for mixing with existing stands of winter annuals. “I have also tried haybeans and millet for baleage before, and my beef cows loved it.”

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Holder recommends grazing sudangrass and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids when plants are 18 to 30 inches tall. At that stage, the forage quality will be 17 percent to 19 percent crude protein. You should leave 6- to 8-inch stubble to facilitate fast regrowth. Forage specialists suggest that due to the rapid maturity of summer annuals, you should plan acreage based on what your cattle can consume in about 10 days. Holder cautions that some summer annuals can accumulate nitrates in the lower portions of the stems. “Sudan hybrids are the specific concern,” she says. “If you don’t fertilize too heavy with nitrogen you don’t have to worry about nitrate poisoning unless there is a drought. Prussic acid is a problem when sudangrass is young – less than 18 inches tall – or in regrowth after a stress period such as drought, frost, or herbicide damage. Prussic acid dissipates after the forage has been cut so it is not a problem in hay or baleage but nitrates do not go away, so they remain a problem even when harvested.” Holder says annuals are also a solution to use when Mother Nature deals a cruel blow, such as a flood or drought. “After a flood, producers should plants oats in the fall for fall grazing, or oats in the spring for spring grazing,” she says. “After a drought, plant annuals such as ryegrass or small grains in the fall for fall grazing when the fall rains do come.” Annuals can also be interseeded into existing pastures to extend the grazing season. Holder suggests using a no-till drill to seed bermudagrass pastures with small grains. “The best success is when the bermudagrass is grazed short in late August and then the small grain is drilled,” Holder says. “But, do not fertilize those bermudagrass interseedings with nitrogen very heavy because we do not want to stimulate the bermuda. Stimulating the bermuda can cause winter kill because it won’t store carbohydrates. It’s best to wait until spring to fertilize those pastures.”

APRIL 2016



Icing on the Cake Value-added feeder calf programs deliver healthy calves, better end-product Story By Joann Pipkin, Editor


ore than a decade ago, buyers cussed and discussed how unhealthy feeder cattle were at marketing time. Then came along preconditioning and value-added feeder calf marketing programs. Now, calves that have been weaned at least 45 days and vaccinated with two rounds immunizations before hitting the sale ring have become icing on the cake for cattle buyers. “Value-added feeder calf programs are money well spent that also make you money,” said Jackie Moore, co-owner, Joplin Regional Stockyards (JRS). Participating in JRS’ valueadded feeder calf programs gave Steve Stone the ability to wean his feeder calves, and a healthier animal at sale time. Prior to coming home to his family’s farm in 2000, Stone said his dad had never weaned any calf before sending it to market, and the health of their stock suffered from it. “It definitely makes for a healthier calf,” Stone said of preconditioning feeder calf programs. “It’s definitely good for the industry because it does help the next guy, and it may help the next guy more than it does us, really.” Without question, consumers continue to put pressure on food suppliers to help them feel more comfortable with where their food is coming from. “That’s not easy to do in the beef industry because we’re so spread out and there’s so many producers, and the system puts a lot of diverse animals together,” explained Mike John, director, MFA Health Track. “At the same time we are going to have to make a concerted effort to make people comfortable with our management systems. We’re going to be asked to jump through a few extra hoops that we didn’t have to

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jump through before. If we participate in those programs because we want our cattle to have more value, I think they’ll be worth a lot more.”

JRS Preconditioning programs JRS offers producers the opportunity to market their cattle in special sales when certain value-added practices have been utilized. These practices can include health programs, optional feeding programs, weaning and individual identification. Most of these programs require castration of bulls; heifers guaranteed open and dehorned. Moore said preconditioning is all about getting the calves weaned a minimum of 45 days, administering the necessary vaccinations and bunkbreaking the calves to feed and water. “It is important for producers to know the tools available to them,” Moore said. While 45 days is the minimum requirement for calves to be weaned and qualify for a value-added marketing program, Stone actually prefers to precondition his animals longer, targeting 60-90 days before marketing. He says preconditioning does take some patience and persistence. “It’s so easy to be in a value-added program,” Stone said. While participating does require some added cost for vaccinations and feed, Stone said, “You just have to make yourself believe that it makes you some money in the end.” Nutrition plays a crucial role in the success of preconditioning and value-added programs, Stone said. “It’s the difference between a 700-pound calf and a 400-pound calf. The only difference in my herd is by the mom giving them milk and that all comes back to nutrition. All the shots in the world won’t help a cow’s health if they don’t have a

Value-added feeder calf programs have given cattleman Steve Stone the ability to wean his calves and a healthier animal at sale time. —Photo by Joann Pipkin.

good nutrition program behind it.”

