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The Farm and Ranch Report

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.

Controlling Blackberries in Pastures . . .

Blackberries if left unchecked can quickly spread in a pasture and reduce the amount of grazeable acres. The same competitive characteristics which make blackberries relatively easy to grow in a home or commercial setting make them a persistent foe in your pasture or rangeland.

If you plan on spraying blackberries, DO NOT, and I repeat DO NOT mow or burn them for 2 years prior to spraying! Chemical control is most effective during bloom and fruit set stages of growth. This is when they are most susceptible to chemical uptake and translocation.

Blackberry is a perennial, thicket-forming shrub which is very invasive in our area. Each plant has a large lateral-growing root system that can sprout and produce additional plants. The rhizomatous root system is perennial, while the aboveground canes are biennial (living for two years). The first year, the canes or “new wood” emerge and grow rapidly; the second year, the canes bud and produce flowers and fruit. The canes subsequently die after fruiting. This root system is what makes them so competitive and difficult to control.

Currently, several herbicides list blackberry on their label. The most effective herbicides are those which contain metsulfuron or triclopyr ester (Remedy Ultra, others). PastureGard HL (triclopyr + fluroxypyr) and triclopyr ester (Remedy Ultra, others) can safely be applied when blooming, but retreatment the following year will probably be required to achieve control near 100%. Remedy Ultra is very effective at a 1% solution for spot treatments, or 1-2 pints/acre for a broadcast treatment. Good control is dependent on good soil moisture and actively growing plants. Glyphosate is also effective as a 1-1.5% solution for spot-treatments. I have also had good luck using Tordon or Velpar as undiluted spot treatments, applied to the soil in a grid, on 5 ft. centers, at a rate of 9ccs per spot.

These herbicides cause rapid blackberry defoliation and are effective at controlling other weed and brush species. Complete blackberry eradication is probably not possible but acceptable results will likely require multiple applications/years and/or tactics.

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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.

Sign up for the ranch tour now!

Cattle producers in south-central Oklahoma should register now to take part in the May 30-31 Master Cattleman Ranch Tour, which will visit area ranches ranging in size from 10,000 to 35,000 acres. Ttour participants will see interesting contrasts of vertical and horizontal integration, genetic selection, stocker health management, fall versus spring calving seasons, wintertime feeding strategies, native range management and the use of Rx fire to enhance animal performance, as well as controlling brush.

Although the focus is on beef cattle production – including cow-calf, stocker, purebred seedstock and backgrounding operations – the tour also is an opportunity to see and discuss some of the issues in this region regarding invasive plant species, groundwater and surface water resources such as the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, and landscape requiring management measures that can be challenging to implement.

Participants are asked to register no later than May 23. 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.

Bloat Management in Grazing Cattle . . .

Recent rains and warming temperatures has spawned a flush of growth on dormant and drought-stressed wheat pasture. With the new lush growth and increased intake often comes an increased risk of bloat.

Ruminants are able to consume so many different types of ingredients because the rumen serves as a large fermentation vat that houses microbes that break down feeds into nutrients. This is a very effective way to convert grass and grain to milk or meat. This fermentation process produces large amounts of gas, which could cause a digestive problem known as ruminal tympany, aka “bloat”.

Normally the rumen gas is expelled by eructation (belching). Any condition that interferes with that release will cause an over-distension of the rumen and reticulum. This condition is most common in cattle, but can occur in sheep and goats as well.

There are two main types of bloat and each one is caused by a different mechanism. The primary tympany is also known as frothy bloat. This frothy bloat is when the small bubbles of fermented gas is trapped in a stable foam, which cannot be eructated. This type of bloat most commonly occurs in two situations; the first being animals on pastures, especially pastures containing legumes such as clover or alfalfa. Legumes are rapidly digested in the rumen and this results in a high concentration of fine particles that tend to trap gas bubbles, but it is not only animal’s digestive system that contributes to this problem, it is also the attributes of the plants containing soluble proteins that act as foaming agents. Animals being exposed to new lush forage growth, or animals that are moved in and out of the pasture are more prone to bloating on pasture. The second situation that frequently causes a frothy bloat is animals in feedlot environment, especially when animals are being fed high levels of finely ground grains. Digestion of the grain increases due to the grinding which also produces a multitude of fine particles that can trap gas bubbles. In addition, there are some microbes that can produce an insoluble slime that aides in producing a stable foam when fed a high concentrate diet.

The secondary tympany or free gas bloat is caused when an animal cannot eructate (belch) the free gas built up in the rumen. This is largely due to an obstruction in the esophagus such as foreign bodies, abscesses or tumors. Another possibility might be the animal’s posture. Too often we find animals laying with their backs downhill, and in this position the animal cannot physically eructate.

