Young Cattlemen learn about feeding, forage in 2nd session
In the second session of the Young Cattlemen Series, students got to hear from experts in the field of feed and forage.
Students met in the meeting room of Cornerstone Bank in Berryville, which provided lunch for the day. County extension agent Olivia Foster and district conservationist Kristin Whittmore welcomed students to the second session, and Kenny Simon, program associate for forages for the University of Arkansas, kicked things off with his topic “300 Days of Grazing: What should I plant and when?”
Foster and Simon then discussed weed identification with the class.
Whittmore and Jeremy Huff, state grazing land
specialist, then took the students outside for a rain fall simulator and discussion on soil health.
Dr. John Jennings, professor and extension forage specialist with the University of Arkansas, and Foster then discussed “Forage Fertilizer Recommendations and Understanding Soil Results.”
Dr. Shane Gadberry, an animal science professor with the University of Arkansas, introduced students to the feed rations “cowculator,” discussing how much to feed and when for dry cows, lactating cows and stockers.
Gadberry discussed how the digestibility of feed can be tested through lab work.
“We can put those feeds in test tubes with rumen fluid and digest those feeds at different points of time,” he said, “and from that come up with an idea of what the digestibility of that feed would be given a certain rate of passage out of the animal.”
Gadberry said one program he’s involved in is called “Winter Feed Meetings” and how they study forages, plant materials eaten by grazing livestock, in Arkansas.
“We recognize the fact that in Arkansas when we look at the nutrient composition of forages,” he said, “if there’s adequate available forage out there then we are very unlikely to see an inadequacy in protein or energy deficiency with mature cattle.”
Gadberry said that if cattle are grazing on fescue or bermudagrass, two common forages in the state, and the area has decent soil fertility then the animals should have an adequate to excessive amount of protein and energy.
“We try to take advantage of those times where there’s an excess of nutrient composition to allow those cows to get a little bit fleshy,” he said. “That way, when things come along, like this year where we hope to be feeding hay for three months and it looks like we’re going to be feeding it for five instead, we know those cows are going to be giving up body condition.”
The excess body condition built up during times of plenty, he said, means that the cattle have some extra body condition they can give up during leaner times.
“So we don’t have to go to the feed store and buy a lot of extra feed to try to keep conditions on those cows,” Gadberry said.
He then showed the students some statistics taken from various farms in Carroll and Boone counties as part of the Winter Feed Meetings program, noting that the different shapes on the graphs reflected the range of hay samples at each farm.
“Not all farms have the same quality, and, within a farm, not all hays have the same quality,” Gadberry said. “There can be a lot of variation within a farm for the different harvest. Hay is not a one size fits all deal.”
After lunch, Huff presented a video on electric fences, and Simon discussed building electric fences on farms. They then teamed up to discuss stockpiling feed and prescribed grazing.
The students then broke into small groups to discuss suggested improvements to operations. Huff met with group one, and Simon met with group two.
Foster and Whittmore then debriefed the students and made closing remarks for the second session of the Young Cattlemen Series, thanking Cornerstone Bank for hosting the class and sponsoring lunch for the students.