Price risk management Feeder cattle prices have been volatile since last fall, and John said we’re starting to see the spread widen between cattle with known genetic and health programs from other, non-documented cattle. “I’m seeing some spreads that are historic almost and with cattle that have that known verified added value verses just calves,” he said. “Even though prices drop, there’s still some real opportunity for the producer to maximize (value-added programs). It’s almost like a risk management program.” Producers who can supply potential buyers with weaning, vaccination and management information provide value downstream, John said. “I think it shaves off the peaks and valleys of that growth curve (in the cattle cycle). And, you can protect some of the value you’ve got in those

calves whereas if don’t document it, that’s pretty hard to do.” Stone, who markets his feeder cattle twice a year through JRS value-added sales, recommends working one-on-one with a veterinarian if you are a novice in the cattle business. “Another big thing for me, too, has been getting people to give me the advice that I needed (to make this program work),” he said. “Talk with people who have done it before so you know what to do and what not to do.” How beef producers handle and manage their product and the food it ultimately creates is paramount in today’s world. “If you bury your head in the sand and just assume that you’re not going to participate in any of those things is a dangerous proposition,” John said. “The people outside of our industry, that are buying our product, are sending the signal to us that they’re willing to pay for those (value-added) products.”

APRIL 2016



A Life-Changer FFA involvement propels Clay Eldridge to Area 11 Star in Agribusiness Story By Jillian Campbell for Cattlemen’s News


lay Eldridge is not one to say no to an interview, nor is he one to say no to any opportunities that life might offer. His passion for the beef industry persuaded him to join the Mount Vernon FFA Chapter during his eighth-grade year. Now a senior, Eldridge has since demonstrated a work ethic that hasn’t gone unnoticed. He was recently named Missouri FFA’s Area 11 Star in Agribsusiness.

more beef cattle into his operation.

As an eighth-grader, Eldridge’s father and grandfather helped spawn his interest in the beef industry. He began his Supervised Agricultural Experience project by backgrounding 30 Angus and dairy cross calves and feeding them to finish. Through an exchange of labor, Eldridge was able to make the profit needed to integrate

“I’ve run two sets (of cattle) every year, and I actually just bought another set last week,” Eldridge said. “I turn them out on grass, but I still feed them every single day and just raise them up until they get big enough. Then, I sell them.”

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Eldridge’s operation grew alongside his FFA involvement. Since the start of his operation, he has shipped five pot loads of cattle to market. Eldridge has also transitioned to pure beef genetics by removing dairy feeder cattle from his herd.

As the Area 11 Star in Agribusiness, the next step for Eldridge

Mount Vernon FFA member Clay Eldridge won the Area 11 Star in Agribusiness Award. He’ll compete with other area winners at the Missouri FFA Convention April 21-22 in Columbia, Missouri. —Photo by Jillian Campbell.

is the Missouri State FFA Convention later this month in Columbia. His FFA advisors, Steven Prewitt and Jay Shepherd, have played a major role in helping him improve his record book and practice for his interview. “He will interview at the state contest against 15 other area winners,” Shepherd said. “It will be a competitive SAE. There will be kids from all

over the state, so he may be up against kids that are selling crops versus livestock, or they may have their own lawn mowing business.” Eldridge’s confidence in the FFA and beef industry will help him maintain a positive attitude throughout the interview process. He has been the only FFA member amongst his siblings so far. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

A LIFE-CHANGER FROM PREVIOUS PAGE “Definitely take FFA,” Eldridge recommended to other youngsters. “It’s a life-changer. It gives you those basic tools of knowledge that, when you get out (of high school), will help you have a better understanding of how agriculture works.” In addition to his duties in the FFA, Eldridge enjoys stepping out of the pasture and on to the football field to represent his school every fall. Eldridge has been a member of the Mount Vernon football team for four years. This year, he received Big 8 all-conference and allarea honorable mention for his play at the linebacker and wide receiver positions.

ball team, and he is active out here with us. He isn’t just a one-note instrument, but he is able to juggle multiple things and make it work.” Eldridge has gained valuable knowledge in the agriculture classroom in addition to the learning his SAE has afforded him. “The advanced animal science class has helped me diagnose different illnesses in cattle and learn more about their habits,” Eldridge said. “That was really interesting to me, and I think that probably helped me more than anything in wanting to keep doing FFA and keep raising cattle.” Eldridge noted that he wants to carry his experiences along

with him after graduation and continue beef production throughout his life. “I am already planning to go to Missouri State (University),” Eldridge said. “I’ve thought about doing ag business and minoring in computer information systems, and I’ve also kind of been thinking about going into pre-med and doing dentistry.” Regardless of where his future takes him, Prewitt said Eldridge’s work ethic will help him be successful. “(Eldridge) will be able to manage his time wisely,” he said. “He is really good at that. He will be able to be a leader in college and that will really shine through for him at the college level.”

