Lancaster farming. (Lancaster, Pa., etc.) 1955-current, May 01, 1993, Image 31

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    Beef Briefs
In spite of snow, then mud, then
rain, then mud, then more mud, the
grass has again become green.
This means we are fast approach
ing breeding season for beef cattle
in our part of the world.
It may sound as simple as turn
ing out a bull, but in fact breeding
season management is a key
strategy to profitability. Here are a
few of the important factors for a
successful breeding season.
The first criteria for planning a
successful breeding season is to
evaluate the body condition of the
cows. Those cows that are on the
thin side (when you can see more
than two ribs from the side) will
have to start gaining some weight
if we expect them to get bred back
for next year. The usual way to put
weight on a cow is with com, and it
is cheap enough that it would be
the feed of choice.
There are several possible
causes for those cows that have
started losing some weight since
calving. If the forage quality is not
what it should be, they probably
need some additional energy from
com. This would also be true for
those cows that are not getting
enough forage.
If “they are getting all the hay
they want” be sure to evaluate the
tonnage being offered and subtract
what they are not eating. The latter
will be about 30 percent of what is
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offered in big bales without a feed
er, and about SO percent of what is
rolled out on the ground. Intake is
not the same as what you put out
there, and they only part that
counts is what they eat
Secondly, for some heavier
milking cows on fair to poor forage
(or any com silage), there could be
a protein deficiency in the ration.
This need can probably be met
most economically by feeding soy
bean meal.
A heavy-milking cow requires
the equivalent of 4-5 pounds of
soybean meal daily to meet protein
requirements. If die forage is pri
marily grass or of poor quality, the
cow may need 2-3 pounds of soy
bean meal daily to meet her needs.
The objective of a breeding sea
son is to get the cows pregnant in
as short a time as possible. Healthy
cows in the best possible condition
will not be bred next fall if there is
a bull problem.
First, the bulls should be fertile,
healthy, and in good flesh. The
best way to test fertility is with a
breeding soundness exam (BSE).
Unless the bull came from a central
test station, this exam may not be
possible. The next best test of fer
tility in young bulls is testicle size.
Yearling bulls should have a scrot
al circumference of at least 32 cen
timeters to be considered for
breeding purposes.
Second, there should be enough
bull power available to get the job
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PH. 717-866-7565
done. Bulls from 1-2 yean old can
service 15-20 cows, those 2-3
yean old can service 20-30 cows,
and even mature bulls should not
be expected to service more than
40-50 cows. If there are too many
cows in the pasture, the calf crop
will tend to be unnecessarily
strung out
Breed yearling heifers about
20-30 days ahead of the rest of the
herd. This will do two things for
you. Pint, calves from heifen are
notoriously smaller that those from
mature cows, so a calf that is a little
older next year will help retain the
uniformity of your calf crop. Sec
ond, the heifer that calves fint as a
two-year old has a severe nutri
tional stress imposed on her. That
stress often will result in them not
getting bred on time for a second
calf. The little extra time she will
have before the breeding season
starts next year will be an advan
tage in being able to start cycling
on time to be bred.
The most important factor of a
good breeding season is not start
ing it on time, but ending it on
time. It is more important to shut
the gate on die bull at the right time
than it is to open the gate at any
specific time.
Most herds will function most
efficiently with a 60-day breeding
season. After 60 days in the pas
ture, take the bull out for 75-90
days, palpate the herd, remove the
open cows, than turn him back out
The definition and organization
of the calving season is the single
most effective way a breeder can
manage feed resources, health
programs, marketing programs,
and labor use.
It seems like every year there is
another new problem that crops up
at calving time. This year it was
not a new problem, but one that we
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have visited before.
In 1980, when I was in Missouri,
I first heard the term “weak calf
syndrome” (whenever we really
don’t know what it is we call it a
syndrome.) Calves that are bom
“dumb,” fail to nurse, remain weak
after birth, and die in a few days are
the classic symptoms. Many pro
ducers have told me of their
unpleasant experiences with the
problem this year.
I wish there was a good answer
to correct this problem, but there is
not. Extensive research has been
done, but there is no real clear-cut
Co.) Nutrient management
legislation which already passed
the state House of Representatives
came out of the Senate Agricultur
al and Rural Affairs Committee
this week without change.
The proposed law in House Bill
100 is the cumulative effect of
years of debate over strategies to
control the flow of nutrients into
(he state’s water supply.
A pact signed by Gov. Robert
Casey, on behalf of Pennsylvania,
and the governors of other states
with significant drainage into the
Chesapeake Bay had targed a
40-percent reduction in the nutri
ent levels reaching the bay by
The nutrient management legis
lation in H. 8.100 would create a
program where high-density ani
mal agriculturalists would be
required to file a plan for handling
of excessive manure. Currently,
• Durability
• Performance
• Safely
• Quality
Lancaster Firmlno. Saturday, May 1, im&ASI
Senate Moves
Nutrient Management
Pit Additive
To Reduce
Pit Odor
And Pit Solids
answer on what causes the weak
There is some indication that a
protein deficiency in the pregnant
cow will contribute to the problem.
My experience has been that it will
rear up when there is an extreme
environmental stress just prior to
Tough winters, cold weather, a
bt of snow, cold rams, etc. are die
typical times I have heard of it. Do
those conditions sound familiar?
Unfortunately, it remains one of
those “wait till next year”
the number of producers involved
is expected to be small, although
the program allows and encour
ages voluntary plans to reduce
The proposal would also elimi
nate local ordinances controlling
the application of manure onto
land. This was sought because it
local law ends with local munici
pal boundaries. Many farming
operations cross municipal
According to agricultural lob
byists, the proposal was passed by
the Senate Agricultural and Rural
Affairs Committee without any
amendments offered.
The state’s leading agricultural
organizations are expected to push
for the bill to be passed without
amendments, which would expe
dite its passage through the now
Democrat-controlled Senate and
onto the governor’s desk.