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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
Hay

Wet spring and cereal rye cover crop... now what?

I have fielded several calls this week pertaining to best harvest methods and potential feed value of quickly maturing cereal rye. Here are a few questions and answers. When is the ideal time to harvest cereal rye? Late boot stage. Cereal rye matures quickly, thus the ideal time to harvest may be only a 1 week window. Many producers have started using tritic...

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Too Late for Frost Seeding?

Posted by Travis Meteer - Grazing Hay

The first week of March is traditionally when many in central and northern Illinois are frost seeding clover. However, this year has brought a dry, mild winter and the grass as even started to green up. It feels like spring, and the plants feel it too. The question has come up quite a bit in the last two weeks, "Is it too late to frost seed or overseed clover?" My reply is… it depends....

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Utilizing Corn Residue for Cattle Feed

The best way to utilize cornstalks is to graze them. Cattle graze selectively, looking for the more palatable feedstuffs. The more palatable parts of the plant are also more nutritious. Cattle first eat the remaining corn grain, then husks, then leaves, and finally the stalk. Cattle will eat the more digestible and higher protein portions first. Therefore, a good mineral is probably the...

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cover crop

Cover Crops for Additional Forage

Posted by Travis Meteer - Grazing Hay

Illinois is blessed with very fertile farmland. Higher land prices, soil health benefits, and the ability to grow more feed are incentives to add cover crops to a diversified farming operation. Using cover crops following cash crop production for added forage is one of the best opportunities for IL cattlemen to lower production costs. A perfect spot for cover crops is following...

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CRP hay

Be Careful Baling Pastures

Posted by Travis Meteer - Grazing Hay

While I think everyone should have some hay on hand for emergency feeding, baling pastures may not be the best option. Forecasted dry weather makes it easier in some minds to cut hay and bale it up… because it won't get rained on. However, that weather pattern is not favorable to pasture regrowth. Hot, dry weather does not favor good regrowth of cool season grasses, which make up the ma...

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hay loss

Storing Hay Properly

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Hay is made to feed livestock in periods of forage dormancy. Many times hay is packaged in the form of a big round bale. This method of harvest is preferred by many farmers because of low labor needs and little need for facilities or infrastructure to feed the hay. One of the largest downfalls to hay in the round bale form is the weathering that occurs when the bales are stored outside. Th...

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Should I buy hay or grow my own?

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

While cost should be the primary factor, the correct answer depends on numerous factors. The list below helps illustrate these factors. Buy Hay Limited land resources to use for hay production Busy, limited time to devote to hay production Short on labor Must purchase hay equipment, update old equipment Set-up to handle by-product/a...

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hay bale

Cost of Baling Hay

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Mowing, raking, and baling. I wish hay-making was that easy. For me, that sequence is too often interrupted by cussing the weatherman, tedding, and more raking. Making hay is a consuming summer-time task. As farmers prepare to sharpen the pencil, I think it is important to look at what hay costs to produce. Every ton of hay contains approximately 40 lbs. of N, 20 lbs. of P, and 50 lbs....

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Baleage

Baleage: An option in better haymaking

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

In Illinois, spring rains can make putting up dry hay very difficult. Last year, many producers struggled to get hay up without it getting rained on. This brings me to discuss baleage as an option for hay making. It is easy to see the reasons why you should consider baleage. Making hay at higher moisture allows you to bale closer to cutting and shorten the window of dry weather needed to get h...

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feeding hay

Simple 2-part cow rations for this winter

Depending on your farm set-up, available equipment, and your willingness to purchase diesel fuel, your least-cost ration may look very different than your neighbors. Availability and proximity to co-product feeds, such as corn gluten feed (CGF) and dried distillers grains (DGS) may also shift your diet make-up. The traditional method of winter feeding is hay. Hay is variable in quality....

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hay waste old bale

Feeding Poor Quality Hay

Remember what a miserable year it was trying to get dry hay put up? In west-central Illinois, the rainy weather made it near impossible. In the month of May, we recorded rainfall on 15 of 31 days. In June, rainfall was recorded on 19 of 30 days. Here at the Orr Research Center in Perry rainfall totaled 26.5 inches for the months of May, June, and July. That is 68% of the normal annual rainfall...

