IN THIS ISSUE
American Products and Services for American Cattlemen
Vol. 44 • No. 3 • March 2018
FEED BUNK 6 PUBLISHER STATEMENT 14 MANAGEMENT 8 INDUSTRY NEWS Trending news from around the cattle industry.
ROTATIONAL GRAZING 10 SIMPLIFYING
Management intensive grazing, controlled grazing, buffer grazing, deferred grazing, creep grazing; the list is endless. For many ranchers, trying to get to grips with the many forms of rotational grazing can leave us in a tailspin. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the 2012 Census of Agriculture found that only 30% of producers used rotational grazing, with most using extensive rather than intensive grazing.
When it comes to nutritional management of growing and finishing cattle, the scientific aspects tend to get the most attention. Hours are spent getting the formulations right and debating the merits of different ingredients and additives.
SUCCESSFUL A.I. BREEDING PROGRAMS 16 CREATING The components necessary to make the A.I. bred herd successful are many and overwhelming. Cattlemen need fear not if they can identify and prioritizing the key characteristics to make this possible. This topic was discussed at the most recent Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) conference hosted in Manhattan. Kan. with perspectives from an industry professional and veterinarian.
Back to the Grind WOW! That is all I really have to say. In the last week I have
American Products and Services for American Cattlemen
Vol. 44 • No. 3 • March 2018
experienced polar opposites when it comes to Mother Nature. In
President/CEO - Gale McKinney
a matter of 7 days I went from sunny Phoenix, AZ to attend the
VP/CFO - Audra McKinney
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and then back
Group Publisher/COO - Patrick McKinney
to the snowy and cold Iowa winter. I went from 80 degrees to a
Publisher - Dustin J. Hector
blizzard and the snowiest week of the year, the joys of living in the Midwest. Ok, I will stop whining and get back to the topic at hand. What a great show again
Associate Publisher - Lissa Baker Office Manager - Dawn Busse
this year put on by the NCBA. The weather was nice, but the comradery amongst
Creative Director - Brandon Peterson
the industry leaders and exhibitors was even better. I enjoyed the conversations I
Advertising Account Executives Kathy Davidson Mary Gatliff Lori Seibert Irene Smith Joyce Kenney Ed Junker Kristen Adams
had with both the producers and other companies exhibiting at the show. There is nothing better than getting together with colleagues and discussing ways to improve the industry and find ways to improve the ever evolving industry that we work in. I also received some honest feedback from both our customers and readers which is always appreciated. Another area that I really enjoyed was the speakers at the general session. Storme Warren did a fantastic job of kicking the event off on a positive note. As a baseball
Circulation Coordinator Shawna Nelson Subscription Sales Kendra Sassman Falon Geis
fan, I was excited to hear Jim Abbott speak, and as I expected he did not disappoint. I was really hoping to get a copy of his book and have him sign it but when I returned from a meeting the line was winding through the aisles. As always, I look forward to seeing what new equipment and products are out there and what new companies have flourished. I like really like to see how these new pieces
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of equipment and products are going to make things easier on the producer and what they did different to either improve their product or how they came up with this new product. After returning from the show I find myself with a renewed sense of energy. I am excited for what 2018 will bring, and from the way it was reported at the show, 2018 should be an exciting year for the beef industry. From all of us at American Cattlemen we hope you stay warm and safe as we move our way through winter and into the spring season. Until Next Time, Dustin Hector Publisher – American Cattlemen
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Get Started with Mix 30 Today
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If you raise ruminant livestock, then you will want to consider adding MIX 30 to your nutritional program. It has many advantages from a feeding standpoint, but also from an economic point of view and it is easy to purchase and feed. Mix 30 is not just the latest fad in a long list of nutritional products for livestock. The supplement is fed across the country, across species of ruminant livestock and the producers who feed it do the productâ€™s best advertising. It has a strong history of success
documented by not sales, but producers who use the product. Mix 30 is a liquid feed that is a high energy, protein supplement created from a combination of corn and soy based coproducts. It was developed in 1992 and today is marketed through Agridyne, LLC. Mix 30 is marketed in U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Mix 30 is sold through dealers, positioned across the U.S. with ten manufacturing facilities, 12 rail-offloading facilities and an extensive distribution network. Mix 30 has unmatched versatility and works in all ruminant diets and it is very easy to feed. It can be fed in open-top, free choice
containers, or mixed into grain or hay in a total mixed ration. Mix 30 is easy, convenient and has a low labor requirement, which makes it even more desired by livestock owners. In addition, cattle operations of all segments have found the product key to improving quality and adding to the bottom line of their operations. Mix 30 contains ingredients that research has shown to enhance reproductive performance and increase calf survivability and performance. Mix 30â€™s nutrient combination is designed to help the animal utilize forages, especially poor quality forages, more efficiently. If you raise ruminant livestock, then you will want to consider adding Mix 30 to your nutritional program. It has many advantages from a feeding standpoint, but also from an economic point of view and it is easy to purchase and feed. We invite you to study its applications and visit with a dealer near you about incorporating it into your operation.
