Miscellaneous Topics

(Producer Questions prior to 2009)

How long is the Johne's bacterium viable in the environment (for example, in feces in a watering pond)? Can Johne's be transmitted through semen (when purchasing semen to AI)?

The organism that causes Johne's does not grow in the environment but it can survive in the environment a long time under the right conditions (cool and wet). The organism may survive 6 months to a year in a watering pond and a few months on pasture.

It is possible for Johne's infected bulls to shed the organism in semen, especially in advanced stages of the disease. However, artificial insemination is not considered an important risk for transmission. One reason this is true is because bull studs regularly test for Johne's disease.

Cows in advanced stages of disease have transmitted the infection to unborn calves.

Does it work to use liquid corn syrup to cover a corn silage bunker instead of a plastic tarp?

Solubles work as a cover. The challenge with using distillers solubles (corn syrup, condensed corn distillers solubles, CCDS, etc) is getting it sprayed on and finding a source that is not too fluid. In this case, a thicker, sticky solubles is preferred so that you can spray it on and it will actually cover.

Numerous producers have used it and gotten along okay.

We have tested this as a cover in mini-silos designed to mimic a bunker situation like this. We observed that spraying a 3 inch layer of solubles (uniformly 3 inches, which may be different than what can be done in a bunker) resulted in the same loss of material (in the bunker) as if you used a plastic cover, and both were much better than leaving uncovered. These tests were not done with silage, but with a mix of wet distillers grains and wheat straw. I don't think it will be different with silage though.

The only other issue is that it appears that about 50% of the DM is lost from the solubles themselves. In other words, the solubles tend to dry out and form a "crust" to seal the bunker. Regardless of drying out (from about 30% DM to approximately 65% DM), about half of the DM you purchase will be lost from the solubles. So, it depends on the price of solubles whether this is a problem or not. If you are going to lose half of the DM weight when used as a cover, the price actually doubles because you only have half left when you are feeding it out. This may or may not be a big deal.

How do you determine frame size of cattle?

Frame score is a score based on subjective evaluation of height or actual measurement of hip height in beef cattle. This score is related to slaughter weights at which cattle should attain a given quality grade or attain a given amount of fat thickness. In other words, frame score is a convenient way of describing the skeletal size of cattle. With appropriate height growth curves, most animals should maintain the same frame score throughout life while their actual height will increase. This allows one frame score value to be used regardless of when the animal was measured.

The recommended site for the measurement of frame score is a point directly over the hooks of a beef animal. The measurement is then adjusted based on age in months. The measurement is taken with a frame stick.

Nutritional level is the biggest influence on frame score, especially for young animals. Under nutrition will decrease average growth rate and high levels of nutrition will enhance growth rate.

The frame score system and the adjustments for age are in the Guidelines for Uniform Beef Improvement Programs published by the Beef Improvement Federation.

Heavy fall grazing weakens plants as they go into winter and therefore they grow less vigorously in the spring. Does heavy winter grazing have the same impact on plants?

You are correct in that heavy fall grazing will reduce vigor and growth of grasses the following year. This is particularly true of cool-season grasses. For cool-season grasses, heavy winter grazing may also negatively impact them. The cool-season grasses will have new tillers that emerge in the fall, produce a relatively small amount of growth, and then become dormant over winter. These tillers though are first to resume growth in the spring and are very productive. Heavy winter grazing will impact these tillers. For warm-season grasses, heavy winter grazing usually has less of an impact unless the grazing is so heavy that lower parts of the stem are removed. Lower stems do store some energy reserves that could be used for new growth the next season.

What would be an appropriate, fair cow-lease agreement to facilitate phase out with new operator leasee?

Cattle share leases are often used to share the revenue and expenses associated with a cow-calf enterprise among multiple parties. Find out how to determine the proportion of expenses incurred by the lessor and lessee, as well as key guidelines to consider when transferring ownership of herds. The Cow-calf Share Lease Cow-Q-Lator (Excel spreadsheet) calculates an equitable share arrangement for leasing cows. You will find the spreadsheet on the Ag Economics Decision Aids page in the West Central Research and Extension Center website.