BeefWatch Articles from December 2018
I just got the forage test results back from the lab and the nitrate score was 3,000. Am I in trouble?
Every year I get multiple questions similar to this one. Unfortunately, with just this information I’m unable to give a useful answer. So – the first question I ask is “Was this reported as nitrates or as nitrate nitrogen?”
By early December, weaning of spring-born calves has wrapped up for most cow-calf producers. This is a good time of year to close the books on 2018 and analyze the business to see what it cost to produce a pound of weaned calf. Unit cost of production (UCOP) is a value based on a relationship in production or manufacturing between costs and units of product made or produced.
Cornstalk residue can be an economical source of forage for beef cattle in the winter. The leftover corn, leaf and husk are the most desirable parts of the corn plant to the animal. Modern farming practices and technology have probably decreased the amount of corn left in the fields for the most part, but the digestibility of the leaf and husk are typically between 45-57% total digestible nutrients (TDN). Assuming stocking rates are moderate and intake is not limiting, research has indicated this will maintain non-lactating pregnant cows.
Year-round cattle grazing is an important management consideration in the Nebraska Sandhills and western Nebraska. With proper protein and mineral supplementation, cattle can be successfully grazed on dormant winter forage without high inputs of harvested feeds. Although, some hay may need to be fed during heavy snows or if available forage is lacking. Saving forage on pastures for use during only winter months can provide a valuable source of feed.
Fall rainfall, and even snow, is good for wheat and next year’s crops, but it does have its drawbacks. One challenge is rain’s impact on corn stalk feed quality.
Rain in the fall usually is welcomed despite the delays it causes with crop harvest. Pastures and alfalfa benefit from extra growth and winterizing capabilities. Wheat and other small grains get well established as do any new fields of alfalfa or pasture. The reserve moisture stored in the soil will get good use during next year’s growing season.