Ohio Beef Newsletter

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Well-known member
Jan 20, 2007
LaRue, Ohio
Forage Focus: Drought-Stressed Corn For Silage - Bill Weiss, Dept of Animal Sciences, OARDC/OSU

The dry conditions in many parts of the state have greatly reduced hay and hay silage yields which has reduced forage inventory on many dairy farms. In addition, corn plants are becoming stunted and grains yields are likely to be poor. Low forage inventory and the desire to salvage some value from corn fields means that much of the droughtstressed corn in the state will be chopped for silage. Drought-stressed corn silage can be a good feed for dairy cows and other ruminants if some guidelines are followed.

1. Chop at the correct dry matter: 30 to 38% dry matter. Corn plants, whether drought-stressed or not, must contain the proper amount of moisture for good fermentation in the silo. Corn plants that are chopped with less than about 30% dry matter (especially less than 27% dry matter) are at high risk of a poor fermentation (high acetic acid, low pH, etc). Corn plants chopped with much more than 38 to 40% dry matter usually under go a limited fermentation and can mold and spoil during storage and feed out. Drought-stressed corn often is much wetter than normal corn because normal corn has more kernels and kernels are drier than the vegetative part of the plant. Before chopping drought-stressed corn for silage, cut some stalks and run dry matter analysis. If the crop is too wet to make silage, do not chop. Forage supplies are likely to be very tight this fall and winter. Do not exacerbate the situation by chopping at the incorrect dry matter concentration and making poor quality silage. Even under severe drought, it is extremely likely that corn plants are too wet to make into silage in mid-July.

2. Nitrates might be a problem and greenchopping corn plants is not recommended. Silage fermentation can greatly reduce nitrate concentrations. Therefore, very often silage is safe to feed even thought the plants would have been toxic if fed fresh. If greenchopping must be done because of limited forage supplies, set the chopper high because nitrates accumulate in the lower stalk.

3. Nutrient value of drought-stress corn silage can be fairly high. Compared with normal corn silage, drought-stressed corn silage usually has 1 to 2 percentage units more crude protein, 10 to 20 percentage units more neutral detergent fiber (the fewer the number of ears, the higher the fiber concentration), and 15 to 25 percentage units less starch. Even though fiber concentrations are high and starch concentrations are low, energy values (TDN, net energy, etc) of drought-stressed corn are usually 90 to 95% as high as normal corn silage because the fiber is highly digestible. The bottom line is that if drought-stressed corn silage ferments properly (see point #1), it is quite acceptable as a forage for even high producing dairy cows. However, the nutrient composition of drought-stressed corn will be more variable than normal corn silage and it must be sampled and analyzed for nutrient composition and diets balanced accordingly.

Chopping Soybeans for Silage - Bill Weiss, Dept of Animal Sciences, OARDC/OSU

Because of dry conditions, soybeans may not mature adequately to justify harvesting the crop as beans. An alternative is to chop the entire plant and make silage out of it. If harvested at correct stage of maturity and good silage making practices are followed soybean silage can be a good feed for cattle.

1. The crop must contain adequate water for fermentation. The best fermentation usually occurs when soybeans contain 35 to 45% dry matter (wetter silages for bunkers and drier silages for upright silos).

2. Excessive fat (oil) in the seeds can inhibit fermentation. Soybeans at the R-6 stage usually do not contain enough oil (6 to 9% of the whole plant dry matter) to cause problems. Under normal growing R-7 stage beans contain about 10% fat (whole plant) which can cause some fermentation problems but under drought conditions, R-7 may still ferment adequately. If your soybeans contain much more than about 10% fat, they should be blended with other crops (corn plants) at the time of ensiling.

3. Silage must be chopped relatively finely to encourage consumption of stems. A theoretical length of chop of 3/8 inch should be adequate but chop length should be evaluated at the time of cutting. Chop several feet of material and look at the forage. If several long stems remain, reduce TLC, if you cannot find any stem pieces that are about an inch long, increase TLC (not all the pieces should be 1 inch but you should be able to find some).

