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The Farm and Ranch Report

Limit-Grazing Wheat Pasture for the Cow Herd

Last week, we discussed limit-grazing as a management strategy to increase the efficiency of utilizing wheat pasture as a winter supplement program for the cow herd. In that vein of discussion, it is commonly thought that wheat pasture may cause reduced or delayed conception rates for heifers and cows during the spring breeding season. A recent article by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist, in the OSU Extension Cow/Calf Corner Newsletter, addresses this subject.

Southern plains producers with cow calf operations may be looking to wheat pasture this winter as much of the winter feed supply.  Some producers may have questions about the utilization of wheat pasture for growing replacement heifers or cows before, during, and after the spring breeding season.  Anecdotal reports of unsatisfactory breeding performance have surfaced when replacement heifers have been exposed to bulls or AI while grazing wheat forages.  Therefore an Oklahoma State University study (http://afs.okstate.edu/research/reports/2009/page) was conducted to compare reproductive performance of heifers grazing wheat pasture before, and during breeding, with heifers grazing wheat pasture until approximately 3 weeks before breeding. 

In each of two years, 40 spring born Angus and Angus crossbred heifers were placed on wheat pasture in December and randomly assigned to one of two treatment groups in mid- March.  Group one (Wheat Pasture; n=20) remained on wheat pasture (mean crude protein = 26.6 %) through estrus synchronization and fixed-time AI.  Group two (Dry Lot; n=20) was placed in drylot and had free choice access to a corn-based growing ration (11.1% crude protein) through estrus synchronization and fixed time AI.  The heifers were inseminated on about April 5 both years.  Heifers were exposed to fertile bulls starting 10 days after fixed time AI for 45 more days.  Fixed time AI conception was determined at 32 days after AI by ultrasonography.   

The percentage of heifers cycling at the start of estrous synchronization was 75% and 55% for Wheat Pasture and Dry Lot, respectively.  Weights of Dry Lot heifers were slightly heavier than Wheat Pasture heifers (897 vs. 867 pounds) at the time of AI but were similar at ultrasound (917 vs. 910 pounds).  Conception rate to fixed time AI was similar for Wheat Pasture (54%) and Dry Lot (43%) and final pregnancy rate was similar for Wheat Pasture (98%) and Dry Lot (88%).  Reproductive performance of heifers grazing wheat pasture during estrus synchronization and Fixed time AI was similar to heifers consuming a corn-based growing diet.  Source: Bryant and co-workers. 2011. February issue. The Professional Animal Scientist.  Most Oklahoma spring calving operations will begin the breeding season a little later in April when the wheat plant will be even more mature and lower in protein content. 

Kansas State University looked at grazing wheat pasture, before and during breeding with first and second calf cows.  They compared the fixed time AI and final pregnancy rates for cows on wheat with cows on native rangeland.  Five years of data were summarized in the 2011 KSU Cattlemen’s Day Report.  The AI pregnancy rates were 51.7% and 57.7% for wheat pasture and rangeland respectively.  The final pregnancy rates after a natural breeding clean up breeding season were very similar at 94.4% and 95.9% respectively.  They concluded: “This trial showed no evidence that the high protein diet of wheat pasture reduces pregnancy rate of beef cows. However, because timing of the breeding season remained constant, protein content of the diet may have moderated prior to breeding.” Source: Johnson, S.K. 2011 KSU Cattlemen’s Day Summary.

The take-home conclusion is that research has shown wheat pasture to have no adverse effect on conception rates of beef females. Wheat pasture remains an excellent winter forage supplement program and, if managed correctly, can be a cost-efficient alternative to traditional supplement programs.

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

The Farm and Ranch Report

Livestock Risk Protection Insurance

Listening to Derrell Peel, OSU Extension Livestock Marketing Specialist, speak this past week, one might conclude that profit margins may be a little tighter in the coming year or two. According to Derrell, we may have reached a plateau on the national cow herd expansion and, subsequently, the potential for higher prices. If so, and IF is a big word, it would seem that management and marketing skills will become much more prominent in determining the profitability of the cattle enterprise; or, in a worst-case scenario, minimizing the down-side risks of market prices.

 With those thoughts in mind, I found the following comments, courtesy of OSU Extension Area Ag Economist Trent Milack, of particular interest.

