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OSU Extension BEEF Team
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Previous issues of the BEEF Cattle letter
Issue # 905
October 1, 2014
Forage Focus: Cereal Rye as a Feedstuff Option - Eric Richer, OSU Extension Educator, Fulton County
In recent years, rye (Secale cereale L.), also known as cereal rye or winter rye, has been planted by producers as an entry level or "user friendly" cover crop. For other producers, it has been a mainstay cover crop in commercial vegetable and row crop rotations. Rye is a great nutrient recycler, soil builder, topsoil loosener, and erosion preventer. For dairy and beef producers, rye can also be considered for additional grazing or forage value. It can provide additional feed tonnage on idle acres in a corn-soybeans rotation and with minimal effort or expense.
According to the Ohio Agronomy Guide, rye is the most winter hardy and earliest maturing cereal grain grown in Ohio. While spring rye-lage will not have the same feed value as corn silage, producers can evaluate its cost per pound of gain to see if it may fit in their total mixed ration (TMR) feeding systems. Some cattle producers will use it in rations for energy, while others may just be looking to add fiber. Based on 2013-2014 feed analyses of five Northwest Ohio producers, the ranges for some key feed quality indicators on a dry basis were: yield of 2-3 T/ac, harvested at dry matters (DM) of 21-34% (avg. 28%), crude protein 8-17% (avg. 12.7%), total digestible nutrients (TDN) 53-63% (avg. 60.4%), net energy for gain of .24-.38 mcal/lb (avg. .35 mcal/lb), net energy for lactation of .54-.67 mcal/lb (avg. .63 mcal/lb), and relative feed value (RFV) of 71-121 (avg. 102). These analyses were from rye harvested the start of the boot stage all the way to full head, thus range in quality varies.
How do you produce rye for rye-lage? Since many producers no-till soybeans and the planting window for soybeans is a little later, consider planting rye after silage corn or early harvested corn that is going to no-till soybeans in the spring. This timeframe fits well into many cover crop programs and one of the advantages of rye is that it will germinate up to November 1st on normal years.
As with all of our crops, starting with a clean seedbed is very important. Fields with a history of winter annuals (i.e., marestail) need to have a cleanly tilled seedbed or follow Dr. Mark Loux's "Burndown Herbicides for No-tillage Wheat" (C.O.R.N. 2014-32, Sept. 23-30, 2014). Rye planted for forage production should be drilled at a rate of 85-115 lbs/acre (more than typical cover cropping rates) and ideally planted by October 20th. Fertility for high production rye is similar to wheat and starter fertilizer should be applied according to soil test results and the Tri-State Fertility Guide (see "Wheat Management for Fall 2014", Lindsey et al. C.O.R.N. 2014-30, Sept. 9-16, 2014). Producers should be sure to account for full crop and stover removal and consider fertilizing for the subsequent soybean crop. In livestock situations, manure may be incorporated in the fall in place of starter fertilizer. Of course, if you are just trying to scavenge nutrients, level of starter fertilizer use is up to the producer. In the spring, up to 50 lbs/acre of nitrogen can be top-dressed to increase production before termination.
Mowing of rye at boot stage (mid-May) is most ideal for tonnage, feed quality, and palatability. Harvesting at this time reduces some of the concerns with rye limiting soil moisture and nitrogen to subsequent crops. Mowing can be done with a disk-bine or haybine, but drying can be a challenge. A chopper with a pick up head can be used to harvest the rye-lage at 25-30% DM (upper end of range preferred; low DM can result in excessive seepage and undesirable fermentation). Cut length should be adjusted to .75-1 inch for best results. Rye-lage should be packed and covered similar to corn silage to maintain its quality. After rye harvest, soybeans can still be planted and normal yields realized.
(Sources: Ohio Agronomy Guide-14th Edition, Midwest Cover Crops Field Guide; 2013 Ohio & Indiana Weed Control Guide-Bulletin 789)
There's Still Time to Identify and Eliminate Weeds in Hay and Pasture Fields - Mark Landefeld, Extension Educator, Monroe County
Highly productive pastures and hay fields do not happen just by accident. Weed and pest control, nutrient management and properly timed harvests all have their role. Weeds can reduce forage quality, quantity and stand life of desirable plants. Weeds often reduce the palatability of forages and certain weed species are potentially poisonous to grazing livestock making plant identification even more important.
