Florida: Jackson Cattlemen’s Tour Highlights

August 27, 2015 08:11 AM

The Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association hosted their annual tour on August 13, 2015. 
By: Doug Mayo, University of Florida Extension

This year’s tour went to two farms and the local research station.  More than 80 people attended the tour this year.  MWI Veterinary Supply, Southern States and Farm Credit of Northwest Florida sponsored the event and covered the expenses of lunch and refreshments.  Below are some of the highlights of the event.

Bigham Farms

Bill Conrad made Baleage in a Bermudagrass field at Bigham Farms. Photo Credit Doug Mayo

Bill Conrad, who has a custom grain and baleage harvesting service provided a demonstration of making round bale silage, more commonly called baleage. He shared some of the key aspects of harvesting, storing, and feeding baleage. Bill said, “baleage won’t make your grass better, it just allows you to preserve it at higher moisture levels, so you can get it harvested when it is ready and not have the issues with frequent rains like hay.”

Bill Conrad, who operates a custom harvesting service talked with the group about making baleage. Photo Credit: Doug Mayo

He also demonstrated his in-line bale wrapping machine for the group, as can be seen in the short video below.

Cindale Dairy Farm

Brad and Meghan Austin provided a tour of Cindale Dairy. Photo credit Doug Mayo

Brad and Meghan Austin shared with the group about how the dairy farm operates and contributes to the beef industry.  Even though milk and ice cream are the primary products, the dairy is also one of  the larger cattle operations in the county.  They also have an intensively managed forage system for their milking herd utilizing both perennial Bermudagrass and annual forages such as crabgrass, millet, rye, and ryegrass.

Cows being milked at Cindale Dairy. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

NFREC Beef Research Unit

Researchers at the North Florida Research and Education Center’s Beef Unit provided the final three stops on the tour.  Ranchers were able to see the new cattle pens that have been built to handle cattle more efficiently and safely than the previous system, using a “Bud Box” and a double alley system, along with a new hydraulic sorting gate that has been added. The group also got to see this year’s crop of bulls being evaluated in the Florida Bull Test, along with several feed additive trials currently being conducted at the facility.

Young bulls from across the Southeast are being evaluated for efficiency in the Florida Bull Test. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

The tour concluded with a visit to the Forage Research Trials.  Jose Dubeux showed the group the one of the paddocks where they are working to integrate both bahiagrass and perennial peanut.  Over the next several years he will be comparing the weight gains on young cattle, as well as the effect of fertilization with and without nitrogen.

The Beef Unit is also serving as one of four Florida locations for Bermudagrass Variety yield trials, so the group got to see first-hand the varieties being evaluated.

Bermudagrass Variety Test at Marianna. Photo credit: Doug Mayo

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