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Friday, September 5,2008

Net farm income forecast up 10 percent

by WLJ
Net farm income is forecast to be $95.7 billion, 10.3 percent above the $86.8 billion farmers are estimated to have earned in 2007 and 57 percent above the 10-year average of $61.1 billion. Net cash income, at $101.3 billion, is forecast to be $13.9 billion above 2007. This would be the first time that net cash income has exceeded $100 billion. Net cash income is projected to rise more than net farm income because of the carryover of 2007 crops, which are being sold in 2008. The story for 2008 is the value of crop production which, at $188.8 billion, is forecast to exceed its previous record (set in 2007) by $38 billion, a 25 percent increase. Prices of major crops (corn, soybeans, wheat) were trending upward in late 2007 and continued doing so in the first part of 2008. The values of livestock production and livestock cash receipts are projected to increase about 6 percent in 2008. Higher sales are projected for all livestock sectors, but particularly for broilers, hogs, cattle, and eggs. In 2007, net farm income was at a record level and ended the year strong with many key economic indicators at very favorable levels. Commodity prices were above recent levels and in some cases (wheat, soybeans, corn, milk), continued to rise. Exports were strong as the weak dollar made U.S. commodities more competitive in international markets, and ending-year stocks of many commodities were low. Commodity prices continued to surge in the early months of 2008 and are expected to remain relatively high throughout 2008, even though they have backed off their highs for the year. Corn production is projected to be the second highest on record and soybean production is projected to be the fourth highest on record. Consequently, with large harvests to sell at high prices, the outlook for the farm economy as a whole is for another good year in 2008, driven by strong demand for feed crops, oilseeds, and food grains. There are many unknowns when forecasting farm income in the third quarter of the year, but based on the best information available on production and market conditions, the farm sector’s net value added to the national economy is forecast to be up 8.9 percent in 2008. Its projected value of $144.2 billion would be $11.7 billion over 2007 and 39 percent over its 1998-2007 average. The values of both crop and livestock production have trended steadily upward since 1970. However, the year-to-year movements in the two measures have not always been synchronized. In 2008, the rise in the value of crop production is expected to be nearly five times that of livestock. Feed costs are a large component of livestock expenses and the exceptionally high prices for feed crops are pinching livestock producers. Rising costs cause livestock producers to eliminate their least productive animals and cut back in less profitable areas of their operations. Net value added and net farm income have followed the value of commodity production over both the long term and in year-to-year fluctuations. Because farmers typically do not vary their production mix dramatically from year to year, purchases of production inputs have been relatively stable. Thus, the direction and magnitude of annual changes in the value of livestock production have arisen primarily from market prices for livestock and livestock products. On the other hand, variability in the value of crop production is determined by both market prices and production levels. Crop production varies with changes in yields due to weather, plant disease, and pests. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Finalists for 2008 Nebraska Leopold Conservation Award

by WLJ
Sand County Foundation and Nebraska Cattlemen (NC) are proud to announce the finalists for the 2008 Leopold Conservation Award in Nebraska. The Leopold Conservation Award, named in honor of world-renowned conservationist Aldo Leopold, is comprised of $10,000 and a Leopold crystal. The award is presented annually in seven states to private landowners who practice responsible land stewardship and management. "These finalists were chosen from a number of exceptional, well-deserving candidates," said Dr. Brent Haglund, Sand County Foundation president. "This is proof that Nebraska ranchers’ long-standing ethic of conservation continues to flourish." The 2008 finalists (in alphabetical order): A.B. Cox—Valentine; Gosnell Ranch, Gordon and Sandy Gosnell—Maxwell; Hamilton Ranch, Dave and Loretta Hamilton—Thedford; Ridder Hereford Ranch, John and Mary Ridder—Callaway. The 2008 Leopold Conservation Award recipient will be recognized Dec. 11 at the NC Annual Convention in Kearney. The 2007 award recipient was Rod and Amy Christen of Steinauer and the 2006 recipient was the Wilson Ranch, Lakeside. For more information, please visit www.leopoldconservationaward.org, or contact Mike Fitzgerald, 402/475-2333, or at mfitzgerald@necattlemen.org. Sand County Foundation (www.sandcounty.net) is a private, non-profit conservation group dedicated to working with private landowners to improve habitat on their land. Sand County’s mission is to advance the use of ethical and scientifically sound land-management practices and partnerships for the benefit of people and their rural landscapes. Sand County Foundation works with private landowners because the majority of the nation’s fish, wildlife, and natural resources are on private lands. The organization backs local champions, invests in civil society, and places incentives before regulation to create solutions that endure and grow. The organization encourages the exercise of private responsibility in the pursuit of improved land health as an essential alternative to many of the commonly used strategies in modern conservation. The Leopold Conservation Award is a competitive award that recognizes landowner achievement in voluntary conservation. The award consists of a crystal depiction of Aldo Leopold seated on a horse and a check for $10,000. In 2008, Sand County Foundation will present Leopold Conservation Awards in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, Texas, Utah and California. The awards are presented to accomplish three objectives: First, they recognize extraordinary achievement in voluntary conservation on the land of exemplary private landowners. Second, they inspire countless other landowners in their own communities through these examples. Finally, they provide a visible forum where leaders from the agriculture community are recognized as conservation leaders to groups outside of agriculture. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Cull cow prices at record high, says economist

