Monday, August 8, 2011

Creep Feeding Decision Time

When an oppressive heat wave scorches pastures and dries up water sources, it may be time to consider creep feeding beef calves.

Creep feeding is a way to increase weaning weight by supplementing grass and milk for unweaned calves or to supplement milk production in periods of nutritional stress for cows -- is a valid option now, said John Comerford, associate professor of dairy and animal science.

"The decision to creep feed or not to creep feed is a difficult one for producers," says John Comerford, associate professor of dairy and animal science at Penn State. "Like most other aspects of the beef business, it's a complex decision and one that has to be analyzed year after year.This management decision has lots of variables and responses that are not always predictable."

Each producer has to weigh independently if creep feeding is financially feasible. The logical questions to ask before creep feeding calves are "How much will it cost?" and "How much does it pay?"

Creep feeding implies there will be purchased feed provided for the calves, usually on a limited basis, along with facilities, equipment and labor to provide the feed.

Comerford offered this sample calculation:

40-calf creep feeder costing $1,000 with a 10-year life -- per calf cost: $2.50
Feed at $0.20 per pound x 3.5 pounds/day x 100 days: $70.00
Interest on feed at 4 percent: $0.16
Total estimated cost per calf: $72.66

The payoff:
Additional weaning weight of 0.6 pounds/day (total 60 lbs. at $1.45/pound): $87.00

Net return to labor and management: $14.34

But creep feeding does not always pay off, Comerford cautioned.

"It appears on the surface that creep feeding would be a profitable management tool at any time, but there are other considerations. The total weight gain should not be used as the predictor of additional value of calves. Additional weight on calves usually also implies a lower value per pound when they are sold, so the total value of the calf should be considered."

Other factors involved in creep-feeding calculations include feed efficiency, feed palatability and cost, carcass grade, marbling accretion, preconditioning programs and weaning.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Husbandry: Bull Pastures Increase Profits

Bull management is an important part of running beef cows. A key to successful bull management is having and using a bull pasture according to University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Eldon Cole.

"This is the time of year when owners of well-managed cattle herds are pulling their bulls from their cow herds," said Cole. "The bulls likely were put with the cows and heifers in late April and by early July they've had a 75 to 90 day breeding season.

According to Cole, females should have cycled and had the opportunity to breed two to possibly four times during that period depending on their calving date and interval from then to first heat.

"By having a well defined breeding season you should have a closer bunched, more uniform set of calves. This is an asset at marketing time as larger groups of uniform calves typically sell for a higher price."

The price of the heifer calves should also be higher as they are less likely to have been bred by the bulls if they are removed before the heifers reach puberty.

Research consistently shows that as temperatures warm up, conception rates go down and the calf crop becomes more strung out if the bulls remain with the cows. This is especially true in fescue country as the endophyte problem or heat stress adds insult injury as summer temperatures climb.

A University of Kentucky trial found a breeding season from April 21 to June 5 resulted in an 89 percent pregnancy rate. A breeding season from May 21 to July 6 resulted in 78 percent of the cows becoming pregnant. Only 59 percent of the cows settled when bred from June 19 to Aug. 4.

An Oklahoma State report compared records from 394 Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico ranches. Those records show a 75-day breeding season, compared to those leaving the bull with the cows year round, resulted in a reduced cost of $13.63 for producing 100 pounds of calf.

"In other words, it makes economic sense to control the breeding season," said Cole.

Source: Eldon Cole (417) 466-3102

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Soybean Alternatives to Fish Meal for Weanling Pigs

New research indicates that fermented soybean meal and enzyme-treated soybean meal may replace fish meal in weanling pig diets.

"The price of fish meal has exploded and is causing producers to search for new options for weanling pig diets," said Hans H. Stein, University of Illinoi professor of animal sciences. "Pigs are traditionally fed diets containing relatively large amounts of animal proteins such as fish meal from weaning up to 40 pounds when they can digest traditional soybean meal."

The fermentation and enzyme treatment process helps remove some of the antigens found in traditional soybean meal and other compounds that are not easily digested by weanling pigs. Stein said these new sources of soybean meal may be the answer producers are looking for to keep costs down without sacrificing digestibility of important amino acids.

"In our study, we measured the digestibility of amino acids in these two new sources of soybean meal in comparison to fish meal, casein and soy protein isolate," Stein said. "We observed that enzyme-treated soybean meal has even better digestibility of amino acids than conventional soybean meal. It appears the enzyme treatment increases digestibility. Fermented soybean meal has the same digestibility as standard soybean meal, so we now know that fermentation doesn't reduce digestibility."

Stein said both fermented and enzyme-treated soybean meal products are readily available in the United States and are currently cheaper alternatives to fish meal.

"With the high cost of fish meal and concerns about its future availability, I believe these are two good options for weanling pig diets," Stein said. "They are comparable in digestibility to soy protein isolate, the gold standard protein source that is only used in human nutrition."

Source: University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Protecting Horses in Extreme Weather

Provide warm water.
Provide warm water at least twice a day or use a water-heating unit if the horses drink from a common water source in a field. Make sure the heating units are working properly and no stray voltage is leaking into the water. If horses must drink cold water, they may not drink enough, which could contribute to impaction colic and dehydration.

Provide shelter.
Horses are generally well protected from the cold through the insulating hair coat and other aspects of their physiology. However, they need protection in extreme winter conditions of cold, blizzard, or wind. The insulating hair coat becomes significantly less effective when wet through, and horses should be sheltered from the cold when freezing rain is combined with cold weather.

Continued in... The Corral
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