The clinical signs of bloat are easy to identify on an animal, as there will be large protrusion of the rumen showing prominently on the animal’s left side. The animal will show signs of anxiety and rapid breathing possibly with their neck extended with their tongue out. Once an animal exhibits staggering and lays down, death will occur rapidly. If an animal is bloated, it can be treated by inserting a trocar and cannula through the side of the animal into the rumen cavity. If the cannula is inserted and provides some relief, an antifoaming agent such as vegetable oils or mineral oils should be administered through the cannula into the rumen. Another option could be to pass a stomach tube with a large bore down the animal’s esophagus. This is another great opportunity to administer an antifoaming agent. In either case watch the animal closely for the next couple of hours. For a frothy bloat, switching the animal to a higher roughage diet will be advisement. Reducing the incidence of bloat can be accomplished with pasture and feed management and/or through the use of Poloxalene, which can be fed as a topdressing on feed, in a grain mixture, in liquid supplements, or in molasses blocks. Because poloxalene is relatively expensive, some producers reduce the dosage or eliminate its use after livestock have been grazing pasture for several weeks or the conditions that favor the incidence of bloat decline. Another common management practices is to provide supplements or molasses blocks containing a bloat-reducing ionophore (example: Rumensin®).

Some animals are just more prone to bloat than others and some are even considered chronic bloaters. Management and a producer’s best efforts will not show much improvement in a chronic animal’s condition.

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, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

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.”

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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.

Lactating Cows Need More Protein and Energy . . .

As the spring calving season gets underway, we often feel a sense of relief when we get live calves on the ground and our attention then turns to the remaining cows that are yet to calve. However, we shouldn’t lose focus of the nursing cows and their increased dietary needs. Now, it requires protein and energy not only to maintain flesh and core body functions during inclement weather, but also to fuel milk production, and Mother Nature dictates that if a cow’s protein and energy requirements are not adequate to satisfy all these biological demands, she will sacrifice her body mass to provide for the newborn nursing calf. Dr. Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist, offers a concise overview of the nursing cow’s increased protein and energy needs.

Beef cow owners have known for years that body condition at calving time is a critical determinant in the re-breeding performance of the cows during the next breeding season. Another key factor that impacts return to estrus cycles and re-breeding is the maintenance or loss of body condition after calving and before breeding. Cows losing body condition after calving and before the breeding season will be slower to return to heat cycles and rebreed at a lower rate. Therefore it is necessary that the cow manager understand the change in nutrient requirements of beef cows as they change from gestating cows to early lactation cows.

Using an example of a 1200 pound cow in late gestation, one can examine the nutrient increases as she delivers the calf and starts to lactate. Look in the Oklahoma State University Extension Circular E-974 Nutrient Requirements for Beef Cattle. A 1200 pound late gestation cow requires 1.9 pounds of crude protein daily and 12.9 pounds of Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN). She can consume voluntarily 24 pounds of dry matter feed/day. The same cow after calving will weigh at least 100 pounds less (birth weight of calf, placenta, and fluid loss). An 1100 pound cow in early lactation requires 2.9 pounds of protein each day. That is a 52% increase in protein needs. Her energy requirements go up substantially as well.  She needs 16.8 pounds of TDN each day (if she is an average milking beef cow). This represents a 30% increase in energy intake per day.  Her daily dry matter intake also increases from 24 to 29 pounds but this represents only a 20% increase. If the 30% crude protein supplement being consumed is increased by 3.3 pounds, the protein requirement is met and most of the additional energy needs are fulfilled. Her voluntary increase of 2 pounds of hay per day should make up the remaining gap.

As we examine this example it is very clear that the cow will voluntarily consume a small increase in dry matter, however her needs in protein and energy both increase in larger percentages. Therefore an increase in both diet quality and quantity is necessary after calving to insure that body condition is maintained into and through the breeding season.

As a follow-up to Dr. Selk’s comments, I would remind you that cows can suffer some dietary deficiencies and still provide for the calf, but it will be at the expense of her own body condition and, as Dr. Selk points out, that has repercussions for recycling and rebreeding. In other words, the current body condition on nursing cows will have an impact on next year’s calf crop, and remember that reproductive efficiency is the most significant economic measure of a cow/calf operation.

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Oklahoma State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, State and Local Governments Cooperating. The Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability or status as a veteran, and is an equal opportunity employer.

Udder Soundness Affects Weaning Weights & Calf Health

Udder soundness and teat quality are one of my pet peeves, and it seems to me that the problem has become much worse over the last 30 years or so. I can only assume that our unending pursuit of increased milking ability, in our cow herds, has facilitated this situation, to a large degree. Dr. Glenn Selk, OSU Professor Emeritus, Oklahoma State University, wrote an excellent article in the most recent Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Services Cow/Calf Corner Newsletter.

Every year at “preg” checking time, ranchers evaluate cows and make decisions as which to remove from the herd. One criteria that should be examined to cull cows is udder quality. Beef cattle producers are not as likely to think about udder health and shape as are dairy producers, but this attribute affects cow productivity and should be considered. It may be easier to be accurate in your culling decisions, if you examine the udder soundness of the cows shortly after calving when they are at the peak of lactation and the udder is as large as at any time. Take time now during the peak of lactation to write down which spring-calving cows have unsound udders.  Record the cow numbers of those to be culled next fall due to unsound udders. Their heifer calves would be undesirable prospects to become replacement heifers for your herd.

