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November 2009 Archive for 100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.

Is it time to "Un-Stockpile" your forages?

Nov 23, 2009
Every 30 days of grazing stockpiled forage provides a co$t $aving$ that is practicaly equivalent to increasing your calving rate by 8-10%! 30 days of winter feed is usually the minimum producers can expect from stockpiling forages like Tall fescue in the Southeast if both new growth and subsequent grazing are well managed. 
Further North (
like where we’re located in North/East PA), stockpiled forages offer 2,000-2,500 lbs. of forage on a dry matter basis.   With fertilizer, production can be increased by 1,000-1,500 lbs./acre. This is for forages such as tall fescue and/or orchardgrass mixed with legumes like Red/White Clover or Alfalfa.   Letting cows harvest the forage (rather than making hay out of it), and then feeding it to them, is where the obvious savings occur especially now that Diesel is on the rise AGAIN!
  
Stockpiled forages also provide flexibility.

One stockpiling advantage is it assures grasses will be replenishing and storing carbohydrate root reserves during the critical fall period, which will build stronger root systems. If the grass to be stockpiled is Tall fescue, this may be the best use for it.  Cattle that reluctantly graze fescue in August and September find fescue in November & December to be very palatable.  In addition, fescue will maintain its forage quality and tonnage better than other cool-season pasture grasses throughout the winter.

Stockpiling success

The key is to start “from scratch”.   Either by grazing the pasture to the recommended minimum height, mowing a last cutting of hay or brush hogging the forage to a consistent height.   In the Southeast the chief stockpiling strategy for tall fescue is to fertilize pastures from mid August to early September.   Apply 40-50 lbs./acre of nitrogen.   Apply the same rate of N for Bermuda grass 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost.  If a tall-fescue pasture contains 35-40% legumes, extra nitrogen isn't required. If legume levels are less than that, apply up to 50 lbs./acre of N.  The later in the season you begin stockpiling, the less forage you will grow, but the quality of it will be better.

Economic potential

Just turning cattle out to graze stockpiled forages may only utilize 30-40% of the stands.
50-60% utilization may be accomplished with rotational grazing, 65-75% with “frontal grazing”.
“Frontal grazing” is when you start your cattle in the part of pasture where water is available and move the grazing front further from the water every few days.  Allow cattle enough forage for 3-4 days and then move the fences. That will almost double the amount of utilization you can get.
When pastures contain legumes “flash grazing” can also increase utilization. “Flash Grazing” is when you allow your cattle to graze long enough to utilize the legumes (which they consume quickest), then pull them back off until you're ready to utilize the grass stockpiled there.
If one of your goals is maintaining the sod in your pastures/paddocks (and it should be), you have to be concerned about crowding it too tightly and you may need to remove cattle from the pasture during a muddy period such as what we’ve been dealing with in the North/East since last April!
In the North/East, most producers will delay grazing stockpiled forage until at least the end of October. Many can graze it into December.   Making the decision to stockpile forage is about balance. There's the balance between available forage and the nutritional needs of cattle, as well as balance between management goals, resources and alternative strategies.
 
Measure What You Have

Measure your pastures forages canopy height at various locations within the pasture with a grazing stick that you can obtain through your local NRCS or FSA office. They are yardsticks that also include numeric tables with a range of estimates for pounds of dry matter (DM) per acre inch based upon the stand's density.   If you’ve never seen someone use one before it saves ALOT of frustration on the part of the producer if you/they ask someone at the NRCS/FSA Office (the Grazing Specialist if one is available), to show you how to use the information on the stick.

NOW GET OUT THERE AND GRAZE!!

It's Fall Vaccination Time!

Nov 13, 2009
It's FALL VACCINATION TIME!  This posting is an addition to our October 6th BLOG.
I've had quite a few inquiries about vaccines, so let's re-visit some of the more important issuses surrounding your fall vaccination program.
 
This can be a stressful time for the cow, the calf and the farmer/rancher.  
The main objective of your fall vaccination program is to prevent Year-Round IBR & * BVD
Not try and treat it when it rears its ugly head at the most in-opportune time!
 
Common Diseases of Cattle
 
* Bovine Virus Diarrhea (BVD)
This is one of the most costly diseases for cattle producers. Signs may include scours, nasal discharge, coughing and fever. BVD can also cause infertility, abortion and birth defects. Type 2 BVD can cause hemorrhaging and death in susceptible young calves and adult cows.
 
Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC)
Also know as “Shipping Fever”, BRDC is a general term for the pneumonia commonly seen in recently weaned calves. Stress is a major contributor to BRDC. Events such as weaning (which we spoke about in last week’s blog), dehorning, shipping and weather changes like what we’re all experiencing now, can compromise the animal’s immune system, making it susceptible to disease-causing viruses and bacteria. Stress cannot be eliminated entirely from the cow/calf operation, but it can be reduced considerably through careful handling and ensuring sanitary conditions.

Some important considerations when planning Fall Vaccinations include:

PREGNANCY - DO NOT use a “Modified Live Virus” vaccine in pregnant cows or heifers because abortions most likely will result.   The loss of a calf will on average, take the next 6 YEARS to make up for the profit potential loss! This is the one part of your operation where you have the power to control mortality. Read all vaccine labels. When in doubt, call your vet!

CURRENT HEALTH OF THE COW/HEIFER - If using a “Modified Live Virus” vaccine, only administer the vaccine in healthy cows/heifers prior to breeding as an aid in preventing abortion caused by IBR.
 
CATTLE AGE – Breeding age and bred cattle can always be safely vaccinated with “Killed vaccines”.
Breeding age cattle and heifer calves that are 5 – 6 months of age that haven’t been previously vaccinated will need 2 doses, 2 – 4 weeks apart. If you are unable to age group vaccinate, an alternative is to catch-up heifers every spring and fall (April & October).
 
DURATION of IMMUNITY – claimed by any vaccinerepresents the absolute maximum window of protection you should expect.For the optimal immune response, vaccinate as close to 30 days prior to breeding as you can.
Just because you can vaccinate up to a year ahead of breeding doesn’t necessarily mean you should. If a vaccine is labeled for 365 days of fetal protection, it has met minimum standards set by the USDA to obtain that label. It doesn’t necessarily mean the immune response is the same on the 364th day following vaccination as it is on the 3rd. Even the manufacturer’s own trial work that supports the product’s USDA license will show the protection begins to lessen as time passes.
        
SYNOPSIS - Vaccinate breeding heifers with two or more doses of modified live BVD vaccine
at least 30 days before breeding season.
Vaccinate all mature cows annually. Preferably, prior to the start of the breeding season.

It's not too late to vaccinate your cattle.  But your program should be wrapped up/completed by December 1st.  Have fun!!

For more information go to:
http://TheKuhnFamily.tripod.com
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