In addition to juggling school, FFA and football, Eldridge turns to Christianity for stability. “He is a leader in the classroom,” Prewitt said. “He sets a good example for all students to follow. He is active in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He is active on the foot-

APRIL 2016



ABC’s of Grass Management Monitor paddocks to know when to move the cows Story By Austin Black for Cattlemen’s News


rass is one of the most valuable resources for a cattle producer. If managed well, it can also be quite profitable. Mark Kennedy, former grassland specialist with Natural Resources Conservation Service, said producers should focus on three components when managing their grass: efficient harvest, adequate rest and proper nutrient distribution. “We’re trying to harvest grass as efficiently with grazing animals as possible,” he said. “And then incorporate rest periods beneficial to the plant so you keep a good healthy stand of grass.” Managed grazing is the best way to harvest grass, according to Kennedy. This increases forage consumption by limiting the time and amount of pasture a cow can graze. “It’s that combination of a shorter grazing period with proper rest incorporated that makes it good for the soil, plant and animal - all three,” Kennedy said.

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In a continuous grazing system, cattle have access to a large amount of grass. This makes them selective in their grazing patterns. “The data typically shows you’re going to be getting between 25 and 35 percent of the forage utilized by the grazing live-

plant’s production, letting other grasses continue to mature. Kennedy recommends producers limit grazing in a paddock to five days or less. “Keeping grazing under five days has shown we can get up to 60 percent utilization,” he said. In comparison, harvesting hay typically results in 70 percent utilization. Restricting grazing area forces cattle to eat existing grass and not be as selective. It also ensures cattle consume

“Timing is key to the whole thing. You have to be able to observe the grass growth and decide what speed to move.” Mark Kennedy Former Grassland Specialist Natural Resources Conservation Service stock,” Kennedy said. Cattle only eat the best forages and often trample other grasses as they move across the pasture. As a result, much of the pasture is underused, and forage is wasted. Kennedy said as soon as a cow eats a plant, the plant starts to grow back. The regrowth is higher quality and tastier than older plants. He said cattle continue to eat the regrowth. This hurts the

the available grass before it reaches maturity. The shorter the grazing period, the higher the utilization, Kennedy said. Rotating cattle every one or two days can make the utilization equal to that of harvesting hay. Managed grazing starts with determining how much forage is available. This will dictate how many head can graze

a paddock for how many days while providing adequate rest to each paddock. Kennedy said producers should know how many acres they have and how many of those acres produce grass. “South Missouri has a lot of trees incorporated in the pastures,” he said. The local NRCS office can help estimate how much forage each pasture can produce. This will help determine stocking rate. Once producers establish their stocking rate, they can calculate how many paddocks they need. Kennedy said producers should have at least four paddocks, but eight is better. “Producers see an economic benefit in carrying capacity and manure distribution when they are above the eight pasture level,” he said. “You can have a grazing period of two to five days and still have enough pastures to rotate through and give adequate rest.” The amount of rest needed depends on the season and amount of available forage. “In the spring of the year, when grass is growing fast, you don’t need as much rest,” Kennedy said. Producers can often let paddocks rest for 15 to 30 days during the spring. CONTINUED ON PAGE 36

APRIL 2016


ABC’S OF GRASS FROM PAGE 34 When grass growth slows, the rest period increases to 30 or 40 days. By July, cool season grass growth slows, and paddocks need to be rested for about 60 days. “You have to have a lot of flexibility,” Kennedy said.

Know when to move Getting the rhythm of rotation is difficult sometimes. Producers new to rotational grazing often move cattle too slowly in the spring. As a result, the pastures ahead in the rotation get too mature. “I don’t worry about utilization in the spring,” Kennedy said. Instead he focuses on rotating through paddocks and creating different stages of vegetative growth. This ensures cattle can graze each paddock before the grass gets too mature. He calls it the grazing wedge. “Some people will get behind that growth curve, and they lose a lot of quality,” he said. Other producers might rotate through the paddocks too quickly during the sum-

