Researchers focus on more profitable beef production

Guillermo Scaglia, LSU AgCenter beef researcher, says there appears to be no benefit to supplementing ryegrass grazing with hay. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

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Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, says to treat pastures with herbicides early. Think February, he says. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

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Wayne Wyatt, LSU AgCenter animal scientist, explains that Brahman-influence cattle can produce acceptably tender beef. (Photo by Bruce Schultz)

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News Release Distributed 04/12/11

JEANERETTE, La. – An LSU AgCenter study has shown that cattle can produce acceptably tender beef with a Brahman influence exceeding the national recommendation, a researcher said at the April 9 Acadiana Cattle Producers Spring Field Day held at the Iberia Research Station.

The national recommendation is for 25 percent or less Brahman, according to Wayne Wyatt, animal scientist at the station, but LSU AgCenter research has shown that can be increased to 38 percent.

Wyatt said the Bonsmara cattle breed from South Africa has been under study at the station as a possible complement to Brahman-influence. The Bonsmara breed is tropically adapted and is a combination of Afrikaner, Hereford and Shorthorn cattle.

He said meat quality was analyzed among combinations of several breeds, including Bonsmara and Brahman, raised at the Iberia Research Station. No differences in meat tenderness was found in the testing, Wyatt said.

Sid Derouen, LSU AgCenter cattle researcher, said traits such as cattle hair coat length, parasite resistance and temperament should be considered as characteristics that can be passed along to offspring that affect beef productivity. An LSU AgCenter is studying those factors, and their influences on cow and calf performance, he said.

Derouen said a Mississippi study showed that cows that had shed their coats by May had calves with weaning weights 24 pounds heavier.

LSU AgCenter studies have shown a pattern of heavier weights among calmer animals, Derouen said. “The more docile the heifers were, the greater their weight gain leading up to breeding.”

Vince Deshotel, LSU AgCenter county agent in St. Landry Parish, said prices for bulls have increased. Bulls now going for $3,500 would have fetched only $2,500 a year ago, he said.

Stan Dutile, LSU AgCenter county agent in Lafayette Parish, said buyers should insist on a bull breeding soundness evaluation, and Andrew Granger recommended buying virgin bulls only to avoid passing along sexually transmitted diseases within a herd.

Guillermo Scaglia, LSU AgCenter cattle researcher, said some beef consumers are willing to pay a premium for forage-fed beef. Research has shown that forage-fed beef has a healthier amount of fatty acids and less fat.

He said his research shows no benefit to supplementing ryegrass with low to medium quality hay. Scaglia said the project resulted from a pasture walk that he had conducted at the station. Cattle producers approached him with questions about the possible benefits of supplementary hay to cattle grazing high quality forage.

A study on grazing behavior showed that cattle will walk more to look for clover, preferring it to ryegrass.

Pedometers have been installed on the 12 cattle in that study, Scaglia said, to trace their number of steps and estimate how much time they spent grazing. He said the study also shows that cattle will graze on ryegrass in the afternoon after photosynthesis has increased the amount of sugar in ryegrass plants.

Blair Hebert, LSU AgCenter county agent in Iberia Parish, said producers should conduct soil testing every three to five years on pastures that are only grazed.

Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, showed the effects of several different herbicides on pastures. He said herbicides should be sprayed early. Once bermudagrass is coming out of dormancy, spraying will probably be too late, he said.

“If you use chemicals, think early. Think February,” Twidwell said.

Bruce Schultz

4/12/2011 8:48:44 PM
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