News Release Distributed 09/16/13
ALEXANDRIA, La. – An LSU AgCenter cattle expert advised owners of small cattle operations that they should consider artificial insemination with technology available to make the option affordable and easier.
At the Dean Lee Research Station Beef Cattle and Forage Field Day on Sept. 12, Glen Gentry, LSU AgCenter cattle reproductive specialist, said a survey showed that less than 5 percent of cattle owners nationwide use artificial insemination because they don’t have the labor and consider it too expensive.
“Pick bulls for the traits you want, and use A.I. to get those genetics,” Gentry said.
Gentry said estrus synchronization is possible using recommended protocols for timed A.I. He said two scientists at the Dean Lee, Hill Farm and Red River research stations artificially inseminated 374 cows using timed A.I. this year, and 61 percent became pregnant.
“Groups of cattle were inseminated on a pre-set date regardless of whether they showed heat,” Gentry said.
Estrus patches, which indicate when cows are ready to breed, were used to determine response rates to the synchronization protocol, he said.
Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, showed results of a test for eliminating smutgrass. He said the chemical Velpar was shown to be the only effective control that did not hurt bermudagrass. Glyphosate showed some control, he said, but it also damaged bermudagrass and allowed other weeds to emerge. He said it is possible to use a glyphosate-based product for spot control of smutgrass, however.
Velpar showed 90 percent control, but it costs $20-$25 an acre, he said. Because it is absorbed through a plant’s root system, Velpar has to be applied just before or after rainfall.
J. Stevens, LSU AgCenter soil fertility specialist, said soil compaction can become an issue on pastures. Hard soil creates a barrier that could limit root growth to the first inch of soil, he said. Stevens said soil can be checked for the condition by simply pushing a thin rod into the ground to detect the depth of hard soil.
Stevens said fertilizer prices are becoming less expensive. He said lime requires two years to penetrate an inch into the soil.
Buddy Pitman, LSU AgCenter forage specialist at the Hill Farm Research Station, said creep grazing can be an effective way of boosting weaning weights for calves by as much as 20-30 pounds. He explained that the practice uses forage to supplement nutrition of nursing calves.
Guillermo Scaglia, LSU AgCenter beef cattle researcher at the Iberia Research Station, discussed the use of standing forage, also called stockpiled forage or deferred grazing forage, to reduce hay feeding during the winter.
Scaglia said the practice was used on a herd of 20 cattle last winter at Dean Lee.
Because of heavy rainfall in the winter, the standing bermudagrass lost nutritive value, but it was equal to medium-quality round bales of hay.
He said the practice is not intended to replace hay because bad weather conditions may affect the amount and quality of the stockpiled forage.
“If no supplementation is added, this type of forage can be used with low maintenance cattle, like open cows,” he said. “If you need to feed growing animals, pregnant or lactating cows, then you will need to add a supplement.”
Donna Morgan of the Louisiana Master Farmer Program talked about an ongoing study of runoff water on pastures using different tillage practices. She said the highest amount of sediment levels were found in runoff from prepared seedbed and nontreated plots, while runoff from the prepared seedbed and aerated plots had the highest amount of nitrates. Morgan said the test will be conducted again in 2014.
Rodney Johnson, LSU AgCenter county agent in Rapides Parish, said a central Louisiana class of the LSU AgCenter Master Cattle Program will start in November.