Archive for the ‘Cattle’ Category

Considerations for This Growing Season

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Considerations for This Growing Season cows in pasture with KVF logoConsiderations for this growing season: Applying fertilizer to pastures and fields is important to maximize yield and forage quality. But with fertilizer prices higher than normal around the country, you can take steps to manage costs and still make a big impact. To help justify applying fertilizer this year, have your soil analyzed. You can save yourself a lot of money if you already have the correct nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium and potassium levels in your soil. If the soil lacks just one of those nutrients, focus on the single nutrient instead of all nutrients when fertilizing. Also, don’t overlook manure as a fertilizer. Look to your drylots as a source of extra soil nutrients to spread across pastures, or purchase poultry litter if it is available locally.

How can I manage my mineral feeders to optimize intake?
Mineral in a feeder isn’t doing anyone any good if cattle aren’t eating it. Feeder placement and management are key to optimizing intake and your return on investment.
Here are my top three tips for managing mineral feeders:

1) Move mineral sites to enhance grazing.

When first putting mineral out, especially during hot temperatures, place mineral tubs or feeders near loafing areas, water sources and shade. Once cattle start consuming mineral consistently, you can spread mineral locations out further into the pasture. If you have undergrazed pasture areas, you can move the mineral sites to those areas to help guide cattle to graze there.

You’ll also get better pasture utilization by putting distance between mineral feeders and other self-fed products or hay sources, since cattle will graze along the path between them. However, you should keep at least 100 yards (about the size of a football field) between products to avoid creating a “buffet line” situation where cattle just hop from one product to the next and possibly increasing consumption.

Also consider environmental conditions for mineral placement. If you are in an area with frequent rain, consider moving mineral sites to avoid mud build-up and to ensure consistent access.

2) Know how many feeders and how much mineral you need.

Having enough mineral feeding sites is critical to meeting all your herd’s needs. One 250 lb. Purina® Wind and Rain®mineral tub generally serves 25-30 head. Loose mineral tends to average 30-50 head per mineral feeder, but always double-check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

I also recommend checking mineral feeders 2-3 times a week, depending on how many cattle you have in each grazing paddock, to ensure feeders aren’t tipped over and make sure cattle don’t run out of mineral.

On average, a mineral tub will last about ten days per 50 cows. A rule of thumb for loose mineral is two bags per cow per year, or 4 ounces per head per day. And don’t forget about calves when calculating mineral needs. Young calves near weaning will, and should, consume mineral. Calves will add about 2 ounces per head per day to what the cow eats, bringing the total for the cow/calf pair to 6 ounces per pair per day.

3) Choose a mineral feeder that works for your environment.

As long as you have enough mineral sites, any mineral feeder will work – wooden, metal, plastic tubs, non-traditional feeders, etc. It all comes down to what will work best for you based on environmental conditions.

Wooden feeders will break down quicker under rain or inclement weather, and metal feeders are prone to rust. A cover or placing feeders under shelter can help extend the life of your feeders.

Reused Purina® plastic tubs or plastic barrels cut in half hold up better but do have some considerations for water drainage. I recommend putting holes in the bottom of tubs with a 9/64″ drill bit to allow water drainage. Placing rocks under the feeder will also help prevent it from sticking tightly to the ground, allowing water to drain better. If you’re worried about cattle knocking over the tubs, placing them in a truck tire works nicely.

Another consideration for choosing a mineral feeder is height. Cattle should be able to reach the bottom and the middle of the feeder. If it’s too tall, intake will be limited, especially for yearling animals or calves on pasture.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you with other considerations for this growing season. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Elizabeth Belew, Ph.D. cattle nutritionist

Best Practices for Managing 4 Types of Forage

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

Managing 4 Types of Forage : cows in pastureBest practices for managing 4 types of forage: Capitalize on your forage management to optimize cattle nutrition.

 Each forage type comes with its own challenges and management considerations. And, honing in forage management can help support cattle nutrition needs – and your bottom line.

Take advantage of these best practices for each of the four different forage types

 Cool Season Forages: 

Fescue is the dominant forage in the U.S. because it’s a hardy forage that can stand up to grazing pressure. However, it doesn’t come without challenges. The predominant fescue variety comes with the risk of endophyte toxicity. Endophyte toxicity occurs when livestock consume fungal endophytes present in the seed head of grass. Fungal endophytes contain ergot alkaloids that can be detrimental to livestock, causing lower feed intake, reduced weight gain and decreased fertility.