4. Nutrient value of soybean silage chopped at R-6 stage is similar to early to midbloom alfalfa. Average concentrations (dry matter basis) of some nutrients are:

Crude protein: 19%
Neutral detergent fiber (NDF) 40%
Fat: 6%
5. Certain herbicides that are used for soybeans may not be approved when harvesting the crop as silage. Check with your chemical supplier.

Teff Yields 1.2 Ton in 40 Days

Last month we offered information on Teff, a heat tolerant annual grass native of Ethiopia. Teff was planted near Bremen on May 28 in an effort to create a quick crop of dairy quality hay. It was harvested 40 days (July 7), and 1.6 inches of rainfall after planting and yielded 1.2 tons per acre from the first cutting.

Heifer Development Field Day, July 24

Don't forget that next Tuesday is the Ohio Heifer Development Field, hosted by the Ohio Cattlemen's Association and OSU Extension at the Heifer Development & Breeding Services farm near Russellville. The afternoon will begin at 4:00 p.m. with open walking tours of the farm and heifers. At 6:30 short presentations focusing on performance of the heifers, nutrition, synchronization protocol, and the drought-like conditions and it's impact on heifer development and conception will begin.

Announcement of an OHD bred heifer sale in 2008, plus the addition of two new Ohio Heifer Development cooperators will also be made. A cooperator in Fairfield County is being added which will offer services for both fall and spring born heifers. In addition, a third site yet to be determined will be announced which will offer services for spring born heifers.

Complimentary refreshments and dinner will be provided. Please contact Bill Doig ([email protected] or 614-873-6736) for reservations or more information.

"Handling, Feeding, and Marketing Cattle for Profit"

"Handling, Feeding, and Marketing Cattle for Profit" is the theme for an August 24th and 25th meeting at the Ross County Service Center and a local farm near Chillicothe. Rising input costs, dry weather, and ever changing market prices require beef producers to maintain themselves on the cutting edge of management and marketing information. Modern animal behavior and management techniques combined with current feeding and marketing trends to remain competitive in a changing world will be highlighted.

Dr. Temple Grandin, a designer of livestock handling facilities and a Professor of Animal Science at Colorado State University, will be the highlighted speaker on Friday evening and will provide innovative ideas on "Animal Behavior and Facility Design". She will also do a hands-on facility session on Saturday morning in addition to her insights for youth on halter breaking project calves.

At 11:30 am on August 25th, Dr. Nevil Speer, a professor of Animal Science at Western Kentucky University, will give a presentation on "Feeder Cattle Outlook for Calves and Stockers". Speer's beef industry involvement is comprehensive and has allowed him to work on a variety of national projects. He also writes the "Monthly Market Profile" a column that covers current market events while also providing insight into agriculture industry and beef sector trends and issues.

Dr. Francis Fluharty, a Research Scientist with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center will provide timely information on "Pre-conditioning Calves for Market" and "Feeding Strategies for Fall and Winter". Dr. Fluharty specializes in beef cattle disciplines of growth, development, and nutrition. He teaches Feedlot Management and Cow-Calf short courses throughout Ohio.

More details and registration information can be found at the website: http://ross.osu.edu/agriculture-natural-resources/ag-forms-files/2007-grandin-flyer.pdf Cost for the program is $5.00 per person to cover lunch. For more information, contact the OSU Extension office in Pike County at 740-947-2121.

The "Handling, Feeding, and Marketing Cattle for Profit" program is jointly hosted by the Ross and Pike County Offices of OSU Extension with sponsorship from the Ross and Pike County Cattlemen's Association, the Ohio Pro- Beef Alliance, and United Producers, Inc.

Meat Demand and Summer Reading - Brian Roe, Associate Professor, OSU Dept. AED Economics

The rapid spread of low-carbohydrate diets during the early 2000's caught many in the red meat industry off guard as the demand for protein sparked by these dieters heightened demand for red meat. While the popularity of low-carb diets has diminished, the fad looks to have altered Americans view of red meat from the 'this stuff will kill you' attitudes of the late 1980's and 1990's to a more moderate view that red meat can be a part of healthy diets.

