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Monday, December 17, 2018
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The Farm and Ranch Report

Lactating Cows Need More Protein and Energy . . .

Lactating Cows Need More Protein and Energy . . .

Private Applicator licenses that farmers and ranchers use to purchase and apply pesticides are renewed on 5-year rotations, and this is the last year of the current rotation. So, what does that mean for you?

For those producers who are currently licensed Private Applicators, their license expires at the end of this year (12/31/2018). There will be new materials and a new test available sometime after July 1 that we should be able to get for Private Applicators in order to renew their license. If a person is currently a licensed Private Applicator, they must wait until after July 1, when the new test and study materials are available, to renew their Private Applicator license.

According to ODAFF, if a person is currently not a licensed Private Applicator, they can take the test in the Private Applicator packets that we currently have at the OSU Extension Office and, if they pass the test, they will receive a Private Applicator license that is valid from now until the end of 2023.

The Role of Copper in Beef Cattle Reproduction

According to Dr. Keith Bailey, the director of the Oklahoma Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory (OADDL), copper (Cu) deficiency has been a common finding in late term cattle abortions and stillbirths over the past 2 years. In a liver sample study from aborted fetuses in western Canada, magnesium, copper, and vitamin E were frequently identified as deficient in aborted fetuses. In addition to reproductive inefficiencies, low copper levels are also associated with poor performance and poor immune response. Copper is involved in many body functions such as hemoglobin formation, bone cell function, pigment production, hair, hoof and horn function, and animal growth. Since a review of all the health problems associated with copper in beef cattle would be too long for this writing, a review of copper deficiency related to reproductive performance will be addressed in this article.

Copper deficiency can be a primary deficiency or a secondary deficiency. An example of primary deficiency is when forages are low in copper. In Oklahoma most legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have adequate amounts of copper. However, most grasses in Oklahoma are deficient in the mineral. Secondary copper deficiency is more common. This is the result of another mineral(s) interfering with the uptake of copper. The most common minerals involved in this are iron, sulphur, and molybdenum. These elements will bind with copper which makes it unavailable to the body. Secondary copper deficiency may occur even if the diet has adequate amounts of copper.

Reproductive problems associated with copper deficiency in cattle are reduced fertility. This may present in many ways. Cattle may fail to conceive on their first breeding. In embryo transfer, embryonic survival was found to be lower. In some studies, overall pregnancy rates were reduced. Another problem with a low copper level is an alteration in reproductive behavior. In this case cows may show normal estrus behavior but do not ovulate. Also, future estrus cycles may be reduced. The effects of low copper levels on reproduction in cows are not consistent. They may be small or substantial. In bulls, evidence suggest that copper deficiency may cause problems in semen quality and decreased libido.

According to Dr. Dave Lalman, Professor and Extension Beef Cattle Specialist Oklahoma State University, producers can evaluate a mineral deficiency problem by reviewing their records. If the producer’s records indicate good pregnancy rates, weaning weights, and no major health problems, then their mineral supplementation program is probably fine. Even if their performance records are good, they may want to follow up with a mineral balance review with the assistance of their nutritionist, veterinarian, or extension educator. The review will evaluate the animal’s requirements and the minerals supplied by the forage, feed, and mineral supplement. Any deficiency should be addressed.

If copper deficiency is suspected in cattle, a producer needs to evaluate the animal’s copper level. This can be accomplished by a blood test or a liver biopsy. Blood levels of copper become low only after using all the copper in the liver. For this reason, blood samples are only useful in diagnosing advanced cases. Since copper is stored in the liver, a liver biopsy will give the best indications of copper status of the herd. A liver biopsy may be obtained from a slaughter animal or a veterinarian may obtain a biopsy specimen from a live animal.

Producers may provide copper to their cattle by variety of methods. Copper may be added to the feed or supplied in a salt/mineral mix. An injectable product is also availa-ble. Recently, a sustained release bolus has been approve for mineral supplementation. Producers that also run sheep need to keep in mind that mineral mixes produced for cattle will be toxic to sheep. For any questions on what methods or products will be best for meeting the copper needs in cattle, producers should consult with their nutritionist, veterinarian, or local county extension educator.

