Archive for August, 2011

Ranchers and farmers from 19 states attended the Genetic Supplier Conference at the Longview Animal Nutrition Center. From July 25-27th, staff from Purina presented some interesting information on:

1.  Efficient creep feeding

2.  Early weaning strategies

3.  Methods to reduce weaning stress and produce gains

4.  Heifer and bull development strategies

5.  Unleashing genetic potential in your cattle

6.  Brood cow management and body condition scoring

7.  Managing herd mineral  nutrition

We toured the nutrition facilities to observe some of the basic science practices that are used to test theories and to measure results of theoretical nutrition ideas.  For me, it was a step back to the 1980’s when I worked with beef cattle nutrition research at the University of Nebraska – North Platte Experiment Station.  It is encouraging to see that Purina is dedicated to the basic sciences of beef cattle nutrition and that they test their ideas to measure how certain feed additives improve cattle performance.  But, remember that cattle performance can be measured by (1) the positive improvements and (2) the negative effects of feedstuffs.

The overall message was how Purina’s intake modification products are being used in all growing or maintenance phases of beef cattle production.  The take away message to me was that when you are faced with drought and a lack of grass to graze or hay too expensive to buy – if it can even be bought – you need to find a way to maximize the forage you have.  Gains may or may not be optimal, but the survival of the cows and bulls is important.  The weaning weights of the calves might be less, but the overall bottom line is managing in an affordable, cost-beneficial way.  As a producer, you have to teach yourself to ‘do the math’. 

Of the 19 states represented, here were some of the resounding challenges:

1.  Drought, extremely high temperatures for weeks/months, extremely high humidity (all limiters to grazing time and we know that grazing time is critical to cattle performance),

2.  Selling of herds of cattle due to no grass, hay non-existent, hay costing way to much to afford, the quality of the hay being zero,

3.  Environmental restrictions on using commercial fertilizers and animal operation run-off into waterways,

4.  Urban sprawl or the sell-off of ranches into the ‘dream ranchette’…making it impossible to acquire land for cattle production purposes,

5.  Turning pasture land into row-crop ground,

6.  The fracturing of animal production by activists that want to continue to bring a halt to animal production agriculture, and

7.  Water.  Water tables that are disappearing, water rights struggles between states, water rights struggles amongst production agriculture segments, and water rights struggles between rural and urban water users.

I would say that if you have a Purina/Land ‘O Lakes beef nutrition representative covering your state or regional area, you ought to contact them.  Have them make an appointment to visit your cattle operation.  Have them take samples of your grass and/or hay and then provide them with ideas of what your cattle production goals are.  They can provide you with options of how their products can benefit or help you operate more efficiently and in a more cost-effective manner.  Then, you decide if you can make it work in your operation.  Do the math.  Some things they have can help your overall productivity and some things might be a toss-up.

There was to be a ‘working dog nutrition’ meeting and that had to be postponed. The main Purina company representative was not able to get back to Missouri.  It remains to be seen if this important matter materializes or if it fizzles away.

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