mer. The grass doesn’t grow as fast during this time. As a result, they rotate through all paddocks before the first one has enough time to rest. “It’s counter-intuitive to what we want to do,” Kennedy said. “Timing is key to the whole thing. You have to be able to observe the grass growth and decide what speed to move.” Kennedy recommends producers attend a grazing school to learn about proper paddock rotation. “We do field exercises to show how to monitor and measure grass,” he said. Producers learn how to watch multiple paddocks to ensure proper growth and rest.  Kennedy said while monitoring paddocks, producers should also examine the cattle and manure. “Make sure they aren’t getting too low-quality of a diet,” he said. Manure piles help determine the quality of forage. “I want to keep a cow patty between stiff pancake batter and a pumpkin pie. I don’t want a wedding cake,” he said. Loose stools mean cattle are rotating through grass too fast. The grass in their paddock might be too immature. Big

manure piles signal low-quality forage. Monitoring pasture health and forage quality is even more important in extreme weather conditions. Kennedy said during dry years, producers often have to give more time for paddocks to rest. “The rest period in the summer, depending on moisture, could be 45 to 60 days,” he said. “In really dry years, the rest period may be 60 to 90 days.” Producers have a few options to extend the rest period. They can increase the number of paddocks by using polywire to divide existing paddocks. Also, producers can graze hay fields or feed hay along with the grass to extend the grazing period. When excess rain fails, producers should rotate cattle faster because the grass grows more quickly. Sometimes the rotation must be adjusted if certain paddocks are too wet to graze.

Feed the forage Nutrient distribution is crucial for growing grass. In large pastures, cattle often graze in the middle, then deposit manure in

areas around shade and water. “In a big pasture, you get concentrated areas of manure and urine,” Kennedy said. Through rotational grazing, nutrients are distributed throughout the pasture. The cows act as a recycling agent, eating grass and depositing manure in the same place. But Kennedy said sometimes the natural fertilizer isn’t enough. “I think starting out, especially with an abused farm, take a soil test and add fertility,” he said. If a pasture is only used for grazing, late summer is the best time to apply fertilizer. This provides growth for fall and winter grazing. Kennedy said cool season grasses usually grow fast enough in the spring without any fertilizer. “Fertilizing in early spring will just compound the problem. You get more grass when you’ve already got too much,” he said. The exception is for pastures that are stressed from drought or overgrazing. Fertilizing up to one-third of those pastures will help kick-start growth. Producers can also fertilize in late spring to extend vegetative growth into the summer.

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Study to Examine Starting Cattle on Feed, End Performance Kansas State University, Texas Tech University join in beef cattle production medicine research


eef cattle researchers from Kansas State University and Texas Tech University are seeking feedlots to participate in a feedlot cattle production and health research study. The collaborative research group includes faculty from Kansas State University’s animal sciences and industry department and the College of Veterinary Medicine. They will work with researchers from Texas Tech’s animal and food sciences department.

The AIP/liver abscess survey consists of 64 questions. Feedlots that participate will be anonymous. Kansas State University graduate students from this beef research collaboration will set up an appointment and come to the feedlot to visit directly to help facilitate or clarify the point of the questions. “We have conducted studies of this style in the past for lameness, veterinary recommendations for bovine respiratory disease management and feedlot facility design,” Thomson said. “Past surveys were conducted over the Internet. However, to make sure we get everybody on the same page pertaining to animal health descriptive questions, we would like to have a person on the ground working with the general, cattle or office manager. It will help us get a better answer for the industry.” —Source: Kansas State University.

The group will focus on two areas of cattle feeding: starting cattle on feed and associated risks with bovine respiratory disease and the end of the feeding period focused on performance, carcass quality, fatigued cattle syndrome, heat stress, acute interstitial pneumonia, liver abscesses, cattle transport and others, said Dan Thomson, a member of the collaborative research group and a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at Kansas State University. Starting in May, the research group will work with feedlots participating in the study to better understand risks associated with acute interstitial pneumonia, known as AIP, and liver abscesses. A parallel study invites interested feedlots to participate in advanced necropsy training for their feedlot employees in coordination with their consulting veterinarian better understanding acute interstitial pneumonia lesions by sending samples from necropsied cattle to the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University. “AIP cases and liver abscesses are economically crippling issues in our cattle feeding operations,” Thomson said. “These surveys are important to help us understand risk associated with geography, cattle type, facility design, animal health programs, nutrition programs and weather.” The collaborative beef group was formed to leverage resources to serve common beef producer and veterinary stakeholders in Kansas and Texas through research that will provide solutions for beef cattle health and production issues like acute interstitial pneumonia in cattle. “AIP is a recurring and frustrating problem for feedlots,” said Guy Loneragan, professor at Texas Tech and a collaborator on team. “It typically affects those animals in their prime close to slaughter. AIP needs a solution, and we hope to provide that for the industry, and this survey is an important part of that process.”

