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Monday, December 17, 2018
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The Farm and Ranch Report

How Does Rain Impact Hay Quality?

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Summer afternoon rain showers are both a friend and foe for hay producers. While most farmers certainly won’t turn down a year with ample rain, the frequency of rainfall can pose a challenge to putting up high-quality hay for the winter months.

Rain can cause the following to occur when hay is being cured in the field prior to baling:

Leaching – Hay that is closer to baling, or more dry, is more susceptible to leaching losses than fresh cut forage. Nutrient leaching causes dry matter loss, increased fiber and decreased energy value of forage.

Respiration – Losses to respiration occur when moisture levels exceed 30%. When forage is re-wetted by rain, this keeps the forage moisture level high enough for respiration to continue or be prolonged, which results in carbohydrate losses in hay.

Leaf loss is generally more significant in legume forages than grass hay, and amount of loss is often quite variable. Additional handling of windrows to encourage drying post-rainfall contributes to leaf loss.

Rain damage increases with the amount, duration of a rainfall event, and timing relative to when hay was harvested. If rain occurs shortly after cutting, this is usually less damaging than hay that has already had significant drying time in the field. A research trial at the University of Arkansas reported that a short delay in harvest of perennial warm-season grasses had a more negative influence on hay quality than a single rainfall event ranging from 0.5 to 3 inches. Repeat instances of rain cause more damage than a single rainfall event. This is generally where more significant quality and dry matter losses occur, especially for hay that is still above 30% moisture that continues to respire.

Even if hay has been rained on multiple times, it is important to get the forage out of the field to minimize the impact of excessive thatch on forage regrowth for the next potential hay harvest. Higher moisture bales may undergo heating, and they also provide a favorable environment for mold growth. Collect a forage sample from rain-damaged hay to send in for nutrient analysis to determine overall feed value and suitability. Rain-damaged, low-quality hay should be used for cows in the herd with the lowest nutrient requirement.

It is a good idea to check for nitrate levels on forage that has gone through drought conditions followed by a recovery of a rainfall event.

Contact your County OSU Extension Educator for further assistance in obtaining proper forage samples.

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

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

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.

OQBN Saw Strong Premiums in 2017 . . .

 Oklahoma Quality Beef Network’s (OQBN) participating producers during the fall 2017 sale season benefitted from strong premiums for their efforts. Just over 10,000 calves were enrolled in OQBN’s Vac45 program, with approximately 6700 of those calves marketed through OQBN’s special sales at participating livestock markets. The remaining calves were direct marketed by producers. Data was collected on 12,582 calves (including OQBN calves) at 8 sales across Oklahoma. OQBN premiums were strong, at an average of $14.24/cwt above non preconditioned calves at the same sales. Steer premiums averaged $13.51 across all weights while heifer premiums averaged slightly higher at $15.31/cwt. Premiums reported here are calculated as a weighted average and do not reflect differences attributable to lot size, breed, hide, color, fleshiness, and muscling.

On average, OQBN producers realized a premium of $85.44/head, assuming a 600 pound calf. When the value of added weight gain over the preconditioning period is considered along with preconditioning costs, the net gain in returns to a producer for the average calf is estimated at $114.44/head, bringing the estimated monetary impact of the program to $1.15 million for 2017.

For more information on OQBN, including program information, sale dates, weaning and management protocols, go to the OQBN Website (http://oqbn.okstate.edu/). The website includes additional educational information related to beef calf production in general that you may find useful. You can also like OQBN’s Facebook page and visit Oklahoma State University’s Beef Extension website (http://www.BeefExtension.com) for more information on management recommendations and more.

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

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

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.

Nutritional Challenges of Post-Partum Beef Cows . . .

 Late winter and early spring is the most challenging time of the year for the nutrition of the spring-calving beef cows. Unless cool season grasses are available, this is a season where maintaining or gaining body condition on spring calving cows is really quite difficult. Warm season grasses have not yet begun to grow. Dormant grass (what little is left) is a low quality feed. Cows cannot, or will not, consume a large amount of standing dormant grass at this time year. If the only supplement being fed is a self-fed, self-limited protein source, the cows may become very deficient in energy. Remember, the instructions that accompany these self-fed supplements. They are to be fed along with free choice access to adequate quality forages. 