Livestock Risk Protection is an insurance product that protects against declines in cattle prices. In the past, the main focus when raising cattle has been on the production side. Arguably, this is still true. However, price is at the forefront of many producer’s minds due to recent cattle market volatility.

Livestock Risk Protection can be purchased through a livestock insurance agent. This product insures between 1 and 1,000 head at a time with a total of 2,000 insurable head per year. The length of the insurance coverage varies from 13, 17, 21, 26, 30, 34, 39, 43, 47, or 52 weeks. Insurance can be purchased on calves, steers or heifers, which fall in the weight classes of Weight 1 (under 600 pounds) or Weight 2 (600-900 pounds).

Coverage levels vary between 70 percent and 100 percent of the expected ending value of the animals. The coverage options available vary each day so it is important for producers to check the RMA website https://public.rma.usda.gov/livestockreports/main.aspx daily to determine which coverage options are available. The ending values of the policy are based upon the weighted average prices reported in the CME Group Feeder Cattle Index. This index is used to settle the Feeder cattle contracts.

An indemnity payment is triggered if the actual ending value is lower than the coverage price. This has nothing to do with what the producer receives for the animals in the cash market when he sells the cattle. Indemnity payments will only occur if the price declines below the coverage level during the coverage period. Also, the producer must own the cattle and have taken delivery of them in order to qualify for the insurance coverage.

An example of the insurance coverage includes a producer who wants to use LRP to put a floor on his 2019 steer crop. He normally sells in the middle of March and his steers currently weigh 500 pounds. His herd consists of 100 predominately Angus cross steers.

The insurance is purchased in October so he needs 26 weeks of coverage. The option he selects includes feeder cattle steers for the 2019 crop year with an expected ending value of $136.794 per cwt. He chooses a 99% coverage level with a coverage price of $135.040 per cwt. The premium will be $6.889 per cwt. He expects the steers to gain 250 pounds over the course of this coverage. The premium is calculated by multiplying the final weight in cwt. by the premium cost per cwt. and the number of head covered. So 7.5 cwt. X $6.889 X 100 hd. = $5,166.75. RMA subsidizes 13 percent of the premium cost so the producer will be responsible to pay $5,166.75 X .87 = $4,495.07.

In the event that on March 31st the actual value is below the coverage price of $135.040 per cwt., an indemnity payment will be triggered. If prices fall to $120.00 cwt., the producer would be paid a premium in the following example. The price decline in this example is $135.040 – $120.00 = $15.04. The producer’s payment is 100 hd. X 7.5 cwt. X $15.04 = $11,280.00. This farmer received an indemnity payment of $11,280.00 on 100 steers for the cost of $44.95 per head. While there is no way to know what the actual ending price will be, this is an option to manage downside price risk.

Perils not covered include death, government seizure, and forced destruction. If one of these events do occur, the producer is required to notify their insurance agent within 72 hours of the occurrence of the loss. By giving notice of the loss, the producer will have the affected livestock included if an indemnity is payable on the endorsement. Not giving notice of the loss will result in the affected livestock being excluded from the indemnity calculation and the premium will not be refunded.

Some producers are aware of hedging and the ways that they can manage price risk in the futures markets. There are many reasons, however, why producers do not utilize this option. They may not have enough cattle to fill an entire contract, they may be reluctant to pay brokerage fees and margin calls, or they just do not understand the complicated world of futures markets and are uncomfortable with that risk management system. Livestock Risk Protection allows a producer to tailor the insurance coverage to the number of cattle he needs to insure at a price where he will remain profitable.

The application for Livestock Risk Protection can be filled out at any time, but insurance does not come attached until a specific endorsement is made. The insurance coverage will begin when a specific endorsement is made and approved by RMA.

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

45-Day Weaning . . . Why?

I had a producer ask me the other day why some value-added calf programs, specifically the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network, required a 45-day post-weaning preconditioning period. Well, the short answer is that buyers are willing to pay for it, as evidenced by the $12-15/cwt premium that OQBN calves earn over they typical sale day run of calves. The reason, or justification, of that premium is detailed below, in an excerpt from an article by Glen Selk, OSU Emeritus Extension Beef Specialist, in a recent Cow/Calf Corner Newsletter.

