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Finishing Out Winter Feeding Profitably

By: Alex Tigue, Animal Science and Forages Regional Extension Agent

For cattle producers across the country, feeding the cowherd in the winter is arduous task that will ultimately decide whether they are profitable or not for the entire year. Most spend the majority of the year planning and preparing for this 3-6 month period of daily feeding, and with good management this can be done economically and effectively. Planting winter annual forages and stockpiling perennial grasses, as well as many other management practices can be done ahead of time to lower the cost of wintering cows. However, by the New Year planning is over and you are likely well into the winter feeding period. Here are some suggestions regarding how to best manage the rest of this winter  in a profitable manner.

Determine how much hay you will need and how much you have:

Fortunately, this year was great in terms of the volume of hay produced. A wet spring and summer lead to many hay growers producing excess hay, so sourcing additional hay maybe easy, but don’t wait too long. Cattle will eat roughly 2.5% of their body weight daily in dry matter. Feed and forage considerations are often referred to on a dry matter (DM) basis.  For example a 1200lb cow will consume approximately 30lbs of hay (1200lb x .025) per day on a DM basis., Do not forget to take into account young calves, herd bulls, and any replacement heifers that will also be eating hay.

Estimate how many days you intend to  feed hay. If your operation is primarily fescue-based, spring green up might occur in early to mid- April. Bahia and Bermudagrass would be closer to mid-May or June. If you planted ryegrass or some other type of winter annual forage, that could be very beneficial in getting the cows grazing sooner and away from the hay ring.

Using the number of pounds of hay needed per day and the number of days you plan to feed hay, we  can roughly estimate the total amount of hay needed. Calculating your hay inventory, however, isn’t quite as easy. Counting bales or rolls of hay is simple enough, but estimating the weight of that bale is virtually impossible. It is best to weigh a few bales and obtain a rough estimate of the weight. Next obtain a hay sample and send it to a laboratory for analysis (more on that later) to determine the dry matter percentage and nutrient content.

Additionally, hay waste is a big concern, in both storage and feeding. Hay stored outside without protection from the elements can have as much as 20% loss due to weathering. Also feeding hay without a hay ring or some other feeding method can result in up to 20% additional waste. After accounting for moisture in the bale and waste, you might actually need twice the amount of hay to feed the cows than they will actually eat. Utilizing a hay ring with a sheeted bottom and storing hay inside a hay barn become economic “no-brainers” when financial loss due to waste is considered.

Making sure you meet the animal’s nutritional requirements

Unfortunately, wet years like 2018 tend to create a situation where hay is overly mature when it is harvested, causing it’s nutritional value to be much lower than what the cattle require to perform. A forage analysis is the only definitive way to determine hay quality.. Taking forage samples and sending them to a lab through your local farmer’s co-op, feed store, Extension Office, or some other method is not only inexpensive (usually less than $20 per sample), but it is also the only way to get an accurate picture of the nutritional quality of the hay.

Nutritional demands of cattle change based on what stage of production they are in. For example, dry cows have the lowest nutrient requirements of anytime during their production cycle, whereas cows that have a 2-month old calf at side are at their highest nutritional needs. Average quality hay in Alabama typically meets the needs of that dry cow, but often leaves that cow raising a calf and trying to get rebred lacking protein and energy in her diet. Without proper supplementation, she will lose weight and likely fail to get pregnant for the next year.

Supplemental feeds are extremely variable in price and quality. It is important to tailor your supplementation program to the available feed resources in your proximity. It is very important that we make sure to purchase feeds that give us the best return on investment. Using estimated nutritional values of feeds or actual analysis, figure out how much a feed costs per pound of crude protein (CP) or pound of energy (total digestible nutrients or TDN) This is a more calculated and accurate method opposed to just looking at feed cost per ton. Many times, expensive feeds can actually be a better value, as you need to feed a lesser amount to meet the animal’s nutrient requirements.

It is important to supply the precise amount of feed to meet the animal’s nutrient requirement without overfeeding. Separate cows into feeding groups based on stage of production, then use your hay analysis to determine how much to feed each group needs to meet their needs exactly. Getting cows fatter than needed is not normally a very profitable way to utilize feed resources.

Success in the winter feeding period hinges on doing a good job feeding cattle economically. Some key factors are: making sure you have enough hay, identifying the quality of that hay, understanding the nutrient requirements of your cattle, and supplementing effectively. If you have questions, or need assistance creating this “prescription” plan for surviving the winter feeding cows, contact your local Calhoun County Alabama Extension Office at 256-237-1621, and ask for Alex Tigue, Animal Science and Forages Regional Extension Agent.