 An easy method to manage endophytes in fescue is to clip the grass using a tractor-pulled mower before the grass heads out. You can also manage endophytes by inter-seeding legumes like grazing alfalfas, white clover and red clover. These legumes provide additional forage sources and offset the risk of endophytes. Legumes also benefit overall pasture health by providing nitrogen fixation for the soil and extending the grazing season.

 With any cool season forage, whether it be fescue, brome or another grass, watch out for grass tetany during the early spring flush. Feeding a mineral high in magnesium, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Hi-Mag, can help supplement your herd.

Warm Season Forages: 

There are many options to graze cattle effectively with warm season forages, from improved forages in the southern U.S. like Bahiagrass and Bermudagrass to the native tall grass and short grass ranges to the west. Warm season grasses tend to take off when cool season grasses lose productivity. If you have access to both warm and cool season forages, you’ve got a complementary program.

The biggest challenge with warm season forage is stocking density. Warm season forages typically can’t support the same grazing pressure as cool season forages. Maintain moderate stocking densities for your area and use a rotational grazing system that moves cattle from grazed to rested pasture. If your pastures are too large to fence for rotational grazing, consider using mineral or supplement sites to maximize forage use. Cattle will seek the pasture for minerals and supplements, which you can use to your advantage.

Another challenge with warm season forages is that stem growth tends to outrun leaf growth as the growing season continues. When the stem-to-leaf ratio gets too far out of line, forage quality drops because there are more carbohydrates and less protein and energy. Keep supplemental nutrient sources available to cattle on warm season pasture to ensure their nutrient needs are met throughout the grazing season. Purina® Accuration® block or Purina® RangeLand® protein tubs, along with minerals, can help extend the grazing season and make best use of forages.

Cover Crops: 

It’s been trendy the last few years to use mixes of cover crops like turnips, forage sorghums, rye and clover to get more grazing from crop fields. But, grazing systems with mono-crops have existed for a lot longer. Wheat pasture, for instance, has been used to grow calves and maintain cow herds before the grain crop goes to head. Sudangrass has made efficient summertime grazing, too.

An important factor in grazing any forage, particularly cover crops, is to have mineral available year-round. Cover crops might be the lushest forage your herd has all year, but cattle may not fully utilize it. Offering mineral helps maintain an animal’s rumen microbes, which in turn impacts forage utilization and feed efficiency.

Much like traditional perennial cool season grasses, you should feed a high-magnesium mineral in the spring and fall due to grass tetany risk. Bloat can also be a concern in lush cover crops. Feeding a mineral with an ionophore, like Purina®Wind and Rain® minerals, or keeping bloat guard blocks at the mineral site can help.

Monitor nitrate and prussic acid poisoning when using cover crops containing forage sorghums, Sudangrass, millet and green grazed corn, or even if field edges have Johnson grass. Have fields tested, especially if forages get too far ahead of cattle before or during grazing. Drought years also increase concern for nitrates since the stalks of those stemmy plants naturally hold more nitrates when dry.

Hay & Silage: 

Stored forages help extend forage use throughout the year, and both hay and silage have their unique places in beef cattle rations.

Silage quality is particularly important, whether the forage is fed to weaned calves or mature cows. Harvest silage when it’s at its peak for protein and energy to maximize quality rather than yield. Once harvested, storage should be your next emphasis. Focus on packing silage piles tight, using an inoculant to reduce mycotoxins, and covering piles to prevent spoilage.

Also focus on hay quality. The term “cow-quality hay” is often used to describe poorer quality forages used to feed beef cows. Yes, you can feed fibrous, low-quality hay to cows, but you’re likely going to need more supplementation to keep them in an adequate body condition score 6. Putting up good-quality hay to start helps reduce the need to feed as much supplement.

 Before you start feeding hay or silage, pull samples for testing. A forage test helps determine protein and energy levels. With those levels as your baseline, you can determine the amount of supplement needed to support your herd. If everything goes perfectly, you may only need to feed mineral to balance the ration. Connect with your Purina® dealer to work on a forage management plan.