There is another factor that compounds the problem. A small amount of winter annual grasses may begin to grow in native pastures. These are the first tastes of green grass many cows have seen since last summer. The cows may try to forage these high moisture, low energy density grasses, in lieu of more energy dense hays or cubes. The sad result is the loss of body condition in early lactation beef cows just before the breeding season is about to begin. 

Body condition at the time of calving is the most important factor affecting rebreeding performance of normally managed beef cows. Nonetheless, condition changes after calving will have more subtle effects on rebreeding especially in cows that are in marginal body condition.  Body condition changes from the time the cow calves until she begins the breeding season can play a significant role in the rebreeding success story. This appears to be most important to those cows that calve in the marginal body condition score range of “4” or “5”. 

An Oklahoma trial (Wettemann, et al., 1987 Journal of Animal Sci., Suppl. 1:63). illustrates the vulnerability of cows that calve in the body condition score of 5. Two groups of cows began the winter feeding period in similar body condition and calved in very similar body condition (average body condition score = 5.3 to 5.4). However, after calving and before the breeding season began, one group was allowed to lose almost one full condition score. The other group of cows was fed adequately to maintain the body condition that they had prior to calving. The difference in rebreeding rate was dramatic (73% vs 94%). Again this illustrates that cows that calve in the body condition score of 5 are very vulnerable to weather and suckling intensity stresses and ranchers must use good nutritional strategies after calving to avoid disastrous rebreeding performance.

Cows should calve in moderate to good condition (scores of 5 or 6) to ensure good rebreeding efficiency. Ideally, cows should be maintaining condition during mid to late pregnancy and gaining during breeding. The goal of the management program should be to achieve these body conditions by making maximum use of the available forage resource. 

Continue feeding a source of energy, such as moderate to good quality grass hay free choice and/or high energy cubes until the warm season grasses grow enough to provide both the energy and protein that the lactating cows need. Yes, the feed is high-priced. But the cost of losing 21% of next year’s calf crop is even greater! Source:  Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist; March 5 Cow/Calf Corner Newsletter.

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.

Last Call for Ranch Tour! . . .

If you are interested in this unique opportunity to see some of south-central Oklahoma’s more notable ranches, and learn from some progressive beef cattle producers, registration will likely close Monday, May 28.

Cost is $30 per participant. Online registration is available at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/marketplace through the OSU Department of Animal Science.

On May 30, the vans will depart at 12:15 p.m. from the Ardmore Convention Center, located at 2401 Rockford Rd. and travel to the Chuckwagon Barbecue Restaurant, located at 101 Hargrove St. and State Highway 7 in Velma, prior to continuing on to the first ranch site.

 Out of respect to our gracious ranch hosts and in the interest of logistics, we ask participants to ride in the vans provided. If you must caravan in your own vehicle, please drive a pickup able to handle the terrain and carpool as much as possible.

The vans will return to the Ardmore Convention Center at approximately 8 p.m. The second day of the tour will kick off at 8 a.m. and finish early in the afternoon of May 31.

Ranch sites on the tour include Sugar Loaf Ranch in Velma, Sparks Ranch in Hennepin, Coffey Ranch in Davis, Daube Ranch in Ardmore, Eddie Parker Angus Ranch in Waurika, Wilson Cattle Company in Ringling and Howard Cattle Company in Claypool.

Anyone interested in obtaining additional information about the tour should contact me by email at leland.mcdaniel@okstate.edu or by phone at either 580-223-6570 or 580-228-2332, or visit my Facebook page.

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.

Register Now for May 30-31 Ranch Tour! . . .

Beef cattle producers in Oklahoma will have the opportunity to learn first-hand more about their industry by attending the 2018 Master Cattleman Ranch Tour on May 30 and 31. Any cattle producer may register and learn from some of the state’s master cattlemen and cattlewomen. The cost of the tour is only $30 and is presented by OSU Animal Science Department and the Carter/Jefferson County OSU Extension Offices.. 