ROTATIONAL GRAZING By Michael Cox for American Cattlemen
anagement intensive grazing, controlled grazing, buffer grazing, deferred grazing, creep grazing; the list is endless. For many ranchers, trying to get to grips with the many forms of rotational grazing can leave us in a tailspin. Perhaps it’s no wonder that the 2012 Census of Agriculture found that only 30% of producers used rotational grazing, with most using extensive rather than intensive grazing. Rotational grazing does not need to be a complicated process. The tried and trusted method of rotationally grazing paddocks, developed by the original pioneers and master graziers of New Zealand and Ireland, is based on a few simple principles listed below. A basic understanding of these key principles is all that is required to begin rotationally grazing and improving the profitability of your ranch.
• Stocking rate: Under the New Zealand/Irish system, the stocking rate of the farm is set so that herd demand equals the average daily growth of the farm over the year. For example, if the average growth per acre is 30lbs Dry Matter, then the farm could be stocked at 1 cow to the acre. As a re10
sult of having enough animals to eat the average daily growth rate, surpluses and deficits will naturally occur during high and low growth months. Surpluses can be removed from the pastures as bales and fed back during deficit periods when grass growth is low. The desired stocking rate can change if warm season or cool season crops are grown. For beginners, it can be useful to start rotationally grazing a large group of animals on your best pastures, especially irrigated pastures. The stocking rate can be adjusted as necessary on this area of your ranch by moving cows on or off to the other land area of the ranch. • Measurement: ‘You can’t manage what you don’t measure,’ is a saying that is certainly true for rotational grazing. A weekly ‘grass walk’, where the amount of pasture dry matter available in
each paddock is measured and recorded is crucial to making informed grazing decisions. Measurement can be carried out using a variety of tools. A Pasture Stick is the simplest method of measuring grass. Plate meters or using the ‘cut-and-weigh’ method are also straightforward tasks that will offer more accuracy for estimating dry matter availability. Once all the paddock measurements have been recorded, it is hugely beneficial to enter the data into a ‘grass wedge’. A grass wedge is a visual tool which ranks paddocks in order from high to low based on the amount of forage available in the paddock. A simple grass wedge computer system is available from the University of Missouri Extension website. Agrinet. ie is an online grass wedge system used by Irish and New Zealand grazing farmers. The wedge allows farmers to see how much grass is on the farm, what the growth rate was for the previous week, what the herd demand for forage is, and whether there is a grass surplus or deficit on the farm. • Rotation Length: The length of the rotation from paddock to paddock across the farm area will change during the season based on growth rates. When * Continued on page 12
grass is growing fast, it will be necessary to ‘skip’ long grass paddocks and keep consistent quality forage in-front of the herd. The long grass paddocks can be baled as surplus forage. When grass growth slows down in the Fall, the rotation length will increase greatly, and hay or other supplement will be needed to fill the feed deficit. Rotation length also allows a rest period for grasses to recover and regrow to the optimum stage before the next grazing event. • Infrastructure: Grazing infrastructure can be off-putting to rotational grazing newcomers, but the key is to keep the system as simple as possible. For ranchers starting out in rotational grazing, they should utilize their existing infrastructure as best they can. For example, temporary fences can be set up around watering facilities and drinkers, around shade and windbreak areas etc. Using temporary polywire fences for the first few years can help ranchers plan where they would like to place permanent paddock fencing in the future. At a minimum, there should be 8 paddocks used in the rotation, but the more drinkers and paddocks available, the better. Ideally a lane or farm road running through the farm will allow easy access in and out of paddocks. Again, this can be easily set up using some polywire and pegs. • Mobs: Having a small number of similar-class animals in a group or mob will help simplify the system. A few large mobs is far easier to man12
age than several small mobs scattered across the farm.
