Ohio Beef Letter

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
OSU Extension BEEF Team

BEEF Cattle questions may be directed to the OSU Extension BEEF Team through Stephen Boyles or Stan Smith, Editor

You may subscribe to this weekly BEEF Cattle letter by sending a blank e-mail to [email protected]

Issue # 526

February 28, 2007

Early Lactation Considerations - Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Athens County

The early lactation period is the time of highest nutrient requirements for the beef cow. Providing the nutrients needed is crucial to enable the cow to nurse the calf as well as stay in the body condition needed to be able to rebreed within 80 to 85 days after calving. According to the National Research Council (NRC) 1996 edition recommendations, a 1200 lb cow producing about 15 pounds of milk per day at peak lactation will require a diet containing about 9.5% crude protein (CP) and about 58% total digestible nutrients (TDN). First calf heifers have an even higher nutritional plane, they need a diet with about 10.5% CP and 62% TDN.

Remember that there is a biological priority for nutrients, or a hierarchy of nutrient use. Body maintenance requirements will always be met first. If there are sufficient nutrients beyond that then growth is the next priority. This explains the higher nutrient requirements for those first calf heifers because they are still growing. After growth needs have been met, nutrients in the diet are allocated for milk production. Last, after all other nutrient needs have been met, is the requirement for reproduction. Since rebreeding is a management consideration within the early lactation period, the cow-calf producer can't afford to be short on nutrients during this period.

Another consideration that must take place is that these recommendations are really minimal amounts. Maintenance requirements can be increased with cold temperatures, windy conditions, wet, muddy conditions that decrease the insulating ability of the coat, walking distances or over hilly terrain or any combination of these conditions. If a minimum ration is provided, maintenance needs will still be met, but possibly growth or milk requirements may not.

This is a time in the production cycle where it can pay dividends to the cattleman to know the nutrient content of the forages going into the cow. With today's grain prices profitability can be eroded very quickly if grain is being fed unnecessarily. Conversely, if grain is needed and not being provided, profitability is being hurt in terms of calf gains and possibly delayed rebreeding. I have seen very few first cutting hay samples that have come through the Extension office meet early lactation nutrient requirements. Average CP is around 8 to 8.5 with TDN values generally under 53%. Most second cutting hay samples that have come through seem to have average CP values in the 10% range, but few will have TDN values greater than 58%.

A final consideration is what will you do if your forage meets the nutrient requirements for the older cow but is deficient in the nutrient density needed for the first calf heifer? Can you separate the first calf heifer from the rest of the herd and supplement her, will you supplement the entire herd to insure the nutrient needs of the first calf heifer are met, or will you ignore the higher nutrient needs of the first calf heifer? These are important management decisions, and whatever course you choose has economic implications.

$4 Corn…What about Barley? - Steve Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Recently I was contacted by a producer who could get barley for significantly less than the cost per pound of corn, and was wondering how to feed it to cattle.

Barley is an excellent feed for cattle and may be substituted for corn in various rations. Feeding values of barley for cattle are 88% to 90% that of corn. Feed barley frequently contains protein in excess of 13.5%. One can normally feed less protein supplement when feeding barley compared to corn. The economic value of barley compared to corn should take into account the cost of protein supplement. Stained or discolored barley is discriminated against at the malting plant. The feed value, however, of the blemished grain is not compromised.

Fiber content will vary inversely with test weight. NRC (National Research Council) considers 36 lb. test weight barley (77% TDN) to be 7% lower in total digestible nutrients compared to normal barley 87% TDN, 48 lb test weight). Barley fiber has little value as a roughage factor.

It is important that barley be coarsely processed before it is fed to cattle. Whole barley is only about 80% as useful as rolled or ground barley. A common problem is to grind or roll the barley too fine. An adequate level of processing is to break the kernel into just 2 pieces and have some breaks in the kernel surface. Cattle may maintain more consistent feed intake patterns with maximum levels of barley not exceeding 70% of the ration. Additional grain can be provided from some slower fermenting grains. Novice producers may want to use lower levels (40-50%) until they gain experience.

A more thorough discussion of Barley is located in the OSU Beef Team Library.

Cattle Lice Thrive Through Winter; Plan Treatment - Jamie Larson, U of M Beef Team

We usually think of the winter as our escape from pesky insects, however, cattle lice thrive during the cold weather and increase their populations on cattle. Now is the time of the year to evaluate cattle for lice and plan a treatment if necessary.

Lice have been accused of being the most underestimated livestock insect in terms of economic loss; USDA estimates that U.S. producers lose $125 million a year to cattle lice.

