Getting silage right

Written by Dr. Jim White on .

A short list of problems and tips on how to solve them

Editor’s note: When you have problems with silage in Today’s Farmer territory, you’re probably dealing with one of a relatively limited number of issues. Below, Dr. White provides some bullet-point diagnoses and solutions.

High ‘forage in’ vs. ‘silage out’ losses

    • Shrink.
    • Inadequate sealing and packing.
    • Silage face too large/excessive surface area.
    • Inappropriate moisture content.


    • Select the right forage hybrid or variety.

Steps for a healthy herd

Written by Dr. Tony Martin on .

Start with nutrition and a solid vaccination regimen

First things first. As you read this, let’s consider “healthy” as the absence of illness or disease (i.e. not being sick). Now—think about what it takes for you to be healthy. Think about what we see and hear most often about what it takes to be healthy. The experts tell us to eat right and be active. That is the same core principle for producing healthy beef cattle.

Proper nutrition is number one on the list of

CRP renewal options

Written by Nancy Jorgensen on .

Do expiring CRP acres spell opportunity?

Last fall, the U.S. retired 2.8 million acres from the federal Conservation Reserve Program. For many farmers and ranchers, this represents a loss of CRP rental income. But, it could also mean opportunity as a growing amount of former CRP land becomes available for grazing, haying or crop production.

If you own expiring acres, you face several decisions. You can retain grass cover for grazing or hay, or grow crops. You can lease the land to others for agricultural production or hunting. Or, you can sell the property. We talked to a few experts about what you should consider.

Missouri deer and Chronic Wasting Disease

Written by James D. Ritchie on .

A single case draws caution

A Missouri deer was diagnosed with Chronic Wasting Disease, a fatal neurological disease of cervid animals (deer, elk and moose).

The whitetail deer was found early 2010, after being inspected as part of the state’s CWD surveillance and testing program. The animal was born and raised on the deer-elk game farm in Linn County where it was detected. The CWD diagnosis was confirmed by USDA’s National Veterinary Services lab at Ames, Iowa. It’s the first animal—wild or captive—to be confirmed with CWD in Missouri.

For Dr. Taylor Woods, Missouri State Veterinarian, it’s one too many. “CWD hasn’t been around [or known about] for that long. It’s a new kind of disorder; one with no vaccine to prevent it and no effective treatment to cure it. However, there’s no evidence that CWD poses any threat to domestic animals or humans.”

As Dr. Woods said, CWD is a relatively new malady. The first known case in the U. S. was in 1967, in a captive mule deer at the Colorado Division of Wildlife research facility at Fort Collins. In the 40-plus years since, CWD has been detected in both captive and wild deer and elk in 16 other states (and two Canadian provinces) including Missouri neighbors Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Complicating the veterinary effort,

Making fescue work for you

Written by Dr. Jim White on .

It's a tough-growing plant; let's capitalize on it

Fescue has done its share of the work to hold soil on Midwest hills. And it’s also knocked some hair off a cow or two over the years. We tend to abuse fescue through grazing and then curse it for lacking the nutrients our cattle need to gain.

But, tall fescue has plant characteristics and nutritive value similar to those of other cool season perennial grasses like orchardgrass and bromegrass. So we’d figure ruminants eating fescue would perform about the same as if they were on the other grasses. In fact, vegetative cool-season grasses have energy and protein levels that would be expected to support splendid animal performance. Yet, when you see the cows in the pond in high summer, and when you dig through research reports and look at field results, it becomes most apparent that animal performance on fescue can swing from being good to being pitiful.

Looking at the equations to predict beef performance on very high quality fescue, (say 14 to 15 percent protein on a dry matter basis with net energy of gain about 40 and NDF in the low 40s), we would figure this type of forage should deliver somewhere around 2 pounds per head of average daily gain to unsupplemented stocker calves. Then we turn them out and they gain something south of zero. They actually lose weight, which is akin to debt in that there is a way to be worse off than broke.


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