Kissimmee Valley Feed can help you to develop the Best practices for managing 4 types of forage. Visit us! We are open Mon-Fri: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm and Sat: 8:00 am – 2:00 pm at our Main Store at 1501 Eastern Ave. You can also contact us by phone at 407-957-4100. We are open Mon-Fri: 9:00 am – 7:00 pm and Sat: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm at Store #2 at 215 13th Street. You can contact us by phone at 407-892-4040.

Source: Ted Perry, Purina Cattle Nutritionist

Cattle Mineral Tips for Spring

Friday, March 11th, 2022

Cattle Mineral Tips for SpringCattle Mineral Tips for Spring: As winter shifts to spring, it’s time to take a look at cattle management. Specifically, your cattle mineral program. Make sure cattle management, and cattle mineral, reflect the season to help keep cattle performing year-round.

Quick, timely considerations for your Purina cattle mineral program:

  • It can be tough getting cattle to eat mineral when grass is green and lush. Have one cattle mineral feeder for every 20 to 30 head. You can also use a complete cattle mineral or mineral tub to encourage consumption.
  • Ensure cattle receive enough magnesium to prevent grass tetany. Consider using Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral.
  • Spring grass typically has the highest phosphorus level of the growing season. Mineral sources of phosphorus and magnesium are bitter and can reduce palatability. Consider using a high-magnesium cattle mineral with a lower phosphorus level to improve intake.
  • Global vitamin A production issues have caused prices to rise considerably over the past few months. However, vitamin A is very important for reproduction, so it’s critical to avoid a deficiency. Green, leafy forages tend to be a good source of vitamin A. Wind and Rain® Storm® Hi Mag Cattle Mineral contains a low level of vitamin A to complement lush grass.
  • Get a jump start on fly control. Start using Wind and Rain® Storm® Fly Control Cattle Mineral 30 days before the last frost and continue through fly season.

Check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s full Cattle Feed and Supplies Selection. In addition, Try Purina® minerals today through the Feed Greatness Challenge.

Article Source: Kent Tjardes, Ph.D., Field Cattle Consultant for Purina Mills

Avoid the Summer Pasture Slump

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Avoid the summer pasture slump! The sight of fresh, green pastures as the summer months approach can be a welcome sight for many cattle producers. Especially after feeding costly forages throughout the winter.

However, just as quickly as that green grass comes, the pasture quality can diminish.  Subsequently, leaving both pasture and cows’ nutrient deficient.

These potential nutrient deficiencies come at a critical time frame when the cow likely has a calf at side. Most likely, the cow is either on target for re-breeding or is already re-bred and trying to grow her developing calf. Cattle nutrient requirements are high during this period. There are a few ways to prepare for a decline in pasture quality.

Forages mature as the summer goes on, losing nutrients, specifically protein, and allowing cows to lose body condition.

If forages are running under 7 percent protein, then you likely don’t have enough protein to support the cow and her calf. The majority of producers across the United States, unless they have some high-quality forages stockpiled, are not above that level and will need to find additional nutrient sources.

Additional nutrient sources:

Protein supplements can be used to help avoid this slip in condition. Especially late summer and into fall when cattle pasture grasses can be at their lowest nutrition value.

Adding protein tubs or blocks are two ways a producer can supplement their cow herd during this time of high nutrient requirements. Protein supplements can be fed from mid to late summer through mid-fall. During the winter months cubes can be added. This helps to meet energy requirements.

Protein supplements should be added before cattle start losing body condition. It pays to plan ahead for pastures that may become nutrient deficient. In most cases, pastures see a significant decline in nutrients in the August to September timeframe. Evaluating your pasture at various times throughout the summer, specifically mid- to late-summer, and adding a supplement before the pasture quality is too far diminished will help avoid a slip in body condition.

Protein deficiency may become a herd health challenge if pastures are not adequately managed. Symptoms include reduced intake and forage digestibility, reduced growth rate (both fetus and calf), loss of weight, inadequate intake of other nutrients, delayed estrus, irregular estrus, poor conception rate and reduced milk production.

It all narrows down to making sure your cows have what they need, when they need it. If they’re not getting the complete nutrition they need when the pasture is at its worst quality, you will likely see challenges develop.