In review, copper deficiency may be a problem in cattle herds grazing native and improved grasses in Oklahoma. Producers should review their cattle records for any indications of health or reproductive problems. Any problems may indicate a need to evaluate the copper status of their cattle. For any additional information about copper deficiency in cattle, producers should contact their nutritionist, veterinarian, or local county educator.

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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.

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.

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.

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

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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.

Key Factors Affecting the Percentage of Cows Cycling at the Start of Breeding . . .

 The spring breeding season is upon us. May 1 is often the bull turnout date for many Oklahoma herds.  Cows that are cycling early in the breeding season are more likely to get bred this year, raise a heavier calf at weaning, and rebreed on time in future years.  

The most important factors that determine if, and when, a cow returns to cycling activity were analyzed by Kansas State University physiologists. Over a period of 7 years, Kansas State scientists used more than 3000 beef cows in estrous synchronization studies. As a part of these studies they determined which cows were cycling before the start of the breeding season both before and after synchronization treatments. They then looked at the previous data about each cow and determined the major factors that influenced the likelihood that she would have returned to heat by the start of the breeding season. The research indicated that three main factors were the most important determinants as to whether the cow would recycle before the breeding season began. Body condition, age of the cow, and the number of days since calving were the biggest influences on incidence of cycling activity before breeding. 

Body condition: Cows ranged in body condition score from 1 (extremely emaciated) to 7 (very fleshy). As body condition score increased the percentage of cows cycling increased in a linear fashion. The Kansas data reported that there was an 18% increase in percentage cycling for every 1 full condition score improvement. 

Age of the cow: The percentage of first calf two-year-olds cycling was about 10% less than mature cows that were having at least their second calf. The extra nutrient requirement for growth clearly limits the cycling activity at the beginning of the breeding season of two-year-olds. Also, two-year-olds are in the stage of life where the baby teeth are being replaced by permanent teeth. Some of these young cows have problems consuming roughage similar to “broken-mouth” older cows. This explains why many producers choose to breed replacement heifers ahead of the cow herd and therefore give them more days before the breeding season begins for mature cows.

Numbers of days since calving: Cycling activity was also influenced by the number of days since calving. For every 10 day interval since calving (from less than 50 days to 70 days) the percentage cycling increased by 7.5%. A short calving season is important because it allows a higher percentage of cows to be cycling by the start of the next breeding season.

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.

Why is Body Condition Important in Cow/Calf Operations? . . .

Well, this year’s calving season is already in the books. At the very least, we are too far along to make any considerable body condition changes in those females that are still to calve. However, it is not too late to begin planning for next year and now is a good time to evaluate the impact of body condition and rebreeding success in the coming weeks. Let’s set the stage for this discussion.

Reproductive efficiency is the single most significant economic metric of a cow/calf enterprise. In layman’s terms, a beef cow’s primary function is to produce a healthy calf, but an efficient beef cow’s primary function is to produce a healthy calf every 365 days. If they are not producing a calf within a 365-day interval, something is amiss and profits are declining. So, what does this have to do with body condition? Answer: everything.

Nature dictates that a cow’s primary job, and therefore her priority for nutrient intake and utilization, is to provide for her calf. If nutrition is limiting, she will undertake this primary task at the expense of her own flesh, pulling energy reserves from stored fat (external and intermuscular fat depositions) to provide milk for the nursing calf. Nature further dictates that if she cannot adequately care for the nursing calf AND maintain her own body condition, she will not be allowed to conceive another calf. Nature says we must take care of the living first, before we can conceive another generation. Mother Nature is a wise old Dame.

Insuring that cows have adequate stored energy reserves (body condition) is the only way that we can give that cow an opportunity to be “efficient”, or to calve every year within that 365-day interval. So, to assess body condition, we have assigned a numerical system (1-9) to differentiate between various degrees of stored fat reserves. Extensive research has proven that there is a strong correlation between these Body Condition Scores and a cow’s ability to return to estrous and conceive in a timely manner. Considering that the gestation period for cattle is 9 months, which means she needs to cycle and rebreed within 60-90 days after calving if she is going to meet the 365-day calving interval. The following graph is a summary of six herds in four states, showing the effect of body condition on rebreeding success.