APRIL 2016



Plagued by Poison Pastures Consider reseeding pastures to prevent fescue toxicosis Story By Lisa Henderson for Cattlemen’s News


escue has been described as the grass that grows good and feeds bad. So bad, in fact, that University of Missouri agronomist Craig Roberts says, “Fescue toxicosis is the most devastating foragelivestock disorder in the eastern U.S.” Fortunately, researchers are developing strategies for managing fescue toxicosis, including a new genetic test to identify cattle with increased tolerance to fescue toxicosis. Cattlemen in Missouri, Arkansas, eastern Oklahoma and eastern Kansas all depend heavily on fescue forage, but the fescue toxicosis cattle acquire from grazing many of those pastures can be a significant profit robber. Roberts says cattle grazing infected pastures exhibit poor performance, such as a low rate of

38 APRIL 2016

gain, decreased reproduction and reduced milk production. They also experience immunosuppression, vasoconstriction and poor thermoregulation, among other signs. Fescue toxicosis is caused by mycotoxins, Roberts says, which are poisonous compounds produced by a fungus. The fungus that causes fescue toxicosis is called the fescue “endophyte,” getting its name by growing inside (“endo”) the plant (“phyte”). The solution to rid your cattle operation of fescue toxicosis is to reseed pastures with novel endophyte fescue varieties. Since reseeding is best performed in the fall, cattle producers should consider some strategies this spring to reduce the negative impact of infected pastures.

University of Missouri Animal Scientist Monte Kerley says producers still have time to implement plans that will reduce the impact of fescue toxicosis. “One of the best strategies is to interseed those pastures with legumes such as clover and lespedeza,” he says. “Those legumes will grow well in the summer when the stress of fescue toxicosis is the greatest.” Kerley also recommends proReseeding pastures with novel endophyte fescue ducers supplevarieties is the best solution for ridding your ment cattle on cattle operation of fescue toxicosis. —Photo by fescue pastures Joann Pipkin. in an effort to To rid your operation of feslimit their fescue intake, which will reduce cue toxicosis problems, rethe symptoms of fescue toxi- seed your pastures this fall cosis. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

POISON PASTURES FROM PREVIOUS PAGE with novel endophyte fescue varieties, which is a point that needs some critical clarification, Roberts says. The fight against fescue toxicosis is decades old, and the first efforts in the 1980s led grass breeders to develop endophyte-free fescue varieties. Removing the endophyte removed the toxins, and improved cattle performance. However, researchers found the endophyte-free varieties were short-lived. Over the next decade, researchers established that the endophyte was necessary for the grass to resist disease, insects, drought and other stresses. “It gets confusing,” Roberts says, “but we do not recommend endophyte-free varieties.” To replace your toxic fescue pastures, Roberts and Kerley recommend using novel endophyte seed. In the 1990s, grass breeders began developing tall fescue infected with fungi known as novel endophytes, which are the same species as

the common, toxic endophyte, but they are strains that contain little or no toxins. Novel endophytes are also called beneficial endophytes, selected endophytes, introduced endophytes and nontoxic endophytes. “Novel endophytes have been tested in many experiments and planted on hundreds of farms,” Roberts says. “Novel endophytes are similar to the toxic endophyte in KY31 (Kentucky 31), but they do not produce high concentrations of ergot alkaloid toxins. They are not toxic to cattle and have much better persistence than endophyte-free varieties or other cool-season grass forages. Tall fescue with novel endophytes remains the No. 1 recommendation in Missouri for perennial pastures.” If you plan to replace old fescue pastures with a novel endophyte fescue, Roberts recommends what he calls the “spray-smother-spray” method. “We spray the old fescue in early May, smother it with a no-till summer annual, then

spray the pasture again in late August,” he says. “Then producers can plant the novel endophyte variety.”

The T-SnipTMreport presents a score for each animal. Scores range from 0 (highly susceptible) to 5 (improved tolerance).

Genetic test for fescue toxicosis

“With very few exceptions, animals scoring 0 to 1 will experience lowest intake and rate of gain, while animals scoring 4 to 5 will have highest intake and rate of gain,” Roberts says. “Again, our studies indicate that the difference between these two groups of animals is 8 percent for intake and 41 percent for rate of gain. Cows that score 4 to 5 will typically wean calves that weigh from 42 to 69 pounds heavier than cows that score 0 to 1.”

A new genetic test called TSnipTM is now available for cattlemen to identify animals with increased tolerance to fescue toxicosis. Developed by AgBotanica, LLC, the T-SnipTM test identifies tolerant animals that have as much as an 8 percent increased dry matter intake, 41 percent increased gain and 56 pounds heavier weaning weights compared to susceptible animals. “These numbers indicate approximately half of these losses can be recovered by animal selection,” Roberts says. “The test does not merely identify animals with better performance. Rather, it identifies animals with improved performance in response to toxic tall fescue.” Testing is conducted on hair or blood samples submitted to AgBotanica (www.agbotanica. com).

