Farm Talk

Area Farm & Ranch News

September 11, 2012

K-State hosts drought response meeting

Parsons, Kansas — Recently K-State Extension agents held a drought response meeting at the Southeast Ag Research Center in Parsons, Kansas to address issues livestock and crop producers are currently facing.

After a complimentary meal, each agent addressed issues in their fields and followed with a question and answer session in order to give producers the opportunity to voice their concerns and receive answers.

K-State Wildcat Extension District Livestock Agent, Keith Martin opened by stating that during the drought management decisions need to be made.

“Management decisions that you make now have a greater risk, but they also have a greater benefit,” he said. “Instead of asking how do we come up with more forage in a drought, we should be looking for ways to reduce forage demand.”

According to Martin, one above average cow could be paying for two below average cows. Older, open, below average cows are the ones that need to be culled, he added.

“The best way to discover which of your cattle are better is to go off of birth records,” he said.

Two other ways to make livestock more forage efficient is to first, wean calves early. It is harder for a lactating cow to be in good condition, and second to breed heifers earlier, Martin explained.

“Normally you breed heifers at 65 percent of their mature weight,” he said. “However a new study shows that breeding heifers at 55 percent of their mature weight applies more selection to the herd, which is less money invested in feeding out, and ultimately more cost efficient.”

Next, Doug Shoup, K-State Extension crop and soils specialist for southeast Kansas, said recent rains have greened the fescue up a little, which opens an opportunity for producers to add a little nitrogen to it.

“Adding nitrogen allows fertilized fescue to maintain protein longer,” Shoup said. “Fescue is an excellent fall grazer and does a good job of maintaining quality even after a hard freeze.”

Shoup stressed the importance of maximizing forage and reducing waste wherever possible.

“Strip grazing is an option that can potentially utilize standing forage from 30 percent to 60 percent,” he said. “You may have some hassle or slight expense but it will increase forage use per acre.”

K-State Wildcat Extension District Agriculture Agent from Montgomery County, Scott Gordon wrapped the evening up by encouraging producers to test everything and warning of the potential risks of both nitrate poisoning and blue-green algae.

“Both of these can and will kill your cattle, so take precautions,” he said.

Gordon explained that while the nitrate chemical test is free, it will not tell you how much nitrate the forage contains, just simply if the forage contains nitrate or not. He added the cost for the blue-green algae test is approximately $20-$25 and can be accessed by sending in a bottled sample of the water to K-State.

“We are a resource for you, take advantage of it,” Gordon concluded.£


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