While the Atkins-inspired low-carb diet was a bit of a surprise to much of the red meat industry, the growth of the popularity of the diet could be traced to level of sales for the books that promoted the diet. This suggests an avenue for forecasting if there are any new dietary movements that might impact red meat consumption in the upcoming year. In this issue I will browse recent best-seller lists for the most popular diet and food books and see if any new trends appear to be emerging that could shake up red meat demand.

While the Atkins diet is well off the publishing radar (#3355 on the Amazon.com sales rankings), a related diet - the South Beach Diet - remains a stalwart among dieting books. The book still ranks at #130 on Amazon.com and has many related books (cookbooks, etc.) that enjoy relatively high sales rankings. This is not much of a demise from its position on these lists last summer (#76 during late summer 2006), suggesting that this diet has retained its appeal with the American population. This is considered a 'low-carb' diet, though this diet puts more emphasis on eating the 'right' carbs rather than 'fewer' carbs. The South Beach Diet serves as a transition from the low-carb era in dieting to the 'smart carb' and 'low glycemic' era, which focuses on avoiding foods that make blood sugar levels surge. Lean meats still enjoy an important place in these diets, but adherents are not likely to be mistaken for Atkins-era carnivores.

The highest ranking diet books at the moment are the Five Factor Diet (#7 on Amazon) and the Best Life Diet (#27 on Amazon). Part of the popularity of these books is that the authors have successfully helped famous people lose weight using each diet. Unlike many crazy diets used by stars, these diet plans focus on lifestyle and exercise choices and attempt to change bad eating habits permanently. Each diet has room for limited amounts of 'lean meats'. However, most example recipes included with each diet feature fish or poultry examples rather than beef or pork. So, while none of these is explicitly hostile toward meat, both view lean cuts of red meat as an occasional item rather than a staple. Two other diets with similar themes - the Fat Smash Diet (#81 on Amazon) and Ultrametabolism (#211) - were popular last year and have sustained popularity. These latter diets also focus on exercise as a means to increase the body's metabolism, which helps in weight loss.

A new item in the dieting best sellers list is a book that is sold as a complement to Alli - a recently released, over-the-counter weight loss drug. Why does this diet drug inspire the need for a book? Well, the drug works by blocking absorption of fat from food in the digestive tract. If fat isn't absorbed, and it is already in the digestive tract, it has to go somewhere, and that excretion of unabsorbed fat can lead to some embarrassing circumstances. The book advises the users of Alli about diets that work best with the pill to avoid these embarrassing side effects. Hence, if this over-the-counter diet drug gains popularity, it may allow people to continue with diets that contain frequent servings of red meat, though many may shift to lower fat (and perhaps less red meat) entrees to avoid the awkward side effects.

One book, entitled "Skinny B!%!#", has risen to #182 on Amazon and #4 on the New York Times paperback advice books list. The authors (former models) advocate two main dieting principles for achieving stylish thinness: no refined sugar and no animal products. This is one of the only vegan-oriented books I've come across in the past three years that has risen very high in the sales rankings. While there's a chance it may take off and lower meat and dairy demand, I suspect the book's popularity may be due to the authors' caustic wit and fashion-industry insights as much as for their dietary mantra. Nonetheless, it may be one worth tracking.

Two other books are pushing readers to rethink the way they purchase food and approach eating. The book "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by best selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver is currently #24 on Amazon and "The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals" by best-selling science writer Michael Pollin is currently #51 on Amazon. Kingsolver - best known for her 1998 book "The Poisonwood Bible" - documents the first year of her family's transition to relying upon as much home-grown and locally-grown food as possible. The author and her family give up being vegetarians, though rely only upon meat where they know its exact origin. In Pollin's book, which was released last year and still maintains strong sales, the author meticulously documents every step of four meals, including lunch at McDonalds and a dinner prepared at an organic food store, from the field to the fork. For the non-agricultural population, this journey up the supply chain stirs up many issues, including what many in the agricultural community may view as an anti-corn bias that may have influenced farm bill discussions this year. The bottom line for the meat sector is that the popularity of these two books may provide the next source of demand for process and source verification in the meat sector, with potential boosts for the organic, free-range, grass-fed, natural and locally-grown monikers that now accompany many meat products in high-end supermarkets.

