Cattle producers learn ways to cut costs at LSU AgCenter field day

Bruce Schultz  |  5/2/2008 10:19:23 PM

David Sanson, at left, addresses the participants at the May 1 field day at the LSU AgCenter's Rosepine Research Station. Sanson is a cattle researcher and gave the audience advice on saving money in the cattle industry. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

News Release Distributed 05/02/08

ROSEPINE – Decreasing costs by increasing efficiency on cattle operations was the focus of the field day May 1 at the LSU AgCenter’s Rosepine Research Station.

“It’s a scary time for a lot of beef producers,” said Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor for extension.

More than 100 people attended the event at the research station in Vernon Parish.

Coreil said the prosperous times of just a few years ago for cattle owners have been displaced by $4-a-gallon diesel and increasing feed and fertilizer prices.

David Sanson, LSU AgCenter cattle researcher, told producers they can do simple things to save money, such as protecting hay bales by covering them with tarps or using a building. He said leaving hay exposed to the elements will result in a 25 percent loss.

Sanson also said producers should determine optimum times for cutting hay and fertilizing ryegrass to improve efficiency.

Jason Rowntree, LSU AgCenter assistant professor of animal sciences, said producers can become more efficient by establishing goals such as a defined breeding and calving season. That will result in a definitive weaning schedule, he said.

But cattle producers looking to cut costs should continue animal health measures, such as de-worming and other essential precautions, he said.

Paul Morris, LSU AgCenter county agent in Sabine Parish, said poultry litter is a good alternative to expensive fertilizer, but producers have to keep in mind that the material can produce an offensive odor, particularly when it is wet, that could upset neighbors. In addition, the litter should be analyzed for its percentages of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus and moisture. He said the makeup of litter will be affected by the type of flock that generated the material. Litter produced by broilers, layers and pullets all have different composition, he said.

Paperwork should be kept on the litter indicating where it was obtained and the weather conditions when it was applied.

J Stevens, LSU AgCenter soils specialist, said soil compaction caused by animal traffic can cause soil to be impermeable to moisture. He said the condition can be corrected with devices made to aerate the soil.

Stevens also said with high fertilizer prices, now is not the time to skip soil testing.

Buddy Pitman, LSU AgCenter forage researcher, showed field day participants a stand of Texas bluegrass. He said the plant will support cow-calf production in the spring, but ryegrass is better for a stocker operation.

Pitman said Texas bluegrass responds well to high nitrogen in chicken litter.

The plant can be difficult to establish, he said, taking three to four years to make a good stand, but it is a good alternative to expensive winter feed. Because it is a different plant, cattle have to learn to eat it, he said.

He said seed is not available yet. “We hope it will be in the next year or so.”

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Contacts: Paul Coreil at (225) 578-6083, or pcoreil@agcenter.lsu.edu

David Sanson at (337) 463-7708, dsanson@agcenter.lsu.edu

Jason Rowntree at (225) 578-3345, jrowntree@agcenter.lsu.edu

Paul Morris at (318) 256-3406, or pmorris@agcenter.lsu.edu

J Stevens at (318) 308-0754, or jstevens@agcenter.lsu.edu

Buddy Pitman at (337) 463-7708, or wpitman@agcenter.lsu.edu

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

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