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December 21

The Extension Connection

By Megan Vig

                What a Christmas season treat of warm weather last week!  Though it feels like we have had winter for three months already, Friday marks the beginning of the winter season.  This week I share seasonal reminders from Dr. Bryan Neville, NDSU Extension Research Animal Scientist at Carrington REC on management practices that positively affect our livestock operations over the winter months.

                Providing bedding and wind protection are critical to livestock performance during the winter months in North Dakota.  Research at Carrington REC by Dr. Vern Anderson demonstrated the importance of bedding and showed that bedding feedlot steers increased average daily gains compared to non-bedded feedlot steers.

                Access to clean water is important. NRC (Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle, 2016) states that limited access to water will decrease animal performance.  Maintaining clean water fountains and preventing frozen water fountains are important tasks.  So while cleaning water fountains, chopping ice, or thawing frozen water is not a desired job, especially in winter months, it is necessary in terms of livestock stewardship.

                Pen scraping or cleaning is an additional management strategy to consider.  Removing snow and manure during the winter may help to prevent muddy conditions in the spring.  Muddy and cold conditions increase the energy (feed) requirements of livestock.  Take some time to consider pen conditions this winter and try to improve conditions for livestock this coming spring.

                An additional management practice to keep in mind is silage pit management.  In the livestock business, we are also in the business of selling feed, either directly or indirectly.  Facing out silage pits minimizes the amount of silage exposed to air, decreasing heating and feed spoilage, saving feed, and decreasing costs.

                Further reading on winter management of the beef cowherd can be found online at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/publications/livestock/winter-management-of-the-beef-cow-herd/as1564.pdf or connect with your extension office at 797-3312.  In addition, the annual NDSU Feedlot School is scheduled for January 23rd through 24th at Carrington REC.  The school is an intensive course geared towards cattle producers, feeders, backgrounders, feed industry personnel, animal health-care suppliers and anyone else who is interested in learning more about feedlot production, nutrition, waste management and marketing.  Registration is required; register online at www.tinyurl.com/CRECstore today!

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