“Data from Iowa from over a nine-year period in a couple of their feedout tests compared the health status of calves weaned less than 30 days to calves weaned longer than 30 days. Data from over 2000 calves were summarized. Calves that had been sent to a feedlot at a time less than 30 days had a higher incidence of bovine respiratory disease (28%) compared to calves weaned longer than 30 days (13%). The percentage of calves that required 3 or more treatments also was significantly different (6% versus 1%) in favor of calves that had been weaned more than 30 days. In fact, the calves weaned less than 30 days were not different in health attributes than calves that were weaned on the way to the feedlot. 

A summary of this lengthy study can be found on line at http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pages/ansci/beefreports/asl-1648.pdf.  Vac-45 calves apparently have a real advantage in terms of health compared to calves weaned for less than a month or those weaned on the way to the livestock market for sale date. Certainly, part of the “value” in value-added calves can be attributed to properly applied vaccinations. However, there is little doubt that a portion of the improved health is due to the length of time between weaning and the movement of calves to the next owner. 

Information about the Oklahoma Quality Beef Network (OQBN) value added calf sales can be found at http://oqbn.okstate.edu .”

In summary, immunologists say that research shows that a 45-day post-weaning preconditioning period ensures the maximum benefit of the weaning vaccination protocol and ensures that the calves are past the incubation period for any pathogen that the calves may have been exposed to before, at, or just after weaning.

Now is a good time to begin planning for next year’s OQBN sales and capturing significant premiums on your calf crop.

Increased Efficiency of the Wheat Pasture-Stocker Enterprise

As of this writing, the National Weather Service is promising predicting a 100% chance of rain, which should have fallen before you read this. So, maybe we can save some wheat fields and stockpile some grazeable forage prior to dormancy. With that thought in mind, there are ways to increase the efficiency of the wheat pasture/stocker enterprise.

  Research from Oklahoma State University has shown that we can achieve this increased efficiency while managing bloat. The Oklahoma Green Gold Supplementation Program was developed with the idea of providing a small package energy supplement to complement high protein wheat pasture. Wheat and other small grains pasture contain more protein than calves can utilize. By adding a small amount of energy to the nutrient profile, calves are better able to utilize the protein which in turn makes them more efficient in converting forage to weight gain. 

  Some producers are comfortable providing supplements free choice in a self-feeder, but others prefer to hand-feed supplements, allowing closer observation of animals and intake. The Green Gold Program works perfectly in a hand feeding system, allowing cattle to be fed an ionophore-containing supplement at a rate of two pounds/hd/day or four pounds/hd every other day. The base of the supplement would be energy feed sources such as corn, milo, wheat midds, or soybean hulls and a mineral package balanced to meet requirements of cattle on small grains pasture. Minerals of most concern for cattle on wheat pasture are calcium and phosphorus.  Blends can vary from one company to the next but calves on small grains pasture should provide a mineral blend with at least 12-16% calcium and no more than 6-8% phosphorus. In addition, ionophores such as Bovatec (Lasalocid) or Rumensin (Monensin), included at proper dosages would be icing on the cake to manage bloat and improve efficiency.

  An OSU study testing the Green Gold program found that steers receiving the monensin-containing energy supplement gained 0.25 pounds per steer per day more than those cattle consuming a only a free choice mineral without monensin.  Costs of mineral containing monensin can be high (~$1200/ton) and supplements can be expensive depending on the year.  However, if producers break down the cost of consumption on a per head basis, the costs are really minimal. Based on a consumption rate of 0.15 – 0.20 pounds per day and varying feed prices, costs are approximately $0.20 per animal each day. Improved daily gains of 0.20 – 0.40 pounds provides the economic incentive to consider a supplementation program if time and labor constraints allow. 

Why not consider options to manage risk and increase efficiency in your stocker calves this fall?  Call your local feed consultant to price products that would benefit stocker calves, then pencil the products into the budget to see how they might work in your specific operation.

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.


Why Hay Quality Matters and Have You Tested?

By and large, the 2019 hay crop is, as they say, “in the barn.” Meeting the supplemental protein needs for the cows and replacement heifers consuming that forage must be done properly and economically. Protein is a vital nutrient for the ruminant because protein is necessary for the multiplication of, and the feed digestion by the microbes in the rumen. The microbial population in the rumen of cows is largely responsible for digesting cellulose in standing or harvested forages.