These challenges may be easily avoided. Implementing a protein supplement program is the best way. Does your nutrition program stack up? Avoid the summer pasture slump by calling or visiting the Kissimmee Valley Feed Store #1 location. We are stocked with nutrients for your cattle.

11 Tips to Curb Heat Stress in Cattle

Wednesday, May 26th, 2021

11 Tips to Curb Heat Stress in CattleWater, shade and the right nutrition can help mitigate heat stress in cattle.

The weather report says it’s going to be a scorcher, and sure enough – the temperatures start steadily climbing. Cattle start grouping in shady spots. A few cows start panting to stay cool. The flies settle in. And, suddenly, you’ve got a herd struggling with heat stress.

The heat may be unavoidable, but you can take proactive steps to mitigate its impact on your herd. First, let’s look at the dangers of heat stress in cattle.

When temperatures rise

Cattle have sweat glands, but it’s not a very efficient way for them to cool off. Instead, they rely on respiration, or opening their mouths and panting, to help them dissipate heat. When it’s 80 degrees or hotter out, their ability to regulate their own temperature becomes a big challenge. You start to see behavior changes – more time in the shade, less time grazing and increased water consumption.

To make the heat even more challenging:

  • A cow’s rumen activity naturally increases body heat. Fermentation occurs in the rumen, producing heat as bacteria break down and digest forages.
  • Cattle seek shade to help keep cool. Grouping up in the shade sometimes has the reverse effect and creates a lot of radiant heat between cows. The thermometer might read 90 degrees, but the temperature in the middle of the group could be much hotter.
  • Crowded cattle attract more flies, causing animals to move even closer together to protect themselves.
  • Animals with dark hides have a higher risk of suffering heat stress than those with lighter-colored hides.

Suddenly your herd feels overheated and cattle are less likely to graze.

When grazing stops

Forage is the number one nutrition source for cows on pasture. If they aren’t grazing as much during a heatwave, they’re probably not meeting their cattle nutrition requirements.

When cows don’t get adequate nutrition, they’re at risk of:

  • Losing body condition
  • Taking longer to rebreed
  • Producing less milk for their growing calf
  • Generating a weaker immune response to health challenges
  • Long-term fertility consequences

If cattle are too hot to graze, they may also be too hot to consume mineral at target intake levels. If you’re using a fly control mineral and intakes are below target levels, cows no longer benefit from it because they aren’t getting a full dose of fly control.

Curb heat stress in cattle by planning for proper shade, water and the right nutrition program.

11 hot weather tips for cattle

  1. Ensure access to fresh, clean water. A brood cow drinks 25 to 30 gallons of water on a normal day. She’ll drink even more in hot weather.
  2. Check water tanks often to make sure they are clean and free of contamination (algae, feces, organic material, etc.). You might need additional portable tanks to ensure adequate access.
  3. Place water tanks in shaded areas to keep water cool if possible. Keep waterers several feet away from buildings or fences, so cattle can access water from all sides.
  4. Offer supplements to help cows make the most of their forages. Accuration® Supplements with Intake Modifying Technology® helps feed necessary rumen microbes to keep cattle eating and encourages snack eating behavior.
  5. Choose a mineral designed for consistent consumption during hot weather, like Purina® Wind and Rain® Summer Season Mineral.
  6. Control flies to prevent further stress and grazing disturbance. Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control Mineral contains Altosid® IGR, an insect growth regulator offering a beneficial mode of action to deliver fly control via cattle nutrition. Consider Purina® Wind and Rain® Fly Control Mineral to stop the horn fly life cycle by preventing pupae from developing into biting, breeding adult flies.
  7. Supply ample shade. Whether it’s provided by trees, a manmade building or portable structures, shade is critical. It might be necessary to move cattle to a pasture with trees or additional shade.
  8. Strategically move rotational grazing herds to fresh pastures in the late afternoon/early evening instead of the morning. Cows will have access to fresh grass when temperatures are beginning to cool and will be more likely to graze.
  9. Work cattle as early in the day as possible when temperatures are lower.
  10. Don’t graze pastures short before moving cows to another. Pastures with taller, thicker grass feels cooler than pastures with short grass where more soil surface is exposed.
  11. Observe cattle frequently and take precautions when hot and humid weather is forecast.

Call or visit Kissimmee Valley Feed to find the right cattle feed and management plan for you!

Article sourced from: Purina

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