The researchers do not make a recommendation for using the T-SnipTM score to cull the herd. “Producers should consider the score as one of several selection criteria,” Roberts says. “Some producers are using T-SnipTM to select the bull first and cull the cows second. Others focus on the cows and primarily select among the youngest cows.”

APRIL 2016


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ycotic abortions, or fungal abortions, are often sporadic in cattle. As producers determine the need to provide supplemental feeds to their calving cow herd, they must also be aware of the causes of these often mysterious mycotic abortions, as well as how to diagnose them. “In one week, we had three different abortion submissions

from three different herds in Kansas. The diagnosis was definitive, and it was due to mold that infected the dam and then crossed over to the fetus,” said Gregg Hanzlicek, director of production animal field investigations for the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, speaking of a recent situation his team encountered. While hundreds of molds exist, Hanzlicek said two are the most typical in cattle abortion cases: Aspergillus and Mucor. They are typically found throughout the environment, but they are especially common in cattle feed, hay, silage and can be found in wet byproducts. If the cow cannot combat the mold with immune responses when it enters her system, it will get into the bloodstream and can eventually enter the placenta, he explained. The placenta supplies nourishment to the fetus. Once the mold enters the placenta, the placenta will most likely become inflamed, which can result in the death of the fetus. The cow recognizes the fetus as dead, so she aborts. Hanzlicek said mycotic abortions are often mistaken for other types of abortions. Most abortions in cattle occur in either the middle or last trimester, and mycotic abortions likewise typically occur around six to eight months of pregnancy. Molds like high humidity, so they grow well in relatively wet settings, he said. They can grow at different temperatures, but they all prefer high humidity. Some typical growing sites include hay that is put up too wet, corn silage or sorghum silage that is not packed well, and wet byproducts.

Signs of mycotic abortions Mycotic abortions will typically lead to just one or two abortions in the herd, Hanzlicek said. But in some cases up to 10 percent of the herd aborts due to mold. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

40 APRIL 2016

PREVENTING MYCOTIC ABORTIONS IN PREGNANT CATTLE FROM PREVIOUS PAGE “Unfortunately, there aren’t any clinical signs prior to the abortion,” he said. “The heifer or cow that has the mold doesn’t act sick; she just aborts the fetus. A small percentage of the aborted fetuses will have either red or white circular lesions on the skin. The white lesions look similar to ringworm. If we see that, we know mold was involved in the abortion. Typically the skin lesions are not seen, however, and the only way to diagnose is by sending in samples to a veterinary diagnostic lab.” Abortions due to mold are not contagious, Hanzlicek said, so a mold infection cannot be spread from animal to animal. There are no medical treatment options to prevent mycotic abortions.

Preventative actions in feeds The key to preventing mold in hay is to put the dry hay up so it stays dry, Hanzlicek said. It is imperative to keep the moisture down so mold does not grow in the hay. If the hay is

moldy, producers can have that forage tested to see how much mold is actually present. Producers can dilute the mold in hay, Hanzlicek said. One way is to feed the moldy hay along with non-moldy hay, which requires a mixer wagon. Another way to avoid mold infection in the cowherd is to feed moldy forage in the open, where the ventilation will allow for the mold to blow away. Producers could also grind moldy hay to disperse the mold; however, this isn’t always the best option in wet months, as the moisture in the pile of ground hay might allow the mold to resume growth. Packing corn silage correctly also limits mold growth, he said. Mold inhibitors in feed can be helpful, but only in programs that use a total mix ration or other rations that go through a mixer wagon and into a feed bunk. —Source: Kansas Sate University Extension.

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APRIL 2016



Quantity or Quality? Improve forage utilization to get best of both worlds Story by Brittni Drennan for Cattlemen’s News


veryone has that one neighbor who constantly brags about how much hay he/she produced. But is quality sacrificed to gain maximum quantity? “In our region, we often see producers harvesting the most biomass they can, and we often see them sacrifice quality for quantity,” said Mike Burton, professor in the Darr School of Agriculture at Missouri State University. “Everyone wants to catch a big fish. However, if you catch a big, boney fish with not much meat then you don’t end up well-fed, and then what do you really have to brag about?” Burton challenges producers to find ways to conserve efforts, as well as money, by focusing on making a better product. Several ways to improve quality and increase forage utilization exist to get the best of both quantity and quality. Grazing pastures as much and as long as possible will optimize forage utilization, but producers cannot graze all year so some hay needs to be available for bad weather and emergencies, Burton said. However, hay costs more and is often lower in quality than forage that is stockpiled and strip grazed. Implementing strip grazing practices can allow for more efficient use of forages for more of the year. “There’s greater use of more intensive grazing practices, in particular strip grazing on stockpiled forage. To clarify, stockpiled forage is grass in a pasture or paddock that we fertilized but did not harvest during the fall months,” Burton said. “The goal would be to graze that and move animals slowly across that pasture in a controlled manner rather than making that forage into hay, going to the expense of equipment, time and fuel.” Understand the pros and cons of pasture grazing versus storing and feeding hay. Overlooked losses in hay production, storage and feeding exist. Baled hay stored outside can lose up to 30 percent of harvested dry

