Bruce Schultz | 9/16/2006 2:20:42 AM
OPELOUSAS – A Texas A&M cattle specialist told Louisiana beef producers who are rebuilding their herds that it’s a good time to restock with heifers from the Lone Star State, but he cautioned them to consider whether now is the time to get back into the business.
Dr. Ron Gill made his remarks Thursday night at the 10th Annual Acadiana Cattle Producers’ Fall Field Day. The event was sponsored by the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association and the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council.
Gill said because of the severe drought in Texas, cattle prices are lower there.
"I suspect in the next month East Texas will turn loose of a lot of cows," he said.
Gill explained areas of Texas that usually get 34 inches of rain by this time of year have only received 2.5 inches.
He said drastic weather cycles are becoming the norm, and some meteorologists have suggested the drought is in its 10th year of a 25-year cycle.
Gill reminded cattle producers that expenses have increased considerably and said the cattle market is likely to take a downturn.
Producers who restock should consider fewer animals, he said. As many as 85 percent of Texas pastures are overstocked, Gill said, and 50 percent to 60 percent are considered grossly overstocked. Because costs are lower with fewer cattle, Gill pointed out it’s actually possible to have a higher net income with a smaller herd.
He said instead of selling off part of a herd to fund expenses, consider selling the entire herd and saving the money to restock later when prices decline.
Replacement heifers should be the first to go to the sale barn because they have the highest costs, Gill said.
Gill also advised producers in the South to remember the rule of thumb to match cows with environment and bulls with market demand. In the heat-prone areas, that means Brahman cross cows.
"Don’t get talked out of that," he said.
Also during the field day, producers visited the farm of Doris LeBlanc, who raises Brangus cattle near Lawtell.
Dr. Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, showed how undesirable vegetation such as tallow trees can be controlled with several herbicides.
"If you can get the tallow trees when they are less than 2 feet tall, they’re easy to control," he said.
Larger trees can be killed with a simple "hack and squirt" method, he said. With that technique, a cutting tool such as a machete or hatchet is used to cut through the bark into the wood, and a large syringe can be used to squirt an undiluted amount of herbicide into the gash.
Dr. Jason Rowntree, LSU AgCenter cattle specialist, advised producers about feed supplements they might need if they have low-quality hay for the winter.
Rowntree said hay should be tested. If the results show less than 8 percent crude protein, high-protein supplements should be used, he said.
Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or email@example.com