This is a unique opportunity to see some very progressive, scenic, and historic beef cattle ranches of south-central Oklahoma.You will appreciate the environmental and ecological diversity that will be on display from ranch-to-ranch. Although the focus is on beef cattle production, including cow/calf, stocker, purebred seedstock, and backgrounding operations, it will also be an opportunity to see, up close and personal, some of the issues in this region of the state regarding invasive species (Eastern red cedar), groundwater/surface water resources (Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer), and some very challenging landscape to implement control measures.

The ranches range in size from about 10,000 to 35,000 acres. There will be some interesting contrasts of vertical and horizontal integration, genetic selection, stocker health management, fall vs. spring calving seasons, winter feeding strategies, native range management, and the use of Rx fire to enhance animal performance, as well as controlling brush.

Please find the linked flier on the upcoming Master Cattleman Ranch Tour, presented by the OSU Animal Science Department and the Carter/Jefferson County OSU Extension Offices. For details about the seven ranches to be visited and key topics discussed, click on the link below to a flier that gives more important information about the tour:  http://beefextension.com/temp_files/2018MasterCattlemanRanchTour.pdf. In addition, there is an online registration link, that it will be limited to the first 100 registrants. Registration Link: http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/marketplace. Register now, don’t delay.

Premiums from Preconditioning and Seasonal Price Swings . . .

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I wrote about the OQBN program and the associated premiums a few weeks ago but Scott Clawson, OSU Extension Area Ag Economist, more eloquently discusses these potential premiums, and premiums associated with seasonal price changes, in the following comments.

The time of year is upon us to begin planning how we will market our spring born calves. As we fix our eyes on the market’s movements and our checkbook balance, we start to figure out a strategy. As with every plan, we need to make sure we are accurate, conservative, and as thorough as possible. The easiest option is to sell directly off the cow, an option that you can see in every livestock auction in the fall. The discount that follows from this strategy is usually significant. The other option is to wean, “straighten out”, and market those cattle at least 45 days later. Backgrounding premiums and seasonal price changes are the two main positive price movements take place in that 45 plus days after weaning.

Backgrounding premiums exist and are being displayed in many areas as most local livestock auctions facilitate their own programs. In the graphic, we see the annual premiums from the Oklahoma Quality Beef Net-work (OQBN) sales. We see variation from year to year, but it’s obvious that the practice has value. Adding to this, there is variation amongst weights. Within a single year a 400# calf may yield a higher dollar per hundredweight premium for preconditioning than does a 600# calf. This stands to reason as the 400# bawling calf is more high risk than the heavier calf. The importance of this number is that it is a comparison to calves selling the same day. This is valuable to demonstrate the premium for that management practice, but it does not illustrate the seasonal price gains that take place over the typical preconditioning period.

Beefbasis.com is a great way to price forecast for the fall. Using this tool, we estimate that a 500# medium/large muscle score #1 weaned calf in mid-October would be $163.53/cwt. We make a modest gain calculation of 1.5#/day over a 60-day backgrounding program. This leaves us in mid-December with a 590# calf with an estimated value of $157.67/cwt. The second part of this equation is the additional value that we anticipate for the VAC-45 management practices we took on. Looking at the data from 2017 and previous years, we could use a conservative $9/cwt addition to our mid-December calf price ($157.67 + $9 = $166.67/cwt) for participating in OQBN. It is worth noting that the value of this 500# calf at this point (Mid-December) is $169.67. This compared with the estimated value of the same calf quality and weight in October displays the seasonal price improvement that we see on average.

Collectively, we could sell a bawling calf in mid-October that weighs 500# for $817.65. The other option is to hold off marketing for 60 days and participate in a VAC-45 program. This gives us the opportunity to capture a seasonal price improvement as well as a VAC-45 premium. The 590# calf in mid-December has an estimated value of $983.35. The difference is $165.70/hd, but this is not profit as no costs have been deducted. But it does provide a starting point to begin our budget. Individual costs per producer will be variable based on set up and resources. Also, each producer will assign a different value for labor, management, and death loss.

At the end of the day, there is risk involved in any ranch decision. Death loss, poor gains, price, and marketing risk are all lurking in the background. We can mitigate price risk by using price protection tools. However, leaning on the history of seasonal price moves and VAC-45 premiums, we have a chance to manufacture some extra profit.

