NDSU Extension - Ramsey County


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November 8 Agriculture Column


What a beautiful weekend we had and sounds like Monday and Tuesday will be as nice. Corn harvest is moving along very nicely with several producers wrapped up and getting machinery put away for the winter months and others seeing the end. The weather sounds good for the rest of the week with cooler temperatures but not much chance of rain or snow.  Sounds like the weather will be further west. Corn yields have been pretty decent around the neighborhood with most yields over 100 bushel/acre.  The new monitors these combines now incorporate into the farming give fairly decent indicators of yield potential but often we have a tendency to keep track of the highest number rather than an average for the planted field.  All and all it does not matter as we do have very nice corn this year with moistures in the high teens to low twenties and test weights in the low to mid fifties.

Many people are busy getting the cow herd moved home and along with that comes some suggestions from many sources. The article I found below actually comes from University of Missouri Extension but really does cover all aspects of the cow country, here or there.

Fall is a time for beef producers to assess the past growing season and prepare for the upcoming winter months. Evaluating the forage base and livestock performance can help identify changes that need to be made in upcoming growing seasons.

1. Pasture and hay fields should be monitored for weed pressure and the presence of toxic plants. Identify and mark problem areas so they can be treated in a timely manner next year.

2. Assess grass stands and identify areas for possible renovation to thicken the stand.

3. Soil test and identify nutrient deficiencies so fertilizer and lime dollars can be spent more efficiently to correct existing problems.

4. Inventory and quality test hay supplies. Based on the hay test results I’ve seen so far this year, hay quality will be relatively poor. Energy content in particular has been extremely poor. Identify sources of needed nutrients and develop cost-effective feeding programs.

5. Body condition scoring of the cow herd is essential, especially this year. Be sure to wean calves before cow body condition is depleted. It will be expensive to add body condition this year, based on the energy content of this year’s hay crop. The cheapest way to add weight and condition to cows before winter is to not let them lose it in the first place. Remember, adding weight is a function of increasing the energy intake of the animals. Low levels of protein supplementation will not provide enough energy to improve body condition. High energy supplements such as grains or grain by-products will need to be fed, especially if the cows are thin and need to add condition.

6. Evaluate the performance of the calf crop. How did it compare to past years? Do changes in the breeding program, such as new bloodlines or crossbreeding, need to happen? Are cow and heifer pregnancy rates where they should be? If not, why not? Do you know which cows are performing better than others? Maybe it’s time to look at production record software to help manage the cow herd and provide information to make better culling decisions.

7. Get your hands on a 2011 calendar; make notes on the appropriate months to identify management priorities for problem areas. These reminders can be especially helpful with items such as weed control programs. Listing these management practices will help ensure they are done on a timely basis.

Source: Gene Schmitz, University of Missouri Extension Livestock Specialist


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