Cattle that are infected with lice are generally in poor condition with rough, patchy hair coats. Lice or their eggs can be visually detected, especially those severely infected. Heavy lice populations cause lowered milk production, decreased flesh growth, unthriftiness and anemia which can also affect reproduction and the immune system.

Research at the University of Nebraska has shown that moderate to heavy lice infestation can depress weight gain by 0.12 pounds per day in the feedlot.

Understanding the treatment and prevention of lice would be beneficial in any cattle operation.

There are five species of lice that live on cattle. The shortnosed cattle louse are the most common in adult animals and often cause the most loss. This type is frequently found in and on the ears, along the dewlap and brisket, and on the tailhead. Shortnosed lice are the largest of the five species found in the U.S., measuring about 1/8 of an inch and their eggs are whitish.

Longnosed cattle louse tend to infest younger calves. They can be found anywhere on the animal, usually few in number on adult cattle. Longnosed louse are smaller and more slender than shortnosed and they have a pointed head. The eggs from longnosed louse are bluish-black in color.

The Little Blue cattle louse tends to stay on the head of cattle - near the eyes, cheeks and muzzles. This species is the smallest of the cattle lice and are more common in the southwest and Gulf of Mexico portion of the country.

Cattle Tail lice look similar to the shortnosed lice and prefer the long-haired portions of cattle like the tail. These lice are more abundant in late summer to early fall and are not usually seen in the winter. They, like the Little Blue louse, are most common in the southern parts of the U.S.

These four species of louse feed on the blood of cattle.

The fifth species, Cattle Biting louse, feed on the skin cells of cattle. These lice cause severe itching and are common in small numbers on many cattle. Severe infestations can occur in winter when cattle are in close quarters. This species can be a large problem for dairy herds. Cattle Biting lice look different than the others because of its very rounded head. They are about 1/16 of an inch long and are brown with pale cream-colored abdomens.

Lice have life cycles that last about a month and they must remain on the host animal to survive. They will die within days if they do not have a feed supply, especially if exposed to sunlight or extreme cold.

They start as eggs that have been deposited on hair, especially the tailhead and tail area. Immature lice grow and feed on the cattle until they reach the adult stage and lay eggs, starting the cycle over again.

Eggs hatch anywhere from 6 to 11 days after being laid, therefore it is necessary to repeat treatment at least twice to stop an infestation.

There are several treatment options, however, all are poor at killing lice in the egg stage. Many pour-ons and sprays are effective at killing lice. Injectables are effective at killing lice that feed on blood, but Cattle Biting lice do not consume enough blood for the injectable to be effective. Your herd veterinarian can help you choose the most effective product for your situation.

Lice are spread in animal to animal contact, so close housing conditions increase the infestation. Feeding and breeding usually increase animal to animal contact, as does cold weather. When bringing new animals into the herd, they should be visually inspected for lice and treated while they are quarantined for a month because of the life cycle.

In some herds, 1 to 2 percent of animals may be "carriers." These animals are usually the older bulls or cows in poorer condition that always seem to carry high loads of lice. It is thought the lack of grooming, either due to the large size and thick hair coats of bulls or the inability of old cows, is the culprit. Many "carrier" cows have calves that are "carriers" so culling these cows may be the best option.

Preventing a louse infestation will prevent the economic loss that lice can bring. If rough, thin hair-coats are present the problem is already too big. Incorporating a louse prevention plan into your regular herd health calendar will have economic returns and will keep your cattle itch-free.

Good Bull Buying Rests on Knowing Your Cattle - Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Management decisions based on data is the mantra for good beef production. One large challenge that exists is that data collection and reporting doesn't coincide with the time the data needs to be reviewed and utilized.

Feedlot data is a good example. Data gradually is generated over months and often set aside when it is needed the most - when producers are shopping for new herd bulls.

While the data was collected 10 to 12 months ago, it is important to access the reports because the data sheets are the most current available. The Dickinson Research Extension Center finishes calves produced at the center.

We pull the feedlot sheets to evaluate steer performance. In 2005 (most recent data available), the steer calves were fed in five separate lots, each in its own environment.

For the purpose of discussion, one sample lot of calves will be reviewed. The lot, reflective of the calves the center produced, arrived at the feedlot on Nov. 14, 2005.

Seventy-four head had an average off-truck weight of 640 pounds. These calves, typical Midwestern medium-framed calves with average flesh, had an average pay weight of 667 pounds and were valued at $118.50 per hundredweight.

