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Beef roundup

Agriculture.com Staff 02/17/2009 @ 11:00pm

The easiest thing you can do to improve your pastures this year is to seed some new forages into existing stands. You can frost-seed some legumes such as clover and trefoil right now. Just broadcast them over snow or frozen ground and let the thawing process work them into soil contact and germination. Some good grazing managers seed 5 pounds per acre this way every year to maintain an on- going legume stand and to eliminate the need for nitrogen fertilizer.

Do be careful about grazing new legume seedlings so they aren’t nipped off before they develop roots. One way is to seed about 4 pounds per acre of annual ryegrass along with the legume, says Rory Lewandowski, Ohio State University Extension specialist.

“The ryegrass will provide some early cover, and it will allow for an early grazing pass because it’s quick to germinate and grow,” he says.

Lewandowski also says to be careful about seeding pasture mixes too deep, especially with a drill. These small seeds should only be planted about ¼ inch deep. “It’s better to err on the side of planting shallower rather than deeper,” he says.

Last year was one of the wettest summers on record, and a lot of hay was made under poor conditions. That nutritional deficiency may come to light now, as you enter calving and early lactation season.

One solution is to supplement the cows with distillers’ grains (DG) from an ethanol plant. In some areas, it’s plentiful and usually priced as a competitive advantage to corn. The Iowa Beef Center offers these three tips for feeding DG to cows:

1. For average cows in good condition for the last third of gestation, 3 to 5 pounds of dried DG or 8 to 15 pounds of wet DG will meet their protein and energy requirements when fed as a supplement to cornstalks.

2. For early lactation, those amounts are 6 to 8 pounds of dried DG or 20 to 23 pounds of wet DG when fed as a supplement to cornstalks.

3. Fine-tune these rations for cow size, condition score, feed analysis, and operational goals. Any vitamin and mineral concentrations should be evaluated.

Aren’t you glad you avoided the rush to plow up your pastures for a corn crop?

Some market chasers sold the cow herd and dusted off the plow, all on the premise that $7 corn was the new norm. But while cattle prices may have slumped in recent months, you’re still ahead marketing calves rather than corn from your second-tier soils. Long term, that land will continue to return more as grassland – provided it’s well managed.

As the nation’s cow herd shrinks (down over a million head since 1998), those who hold on will be rewarded. It’s supply-side economics: When there’s less of something, it’s worth more; when there’s more, it’s worth less. Long term, that favors calves over corn.

As the nation’s cow herd shrinks (down over a million head since 1998), those who hold on will be rewarded. It’s supply-side economics: When there’s less of something, it’s worth more; when there’s more, it’s worth less. Long term, that favors calves over corn.

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