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

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

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.eduhas 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.

Armyworm Control Measures . . .

Well, we are deep into a Fall armyworm infestation that may be 3-4 times, or more, worse than I have ever seen. Established control thresholds are 2-3 caterpillars per foot of row in newly emergent small grains and 3-4 caterpillars in established pastures, such as Bermuda or small grains fields. I am seeing 15-20 caterpillars per square foot in many places! Many of you have already sprayed, but do not rest easy thinking this is the last you will have to worry about them.

Depending on when we get our first frost, there could be one or two more generations of these pests before Mother Nature provides some relief. Our average first frost is November 10, and given how the law of averages works it could be two weeks earlier or two weeks later in a given year. One complete life cycle of the Fall armyworm takes 2-3 weeks, about 10-14 days as feeding caterpillar, 8-9 days in the pupal stage, and 1-3 days as egg-laying adult moths. Once new eggs are lain, new caterpillars hatch about 3 days later to begin the feeding cycle again. So, if our first frost occurs near the November 10th average date, we could see at least one and possibly two more cycles. If we have a late frost, we could see three more generations.

 The decision to spray should be based on the cost of control versus the value of the forage in question. If the loss of the forage means a substantially increased reliance on feed and hay this winter or replanting small grains fields, then control is likely an economically feasible option. Beyond that, the choice of a control product labeled for Fall armyworm control is largely driven by the cost of application and availability. 

There are a multitude of products commercially available for the control of Fall armyworms and, unfortunately, most of them will only have a 2 or 3-day window of residual activity. Many of the products have no grazing or haying restrictions, but some will have a 3 to 14-day grazing or haying restriction.

The salient point is that I would advise scouting fields at least every other day until we get a frost, and maybe invest in a HUGE flock of chickens (weak attempt at humor). 

If you have questions regarding control strategies for Fall armyworms, feel free to contact me via phone (Carter County OSU Extension 580/223-6570; Jefferson County OSU Extension 580/228-2332) or email: Leland.mcdaniel@okstate.edu.

Pesticide Applicator Testing Session Offered

The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture Food and Forestry will offer a local testing session, at the Carter County OSU Extension Office, on Tuesday, November 20. They will have tests available for all the pesticide applicator categories, so anyone needing to certify for the first time or recertify can be accommodated. Of particular interest are the categories that licenses expire this year (December 31), and thus must be recertified are:

1a – Agricultural Plant

A – Aerial

7b – Structural

10 – Demonstration & Research

Private Applicator

Applicator certification requires the successful completion of at least two examinations: The “Core” exam, consisting of knowledge required in all categories of certification; and the category exam itself. Those who are recertifying need only to take the category exam. A few of the categories require completion of a practical examination in conjunction with the Core and category exams for certification in that particular category.

Core exam – Focuses on equipment, safety, laws, and other knowledge pertaining to all categories. All persons wishing to become certified applicators must pass this exam in addition to the category exam(s).

Category exam – Written exam to be taken (along with the Core exam) by those wishing to become certified in that particular category.

Practical exam- The following categories require a practical examination in addition to the Core and the written exam.  These exams are performed at OSU in Stillwater:

(7A)- General Pest

(7B)- Structural Pest/Termite

(7C)- Fumigation

The practical exam must be taken within twelve (12) months of passing the written examination.  Failure to pass the practical within this period of time will require retaking the written exam.

Service Technician exam – To be taken by anyone wishing to qualify as a service technician.  The Core exam is not required to become a service technician. 

No appointment is necessary for any regularly scheduled test session. Applicants are required to provide some type of photo identification (e.g., a valid driver’s license) showing their name and identification number. Pencils and paper are provided for applicants at the testing sites. Applicants may use a hand-held calculator as long as the print-out tape is not used. An applicant must attain a satisfactory score (70% or above) to pass any written exam. 

After all the necessary examinations have been successfully completed, the certified applicator will be issued a certification card. This certification card is not a license to do pesticide applicator work; a pesticide applicator license must be obtained by any certified applicator wishing to do pesticide applicator work (commercial, non-commercial or consultant) or must be obtained by his/her employer.

