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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies
Nutrition
Cornstalk DSI

FAQ: Cornstalk Grazing

Grazing cornstalks is arguably the best cost-saving strategy Midwestern cattlemen can deploy. I wanted to share some frequently asked questions pertaining to grazing cornstalks. Q: How long can I graze cornstalks? A: This depends on stocking rate and available dry matter to graze. The quick answer is "At 150 bushels an acre, approximately 1 acre of cornstalks are needed to feed...

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Winter ration considerations for beef cows

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

Feed costs represent over half the total cost in a cow-calf production system. The majority of feed costs are from feeding cows during the winter season when most grasses are dormant. As a result of this, producers can greatly impact the profitability by managing winter feed costs. This article will discuss and illustrate options for developing a least-cost ration on your farm. Die...

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commodity bay storage

Budgeting feed needs for the winter

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

The dry fall weather has been optimal for farmers harvesting crops. However, it has left pastures without needed moisture to grow fall forage. As a result, it is becoming glaringly evident that cattle producers need to inventory feeds and make sure they have the needed amounts of stored feed in case they are forced to start feeding cattle earlier than expected. Hay A co...

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Silage bunker

Corn silage too dry?

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

I have had numerous reports of drier than normal corn silage this year. It is hard to post a blog that answers all the questions about corn silage. Nutrient analysis of corn silage, dry matter, nitrate levels, analysis of other feedstuffs, cow size, cow condition, environmental factors, and many more variables can impact the amount of corn silage you need to feed. I recommend you consult your n...

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making corn silage

Making Corn Silage for Beef Cattle

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

The key to corn silage decisions is to keep the end in mind. At the end, corn silage should provide a high quality feed to livestock that properly ensiled. To achieve this goal, the harvest process is crucial. The ideal time to harvest corn silage is dependent on numerous factors, but the most important may be whole plant moisture/dry matter. Most farmers will target a whole corn plant...

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May 1 2013 turnout

Washy pastures need supplemented with dry matter, fiber, and energy.

During the winter season most cattle are supplemented with dry forages, grains, and co-products. This ration is balanced and delivered to cattle. Then spring comes along and cattle are put out to grass. While green grass solves a lot of problems associated with winter feeding (manure, pen maintenance, calf health, and labor demands), it can pose nutritional challenges. Lush, spring forage has t...

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Minding your Minerals

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

Have you ever watched a person walk a tight rope? The balance and precision that it takes to make it from one side to the other is incredible. Focus and attention must be combined with talent and practice. If any small thing goes wrong… balance can be lost and the goal of making it across is gone. Mineral nutrition is a balancing act too. It is very delicate and much more fragile than o...

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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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100 0104

Inventory Stored Feeds Now

The dry fall weather has been optimal for farmers harvesting crops, however it has left pastures without needed moisture to grow fall forage. As a result, it is becoming glaringly evident that cattle producers need to inventory feeds and make sure they have the needed amounts of stored feed in case they are forced to start feeding cattle earlier than expected. Hay A cow...

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Cornstalks to get the call-up

When a player gets injured and goes on the DL, the manager calls up a player from the minors. This year your hay crop likely got injured. So as the manager, you need to call-up the reserves… cornstalks. As an analyst (nutritionist), cornstalks will serve as a worthy replacement. But, don't expect cornstalks to make the all-star team. Cornstalks, when used in a balanced ration, will work well. H...

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Feeding damaged wheat to livestock

Wet growing conditions in the Midwest have opened the door for several challenges in the 2015 wheat crop. As a result, farmers are seeing price docks and discounts at the elevator, mainly due to increased disease, low test weight, and sprout-damaged wheat. Depending on the dock and infection level this wheat may be best utilized as livestock feed, said a University of Illinois Extension beef ed...

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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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Feeding cows

First-Calf Cows: High nutrient demand can slow breed-back

First-calf cows (3 year olds) are traditionally the most challenging animal to get bred on the farm. As we approach breeding season, cattlemen need to be aware of this challenge and make sure they do not drop the ball on getting first-calf cows re-bred. First-calf cows are dealing with a large demand for nutrition. Nutrients are needed to support maintenance (normal bodily processes), l...

