The driest September on record was not kind to forage producers who utilize land for livestock.
Nitrogen applied in August for the goal of accumulating substantial fescue growth failed to obtain the moisture necessary to be effective. September is typically the ideal window to seed cool-season grasses, yet this year the soil was too dry to germinate the applied seed.
Farm ponds and springs were drawn low requiring some to purchase public water, adding to production cost. With no rain to aid pasture recovery from July and August, many were forced to begin feeding hay this month, already using winter feed inventory. The last month has not been easy for cattle but the work goes on.
For spring calving herds, weaning is underway and I encourage you to consider the CPH45 sale opportunity on Dec. 5. Sale requirements were mailed in September but you may call the office for more information. CPH45 price advantage is far worth the labor and cost to process the calves.
October is the time to cull cows based on performance and pregnancy status and make initial heifer selections. Plan to keep at least 20% more than you intend to retain for the next breeding season. This provides an opportunity to be selective based on growth, animal demeanor and market.
Keep back the best of the early-born heifer calves for potential replacements. After the final decision is made, prepare the animals that did not make the cut for one of the upcoming CPH45 sales.
For fall calving herds check calving pastures frequently. Identify calves with an ear tag and record mother ID and birth date. Male calves should also be castrated and implanted according to product recommendations. Castration and dehorning are less stressful when performed on young animals.
The minimal cost of an implant is repaid multiple times in terms of increased animal feed conversion efficiency and weight gain. You will make a return on your implant investment.
For heifers retained last year and approaching the breeding season, evaluate them for the pelvic area reproductive tract score and weight. Heifers should reach their target weight of 65% of expected mature weight by breeding season.
Complete a soil test for your forages and apply phosphate, potash and lime according to our recommendations. Beware of prussic acid poisoning from grazing summer annual grasses following frost. Start an inventory of hay supplies and test hay quality. Consider broadleaf weed control in grass pastures.
The ideal timing for perennial weeds is in the fall when plants are translocating nutrients from upper plant down to the roots.
If your goal is to make more profit from your beef herd, consider keeping the calves on the farm at least 45 days after weaning to sell in the value-added CPH45 sale. Feed the animals during that time period converting pennies offeed cost to dollars of added weight, implant the animals for optimum gain efficiency, and cull those cows that are going a year and a half to two years between calves. It does not pay a return to keep cows on the farm that are not paying their keep. For more information on cattle management, contact the Extension Office at 270-685-8480.
The Western Kentucky Grazing Conference will be held from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 31, in Hopkinsville at the Christian County Extension Office. Topics throughout the day include fence systems, hay storage and feeding, summer stockpiling, bale silage, and extended grazing periods.
We are excited that Jim Gerrish will be the keynote speaker. Jim is an independent grazing lands consultant providing services to farmers and ranchers around the world. Jim worked 22 years in beef-forage systems research and outreach at the University of Missouri Forage Systems Research Center. There is a $55 registration fee payable at the door.
Grain Market Outlook Meeting
Dr. Todd Davis, Extension Grain Market Specialist at the UK Grain and Forage Center for Excellence will be at the Daviess County Extension Office on Oct. 29, to discuss grain markets and farm bill signup decisions regarding ARC or PLC. The final county production estimates for 2019 will have a major effect on whether ARC or PLC will be the best choice. Dr. Davis will discuss how to evaluate the numbers to know which will be best. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. All are invited.
Tobacco curing conditions in September and October have caused tobacco crops in barns and outdoor curing structures to cure in the absence of moisture. This has resulted in a very serious cured leaf condition of yellow, blotchy, off colors that result in tobacco considered worthless to the manufacturers. Given inventories of purchased leaf and manufactured products, yellow tobacco prepared for market and delivered for sale may be rejected and sent back to the farm. Closely examine your crop prior to stripping. If you discover yellow leaf areas it is suggested to let the tobacco hang and encounter additional moisture. The yellow will come out with time and moisture. After it’s stripped, there is no changing the color and it will be subject to rejection at the point of sale. Contact your tobacco purchasing agent for additional information.