A service technician shall be issued an identification card upon satisfactory completion of the service technician examination. 

Testing fees are $50 per exam. Those individuals who are certifying for the first time will pay $50 for the Core Exam and $50 for each category exam or $50 for Service Technicians. Those who are recertifying will pay $50 for the Category Exams only. 

Private Applicators should be advised that, although all current licenses expire this year, you need not to attend this testing session, as your exam is a take-home, open-book exam. The licenses are renewed on 5-year rotations so, if you recertify now, your license will be valid through December 31, 2023. You should also be aware that, as of now, the Private Applicator test is still a take-home exam but there is a discussion of making it a proctored exam in the future, meaning that you will have to attend a testing session and complete a closed-book exam.

The testing site, Carter County OSU Extension Office, is located at 25 A St. NW Ave., Suite 200. Our entrance is located next to the Election Board, at the new Carter County Administration building, formerly the Noble Energy building. You may park on the north side of the complex, on Broadway Ave., either in the lot on the east side of the Ardmoreite Building or the lot across the street (south) of the Ardmoreite Building. You will then need to walk around to the south side of the office complex to our entrance.

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

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

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.

Required Training Offered for Fruit and Vegetable Growers . . .

 If you are a fruit and/or vegetable grower, you are required by law, pursuant to the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that requires “At least one supervisor or responsible party for your farm must have successfully completed food safety training at least equivalent to that received under standardized curriculum recognized as adequate by the Food and Drug Administration.” The good news is that a one-day Grower Training Course, designed to satisfy this FMSA produce safety rule requirement, will be offered locally, at the OSU-IAB (on Sam Noble Parkway/Hwy. 199, about ½ mile east of the Southern Technology Center) on June 7, beginning at 8:30 am. The training is offered and conducted by the OSU Food & Agricultural Products Center (FAPC) staff.

Fruit and vegetable growers and others will receive information about:

· Produce Safety

· Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) Produce Safety Rule

· Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs)

· Co-management of Natural Resources

· Food Safety

The cost is $15/person for Oklahoma residents and includes lunch, snacks, and materials. Registration can be found online at fapc.biz/workshops/produce-safety-alliance-grower-training-course or to register and pay by phone you may call Karen Smith at 405-744-6277.

 Last Call for Ranch Tour! . . . If you are interested in this unique opportunity to see some of south-central Oklahoma’s more notable ranches, and learn from some progressive beef cattle producers, registration will likely close Monday, May 28.

Cost is $30 per participant. Online registration is available at http://www.ansi.okstate.edu/marketplace through the OSU Department of Animal Science.

On May 30, the vans will depart at 12:15 p.m. from the Ardmore Convention Center, located at 2401 Rockford Rd. and travel to the Chuckwagon Barbecue Restaurant, located at 101 Hargrove St. and State Highway 7 in Velma, prior to continuing on to the first ranch site.

 Out of respect to our gracious ranch hosts and in the interest of logistics, we ask participants to ride in the vans provided. If you must caravan in your own vehicle, please drive a pickup able to handle the terrain and carpool as much as possible.

The vans will return to the Ardmore Convention Center at approximately 8 p.m. The second day of the tour will kick off at 8 a.m. and finish early in the afternoon of May 31.

Ranch sites on the tour include Sugar Loaf Ranch in Velma, Sparks Ranch in Hennepin, Coffey Ranch in Davis, Daube Ranch in Ardmore, Eddie Parker Angus Ranch in Waurika, Wilson Cattle Company in Ringling and Howard Cattle Company in Claypool.

Anyone interested in obtaining additional information about the tour should contact me by email at leland.mcdaniel@okstate.edu or by phone at either 580-223-6570 or 580-228-2332, or visit my Facebook page.

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.

When is the Best Time (Age) to Castrate Bull Calves? . . .

Britt Hicks, OSU Extension Area Livestock Specialist, recently offered a good discussion of when to castrate bull calves and I wanted to share it.

Beef Quality Assurance Guidelines recommend that bull calves that are not herd sire prospects be castrated as early in life as possible (preferably, between birth and four months of age).  It has been speculated that delaying castration until weaning may improve performance since intact bull calves may grow more rapidly than steer calves.  However, several studies suggest that there is no lifetime performance advantage to waiting to castrate calves until weaning.  In fact, most research show that late castration (at weaning) decreases feedlot arrival gains and increases morbidity (sickness).

