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Make Hay Before Seeds Set

2013 hay yield may be low, says MU specialist.

“Don’t delay making hay,” says Rob Kallenbach, University of Missouri (MU) Extension. It might not seem like haymaking time, or haymaking weather, but early harvest results in more quality forage through the season, says the state forage specialist.

Producers needing to build reserves of baled hay depleted by this past winter should harvest early and often. May is a better hay month than June and far better than July.

With a lack of warm weather, hay developed slowly this spring. Kallenbach estimates yields to be 25%-30% behind normal. Lack of sunshine caused thinner stands. The plants grew tall, but the grass didn’t thicken, putting out fewer tillers.

“The undergrowth is just not there,” Kallenbach says. While yields may seem low on the first cuttings, an early harvest will allow stronger second cuttings. Read more.

Raking Tips for Superior Hay

Whether you are cutting, conditioning, raking or baling, all steps in the process of making high-quality hay require attention to detail. Any slipups along the way can compromise the end result. Raking is perhaps the most critical step in the process, as more leaf loss can be caused by improper raking than by any other step in the harvest process.

“A good job of raking can make baling high-quality hay relatively easy,” says Dean Morrell, Agco hay and forage product marketing manager for Hesston by Massey Ferguson® and a 35-year veteran of the quality hay business. “On the other hand, if raking is done poorly, the result can be poor-quality bales that are subject to spoilage.” Morrell reminds producers to avoid raking alfalfa or clover when the forage moisture is less than 35%-40% to prevent the loss of nutrient-dense leaves. Leaves contain two-thirds of the protein and 75% of the total digestible nutrients (TDN) in alfalfa hay. Read more.

Overcoming Breeding Challenges on Fescue Pastures

Cows need to be pregnant by the end of June for best results, UK extension specialist advises.

A large number of Kentucky beef producers have spring-calving cow herds that graze fescue pastures. The biggest concern with these pastures is their high endophyte levels. High endophyte levels can cause a multitude of problems in cattle, including reduced reproductive performance.

“Getting a high percentage of cows bred in May, June and July to calve in March, April and May can be a challenge,” said Roy Burris, beef extension specialist for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Research and Extension Center (UKREC) in Princeton. “I personally prefer fall calving for that reason, but I also believe that we can have successful breeding performance in the spring.” Read more.

Alfalfa Weevil

Infestations of 10-12 weevils per plant can eat alfalfa plants to the stem in a day or two.

Jeff Whitworth, Kansas State University entomologist, talks about the importance of controlling alfalfa weevils in this 8-minute video from K-State Research & Extension.

Joined at the Compost Pile

Can combining mortality composting from two separate farms constitute a CAFO?

During a recent Michigan State University (MSU) Extension program, a Michigan farmer shared that he owns a swine operation with animals on two different farms located several miles apart. The farmer hauls his dead animals from one farm to the other, where he recently installed a rotary drum composter to handle mortalities. Individually, neither farm is considered a large CAFO, nor are they currently permitted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). Each has its own land base for spreading manure and its own nutrient-management plan.

The farmer knew that his mortality-management plan, which includes combining mortality, was in compliance with the Bodies of Dead Animals Act in Michigan. However, the MDEQ informed the farmer that since he was moving the dead animals from one farm to the other farm, his mortality-management plan resulted in the commingling of production area waste. Because nutrients of one farm are being transferred to another, the two farms are considered one large CAFO. He was advised that he needed to apply for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit, but the farmer wondered if he was given correct information and asked, “Is this correct?” Read more.

Kris Ringwall
Kris Ringwall

Beef Talk

It’s time to set herd reproductive goals. To pass, 60% must calve in 21 days.

As the calving season winds down, check the calving book. Count the number of cows that calved within 21 days from when the third mature cow calved. After that, check the number that calved the next 21 days and the next 21 days. Keep counting until you get to the end of the calving book.

Why? The No. 1 indicator — let me repeat — the No. 1 indicator that cows within a cattle operation fit the managerial program is timely reproduction. In other words, they calve on time.

The type of cattle operation is not important, nor is when the calving season is set. What is important is that at least 60% of the mature cows expected to calve do so within 21 days of the start of the calving season. Read more.

New Products

Industry affiliates provide a wide array of products and services to assist you on the farm and ranch. Here's an assortment of new products to hit the market recently.

Angus Advisor

Click here for June herd management tips from cattle experts across the nation. Advice separated by region.

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