Forage featured at field day

Karol Osborne  |  9/28/2018 4:27:56 PM

(09/28/18) MANGHAM, La. — Cattle producers at an LSU AgCenter beef and forage field day on Sept. 20 at Goldmine Plantation heard from experts on topics aimed to improve forage and cattle management practices.

“This is a great opportunity for producers to come out and hear not only about the research LSU is conducting, but also from the product vendors and sponsors that are here,” said Lance Bruce, a Morehouse Parish cattle producer.

AgCenter Associate Vice President Rogers Leonard said educational outreach in forages and beef cattle production throughout the state results from a strong public and private partnership, including AgCenter experts, business and industry sponsors, and the Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association.

“This field event at Goldmine Plantation is an example of effective extension outreach at the farm and ranch level using a partnership,” he said. “We can get much more accomplished when we work together.”

The event drew more than 80 people from 15 parishes, some traveling from as far away as Vermilion and Beauregard parishes, according to Keith Collins, AgCenter agent and coordinator of the event.

Presentations included updates on pasture clover selection and management, deworming and vaccination practices for bred cows, fall transition nutrition management, pasture weed control and cattle marketing strategies.

AgCenter entomologist Sebe Brown said a new nuclear polyhedrosis virus for control of fall armyworm may be available soon.

“The technology is there, but we have to make sure we can get the virus to work on forage grasses and pastures,” he said.

Fawligen, by AgBitech, works as an epizootic and is spread across the field by equipment or wind among host insects. It is less expensive than some of the newer compounds on the market and offers a longer residual if the application is effective, Brown said.

“You know the product is working when you look in pasture thatches and find big balls of goo that used to be armyworms,” he said.

Taking forage samples is one of the smartest things cattle producers can do to manage available forage resources and match those resources to the production stage of a cow herd, said AgCenter livestock specialist Jason Holmes.

“Know what your nutritive value is in those base forages because about the only way we can make money up here is to grow good grass,” he said. By managing forage maturity and fertility, producers can put up much higher-quality hay.

Improving management practices by storing bermudagrass hay under a cover will mitigate storage losses and protect nutritional benefits, he said.

For producers planning to stockpile bermudagrass or use ryegrass baleage, Holmes said to plan ahead by dedicating adequate resources and carefully weighing input and labor costs against expected nutritional benefit to the herd.

AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan offered tips for controlling a variety of weeds common in north Louisiana pastures.

“A surefire way to kill bermudagrass is to shade it out,” he said, adding that high crabgrass populations can shade out bermudagrass in hay meadows.

Strahan said a low-rate glyphosate application soon after cutting and baling bermudagrass hay will be highly effective against crabgrass and foxtail, but he warned that it can cause injury and potentially reduce hay yields.

“When you control crabgrass and foxtail, a possible shift can occur in the meadow to goosegrass, a compaction indicator that is also somewhat sensitive to low glyphosate rates,” he said.

Sendero, a herbicide registered for use in Louisiana in 2017, has shown good results for control of honey locust in aerial application trials, he said.

AgCenter forage agronomist Buddy Pitman said ranchers looking to supplement cattle forage with clovers should consider seed depth at planting, species selection and competition control.

Clovers are not like grasses, he said, and producers must have a need-based management plan to be profitable or they will experience more problems than benefit.

“Unless we have the class of cattle that would benefit from the extra forage quality provided with legumes, we may be wasting our money,” he said, adding that ryegrass offers a good winter forage option depending on the cost of fertilizer and other economic factors.

AgCenter forage specialist Wink Alison said providing as little as 25 percent of forage intake from clover can enhance animal performance.

Producers will benefit by matching growing seasons for clover production with grass production to maximize availability of high-quality forage in the field, he said.

By concentrating clover production on sites where clovers do well, Alison said, producers can manage specific pasture areas more effectively to improve both grass and clover production and reduce management costs.

Dr. Jacques Fuselier, a veterinarian with Merck Animal Health, discussed increased concerns about pregnancy loss and reduced pregnancy rates in heifers with use of modified-live virus vaccines (MLV).

“We can get a long-term, more robust immune response and better protection from an MLV, but in pregnant cattle, a killed virus would provide a safer immune response with less risk,” he said.

To maximize efficacy and minimize risk, Fuselier recommended vaccinating at least 60 days before breeding with a good MLV to provide long-term immunity through the first pregnancy.

“Start them out young on modified-live vaccine and get them up to breeding phase. Then, when they are bred, switch over to killed virus to keep those antibodies up and stimulate that immune response memory,” he said.

Fuselier said research indicates using a clear wormer together with a white wormer will give better results and reduce many negative effects on cows and pastures.

“A combination dewormer will provide greater benefit from a pregnancy and calf standpoint, and cows will hold up better through the winter and be better set up for breeding,” he said.

LSU graduate student Adam Barrilleaux discussed marketing strategies for beef cattle, urging producers to work together in alliances or cooperatives.

“One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to get a premium price for your product is by creating larger loads of cattle,” he said.

Video marketing outlets can attract buyers looking for specific requirements by providing more information about your product, such as preconditioning program, vaccination and deworming protocols and genetic background, he said.

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Attendees examine a handout at an LSU AgCenter beef and forage field day on Sept. 20 at Goldmine Plantation. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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LSU AgCenter Associate Vice President Rogers Leonard addresses attendees at an LSU AgCenter beef and forage field day on Sept. 20 at Goldmine Plantation. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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Wagons full of farmers and others line up during a presentation at an LSU AgCenter beef and forage field day on Sept. 20 at Goldmine Plantation. Photo by Karol Osborne/LSU AgCenter

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