Higher quality forages are more readily digested in the rumen and have higher rate of passage through the digestive tract of the cow than do lower quality roughages. Therefore, the cow can consume more of the high-quality forage on a daily basis and receives more total digestible nutrients (TDN) from each pound of feed consumed. If adequate protein is available to cows consuming lower quality roughages, then the rate of passage and the digestibility is improved compared to cows that are inadequately supplemented while consuming the same low-quality forage.

Producers may be surprised to know the large differences in protein supplement needed to meet the cow’s requirement depending on the quality of forage that makes up most of the diet. Below is a table of the pounds of 40% protein supplement needed daily for moderate-sized (1100 pound) beef cows in different stages of production and consuming differing quality of grass hays. Larger cows and cows that produce above average milk production will consume more forage and need even more supplement to match their requirements. The table above describes the protein-only needs of the beef cow. Energy deficiency may occur and result in some weight and body condition loss. Energy needs will be increased if cows are already in thin body condition and must be improved before calving next spring. Also, winter weather conditions can greatly increase energy needs. In many instances, the energy requirements can be met with lower protein supplements (for example 20% protein range supplements) fed at about twice the rate as noted in the table above.

Forage quality differences are important, whether the supplement choice is high protein (40%) or lower protein (20% protein). Learn about testing hay for protein content by visiting with your OSU County Extension Office or downloading Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Fact Sheet PSS- 2589 Collecting Forage Samples for Analysis.

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Buying vs. Raising Replacement Females

J.J. Jones, OSU Extension Area Ag Economist, offered the following article in the latest edition of the OSU S.E. Area News & Notes newsletter. 

It has been an age-old debate. Is it better to raise your replacement heifers or purchase them? The question brings a lot of opinions and arguments. There are both advantages and disadvantages for each. Producers must consider each of them before making their decision.

The first table below outlines some of the main advantages and disadvantages of raising versus buying replacement heifers. Some of these points will be more important than others for different producers. For example, the only advantage listed for raising replacements is that the producer knows the genetics of their heifers. This could be important for producers that have spent considerable effort in selecting for specific traits and attributes. But for a producer that has not been managing for specific genetic traits and has a common set of commercial cows this might not be as important.

Producers need to determine what is the most important for them and their operation and make the decision based on that criteria. For most producers, one of the more important criteria is cost. What is the cost of raising replacements versus buying them? The remainder of this article will focus on that very question.

The second table compares the costs associated with buying a 4-5 month bred cow and raising a heifer until her first calf is sold. It is assumed that the purchased cow will have two calves in the same time that it takes a weaned heifer to be bred, calve and wean that calf.

When comparing the returns and costs for the first two years of buying versus raising it shows that there is a slight cost advantage to raising replacements over buying them. Although, the results are close enough that one might consider it to be a wash. Keep in mind that no consideration was given to the possibility of calving difficulties, quality of first-born calf, poor breeding percentage, or poor growth rate. Everything is kept equal so just to consider the costs.

So, with the costs being about equal producers must consider the other ramifications of buying versus selling. Producers must consider their operations resources. Not only land availability, but also time availability and management. Producers need to consider the long-term effects on the operation’s cash flow from holding onto heifers instead of selling them. Can an operation withstand the decrease in revenue and be able to wait two years for the payoff? Producers will need to determine if they could improve the quality and production of their herd faster by purchasing replacements versus raising them from existing stock.

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Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/ 

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Is Your Mineral Program Sufficient?

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The proper balance of protein, energy, vitamins and all nutritionally important minerals is needed to make a successful nutrition program. Nutrient balance is the key to any effective nutrition program. 

Minerals and vitamins account for a very small proportion of daily intake in cow diets and can be overlooked due to misunderstanding the importance of adequate mineral nutrition and because of the cost of supplementation. However, proper mineral and vitamin nutrition contributes to a strong immune system, reproductive efficiency, and weight gain. Mineral deficiencies often go undetected since visible reductions in performance are not visible immediately. In fact, visible signs such as decreased bred back percentages may not show up till the following year. Even though forages may be green and lush providing adequate protein and energy, most all forages are deficient in one or more trace minerals. 