The benefits of rotational grazing are too large to ignore. Research from South Dakota State University says it simply as; ‘Rotational grazing increases long-term profit and improves soil conditions.’ Some of the other main benefits include; Improved pasture quality; Pastures have rest periods to recover under rotational grazing, which offers high quality plants adequate time to recover between grazings. In continuous grazing situations, cows will continually eat the most palatable grasses, which will eventually lead to selective overgrazing and a reduction in high quality grasses in the sward. Improved total forage growth; Rest periods allow grasses to recover properly in comparison to continuously grazed pasture. ‘Grass-grows-grass’ – a common phrase among graziers, implies that rested grass has a larger leaf surface area for photosynthesis, and therefore will grow more leaf area, which in turn will grow even more leaf area. By moving cows from paddock to paddock, the rotation will protect re-growing pastures from overgrazing and increase the overall forage available over time. Increased Stocking Rate; The above benefits will allow more stock to be carried per acre. Stocking rate has a direct effect on Net Profit, however increased
stocking rate is most profitable when the additional animals are fed homegrown forage, rather than purchased feed. Better Animal Performance; By grazing rotationally, animals are offered high-quality forage regularly. For Moma cows being allocated fresh pasture every 24 hours, it is similar to a daily trip to the candy store! A fresh grass allocation daily or every few days will supply animals with energy dense grass at the top of the plant, resulting in better liveweight gain and overall performance. Pinkeye issues can be reduced if vegetation is maintained at the leaf stage and seed heading-out is delayed or reduced as much as possible. Fly problems and worm burden for young calves will also be reduced, as the majority of flies and worms will have died or be in the incorrect stage of their life cycle to infect stock when the herd returns to the paddock after a number of weeks. As ranchers, we are price-takers of a commodity product. The only market factors under our direct control is the cost of production inside the ranch fence-line. Rotational grazing is a proven method of lifting animal and farm output, while lowering cost of production. Home-grown feed is our cheapest feedsource available and rotationally grazing pastures will improve the quantity and quality of this feed. Life can sometimes be as simple as we make it, rotational grazing is no different.
Michael Cox is a freelance writer for American Dairymen. His background is in Animal Science, where he graduated from University College Dublin Ireland with a First Class Honors degree in 2016. He is currently involved with a dairy business in Missouri, managing a 750 cow grass-based grazing farm and am also a research scholar with University of Missouri- Columbia.
MANAGEMENT By Warren Rusche
hen it comes to nutritional management of growing and finishing cattle, the scientific aspects tend to get the most attention. Hours are spent getting the formulations right and debating the merits of different ingredients and additives.
In truth, feeding cattle successfully is as much art and judgment as science. Judgment is required to balance between over- and under-feeding. Under-feeding limits performance and possibly Quality Grade. Feeding too much increases feed waste and more importantly can trigger acidosis, poor performance, and increased death loss.
Tracking Feed Bunk Scores
An SDSU research study conducted by Bierman and Pritchard (1996) compared cattle fed all they would eat to those fed just enough so that all the feed was consumed in a 24 h period. They observed that the steers fed with the slick bunk strategy had similar ADG but improved feed efficiency compared to the steers fed to appetite. There was also more variation in ADG among the steers fed all they would eat, suggesting that some of the steers may have experienced subclinical acidosis from over-consumption. A successful slick bunk feeding program matches dry matter intake (DMI) to the cattle’s appetite as close-
ly as possible and keeps DMI consistent from day-to-day. To do so requires that managers know how much feed has been delivered previously and a way to track how the cattle respond. Dr. Robbi Pritchard at SDSU developed a widely-adopted scoring system to help cattle feeders monitor eating behavior for a particular pen (Table 1). A record of bunk scores and feed deliveries will help identify pens that are right on track, those that should be offered more feed, and those that should be fed less. Over a period of 7 to 10 days, seeing bunk score of 1/2 two or three days with scores of zero for the balance of the period would indicate a good balance between high intake to support performance with minimal DMI variation.
Some guidelines for managing feed deliveries include: • Feed calls should be made at the same time every day. • Feed should be delivered at the same time every day, ideally within a 15-minute window. • Do not increase feed offered by more than ¾ pound of dry matter. • In adapted cattle, feed should not be increased more frequently than every third day. • Remove stale feed; watch for sorting • Cattle behavior and aggressiveness in coming to the feed bunk can tell a great deal about whether or not feed deliveries should be increased. The Iowa Beef Center at Iowa State University has recently released an updated Feed Bunk Management factsheet that covers this subject in much greater detail, including pictures showing examples of different bunk scores.