42 APRIL 2016

matter (DM), whereas baled hay stored inside only loses approximately 4 percent DM. When unrolling hay for bedding, it is more advantageous to unroll the lower quality or oldest bale of hay rather than for feeding. “There are storage issues due to retaining moisture, that can lead to mold, and then refusal by the animal,” Burton said. “Livestock can better utilize that nutritious forage in strip grazing rather than seeing loss in making hay and in the storage process. Some may not recognize what they’re losing in terms of percent of their actual harvest, on account of their storage and feeding practices.” Studies show 35 percent greater hay losses when a threeday supply of hay is fed on the ground as opposed to feeding hay in a cone feeder. Investing in a cone feeder is more efficient and economical in the long run, and allows the producer to better distribute natural fertilizer. “Invest in a cone feeder and feed more efficiently and then move it when you’re ready to fill it up again so you’re redistributing the manure (nutrients) around the pasture,” Burton said. “In fact, if you unroll hay from the same pasture you harvested it from, you’ll be putting the nutrients you took from that field back into that pasture. And moving the cone, ring or feeding place will more effectively distribute the nutrients (from the manure), rather than having a very high concentration of nutrients in one location when you don’t move it.” If overgrazing occurs, particularly due to weather conditions such as drought, Burton said renovation is often necessary. A producer could use the depleted pasture as a location to unroll bales of hay and allow the decomposed hay, as well as the manure, to return nutrients back to the soil. Another option is to take this time to change forage species or variety. Choosing a more suitable grass to grow can help extend forage utiliza-

tion, as well as quality. Burton said, for example, during seasons of stressful weather, the old Kentucky 31 tall fescue has a negative effect on conception rate, milk production, rate of gain, etc. So, choosing to plant a different forage species or variety can have an impact on forage digestibility and enterprise profitability. “If you’re going to go to the effort of pasture remediation, it would be wise to take spring soil tests and determine what the pH and soil nutrient levels are and add whatever is needed ASAP,” Burton said. “So when it comes time to plant in the fall, you’ll have better conditions to ensure the success of the new crop.” Renovation is not required on the entire property, however. Burton said perhaps renovating as few as 10 acres would provide the average producer with enough forage to prevent stress associated with extreme cold or hot temperatures in a rotational grazing program. A novel endophyte fescue or species mixture would allow producers to move livestock into that pasture, reducing stress levels usually associated with toxic endophyte fescue pastures. “Let’s say you have 100 acres all in high endophyte tall fescue. If you set up just 10 acres of a species mixture or novel endophyte tall fescue varieties, you can rotate cattle into those ‘friendly’ areas in a controlled grazing program and reduce the ergot alkaloid intake, which reduces stress levels due to toxicosis,” Burton said. “Normally the ergot alkaloid levels are highest during the times of year when flowering and seed production is occurring or when overgrazing has occurred and cattle access higher ergot alkaloid levels at the base of the plant.”

Strip grazing the novel endophyte or mixture pasture when the other pastures are flowering (May/June or toward the end of October) can help reduce the cattle intake of the ergot alkaloid. Forage maturity is the primary factor affecting quality. And, Burton said the most common mistake made by growers is allowing the forage to get too advanced into maturity, which decreases its digestibility. Forage harvested during or beyond mid-seed stage, only provides about 53 percent dry matter digestibility because of the amount of stem matter and reproductive growth (high fiber). However, harvesting grass in the late boot stage, just before the flower emerges, generates 71 percent dry matter digestibility. “If you eat a food high in fiber, like celery, it takes more energy digesting the food than the nutrients you’re putting in. It’s a low-energy food,” Burton said. “Take a look at the impact of having a product that is 50 percent digestible versus 70 percent digestible. We have someone who is bragging because they harvested five tons per acre, but it’s only 50 percent digestible – only 2.5 tons are digestible. Would you rather feed your cattle celery or something more nutritious?” So what is better, quality or quantity? Assume the neighbor to the east made low-quality hay, stored it outside, and fed it on the ground while the neighbor to the west stockpiled and strip grazed, spent less time and acres making higher quality hay, stored it inside, and fed it in a cone feeder. The goal is to optimize quantity without sacrificing quality to increase your profitability and savings.