In 2011, University of Florida research investigated whether timing of castration in nursing calves affected calf performance and weaning weight.  In this study, 93 Angus and Brangus calves were either surgically castrated early (average age of 36 days) or late (average age of 131 days).  The age of the early castrated calves ranged from 3 to 73 days and the age of the late castrated calves ranged from 84 to 180 days.  At the time of castration, the average body weight of the late castrated calves was 356 lb.  Actual weaning weight (456 vs. 452 lb), adjusted 205-day weaning weight (512 vs. 504 lb), and average daily gain from birth to weaning (2.00 vs. 1.92 lb) were all similar between early and late castrate treatments, respectively.  These researchers concluded that this data indicates that producers have some degree of flexibility in determining when to implement castration.  The data showed that castration at or near birth did not have a detrimental effect on calf performance or weaning weight.  These authors also suggested that producers should realize that delaying castration until calves are approximately 131 days old will not bring added weight at weaning despite some producer philosophies and marketing claims that endorse such management practices.

In 2015, joint research between the University of Arkansas and West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) evaluated the effect of castration timing (near birth or at weaning) on lifetime growth performance and carcass quality of beef calves.  In this study, calves were surgically castrated near birth or at weaning.  All calves were weaned at day 214 of the study to undergo a 56-day weaning period.  For the first 28 days after weaning, the calves were fed hay ad libitum and a supplemental ration intended to achieve approximately 1.5 lb of gain per day.  After 28 days, the calves were moved to a mixed-grass pasture to be maintained for an additional 28-day period to complete the 56-day weaning phase of the study.  After this weaning phase, the calves were shipped 480 miles to the WTAMU Nance Ranch and grazed on native grass and sorghum-Sudan grass for a 111-day backgrounding period until entry into the adjacent WTAMU Research Feedlot.  The calves were fed a common feedlot ration throughout the finishing period (average length of 128 days) and harvested at a commercial processing plant.

These researchers reported that average daily gain from birth to weaning (214 days) was similar between treatments (1.81 vs. 1.85 lb/day for steers and bull calves, respectively).  Furthermore, there was no difference in weaning weight between the bulls left intact (483 lb) or the non-implanted steers castrated near birth (475 lb).  These authors suggest that this observation indicates that testosterone-enhanced growth in bulls vs. steer cohorts is not realized until bulls reach ages beyond the typical weaning age.  However, during the 56 day weaning period, calves castrated near birth gained faster than calves castrate at weaning (2.25 vs. 2.04 lb/day, P = 0.04).  Summer grazing and feedlot finishing performance and carcass measurements did not differ between treatments.  Theses researchers concluded that the results of this study indicate that castration procedures should be performed as early in life as possible to minimize performance loss.

Research from Nebraska (2005) has shown that as age of castration increases, weight loss resulting from the procedure increases (Figure 1).  In addition, reviews of marketing data show that bull calves marketed through conventional channels have historically suffered a price discount of ~5% compared to steer calves (~$5.00 to $7.00/cwt discounts) since surgical castration of calves after arrival at a feedlot decreases daily gains and increases morbidity.

Research conducted at the University of California, Davis (2017) assessed the effect of age on healing and pain sensitivity after surgical castration of beef calves.  In this study, beef calves were surgically castrated at 3 days of age (range of 0 to 8 days) or 73 days of age (range of 69 to 80 days).  The results of this study showed that calves castrated soon after birth experienced more tissue swelling and showed more signs of pain, but their incisions healed sooner (39 vs. 61 days) and their weight gain 77 days after castration was greater (1.54 vs. 0.66 lb/day), when compared to animals castrated around 73 days of age.

Collectively, these studies suggest that there is no lifetime performance advantage to waiting to castrate calves until weaning, but there is a high probability of receiving lower prices when marketing intact calves through conventional channels. When considering how age at castration affects animal welfare, the consensus is that the younger the calf is at time of castration, the less impact castration has on its welfare and performance.

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