Graduation for 22 people who completed the LSU AgCenter Master Cattleman program was held Thursday (Oct. 8) during the Dean Lee Research Station Beef Cattle and Forage Field Day.
The graduates included several individuals who have been through the program as many as four times, and 10-year-old Klaire Fontenot.
LSU AgCenter regional beef coordinator Vince Deshotelsaid 59 people have graduated in the past two years from the program in the LSU AgCenter Central Region. The Master Cattleman program involves 10 sessions covering a wide range of material for beef production.
“The Master Cattleman program is for people who may have not been raised on the farm and who come from other careers after retirement. But it’s geared to educate everyone, including those who have a long past with cattle, and there’s something for all,” Deshotel said. “We’ve had people who don’t even own a cow participate in the program, including bankers and governmental agency employees.”
The next class in the Central Region will be offered in the spring. Contact Deshotel at VDeshotel@agcenter.lsu.eduor 337-831-1635.
On the field tour, LSU AgCenter ruminant nutritionistGuillermo Scaglia gave details on stockpiling bermudagrass forage for fall and early winter grazing. “In a sense, what you are trying to do is reduce the need for hay feeding.”
But he said weather is a factor because bermudagrass is affected by drought and excessive rainfall.
Pregnant cows at Dean Lee grazing on stockpiled bermudagrass lost on average 102 pounds and half a point in body condition score, while cows fed on bermudagrass hay gained 61 pounds and maintained body condition score, Scaglia said.
Cattle may find stockpiled bermudagrass unpalatable when it grows tall and lies down while also being affected by rainfall.
AgCenter reproductive physiologist Glen Gentry demonstrated remote systems to capture feral hogs. Gates operated with a smartphone program can be closed when a remote camera shows pigs have entered a pen, he said. The systems cost about $2,500 without the fencing.
“Right now, this is the best method we have” for controlling feral hogs, Gentry said. Box traps that catch one pig at a time aren’t effective because other pigs learn not to enter the traps.
An AgCenter survey showed that hay producers are No. 2 in hog complaints, behind soybean farmers, he said.
The AgCenter is working on the use of sodium nitrite to kill pigs, Gentry said.
AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan showed alternative herbicides that can be used instead of 2,4-D, which is restricted in Rapides Parish and parts of Evangeline, St. Landry, Allen and Pointe Coupee parishes.
Chaparral provides good control with a cost of about $15 per acre. The chemical does not require an applicator’s license, and it has no grazing restrictions. It is particularly effective on horse nettle, he said.
Tordon RTU is effective to kill Chinese tallow trees, he said.
Now is the best time to use glyphosate to kill Johnsongrass, although drought-stressed plants may not respond well to the chemicals, Strahan said.
AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell said some herbicides have long residual periods that prevent planting clover for as long as 12 months. Soil from an area that has been sprayed can be tested by planting a small amount of clover seed to see if germination is possible.
AgCenter entomologist Julien Beuzelin said fall armyworms can devastate a pasture rapidly. He recommended scouting for the pest using a sweep net during the cooler part of the day. The threshold for spraying is one worm or more per sweep. Several pyrethroid chemicals are effective against the insect, but they don’t last long after spraying.
The bermudagrass stem maggot has been found in Louisiana, and research in Georgia showed it has the capability of reducing hay yields by up to 8 percent, Beuzelin said.
Deshotel talked about body condition scoring cattle to determine if animals in a herd are getting adequate nutrition and are in good shape for reproduction. Cows ideally should be scored at a 5 or 6 on a scale of 1 to 9, with the higher numbers designating heavier animals.
Low-scoring cows are unlikely to produce enough colostrum needed in the first hours of a newborn calf’s life, and the thinner cows are inclined to have more difficulty delivering calves and recovering from birth.
Deshotel, also a county agent in St. Landry Parish, said the biggest problem he sees is overstocking. “When times are good in the industry as they are now, people overstock to maximize their potential, but contrarily it works against them.”
Rodney Johnson, LSU AgCenter county agent in Rapides Parish, said the lowest on the body scoring scale are cows with visible ribs and spines. A cow with a body score of 4 still has visible backbone and spine showing, with fat developing on its rump.
A 5-6 score has minimal spine showing, the last two ribs can be seen, and the shoulders are fuller. A score of 7-8 is given to cows with ribs completely covered, and no bony structure can be seen.
AgCenter area agent Donna Morgan with the Louisiana Master Farmer Program said a two-year study evaluating three ryegrass planting methods showed no differences in water quality with regard to phosphorus, sediment and potassium levels, but nitrate levels in runoff were higher from the prepared seedbed compared with untreated plots for both years.
AgCenter livestock research associate Jeff Gurie said no differences in forage production could be found with the different seedbed treatments. But he said the prepared seedbed allowed a faster turnaround of available forage.
Source: Louisiana State University AgCenter