As the calves were processed into the lot, they averaged 642 pounds and 0.18 inch of backfat and stood, on average, 45.7 inches at the hip. The calves started to be harvested on April 12, 2006, with an average sale date of April 30 after 167 days on feed.

Two calves from the lot died and one had been sold as a railer. In this illustration, because we are evaluating performance, lot data is presented without the dead calves and railer. If the lot was to be evaluated on dollar performance, the dead calves and railer probably should remain in the averages.

The lot had a dry matter feed efficiency of 4.9 pounds of feed per pound of gain and an average daily gain of 3.57 pounds. The calves averaged 1,261 pounds as they left the lot based on a calculated live shrink at the time of sale. The hot carcass weight averaged 797 pounds on the rail.

In terms of quality on the rail, the calves were 14.1 percent upper choice, 29.6 percent choice and 56.3 percent select. The yield grade (YG) distribution was 2.8 percent YG1, 28.2 percent YG2, 56.3 percent YG3 and 12.7 percent YG4. The rib eye area averaged 12.9 square inches.

Reflecting on the data, the actual frame of 4.8 was smaller than your typical Midwestern calves. However, the calves' gain and feed performance certainly was in the ballpark. As they were sold on the rail, more choice calves would have been beneficial.

In terms of muscle and fat, the calves were short on muscle and a little strong on fat. For example, on April 27, a choice quality yield grade 3 carcass brought $138.55, an upper choice yield grade 3 carcass brought $142.05 and a choice yield grade 2 carcass brought $142.55. One certainly would smile if all the carcasses had been choice or higher with at least a yield grade of 2 or lower.

All good things can be carried too far, since a choice yield grade 4 carcass brought $128.55. In terms of the select quality grade, a select yield grade 1 carcass brought $128.44, a select yield grade 2 carcass brought $128.44 and a select yield grade 3 carcass brought $124.44.

In the end, finding bulls that maintain or enhance growth is important. For the cows these calves are out of, significant bull pressure needs to be applied to the ability to improve quality grade and add rib eye.

Forage Focus: Beginners Managed Grazing School is Set

A four session "Beginners" managed grazing school has been scheduled to begin on March 8 in Carrollton, Ohio. The first three sessions will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Carrollton High School on March 8, 15, and 22. The final session will be "on-farm" beginning at 10 a.m. March 31.

For more information, or to register, contact the Carroll County Extension office at 330.627.4310. You may also find a flyer and enrollment form linked in the Beef Team web Calendar on the March 8 date.

Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report - Mike Roberts, Commodity Marketing Agent, Virginia Tech

LIVE CATTLE in Chicago (CME) soared on Monday. The FEB'07LC closed at $94.975/cwt, up $0.800/cwt. The APR'07LC closed up $1.125/cwt at $97.300/cwt. All months set new contract highs. The latest USDA Cattle on Feed report encouraged the market showing lower numbers than last year. Friday's USDA report was very bullish. USDA placed January placements 23% lower than last year at this time. Marketings were 2% higher than last year but lower than expected by the market. This is the fifth month placements have run behind last year but the first time in almost a year and a half that supplies on feed were lower than last year at this time. Technical buying sped up gains with some rolling long positions in the April into June by funds. "As usual, funds were relentless buyers," one floor source was quoted. The February gains surprised everyone two days ahead of its expiration. USDA early on Monday put the choice boxed beef cutout at $149.80/cwt, up $0.41/cwt. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average beef plant margin for Monday was estimated at $2.80/head, down $9.75/head from Friday and $44.75/head from a week ago. Cash sellers should push cattle off the feeding floor as soon as they are ready. Corn users should not price corn at this time trying to catch it on the down tick.

FEEDER CATTLE at the CME closed up on Monday. The MAR'07FC contract finished at $101.050/cwt, up $1.725/cwt. The APR'07FC contract closed up $1.875/cwt at $103.800/cwt. Both contracts were up near $2.00/cwt from two weeks ago. The October through the January 2008 placed fresh highs. Feeders rallied on buy-stops and active fund buying when commercial selling fell through early on. Floor sources said fund buying dominated everything. Live cattle proved supportive even after weak cash sales last week. Feeder cattle rallied on technical strength showing what looks like a break out on the charts. Friday's cattle-on-feed report was supportive improving interest in feeders due to slack feedlot supplies. The CME Feeder Cattle Index for Feb. 22 was $98.17/cwt, down $0.26/cwt. Cash sellers should think about finishing those feeder calves in proper fashion to take advantage of these prices. Corn users should not price corn at this time trying to catch it on the down tick.