The Ohio and Indiana Weed Control Guide (Bulletin 789) suggests the best way to control weeds in established stands of alfalfa is to maintain a dense healthy forage stand through proper fertilization, cutting management, and insect control. More than 95% of the weeds can be controlled through good management practices.
However, weeds can cause problems. Some alfalfa stands have been reported to lose up to 30% of the stand from infestations of common chickweed. If chickweed emerges through the fall and into spring it develops a thick lush mat that competes strongly with the alfalfa until first cutting hay is made. Purple deadnettle and henbit can cause the same problem. If these weeds persist and then die, summer annual weeds like foxtails, lambsquarter, pigweed or others often take over. Perennial weeds such as dandelion or Canada thistle can also creep into portions of the growing area to reduce yields and/or quality even further.
In many cases, herbicides can be used to eliminate the weed pressure in alfalfa stands if you choose to do so. But, before using herbicides, one should evaluate the existing stand to be sure it is worth the cost of the herbicide and the expense to apply the treatment. Reseeding may be more cost effective.
When weeds invade mixed legume/grass stands it poses a little different problem than pure stands because herbicide management strategies are limited that remove broadleaf weeds without killing your legumes. Grazing management and harvest management can provide help here also if you do not allow weeds to mature enough to produce seed heads, but this is extremely hard to accomplish. Good soil fertility and maintaining soil pH of 6.5-7 helps forage plants vigorously compete against weeds. Spending money to provide good fertility may be the best and most cost effective means to reduce weed pressure in mixed grass/legume stands.
Grass pastures are another place weeds can cause producers problems. There are some invasive's, such as spotted knapweed (Ohio's newest pasture invader. See video below), other herbaceous weeds like thistles, ironweed, foxtail or cocklebur and woody stemmed plants such as multiflora rose and autumn olive that try to take over pastures leaving produces few alternatives but to use herbicides. Some herbicides however, work more effectively than others on given weeds. By identifying target weeds the proper herbicide(s) may be chosen.
Fall can be a good time to eliminate hard to control perennial weeds. Proper recognition and prompt action to control these invaders is important. Eliminating weeds while they are small and few in number will save you a lot of headaches later. So, be aware, monitor your fields regularly, identify weeds in your hay and pasture fields and deal with them in a timely manner. And, always read and follow the manufacturer's label when applying any type of pesticide!
The first video below will aid with weed identification, and the second one describes the concerns for spotted knapweed spreading in Ohio.
Ohio's Demi Snider Earns Seat on National Beef Ambassador Team
Last weekend, Demi Snider of Hardin County (Ohio) joined Rachel Purdy (Wyoming), Will Pohlman (Arkansas), Alicia Smith (Texas), Kalyn McKibben (Oklahoma) in being chosen as the 2015 National Beef Ambassador Team at the annual National Beef Ambassador competition. This competition is funded in part by the Beef Checkoff and managed by the American National CattleWomen, Inc, contractor to the beef checkoff. 20 senior contestants ages 17 to 21, were judged in the areas of consumer promotion, education and outreach strategy, media interview technique and issues response at the event held in Denver.
Contestants from throughout the country vied for a place on this elite team of agriculture advocates and $5,000 in cash prizes sponsored exclusively by Farm Credit. Additionally five educational scholarships totaling $5,000 were given by the American National CattleWomen Foundation, Inc. and Monsanto. This year's contest also hosted a junior competition for youth beef industry advocates ages 12 to16. 10 passionate contestants vied for cash prizes, competing in three judged categories: consumer promotion, media interview technique and issues response. The first place winner was Phillip Saunders (Virginia). The second place winner was Bret Lee (Louisiana), and the third place winner was Abbey Schiefelbein (Minnesota). They all took home checks sponsored exclusively by Farm Credit for their top scores.