You can readily see that cows in a body condition score of 6 or higher, immediately prior to calving, rebreed in a timely manner at a rate of 50% greater than those cows in a body condition score of 4 or less. What is the end result? Simply put, it means that, in a 100-cow herd, 50 more cows will calve again within the 365-day interval, and that means more pounds of weaned calf weight to market and older, more developed heifers to select replacements from. To give some visual perspective, below are a couple images representing those two groups of females.

Mature cows should calve in a Body Condition Score of 5 or 6 and, due to their higher nutrient demand, first-calf heifers should calve at a BCS 6. Logically then, evaluating Body Condition Scores, on the spring-calving cows, again this fall at weaning time will give you some time to plan your winter supplement program so as to add some body condition prior to the throes of winter and late-gestation, when it becomes very difficult and expensive to add weight and condition to cows.

Stay tuned next week and we will discuss how a cow’s Body Condition Score also affects the health of her calf.

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 (student, faculty, or staff) 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.

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.

Do Bigger Cows = More Weaning Weight and More Profit?

 There is increasing concern about the long-term trend toward heavier beef cows. A recent study by Maples, Lusk and Peel (2016) shows that heavier carcasses have cost the U.S. beef industry $8.6 billion due to reduced consumer demand. Studies consistently find that consumers want thick-cut steaks. However, large ribeye and loin cross-sectional areas prevent retailers from serving thick steaks while maintaining desired portion size.

We recently evaluated how heavier cows impact the profitability of cow-calf producers. Data from the American Angus Association demonstrates that EPDs for mature weight have increased steadily since the late 1970s while frame size is unchanged. The data shows the genetic trend for Mature Height (MH) is relatively flat while Mature Weight (MW) has increased by nearly 40 pounds. Since frame size is un-changed, that means that the cow herd has added more muscle, bone, and visceral organ mass. Concurrent with the increase in weight, comes increased nutritional requirements and reduced stocking rates. The question then is: Are higher cow-weights economically justified given heavier weaning weights?

Using data on 3,000+ cows from three research stations in Oklahoma and Arkansas, we recently estimated calf weaning weights as a function of mature cow weight. The resulting function shows a less than linear increase in weaning weight as cow weight increases. This means that each additional pound of mature cow weight adds less to calf weaning weight. Weaning weights increase, but at a decreasing rate. So, increasing mature cow size from a 950# cow to a 1000# cow increases weaning weight by 6.8 pounds. However, increasing mature cow size from a 1750# cow to an 1800# cow increased weaning weight by only 4.7 pounds. Both increase mature weight by 50 pounds, but with different results.

Given that stocking rates decline as cow weight increases and weaning weights are concave in cow weight, heavier cows are unlikely to be the most profitable on a per acre basis—and our analysis confirmed this suspicion. Over all of the scenarios we considered (spring and fall calving, Angus cows and Brangus cows, native pasture and Bermuda pastures), lighter cows outperformed heavier cows over a ten-year time period when profits are computed per acre. Our model also considered the higher cull value of heavier cows, differences in stocking rates and supplemental feed costs, and price variations over time. In figure 3, per acre net present value of beef cows by mature weight is presented. Values fall from $39.75 per acre per head for 950# cows to $22.63 per acre per head for 1800# cows.

While results will differ for individual producers, the economics are pointing to reducing cow weights to improve economic returns. Even if our analyses are off by 20%, the economically-optimal mature cow weight is under 1200#.

So, how does a producer with heavy cows adjust cow weight? Just as it has taken the industry several years to reach the current situation, producers will need to adjust over time. Reestablish a maternal line in the herd. Breed cows with desirable phenotypic and genotypic traits to moderate

MW EPD bulls and retain heifer calves that are both phenotypically and genotypically attractive but have a lower projected mature weight. It could take up to ten years to replace heavy cows, but the economics point to improved profitability. (Source: OSU Extension Master Cattleman Quarterly newsletter; Volume 39, June 2018)

     The take home message is that heavier cows are not the path to heavier weaning weights. There is a point of diminishing returns and it is a very inefficient process. Put simply, in my best Economist language, more/bigger/heavier is not always better or more profitable. Just as “variety is the spice of life”, moderation is the key to longevity and sustainability.

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.

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