So, in short, the dieting trends found in recent best sellers suggest there is no emerging fad that will boost red meat demand. The most popular and emerging diets are, with the exception of one book, not outright dismissive of red meat, but often view a limited role for beef and pork in dieters' meals, particularly during initial phases of the diet. Furthermore, Kingsolver's and Pollin's books could continue to stoke interest in organic, grass-fed, free-range, natural and locally-grown labels.

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

LIVE CATTLE on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) finished lower on Monday with one exception, the OCT'07LC contract. The AUG'07LC contract closed at $91.35/cwt, off $27.50/cwt from the last close but $2.10/cwt higher than two Mondays ago. The August was the most active. The lone gainer on the day was the OCT'07 contract, closing up $0.05/cwt at $96.35/cwt. Limit down corn and losses in soybeans and wheat spurred higher market movement. A large portion of the volume came as funds rolled long positions in live cattle. October/August spreading was noted. Most index fund rolling was considered finished last week but funds kept on moving positions. Cash beef prices showed some weakness this week. The Five-Area-Weekly-Weighted Price for cattle was only up $0.50/cwt-$1.00/cwt.USDA placed the choice beef cutout at $143.04/cwt, up $0.12/cwt. Heavy weights and red packer margins most likely kept bidders out. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average beef packer cutout for Monday was placed at a negative $13.20/head, $5.20/head lower than last Friday and $10.40/head lower than this time last week. The markets may get a little jumpy ahead of the monthly Cattle on Feed and semi-annual Cattle Inventory reports due out on Friday by 3:00 p.m., EST. Cattle on Feed are expected to be around 100% of last year while the Cattle Inventory report is expected to show less than 100% of last year. Cash sellers are encouraged to push cattle out the door at the right weights. As with two weeks ago, it might be a good idea to buy more near-term grain inputs and hedge expected feeder purchases.

FEEDER CATTLE contracts at the CME rose nicely on Monday amid limit down corn prices and fair support from live-cattle while the premium to cash slowed upside movement. The AUG'07FC contract closed at $115.150/cwt, up $1.300/cwt and a whopping $6.60/cwt higher than two weeks ago! SEPT'07FC futures finished at $115.775/cwt, up $1.100/cwt and another whopping $6.775/cwt higher than the figure posted two weeks back! Tight feeder cattle numbers are expected this Friday when USDA publishes its livestock reports. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index was placed at $111.61/cwt, down $0.19/cwt. It might be a good idea for feeder buyers to lock in some feeder prices at this time. I know that many across Texas, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida are hurting for rain but if you can pasture more pounds on at this time it still seems to be a good idea to do so. It is also wise to consider locking in more near-term grain supplies.

CORN on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) closed limit down in several contracts on Monday. The SEPT'07 contract finished at $3.346/bu, off 20.0¢/bu from last close. The DEC'07 contract, noted as the most active, finished at $3.484/bu, also down 20.0¢/bu from Friday and 25.6¢/bu lower than two weeks ago. The DEC'08 contract finished at $3.914/bu, down 20.0¢/bu from Friday but only 0.6¢/bu lower than two weeks ago. USDA put the crop condition at 64% good to excellent, down 4%. Playing a bearish role in the market, weather forecasts are favorable for silking during this key crop-making phase. This is what the market expected. USDA reported that 101,000 tonnes (4 million bu) of new crop corn was sold on Monday. Funds sold between 7,000 and 8,000 lots while the market left 35,000-40,000 sell orders unfilled at closing. The CFTC Commitment of Traders report showed large speculators growing bullish positions in CBOT corn by 6,600 contracts to 119,000 lots during the week ended July 10. Cash corn bids in the Mid-Atlantic States were 3¢/bu-4¢/bu higher on Monday. Cash sellers that have priced up to 50%-60% of next year's production are in good shape. Pricing with Put Options as we near harvest may not be a bad idea.