The heritability estimates of udder characteristics are variable. A study done in Brahman cattle for the heritability of udder soundness indicated that progress could be made by selecting for udder soundness. They reported that 25% of the differences in udder soundness was due to genetics. Beef Improvement Federation Guidelines have suggested that the heritability of udder soundness in beef cattle is estimated at .16 to .22 which means that some progress can be made by selecting against unsound udders.

Recent research at Kansas State University (Bradford, 2014 KSU Cattlemen’s Day) with large numbers of Hereford data has given even greater hope that improvement in udder quality can be made. They found heritabilities of .32 for overall udder score, .31 for suspension, and .28 for teat size. Additionally, genetic correlations between traits were strong (.83). This means that selection for one trait (teat size or suspension) will result in improvement in the other trait.

An experiment conducted at the OSU Range Cow Research Center near Stillwater gives some indication as to the impact of mastitis on beef cow performance. They found that cows with one or two dry quarters had calves with severely reduced weaning weights (50 – 60 pounds) compared to cows with no dry quarters. This represents a sizeable economic loss at weaning time. 

An evaluation system for udder soundness has been developed and used by some breeds.  Teat shape and udder suspension are the two primary characteristics evaluated. Below are photos of unsound udders.

The first photo is an example of a cow with mastitic funnel-shaped teats. New-born calves will find it difficult to nurse such a teat, and some may be so severely infected that they become unproductive (dry). The second photo is an example of a weakened suspensory ligament. This udder may cause the teats to be very low to the ground and be difficult for the newborn calf to find to receive the colostrum that it needs in a timely manner.

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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.

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.

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.

OSU Extension News June 28 2018

The Longhorned Tick (also known as the Bush tick) (Figure 1) is an exotic tick and has been documented as a serious pest of livestock in Australia and New Zealand. Recently, this tick has been found on animals in New Jersey, Virginia, West Virginia and Arkansas. Longhorned Ticks can be found on multiple animals and is considered a three-host tick. This three-host tick is unique in that it can reproduce either sexually (male and female mating) or through parthenogenesis. The reproductive biology of this tick can lead to large populations occurring in pastures or on animals in a short period of time if left unmonitored. However, since it is a three-host tick, it will typically complete their life cycle in 6-months with all active life stages (larva, nymph, and adult stages) feeding on animals. Host associations for this tick are diverse and can infest both small birds as well as large ruminants such as cattle. Considering hosts and pasture types, these two factors will allow certain areas to be more susceptible to this tick. For instance, this tick does not move very far from available hosts when transitioning between life stages (Heath 2016). Therefore, areas that are regularly visited by cattle with vegetation that allows humidity to stay high such as wooded or tall grass areas are probably more likely to have this tick. This tick is also associated with wildlife such as deer, raccoons and opossums. A common area for ticks to be found in pastures are where these wildlife animals commonly reside such as deer trails. It is also an aggressive biter and causes a lot of stress in animals which can lead to economic impacts to beef animal performance.  

Figure 1

Disease associations from this tick are important from the veterinary health aspect as well as the public health aspect. This tick has been identified as a competent vector of several bacterial pathogens including anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, spotted fever rickettsia, and Lyme disease. This tick is also associated with viruses mainly found in East Asia. However, the most likely pathogen that this tick can transmit is the protozoan pathogen that causes Theileriosis. In fact, the cattle that this tick was sampled from in Virginia tested positive for Theileria orientalis which causes bovine theileriosis which can cause high production losses and high mortality in susceptible beef animals. 

Below is a comparison of ticks commonly found in Oklahoma (Fig. 2).

Figure 2

Of the ticks listed the most likely tick to be confused with the Longhorned tick is the Brown Dog Tick (Fig. 2F) due the similar structure of the mouthpart of these two ticks. The length of the mouthpart in Amblyomma ticks and Ixodes ticks (Fig. 2A-C) is much longer than in the Longhorned tick. The mouthparts of the American Dog Tick and Winter Tick, both of which are Dermacentor ticks, are shorter or in equal length as the basis that connects their mouthparts to their body (Fig. 2 E&F). The Longhorned tick has some characteristics that distinguish it from other ticks but only trained personnel can see these differences. If you suspect that a tick is different from other ticks seen previously then the tick can be sent to Oklahoma State University at the below address for identification. The local county extension office as well as your veterinarian can be contacted to assist in the collection. Also, when sending the tick, the best method is to place the tick into a sealable vial with 70% ethanol. The sample should include where the tick was collected (GPS coordinates or street address), type of animal or if it was collected from a person, and the date of collection. All of this will be required for identification.  If a possible tick is presumed to be the Longhorned Tick then the State Veterinarian office within the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food & Forestry will be notified as to the location of the positive tick sample.  Plant Disease and Insect Diagnostic Laboratory

ATTN: Justin Talley

Entomology and Plant Pathology

Oklahoma State University

127 NRC

Stillwater, OK  74078

(405) 744-9961 

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.

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.

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