Table 1. SDSU Feedbunk Scoring System Score 0 0.5 1 2 3 4
No feed remaining in bunk. Scattered feed remaining. Most of the bottom of the bunk exposed. Thin, uniform layer of feed remaining. About 1 corn kernel deep. 25 to 50% of feed remaining More than 50% of feed remaining. Crown is thoroughly disturbed. Feed is virtually untouched. Crown of feed still noticeable.
CREATING SUCCESSFUL A.I.
BREEDING PROGRAMS By Jaclyn Krymowski
he components necessary to make the A.I. bred herd successful are many and overwhelming. Cattlemen need fear not if they can identify and prioritizing the key characteristics to make this possible. This topic was discussed at the most recent Applied Reproductive Strategies in Beef Cattle (ARSBC) conference hosted in Manhattan. Kan. with perspectives from an industry professional and veterinarian.
Sandra Levering, an ABS Global representative spoke from the industry. “Keep in mind as you’re developing an A.I. program you pick your team well,” she said, “and the team needs to be accountable to your results.” This team generally includes an A.I. technician, veterinarian, semen supplier, nutritionist, and everyone involved with handling the cattle daily. Everyone involved needs to be trustworthy and accountable.
The equation of reproduction
There are four major cornerstones imperative for reaching optimal pregnancy rates. “You can’t really get past this when you’re trying to create a successful A.I. program,” Levering said. The first is effective synchronization, which includes choosing which treatments used, proper dosage calculations, and having them be administered properly. The team effort is especially important when it comes to keeping after the little details. Levering pointed out that even the smallest inconsistencies, such as young heifers pulling out CIDRs, can be detrimental if not immediately detected and addressed. Technicians involved with the breeding herd should be reputable and qualified. Experience, knowledge and passion are some major characteristics these individuals should possess. Sometimes rotation of duties among various technicians is a good practice to prevent fatigue and stress. Proper cattle handling, facilities and stress all contribute to herd fertility. Moving cattle post-breeding, often 16
a necessity on larger operations, can be tricky. According to one study, if animals need to be moved, it should happen within the first 5 days post-breeding to avoid pregnancy loss. While there is no “silver bullet” to guarantee conception, small steps such as pre-calving vaccinations, selecting fertile genetics and proper nutritional management all promote the best possible odds. While there is more research in order, Levering highlighted the importance of the right semen and handling it properly. In terms of semen quality and fertility, buying units from a reputable bull stud company is often a better choice than custom collected animals. Younger bulls often collect very well and are known for being more fertile, but their semen often doesn’t do as well with post-thaw motility so extra care should be taken in handling.
Efficient reproduction means both profitability and sustainability, according to Dr. Randall Spare, a veterinarian from the Ashland Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, Kan. There are four key areas that are necessary for a reproductively efficient herd. “I believe the producer is in control,” he said, “each one of us are in control today.” These four keys are genetic choices, docility, nutrition and health. Animal health as it relates to breeding falls into three categories, calf immunity, cows, and sires. At the cornerstone of calf immunity is in colostrum intake. “It’s not black and white, it’s a degree of response to colostral intake and we need to make an environment for those animals to
calve, that calf to get up, and nurse and fill its belly full of colostrum,” Spare said. An important disease in monitoring herd health is BVD. Testing for persistently infected (PI) calves should be a regular occurrence in every herd. Spare narrowed BVD management to five short points: test regularly, vaccinate, keep a closed herd, and implement a biosecurity practice. Herds that opt to use live cover instead of A.I. should take their sire health very seriously. Buying young virgin bulls under a private treaty is always the safest route to go. Leasing bulls should be avoided as part of biosecurity. According to Spare, docility is a trait of increasing importance. Aside from the obvious safety hazards, many studies have repeatedly found that animals with naturally higher-strung temperaments have inferior performance to their calmer herdmates. “We know that those animals that are wild, they cause a problem,” he said, noting that poor facilities and animal handling can also promote less docility. However, docility is a trait that can easily be incorporated through sire selection. Of nutrition, the most important take away is maintaining body condition of the cow herd. Mineral programs are also important. Calving ease has become a paramount genetic trait, especially for young heifers calving. Spare recommends that bulls used for calving ease should be in the top 1-2 percent. As stated by both Spare and Levering, these components of reproductive success only work when they all come together and are maintained by everyone involved with the animals. Spare notes that the results from following this regimen will lead to a better pay out from picking up maximum animal premiums, enhanced cow efficiency, and overall herd productivity. Interned as an industry publications writer and editor. I worked privately as an AI technician for an Ohio dairy. I participated in the Midwestern Regional Dairy Challenge and am an active member of the Buckeye Dairy Club.
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