Value-Added Feeder Calf Sale June 23, 2016 Wean Date May 10


APRIL 2016


Joplin Regional Stockyards Market Recap | Feeder Cattle & Calf Auction March 2016 • Receipts 18,574 | Last Month 27,644 | Last Year 34,161

JRS Sale Day Market Phone: (417) 548-2012 Mondays (Rick Huffman) | Wednesdays (Don Kleiboeker) Market Information Provided By Tony Hancock Mo. Department of Agriculture Market News Service Market News Hotline (573) 522-9244 Sale Day Market Reporter (417) 548-2012

Video Markets from 3/11, 3/14 and 3/21 • Total Video Receipts 3,858 head

Tune in to the JRS Market Report

Monday 12:15 p.m. Wednesday 12:15 p.m.

44 APRIL 2016

Monday 12:40 p.m. Wednesday 12:40 p.m.

M-F 9:55-10:05 a.m. (during break before AgriTalk) M/W/F Noon Hour (during Farming in the Four States) T/Th Noon Hour (after news block)

Monday 11:30 a.m. Wednesday 11:30 a.m. Monday 11:45 a.m. Wednesday 11:45 a.m.

Monday 11:38 a.m. Wednesday 11:38 a.m.

Monday 12:50 p.m. & 4:45 p.m. Wednesday 12:50 p.m. & 4:45 p.m.




Stone County Hay School Stone County, Missouri FMI: 417-357-6812


Newton County Hay School Neosho High School Ag Room, Neosho, Missouri FMI: 417-355-9500


Special Cow and Bull Sale Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri FMI: 417-548-2333


Alfalfa in the Ozarks Tour Jim & Byron Stine Farm, Clever, Missouri FMI: 417-357-6812


Regional Grazing School Halfway, Missouri FMI: 417-345-2312, ext. 3


5th Annual Highland Cattle Auction Lebanon Livestock Barn, Lebanon, Missouri FMI: 417-693-0858


Regional Grazing School Mount Vernon, Missouri FMI: 417-466-3102


Pinegar Limousin Road to Lexington Sale Springfield, Missouri FMI: 1-877-PINEGAR

May 6

Special Video Sale Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri FMI: 417-548-2333


Entry Deadline Missouri Steer Feedout FMI: 417-466-3102


Wean Date for June 23 Value-Added Feeder Calf Sale FMI: 417-548-2333


CJ Auctions/Rasor Ranch Auction FMI: 918-629-9382 or 918-533-5587

June 3

Special Video Sale Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri FMI: 417-548-2333


Value-Added Feeder Calf Sale Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri FMI: 417-548-2333

July 1

Special Video Sale Joplin Regional Stockyards, Carthage, Missouri FMI: 417-548-2333

Missouri Steer Feedout Entries Due May 10

Pick-up site June 7 at Joplin Regional Stockyards

Eligible steers are those born after July 1, 2015. Calves need to follow a strict vaccination schedule and be weaned by April 23. The complete health protocol is in the feedout brochure found online at An entry consists of at least five steers with no upper limit. Calves should weigh at least 550 lbs. at the June delivery. Calves should be bunk-broke, dehorned and healed. Castration, pre-weaning is desired.

For More Details Call: 417-466-3102

APRIL 2016




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APRIL 2016


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5 Steps to WINNING BIG and helping your MCA 1. Join Missouri Cattlemen’s Association for $70, make it “fair” for any sized operation by paying Fair Share dues (suggested 50¢/head). 2. Buy ANY MFA Ricochet™ mineral from MFA and they will help pay your Fair Share. 3. For every bag of Ricochet purchased, MFA will contribute 50¢ towards your Fair Share. Just provide proof of purchase and send it to MFA Incorporated; attn: Carey Henke, 201 Ray Young Drive, Columbia, MO 65201. They will send contributions towards your Fair Share dues directly to MCA. 4. Anyone registering for Fair Share will be entered in a drawing to receive a year’s supply of MFA Ricochet mineral up to a maximum of 2000 lbs. The winning customer will also receive free PowerCalf data collection and analysis for the 2017 calendar year. 5. The county affiliate of the MCA that has the greatest amount in Fair Share dollars for the 2016 calendar year will receive a 2016 side by side furnished by MFA Incorporated and QLF Liquid Feed. 48 APRIL 2016

Cattlemen's News - April 2016  

April 2016 issue of Cattlemen's News published by Joplin Regional Stockyards

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