by WLJ
"This year, we’ve had some record high cow prices and we expect them to go even higher next year, said Jim Robb, director of the Livestock Marketing Information Center. During a recent Open House at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Gudmundsen Sandhills Laboratory, Robb said the demand for hamburger has increased dramatically as the U.S. economy has slowed. This is an area where cow/calf producers need to focus some of their management attention. Even though cow slaughter in the U.S. has been very high, mostly in the southeastern states and California, beef imports from Australia, New Zealand and South America have declined dramatically. So the domestic supply of cow beef is very tight. "The U.S. cow herd is shrinking. The North American cow herd is shrinking, the South American cow herd is shrinking, and the Australian cow herd is shrinking. So we’re looking at tight supplies ahead," Robb said. He predicted a new all-time high fed cattle prices. By 2010, calf and yearling prices might be on the trail of higher prices, but with high corn prices, they’ll be held down somewhat. Although the fed cattle market is supportive of yearling prices, it’s been a volatile time that will probably continue for a while. The overall ag sector is more volatile because of the ethanol/energy interaction, international trade, both imports and exports, and an overall weak U.S. economy in terms of consumer spending. The exchange rate helps determine how much beef we import and export. It has a major influence on the price of oil and the cost of production. Consumers look into the grocery meat cases and see chicken and pork as well as beef, Robb said. Historically, there’s been major competition for consumer dollars there. But the pork and chicken industries are beginning to adjust rather quickly to the higher grain prices by cutting their numbers. In addition, exports of chicken and pork have been very robust, decreasing their availability domestically. So in contrast to most years, there’s less competition for consumers’ dollars. While beef imports have decreased, exports are increasing. South Korea is buying U.S. beef again. "We’re exporting about half what we sold there before BSE, but we’re making progress," Robb said. Despite market volatility, Robb said prospects for the next couple of years will be brighter than they are today. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Annual directory connects hay producers and buyers

by WLJ
As a service to hay producers and buyers, the Colorado Department of Agriculture publishes the Colorado Hay Directory annually. The 2008 edition of the directory is available to the public at no cost. "Hay continues to be one of Colorado’s top crops," said Wendy White, marketing specialist for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. "The directory helps Colorado’s hay producers market their hay, and is a valuable resource for buyers across Colorado and the nation." The 22nd edition of the Colorado Hay Directory features more than 100 producers and brokers of hay as well as companies that provide hay-related products and services. Categorized by region, each listing includes the type and amount of hay available, bale type and size, whether or not laboratory analysis is available, certified weed free status and identifies organic hay. The Colorado Hay Directory is published by the Colorado Department of Agriculture in cooperation with participating Colorado hay producers, the Colorado Hay and Forage Association, Colorado State University Extension, and with support from Anderson Alfalfa, Dr. Fish Fertilizer Co., Hutchinson Western and Wagner Equipment Co. In 2007, Colorado produced nearly 4.4 million tons of hay valued at $597 million. Production of hay in Colorado for 2008 is estimated at 4.2 million tons. The directory is available online at www.coloradoagriculture.com and at www.coloradohay.org. For more information or to request a copy of the 2008 Colorado Hay Directory, call the Colorado Department of Agriculture at 303/239-4115. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Texas cow/calf producers being squeezed