As our knowledge of minerals grows, we are finding out that minerals may limit production in better-managed herds to a much greater extent than generally recognized. The most limiting factor in an operation dictates productivity. In many operations, the mineral program is the most limiting factor. In many grass pastures, phosphorus is frequently the most limiting nutrient. Whereas, in small grain pastures such as wheat or oats, calcium and/or magnesium are frequently more limiting. 

Forage surveys have suggested that the trace minerals, copper and zinc, may be limiting nutrients in many situations. In national and Oklahoma forage surveys (~6,300 samples), the average copper and zinc levels were 6.2 and 23.4 ppm, respectively, as compared to suggested requirements of 10 and 30 ppm. In forage samples (1,113 samples) collected by Britt Hick, OSU Extension Area Livestock Specialist over the last several years in Oklahoma and Texas, only 14.6% provided adequate zinc and 39.4% were adequate in copper. Cattle cannot perform to their genetic potential even if you meet over 100% of their protein and energy needs but fail to meet their mineral needs.

These surveys suggest that nearly all forages are deficient in one or more minerals and that there is a widespread occurrence of deficient levels of copper and zinc for beef cattle grazing forages. This is further complicated by the fact that the availability of minerals may be affected by the distribution and form of mineral in the feedstuff, as well as interactions with other minerals or dietary components that inhibit absorption or utilization of a given mineral.  Research has shown that mineral deficiencies in ruminants fed forages often result from low availability rather than low concentration of a given mineral. Just because minerals can be found in plants does not mean they are available to the animal. Soil mineral level, soil pH, climatic and seasonal conditions, plant species and stage of plant maturity all factor into mineral content and bioavailability in forages. For these reasons, it is important that cattle be on a good, balanced mineral program to optimize performance. 

Feeding a trace mineralized salt block is not a complete mineral program. The high salt content (often 90 to almost 100 percent salt) limits consumption substantially. In addition, such salt blocks generally contain extremely low levels of trace minerals. Salt blocks are cheaper and if cattle only consume a very small amount of it that makes it even cheaper. However, they are not more economical because cutting costs by feeding trace-mineralized salt instead of a complete free-choice mineral supplement can cost you quite a bit in the long run. In summary, adequate minerals should always be available in any operation. Recognize the role minerals play in good health as well as fertility and growth. Frequently, the first thing a producer cuts from his program during tight times is the mineral program. Cutting the mineral program is never recommended since minerals are important in maintaining reproduction and performance.  Cutting minerals out of a feeding program may reduce cost in the short term but will reduce returns and effectively increase cost over the long term. Some researchers would suggest that marginal deficiencies in minerals probably are more costly to producers than are the added profits from feed additive such as ionophores.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2 

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Not All Protein Ingredients are Created Equal

Crude protein is simply the percentage of nitrogen multiplied by 6.25. For beef cows, this simple measurement is adequate for formulating nutrient requirements. However, for growing animals it is important to understand that not all proteins are alike or preform the same. Crude protein in a ruminant animal can be broken down in the rumen (digestible protein), passed through the rumen to the other stomachs or to the hindgut for digestion (bypass protein), or is passed through the feces (undigestible protein).

When feeding ruminants, you are actually feeding two animals. The first being the microorganisms in the rumen and then feeding the animal. The microbes in the rumen require the protein to work efficiently at breaking down and digesting feedstuffs. The protein sources that feed the animal are the bypass protein, the volatile fatty acids and ammonia from microbe digestion, and the dead microbes themselves can be used as a protein in the hindgut.

Each feed ingredient has a certain amount of bypass protein that it contributes to the animal. Ingredients such as soybean meal, alfalfa hay, sunflower meal, feather meal, canola meal, peanut meal, and corn gluten feed contain only ten to thirty percent bypass protein. These feeds are commonly used when degradable protein is needed or when cost effective. A perfect time when one of these supplements is needed is in a situation with really low-quality forage (less than 4-5% crude protein), such as mature and dormant forage. The extra degradable protein these supplements provide will meet the protein requirements of the microbes.

Cottonseed meal and linseed meal are two very common ingredients used in ration formulation, and they contain between thirty to sixty percent bypass protein. We commonly compare soybean meal with cottonseed meal because of their availability and high levels of crude protein, but the degradable fractions of that protein are drastically different.