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Research Update: RyzUpSmartGrass

Posted by Travis Meteer - Grazing Hay

For the last 5 years Ed Ballard, retired Extension, and Gary Letterly, Extension Educator, have been looking at the yield impacts of applying RyzUpSmartGrass to forages in the spring. The product works similar to a nitrogen application, however this product is primarily gibberellic acid, a natural occurring plant growth hormone. The improvements in yield and data summary is available i...

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Pastures are posing many challenges this year

I have had many discussions with cattle producers over the last couple of weeks about how to manage pastures in these wet conditions. We have also discussed the effect we are seeing on the cattle grazing these areas. It is hard to complain about too much rain, especially after a beautiful growing season last year and not so distant memories of drought. However, too much rain can be a difficult...

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Buying hay vs. Growing your own hay

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Hay is the traditional feedstuff of choice for wintering beef cows in the Midwest. This leads many cattlemen into the question "Should I buy my hay or raise it myself?" The correct answer depends on numerous factors. The list below helps illustrate these factors. Buy Hay Limited land resources to use for hay production Busy, lim...

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CRP hay

Hay: Nutrient Value and Cost of Production

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Although hay feeding has stopped on most farms and cows are out on grass, it is important to look at the value of hay as many start harvesting this year's hay crop. Every ton of hay contains approximately 40 lbs. of N, 20 lbs. of P, and 50 lbs. of K. However, it is important to calculate N losses at about 75%, thus only about 10 lbs. of N are returned to the soil. The values of P and K...

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hay bale

Cost associated with being hay happy

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

Pastures have really matured in the last week. Seed heads are prevalent in most pastures and stems are starting to show in some of the grazed paddocks. As a result of the fast growth and quick show of seed heads, I foresee many producers haying pastures to: 1- reset the growth cycle and 2- replenish low hay inventories. Taking hay off of pastures is not free. For each ton of dry hay rem...

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hay-sampling

Forage Sampling and Testing

Sampling and testing forages will save producers a lot of money this year. The extreme variability in weather this year has inevitably produced an abundance of variability in our forages. Along with variability, the cost of co-products and grains is extremely high and thus small differences in supplement levels could make a huge difference in profitability. By correctly sampling hay, a...

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CRP hay

CRP Hay: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

No need to write the same intro about how drought forced us to put up poor quality forages this year. You guys know that all too well. Cornstalks, wheat straw, and CRP hay are prominent features in most bale rows this year. CRP may be least familiar. Thus, I feel the need to discuss my thoughts on CRP hay... The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. So....as you hear the spaghetti western whistl...

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rolling the dice

High risk feeds require management

The drought has left a lasting mark in several ways; one being our winter feeds. These feeds were likely prepared during the drought. In large, producers will deal with high-risk and low quality feedstuffs this winter. Without caution and planning, you are just rolling the dice. So what high risk feeds do you have and how do you manage them correctly? Forages stressed in the drought...

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cover crop

Fall Forage Opportunities

As some parts of Illinois receive much needed rainfall this week, the hot topic has been fall forage opportunities. A little rainfall, crops coming out early, and feed shortages make planting fall forages something farmers should consider. Many producers have already identified the opportunity to put Oats, Rye, Turnips, or other forage crops in this fall. As a result, expect to see shor...

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soybean hay

Drought Management: Soybean Hay

Posted by Travis Meteer - Drought Hay

Livestock producers around the state are looking to salvage ruined crops for livestock feed. Refer to previous posts to explore using drought stressed corn for corn silage. A month ago we knew the corn was suffering and that there would be yield problems, but we were holding out hope for the bean crop. Now those hopes are fading as well and producers are asking "Can I mow and bale my soybeans f...

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hay bale

Makin' Hay

Posted by Travis Meteer - Hay

This past week's weather was dry, sunny, and low humidity. You couldn't ask for much better weather for "makin' hay." The dry weather has been abnormal for an Illinois spring, but then again, what hasn't been abnormal about the weather this year. Hay work hasn't been near as challenging as it usually is in early spring. We have the dry weather to thank for that. We also must realize that yields...

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