by WLJ
Even though the cattle industry continues to round up good prices for cattle, Steve and Morita Schoeneberg of Louise, TX, wrestle with higher input costs in their operation. The Schoenebergs operate a 600-head cattle ranch on about 1,800 acres along the Texas Gulf Coast, southwest of Houston. While they grow most of their own forage, they feel the effects of high fuel and fertilizer prices. "More and more with the cost of everything, I feel we are just spinning our wheels," said Morita, who attended the 54th annual Texas A&M University Beef Short Course while her husband stayed home to work the ranch. The Schoenebergs feel the effects of the three Fs—feed, fuel and fertilizer—as Texas cattle ranchers deal with lower profit margins despite higher cattle prices. That theme was repeated several times during the beef course held on the central Texas campus Aug. 4-6. According to the Standardized Performance Analysis (SPA), a program administered by Texas A&M to examine the financial health of ranches, the total cost to maintain each female in a herd in 2007 was $590.33, and the 2007 cost per cwt. of weaned calves was $116.90. Stan Bevers, professor and extension economist for Texas A&M based in Vernon, TX, said costs accelerated since 2002, and he believes costs will rise more in 2008. "You look at the increasing costs of inputs over the last six months or so, especially if you look at corn prices, and we most likely will have over $600 costs per cow for 2008," Bevers said. In an analysis of 71 herds in eastern Texas and the Panhandle completing the SPA program since 2003, the largest cost for cow/calf producers is purchased feed. Feed averaged $80.38 per breeding female, or about 14.5 percent of total operating expenses in 2007. This includes supplements, forages and minerals purchased. The cost is influenced considerably by high corn prices, he said. Corn’s price is viewed much differently by cow/calf producers than by corn farmers in the Midwest. While many cow/calf producers blame ethanol and its boom for higher prices, other factors affect feed prices, said Steve Amosson, professor and extension economist with Texas AgriLife Extension. "Ethanol seems to get all the headlines of why we have higher prices, but oil prices, exchange rates and speculative funds all also have an effect on increased feed costs," Amosson said. Oil prices are by far the number one problem that faces all of agriculture, he said. To the cattlemen, ethanol represents a thorn in their side. But what could be ethanol’s saving grace, at least to the cattle industry, is distillers grain. With more corn going to ethanol production, there will be more distillers grain for the cattle industry. Other livestock feeding enterprises, such as hogs and poultry, cannot use the product as readily as cattle feeders. "Distillers grain is a positive part of the game for cattlemen," Amosson said. Fertilizer prices doubled Another input that affects ranches’ bottom lines is fertilizer. Most fertilizer prices for Texas cattlemen have at least doubled in the last several years. These costs are set to increase, with little hope for a significant decline in the immediate future, said Vincent Haby, Texas A&M System Regents Fellow and professor of Texas AgriLife Research located in Overton, TX. Diammonium phosphate (18-46-0), the basic fertilizer used in many blends for grass in Texas, retails for as high as $1,300 a ton, and potash (0-0-60) fertilizers costs up to $825 a ton, Haby said. Even sulfur (S) has recently increased by $350 to sell for $725 a ton and is expected to increase in the third quarter of 2008. "The rising price of fertilizer has some Texas cattle producers deciding they can no longer afford to apply them to their grass," he said. Ranchers can eliminate or reduce fertilizer used on grass to cut input costs, but that can reduce land productivity. Haby suggested producers carefully consider the economics of not fertilizing. Use soil test recommendations to fertilize at an efficient level without over-fertilizing. If producers do reduce the fertilizer application rates, they should be ready to reduce livestock numbers. "You just have to lower the number of cattle on that grass if you reduce the application rate; there is no way around this," he said. Stockpiling feed As with many ranching operations in the eastern part of Texas, the Schoenebergs stockpile winter feed. They plant ryegrass and allow the cattle to winter graze this forage. This eliminates feed, mainly hay, costs. Part of their land includes grass and hay land that is under center pivots. She said they are at the point of not wanting to run the pivot because of the ever-increasing cost of fuel. They also debate whether to continue to fertilize their grass as they had in the past. Every year, the cost to fertilize their pastures increases and they have to do something to cut into their rising input costs. "I think in the long run, we will have to reduce our cow numbers," Schoeneberg said. "I know it seems backwards, but if you reduce some of your production, you are going to do better to make a profit and ... that is what we are trying to do." As for the future, Schoeneberg hopes as they alter how they operate the ranch, they will survive a challenging time to ranchers. Raised a city girl and married into the ranching business, she has tried to learn as much as possible about the industry to operate as efficiently as they can. The Schoenebergs have three adult sons, but all three have jobs away from the family ranching business and show no interest in returning to the ranch someday. She understands why they would want to pursue other careers, given that cattle ranching in Texas is not a very easy job, especially now with such high input costs. "I have hope for the future, but the way it is going currently, we are heading down one spooky trail," she said. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Researchers awarded grant to study link between E. coli, distillers grains