The feed ingredients with high levels of bypass protein are blood meal, fish meal, brewers grains, and distillers grains. The amount of bypass protein available is these supplements is the reason that they have become popular with producers growing stocker or feeder calves. They supply adequate amounts of protein to the rumen but also supply ample amounts of bypass protein to the animal for growth.

Ingredients such as urea and biuret are almost 100% degradable protein and provide no bypass protein to the animal. These ingredients do not supply any protein in the form of amino acids or peptides but only supply nitrogen to the microbes. Typically, animals consuming grain, silage, alfalfa, or lush pasture do not need to be supplement with rumen degradable protein.

So, when you are comparing supplements for your animals just remember that not all protein is the same. Find the protein source that best fits your situation at the most economical cost. If you have any questions about feeds and feeding, please contact your county’s OSU Extension office. (Source: Earl Ward, OSU Extension Area Livestock Specialist)

Reference: New Protein Values for Ingredients Used in Growing Cattle Rations. Fact Sheet G84-694. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1292&context=extensionhist

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2 

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Vesicular Stomatitis

We have been notified of the first cases of Vesicular Stomatitis in the United States in over three years. VS is considered a Foreign Animal Disease and is a Reportable Disease in Oklahoma.

So far cases have been discovered in Kinney County and Tom Green County in Texas, Weld County in Colorado, and Sandoval County in New Mexico. Oklahoma has been fortunate to not have cases of VS during the last few outbreaks, but we have had cases in the past and it is very possible we can have them this year.

Vesicular stomatitis (VS) is a viral disease that primarily affects horses and cattle and occasionally swine, sheep, goats, llamas, and alpacas. VS has been confirmed only in the Western Hemisphere.  It is known to be an endemic disease in the warmer regions of North, Central, and South America, and outbreaks of the disease in other temperate geographic parts of the hemisphere occur sporadically. The Southwestern and Western United States have experienced a number of vesicular stomatitis outbreaks, the most recent and largest VS outbreak occurred in 2015. Outbreaks usually occur during the warmer months, often along waterways.  The time from exposure to the onset of clinical signs is 2-8 days.

VS is spread by insect vectors and direct contact with infected animals. Black flies, sand flies, and midges are the known vectors of this disease, but other insects may also be capable of transmission. Infected animals shed the virus from the lesions (blisters) they develop, so direct contact with infected animals or water, feed, buckets, and other fomites contaminated with saliva from infected animals can also transmit the disease. The virus can also be spread on shoes, clothing, hands, and contaminated equipment.

In affected livestock, the incubation period for vesicular stomatitis ranges from 2 to 8 days. Often, excessive salivation is the first sign of the disease. Close examination of the mouth initially reveals blanched and raised vesicles or blister-like lesions on the inner surfaces of the lips, gums, tongue, and/or dental pad. In addition, these blister-like lesions can form on the lips, nostrils, coronary band, prepuce, vulva, and teats. The blisters swell and break, which causes oral pain and discomfort and reluctance to eat or drink. Lameness and severe weight loss may follow. Body temperature may rise immediately before or at the same time lesions fi rst appear. Dairy cattle often suffer from teat lesions and subsequent mastitis; a severe drop in milk production commonly occurs. Some affected dairy cattle can appear to be normal with no clearly visible signs of illness but may only eat about half of their normal feed intake. If there are no complications such as secondary infection, affected animals typically recover in about 2 weeks.

In horses, vesicular lesions generally occur on the upper surface of the tongue, the lips, around nostrils, corners of the mouth, and gums. Lesions in horses may also be expressed as crusting scabs on the muzzle, lips, or ventral abdomen.

Affected pigs usually first show signs of lameness caused by foot lesions.

There is no specific treatment or cure for vesicular stomatitis. Good sanitation and quarantine practices on affected farms usually contain the infection. When a definite diagnosis is made on a farm, the following procedures are recommended:

Separate animals with lesions from healthy animals, preferably by stabling. Animals on pastures tend to be affected more frequently with this disease.

As a precautionary measure, do not move animals from premises affected by vesicular stomatitis until at least 21 days after lesions in the last affected animal have healed.

Implement on-farm insect control programs that include the elimination or reduction of insect breeding areas and the use of insecticide sprays or insecticide-treated ear tags on animals.