 

2018 Beautification Board Awards

The Calhoun County Beautification Board recognized the recipients of this year’s Beautification Awards July 20th, with a ceremony at the Anniston Country Club.    This year’s winners are:

 

District 1 Residential Winners Pete & Brenda Eschrig
District 1 Commercial Winner, Anniston’s Centennial Park
District 2 Residential Winner Maria Gardener
District 2 Commercial Winner: Burger King, Golden Springs
District 2 Commercial Winner: RMC MediPlex, Oxford
District 4 Residential Winners: Wayne & Martha Stillwell
District 5 Residential Winners: Scott & Christine Brasher
District 5 Residential Winners: Gene & Sherry Blanton
District 5 Commercial Winner: Jack’s Restaurant, Jacksonville

The Calhoun County Beautification Board serves the Calhoun County Commission by working to improve the quality of life in Calhoun County. For nearly two decades, volunteers have served on the Board to promote and recognize Calhoun County citizens and citizen driven programs that highlight Calhoun County’s outstanding environmental qualities, educate the public regarding ways to improve the appearance of their communities and recognize homeowners, civic organizations and businesses whose beautification efforts are exemplary.

 

Here’s some photos from the Awards Luncheon:

District 1 winners with Board Member Carol Bush and Commissioner Fred Wilson.

 

Board Member Truman Norred with his wife, Cheryl, enjoy lunch with District 5 winners Sherry Blanton, Tammy Hall and Christine Brasher.

 

 

 

 

District 5 Winner Sherry Blanton (2nd from right) presented her sign by Board Members Truman Norred (far left) and Charles Glazner (back). Also pictured is Tammy Hall, “The Garden Girl”.

 

 

 

 

 

District 5 Winner, Jack’s Hamburgers, presented with their sign and certificate. From left, Board members Truman Norred and Charles Glazner, Jack’s representatives and Commissioner Lee Patterson (far right, rear).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Board member Truman Norred (left) presents Scott & Christine Brasher with their sign. Commissioner Lee Patterson (far right) with their certificate. Also pictured is Charles Glazner (back right).
Board member Shirley Heifner (right) presents Wayne & Martha Stillwell with their sign. Commissioner JD Hess (left) presents their certificate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Representatives from RMC MediPlex, Oxford, are pictured with Board member Donna Carroll (left) and Commissioner Tim Hodges (right).

 

 

Representatives from Burger King in Golden Springs are presented their award by Board Member Janet Evans, and Commissioner Tim Hodges.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

District 2 winner Maria Gardener, with Board Member Janet Evans, and Commissioner Tim Hodges, and Board President Belinda York (far right).
City of Anniston’s Centennial Park was chosen as the District 1 Commercial Winner. Pictured here are (left to right) Temetrius Long and Chris Roberts, representing the City’s Parks & Rec Dept. Carol Bush and Commissioner Fred Wilson, along with Board President Belinda York.

 

From left District 1 residential winners Pete & Brenda Eschrig, Board Members Carol Bush & Donna Carroll, and Commissioner Fred Wilson.

Earth Day 2018

Earth Day 2018 was held at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McClellan on April 16th and 17th.    Over 800 4th graders from around the County visited the Gardens over the 2 day period.  They spent their day of learning about environmental issues that affect their lives.

Many thanks to our sponsors, staff and volunteers for their help.

 

Click HERE for more photos.

Longleaf Botanical Gardens Third Thursdays

 

To reserve your spot, call Anniston Museum of Natural History at 256. 237-6766. Reservations are required. Cost is $5.00 per person or free to members. Payment is to be made at the time of registration and may be made by cash, check (made payable to Longleaf Botanical Gardens and earmarked for educational programs) or charge card in person or by phone).

For information on upcoming “Third Thursday” programs, as well as other Longleaf events, check out LONGLEAF BOTANICAL GARDENS on Facebook.

2019 Farmers Market Information

The Original Downtown Farmers Market

Wednesdays & Saturdays, 7am-noon

Behind the County Administration Building, 1702 Noble Street, Anniston

Call 256-237-1621 for opening date.

 

Jacksonville Farmers Market

Saturdays, 8am-12noon, on The Square

May 12 through Oct 20th

For more information, see their Facebook page.

 

Anniston Downtown Market

Saturdays, 8am-12noon

Behind City Hall, 176 W 12th Street, Anniston

For info in their opening date, check out their Facebook page, Anniston Downtown Market.

 

Oxford Downtown Market

Thursday afternoons

Located near the Old Train Station & Oxford Water

For information on their opening date, check out the Historic Main Street Oxford on Facebook.

 

If you need to renew your Growers Permit, fill out the form below.

2019 Growers Permit

(Please remember, a copy of your growers permit must be on file with the Extension Office in order to be valid.

Questions? call 256-237-1621.

Agri-Tourism in Alabama

zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, rhubarb, beans in the foreground, people buying and selling under umbrellas in soft focus in the background

Agri-tourism can take many forms. Roadside stands and farmers’ markets offer farm-fresh produce and interaction with growers. Farms may open to the public for wildlife watching and hunting. Ag tours, on farm bed-and-breakfasts, and dude ranches give tourists the fresh air, open space, and relaxation of country life.

U-pick operations, pumpkin patches, Christmas tree farms, hay mazes, farm-animal petting zoos, wine tasting, ag heritage museums, festivals, and fairs all attract visitors.

Find your Agri-Tourism destination today!