Forage Field Day Participants Learn Clover Can Improve Cattle Profits

Bruce Schultz  |  3/29/2007 1:00:58 AM

Participants get a look at an experimental pasture at the Forage Field Day held March 21 at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette research farm near Cade. The field day was a cooperative effort between ULL, the LSU AgCenter and the Pennington Seed Co.

News Release Distributed 03/28/07

CADE – Cattle producers who don’t grow clover are passing up a good chance to improve their profits, a retired Texas A&M forage specialist said recently (March 21) at a field day at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette research farm.

The field day was a cooperative effort between ULL, the LSU AgCenter and the Pennington Seed Co.

"If you are in the cattle business, you better get in the clover business, because it will pay for itself in the first year," Dr. David Bade said.

He said the legume will increase protein for cattle by 20 percent and reduce the need for nutritional supplements. The plant also reduces the need for hay and results in higher weaning weights, he said.

Clover also reduces weed proliferation, Bade said, adding that the reduction may be equivalent to as much as two herbicide treatments.

Dr. Alan DeRamus, ULL professor of renewable resources, showed farmers a pasture of clover growing within a stand of ryegrass used for intensive grazing. He said maturing clover makes more nitrogen available for the ryegrass, providing more minerals for livestock.

Also at the field day, the merits of using fescue for forage were discussed. Val Ryan of Pennington Seed said the company has developed a variety of fescue that will not cause health problems in livestock after eating the grass. But Ryan said fescue has to be planted in heavy soils.

"If you’re going to plant fescue and clover together, you better be a good manager," Ryan advised.

Another of the field day speakers, LSU AgCenter forage specialist Dr. Ed Twidwell, showed farmers demonstration plots of several different varieties of ryegrass.

Twidwell said the different varieties mature at differing rates, pointing out that summer grass development will be delayed if ryegrass is used for grazing into late spring.

The Gulf variety of ryegrass has a dependable, average yield, and it plays out earlier than other varieties, Twidwell said.

LSU AgCenter economist Dr. Kurt Guidry said he continues to project that corn prices will settle between $3 and $3.50 per bushel this year – but "probably closer to $3.50."

"But if we have a drought or we don’t get 9 million additional acres of corn, $5 corn is not out of the realm of possibility," Guidry said.

He said corn demand by ethanol producers will remain high, but lower crude oil prices coupled with higher corn prices make producing the biofuel less profitable.

Guidry said last year ethanol was generating a profit of $2.50 a gallon, but the current profit has dropped to approximately a tenth of that amount.

Guidry said financing stalled for 15 ethanol facilities under construction 45 days ago when crude oil approached $50 a barrel and corn was at $4.50 a bushel.

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Writer: Bruce Schultz at (337) 788-8821 or bschultz@agcenter.lsu.edu

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