Use personal protective measures when handling affected animals to avoid human exposure to this disease.

Please notify any of the regulatory veterinarians in Oklahoma if you suspect a patient has this disease.

Find out what’s happening on the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Calendar at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/#/?i=2 

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Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

Wheat Demonstration Plot Tour Slated

The public is invited to a wheat plot demonstration tour on Thursday, May 9 at 10 am. The plot is located on the Larry and Amyx James Farm. Directions are as follows:

  • Go west of Waurika on Hwy. 70 to the Waurika Cemetery
  • Go 6 miles south on N2780 Rd (“Noble Wray Rd.”)
  • Go 1.7 miles west on E2030 Rd.

The intent of the demonstration was to evaluate the effects of lime and phosphorus on wheat forage yields and, more specifically, to compare broadcast phosphorus applications with phosphorus banded in the seed row. In theory, because phosphorus is not mobile in the soil profile and because seed-row banded phosphorus can be a substitute for liming (in low pH soils), we wanted to determine if we can increase forage yields and reduce input costs by banding phosphorus in the seed-row, as opposed to applying lime and broadcasting phosphorus.

Brian Arnall, OSU State Extension Precision Nutrient Specialist, and Heath Sanders, OSU Extension Area Agronomist will be on hand to discuss the demonstration protocols and results, as well as to answer questions.

The tour will conclude by noon. All are invited, and bring a neighbor!

Calculating the pros and cons of Creep Feeding

Feed conversions of calves fed creep feeds have been quite variable to say the least.  Conversions of 5:1 or 5 pounds of grain consumed to 1 extra pound of calf weight are very rare and the optimum that can be expected when producers are using a “typical” high energy creep feed. Conversions may get as poor as 15:1 (or worse) in some situations. Therefore, it is obvious that several factors come in to play to determine the amount of creep feed that is consumed for each additional pound of gain.

Cows that give large amounts of milk to their calves will provide enough protein and energy to meet the growth potential of their calves. In that scenario, it is reasonable to assume that the feed conversion from creep feeding could be quite poor (10:1 or worse). If, however, the milk production of the cows is limited for any reason, then the added energy and protein from the creep feed provides needed nutrients to allow calves to reach closer to their genetic maximum capability for growth. Calves from poor milking cows may convert the creep feed at a rate of about 7 pounds of feed for each pound of additional calf weight. Poor milking can be a result of genetically low milk production or restricted nutritional status. Nutritional restriction due to drought situations often adversely affects milk production and therefore calf weaning weights. 

Shortened hay supplies and reduced standing forage due to drought or severe winter weather often set the stage for the best results from creep feeding. These feed conversion ratios become important when making the decision to buy and put out creep feed for spring born calves. As you are calculating the cost of creep feeds, remember to include the depreciation cost of the feeders and the delivery of the feed. Then of course, it is important to compare that cost of creep feeding to the realistic “value of added gain”.  

To calculate the value of added gain, determine the actual per head price of the calf after the added weight gain (due to the creep feed). Then subtract the price per head of the calf if it was sold at the lighter weight (not fed creep feed). Divide the difference in dollars by the amount of added weight. Although 500-pound steer calves may bring $1.80/lb at the market, and a 550-pound steer brings $1.71/lb, the value of added gain is about 80 cents per pound. Therefore, the estimated creep feeding cost per pound of added gain must be less than 80 cents for the practice to be projected to be profitable

Different ranching operations will come to different conclusions about the value of creep feeding. In fact, different conclusions may apply to different groups of cows within the same herd. Creep feeding may be more beneficial to calves from thin, young cows and less efficient to calves reared by mature cows that are in better body condition and producing more milk.

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Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

The Political Polarization of Meat

This is a venture outside the normal “technical” or “management” theme of this column, but I found the following blog by Jason Lusk, Food and Agricultural Economist, former Professor of Agricultural Economics at Oklahoma State University, and current Department Head for Agricultural Economics at Purdue University, particularly interesting within the context of how political subscription may influence beef demand in the future. I am sharing it in its entirety.