While preparing for this national beef promotion and education competition, youth across the nation learn about beef and the beef industry with support from state CattleWomen and Cattlemen's associations and state beef councils. The preparation highlights industry issues of current consumer interest. Winners of the state competitions compete at the national level where they receive additional training. After the event, the youth ambassadors speak to industry issues and misconceptions and educate their peers and mealtime decision makers about beef nutrition, cattle care, safety and more during consumer events, in the classroom and online.
During the weekend, Ohio's Sierra Jepsen of Fairfield County retired after spending a year as a member of 2014 National Beef Ambassador Team. Jepsen was the first contestant ever to represent Ohio. The Ohio Cattlewomen's Association are sponsors of the Ohio Beef Ambassador Program which is presently accepting applications for their 2015 team. Deadline to apply is October 20 and applications and information is available on the Ohio Cattlewomen's web site. Contact Ohio Beef Ambassador coordinator Kathy Sautter at 419.492.2576 for more details.
If you'd like to meet Ohio's representative on the 2015 National Beef Ambassador team, Demi Snider, listen to her interview during the 2014 Ohio State Fair with Brownfield's Dave Russell that's linked here:
Putting on Pounds - Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky
This year, in my opinion, is one of those years that you can see things lining up for an opportunity. How many folks will cash in on this opportunity? What is that opportunity? I am not a big fan of creep feeding as a blanket recommendation in most years. Excessively conditioning replacement heifers, inducing acidosis and foundering calves, and getting feeders too fleshy are a few of these issues that make some swear off creep feeding.
However, with proper management, creep feeding can be an effective way of putting on pounds pre-weaning. As we think about creep feeding, increased pounds at weaning does not necessarily result in a direct increase in profitability. Feed costs, price slide, equipment investment, and labor are inputs that should be accounted for to more accurately look at the potential increase in profit. In general, creep feeding is profitable if feed costs are low and feeder calf prices are high. Look familiar? This is a year that proper creep management should allow for a nice return if things stay near the range they are currently. In general, creep feeding should be provided for at least the last 60-days before weaning. Now is the time we should be considering to creep those calves to be weaned in November.
Creep feed utilization is optimized at lower rates of supplementation. Partial feed conversions tend to be better when supplement rates are near the 0.5-0.75% of body weight on a dry matter basis while intakes in the 1.5% of body weight range are less efficient. Technologies that limit intake of creep can improve feed conversion. The cost of this technology must be considered to ensure that an acceptable profit margin exists. Salt has long been used as an intake limiter, but it is corrosive to metal and over time will rust out feeders. However, poly-lined feeders or the use of poly-mineral feeders can be utilized to supply creep overcoming this issue. New feed technologies are also effective in limiting intake and can be implemented in creep mixtures to control intakes to improve efficiency of gains.
Creep feeds are generally higher in crude protein to overcome protein limitations in the forage being consumed. Young calves are in a lean phase of growth and supplementing marginal forage can improve calf performance. Often creep feeds will be at least 14% crude protein with some approaching 25% for lower targeted intakes. The protein level should be a function of the expected intake while balancing the protein supply from milk and forage to the calves needs. With ample forage regrowth this fall in the upper Southeast, energy supplementation is needed more so than protein for many operations. Therefore, a 14-18% crude protein range would be acceptable in creep feeds to compliment available pasture forages.
With the availability of low-starch coproduct feeds, the risk of acidosis is much less when feeding these co-products compared to grain-based, high starch creep supplements. However, a mixture of grains and coproducts can be used. Frankly, there is not a single creep feed mixture that is the best for every situation. The composition of the forage, predicted or desired creep supplement intake, and the requirement of the calves needs to be factored in when designing a creep supplement. Also, don't overlook the possibility of creep grazing as it can be a cost effective strategy to add some inexpensive gains.
The moon and stars have aligned to present an opportunity this year to capture some added value. Contact your county extension office and / or nutritionist to obtain additional information on creep feeding your calves this fall and take advantage of this opportunity.
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BEEF Cattle is a weekly publication of Ohio State University Extension in Fairfield County and the OSU Beef Team. Contributors include members of the Beef Team and other beef cattle specialists and economists from across the U.S.
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Fairfield County Agriculture and Natural Resources