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Focus on Getting Cows Bred Early in the Breeding Season

I was speaking at a meeting one evening and I was talking about how nutrition affects reproduction. I got to the portion of the talk discussing how post-partum interval affects cows getting bred in a 60 day season. I asked the members of the crowd to raise their hand if they maintained a 60-day calving season. Very few hands went up. One of the few was attached to a gentleman that spoke up and...

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IL Cattle Feeders Day

Illinois Cattle Feeders Meeting to be held in Macomb, IL on Mar. 5th

Illinois cattlemen and cattlewomen will have the opportunity to here from industry experts at the 2015 Illinois Cattle Feeders Meeting. The meeting will be held on March 5th at the 4-H Auditorium in Macomb, IL located across the road from the Extension office. The seminar will be start at 9:00am and conclude at 4:00pm. "This meeting is a must-attend for Illinois cattle producers. First-hand acc...

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Avoiding Acidosis

As farmers put together least-cost rations this winter, many of them will be using corn as an ingredient. For many farmers, corn stored on farm will be the cheapest source of energy. It has been a few years since corn has been this "cheap." Thus, it is worth reminding cattlemen of the dangers of acidosis when feeding higher levels of corn. Acidosis is a nutritional disease that is cause...

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Pre-Calving Prep

There is nothing like a healthy new born calf to make your day. However, it is important to remember there are several factors that can influence the health and vigor of new born calves. With higher prices, losing a calf can add stress both mentally and financially to your operation. Here are some things you may want to consider. In many areas of the Midwest, Selenium is deficient in th...

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Now is a great time to conduct a BCS on the cowherd

Cattle prices are holding at record levels so far this fall. As we head into bred heifer sale season, there appears to be a lot of interest from producers eager to re-invest profits. Prices for heifer calves have been elevated, however some have taken lofty steer checks and saved heifers back for replacements. The market for breeding cattle has been and looks to be good. Producers are seeing in...

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Open cows? Diagnosing the failure to breed

Open cows are simply a fact of the cattle business. Managing to achieve a 100% pregnancy rate is simply not cost effective, nor should it be your goal. Having a few open cows every year implies some selection pressure is being put on fertility and animals best-fit for your environment. However, if the number of open cows is excessive (greater than 5%), evaluation of management, nutrition and he...

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Developing Replacement Heifers

As feed and commodity prices fall and cattle prices continue to hold firm at record levels, the incentive to add pounds with "cheap" feeds is present. Proper heifer development hinges on achieving a desired weight before breeding…yet not over-developing heifers to the point they are not prepared to live on pasture and forage-based diets the remainder of their life. Most literature shows...

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Finding more Grazing Days

The current cattle market can be distracting. Record high prices, while certainly a good thing, can leave many cattlemen in a state of awe and amazement. Instead of getting caught watching high prices this fall, your time will be better spent monitoring the cost side of your cattle business. Cow/calf producers can significantly reduce costs by extending the grazing season, delaying feed...

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corn silage

Corn Silage Considerations

Posted by Travis Meteer - Nutrition

Corn silage is a popular choice for winter feeding throughout the Midwest. The feed is very palatable, a good source of energy, and is highly digestible. Along with these attributes, its popularity is also based on high yield and tonnage per acre. Harvesting and storing corn silage for feed is dependent on anaerobic fermentation. The fermentation process converts soluble carbohydrat...

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Adding Value to Your Calf Crop- Checklist

Record cattle prices, lowering feed costs, and good pasture conditions all are benefiting cattlemen in 2014. One of the most popular questions I have received lately is "what opportunities should I be taking advantage of to get the most out of this current market?" In short, anything you can do to add a pound for less than that pound is worth is beneficial. Obviously, producers still ne...

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Corn Silage: Foliar disease, the silent killer? - Dr. Phil Cardoso

Corn silage is popular as a forage source for dairy cows due to its high energy and digestibility. It should have a light, pleasant smell with only a slight vinegar odor. Knowledge of the silage process often explains why some silage may be of poor quality. Once ensiled, the material starts to ferment and will continue to do so until enough acid is produced to stop bacterial action. The desired...

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