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The Cattle Connection

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

Q&A: Utilizing stunted cereal rye for forage?

Abnormally cool spring weather has not only slowed pasture growth, but also changed the growth curve of cereal rye. I have fielded several calls pertaining to best harvest methods and potential feed value of stunted cereal rye. One main point I immediately share with farmers is there is still feed value in the crop when harvested timely, but obviously yields will be lower due to this year's lon...

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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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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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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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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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Dudley Smith

Plan to Use Cover Crops this Fall

Farms that have both cattle and crops are best equipped to take advantage of the benefits of cover crops. Cover crops are a buzzing topic. From an agronomic side the list of benefits continues to grow with more research. Better soil tilth, soil health, soil biology, water retention, nitrogen retention, and subsequent crop yields are all becoming evident in managed cover cropping systems. The be...

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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. 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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cows eating a mixture of DGS and hay

Management in a Drought: Part 4

One thing that distinguishes a successful producer from his peers is the ability to adapt and respond to changes. Changes in weather and forage availability are many times out of our hands, but how we react to those changes can be the difference in profit or loss. Supplementing cows with alternative feedstuffs during a drought is a common practice. Harvested forages, su...

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