“There is growing criticism of meat production industries in popular culture and mainstream media. Examples include the recent release of the EAT-Lancet report, the World Health Organization pronouncement on red meat and cancer, the proposed Green New Deal and “farting cows,” and much more. The result is an increasing number of news stories linking beef consumption with climate change and other adverse environmental impacts. As shown in this report (co-authored by Glynn Tonsor, Ted Schroeder, and myself), the number of news stories mentioning beef and climate change increased almost 800% since the early 2000s.    

Here’s the thing. We know climate change is a politically polarized issue. Might linking beef and meat consumption to a politically polarized issue in turn cause meat consumption itself to become politically polarized? As I’ve shown in previous posts (e.g., see here or here), self defined political ideology (on a scale of very liberal to very conservative) is one of the strongest predictions of whether someone says they are a vegetarian or vegan.

To investigate this issue, I turned to the body of work that referred to as the Cultural Cognition Project that is most associated with Dan Kahan at Yale. The basic idea is that individuals conform their beliefs about disputed matters of fact to values that define their cultural identities (or match their tribe). In one of the most interesting demonstrations of this concept, Kahan shows that the likelihood of agreeing with the statement “There is solid evidence of recent global warming due mostly to human activity such as burning fossil fuels” is increasing in a person’s measured scientific intelligence (essentially a score on a science quiz) but only for people who identify as liberal democrats. For people who identify as conservative republicans, higher scientific intelligence is associated with a reduced likelihood of agreeing with the above sentence. The result is that (unlike what we’d expect if “more education” was the answer), the greatest disagreements are among the most scientifically literate but of opposite political parties. One take home message from these sorts of findings is that the smarter you are, the easier it is to fool yourself.

Ok, back to meat. As readers of this blog likely know, I ran the Food Demand Survey (FooDS), which surveyed 1,000 consumers every month (different samples of consumers were drawn every month) for five years. On the survey, we asked every respondent to answer 9 simulated shopping questions in which they choose between two beef, two pork, two chicken, and two vegetarian meal options at different prices (or a “I wouldn’t buy any of these” option). These data can be used to construct a very simple measure of demand, in which we simply count the number of times (across the nine choices) beef or any meat product was chosen (see this post for some discussion on these data). For reference beef (either ground beef or steak) was chosen about 2.2 times on average across the nine choices and any meat option was chosen a bit less than 7 times on average across the nine choices. (One important note is that despite all the negative news about beef alluded to at the beginning of this post, we do not find overall downward trends in beef demand in recent years; this is also consistent with Tonsor’s demand indices).

The question is how these measures of demand relate to political ideology and education (I use education because, unlike Kahan, I did not ask a scientific intelligence quiz on my surveys). I estimated equations that relate beef or overall meat demand to an extensive set of demographics (age, income, gender, region of residence, household size, etc.), political ideology (I asked both a party affiliation question and a very liberal to very conservative scale from which I create two groups: liberal democrats and conservative republicans), education, a time trend, and interactions between the last three sets of variables. The sample size is about 60,000 observations.

Below is a graphical illustration of the results for beef. Beef demand is higher for conservative republicans than liberal democrats (holding constant all other demographic factors), and this demand gap grows with education. Liberal democrats reduce their demand for beef as their education increases, but for conservative republicans, beef demand is essentially flat across education levels. The other interesting result, shown in the bottom panel, is that beef demand is becoming increasingly politically polarized over time. The beef demand gap between the average conservative republican and liberal democrat is increasing over time.

Below is the same analysis for overall meat demand (beef + pork + chicken). The results here are even stronger. There is very little partisan gap among lower educated liberals and conservatives, but a large gap in meat demand among liberal democrats and conservative republicans who have a graduate degree. The gap results mainly from liberal democrats reducing meat demand as education increases. Again, the partisan gap is growing over time.

What does all this mean? Unfortunately, I suspect it implies conversations about the meat consumption will become more difficult and tumultuous in the coming years. It may also mean that disagreements about the impacts of meat consumption on the environment and health are less likely to be “settled” by science because they are becoming wrapped up in people’s cultural values and tribe identities. Fortunately, there are a number of resources provided via the Cultural Cognition Project that provide insights about effective communication in this polarized world.”

Follow me on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/leland.mcdaniel

Find out what is happening in OSU Extension at https://calendar.okstate.edu/oces/

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures.  This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; Phone 405-744-5371; email: eeo@okstate.edu has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies.  Any person who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.