by WLJ
A research team headed by Kansas State University (KSU) E. coli O157:H7 expert T.G. Nagaraja has been tapped by USDA to study both the connection between feeding distillers grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle and several strategies to reduce the presence of the naturally occurring pathogen in the animals. The group has received a $939,220 National Research Initiative in Food Safety grant. Nagaraja, a university distinguished professor of microbiology, said the issue of meat safety is receiving full attention from both researchers and the meat industry and is being addressed. "This research project will greatly enhance our understanding of the exact relationship between dietary distillers grains and E. coli 0157:H7 in cattle, as well as provide us with an opportunity to look at novel ways to mitigate the potential risks of feeding this valuable co-product," Nagaraja said. Distillers grains are a byproduct of ethanol produced from cereal grains that are used in cattle feed. They are rich in fiber, energy and protein. The research team will look at ways to reduce the amount of E. coli O157:H7 present, such as administering a probiotic, an experimental vaccine, and feeding brown seaweed, a plant shown to have an effect in reducing E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in cattle. In addition, they also will study whether feeding varied amounts of the distillers grain or making it dry or wet has an effect on the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 detected in the feces. Along with Nagaraja, the research team includes KSU professors David Renter, Mike Sanderson and Dan Thomson, and doctoral student Megan Jacob. The grant builds upon the long history of KSU researchers focusing on food safety. An example of that work that has direct application to the consumer comes from meat scientist Melvin Hunt. "Despite care in food processing and provision, there is a possibility that food can become contaminated with potentially harmful bacteria," Hunt said. "Occasional recalls of potentially contaminated ground beef in recent years are a sign that safety checks are working—hamburger lovers do not need to give up their favorite food." Consumers need to be mindful that recommendations for cooking ground beef have changed. Generations have been brought up to think that when ground beef browns, it’s cooked. That’s no longer true, Hunt said. In the mid-1980s, KSU meat science researchers were asked to study the possibility of reducing the percentage of fat in ground beef without compromising taste and texture. As the KSU researchers studied ground beef with differing proportions of fat, they observed how the meats cooked and noted that some ground beef browned prematurely, before it had reached the safe-to-eat temperature of 160 F. The color of meat depends on the oxygen in the muscle cells, Hunt said. As an example, he explained that fresh ground beef is bright red because oxygen is incorporated into the meat as it is ground. As the meat ages, it loses oxygen, which causes the color to change. The oxygen in the muscle is carried by myoglobin, which is similar to hemoglobin that carries oxygen in humans. Observations during the study prompted researchers to recommend that temperature—not color—should be used as a test for doneness, Hunt said. In a restaurant, consumers are advised to order a ground beef patty cooked to at least medium, or 160 F. At home, they are advised to check end-point temperature with a meat thermometer. "Using a meat thermometer is the only sure way to tell if meat is properly cooked," Hunt said. The KSU researchers are among the more than 150 KSU experts working in the arena of food safety, animal health and agricultural health. More than $70 million has been dedicated to research in these areas since 1999. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Beef growing globally Emphasizing the need to invest in foreign marketing aimed at the 95 percent of people who live outside the borders of the U.S., the Cattlemen’s Beef Board has chosen to increase the total dollars invested in marketing U.S. beef abroad. Export volumes of U.S. beef and beef variety meats worldwide advanced 30 percent year-on-year to 445,036 metric tons during the first half of 2008, while value jumped 39 percent to nearly $1.6 billion—compared to $1.8 billion during the same period in 2003. And while Mexico and Canada continued to be the top-performing export markets for the U.S. during the first half of 2008, export volumes of U.S. beef to Japan are rebuilding dramatically this year, thanks in part to a new beef cuts program funded by the Beef Checkoff. Beef Bucks Golf Tournament a success A good cause brought a large number of people together Aug. 22 for the sixth annual Beef Bucks Golf Tournament. Forty-six teams comprised of 184 golfers turned out at the Dells Rocky Run Golf Course in Dell Rapids, SD. "This was the largest tournament ever," says JoAnne Hillman, president of the South Dakota Beef Bucks, Inc. board of directors. "We had to turn people away. It’s wonderful to see how people in this industry come together for this event to have fun and raise money for an industry that means so much to South Dakota." South Dakota Beef Bucks is a non-profit organization that operates South Dakota Beef Bucks checks and VISA debit cards, both used for purchasing beef products or entrees at restaurants and retail stores throughout the U.S. 2008 Nebraska Beef Backer chosen Over the past couple of months, Nebraska restaurants have been competing for the title of the "Best Beef Restaurant in the State." The Nebraska Beef Council has recently named Ole’s Big Game Steakhouse the 2008 Nebraska Beef Backer Award winner. To compete in the Nebraska Beef Backer contest, restaurants first had to be nominated by a Nebraska beef producer or industry partner. After receiving nomination, the restaurants then completed an official application which was evaluated by a committee and results were based upon beef promotion programs, beef menu applications, and overall quality. Foodservice accounts for approximately half of the beef sold in this country, and commercial restaurants make up 61 percent for that sector. Agriprocessors appeals to Supreme Court Agriprocessors Inc., whose Postville, IA, plant was recently raided by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, is seeking to take its argument that workers have no right to unionize the company’s Brooklyn distribution center to the highest court in the land. A vote among employees in September 2005, who are mostly Mexican-born workers, sought to join the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which Agriprocessors has refused to recognize. The vote spawned a case in which the company claimed that most of the workers were undocumented immigrants and had no right to unionize. The National Labor Relations Board has ordered the company to recognize the union, citing a 1984 Supreme Court decision which affirmed the right of illegal immigrants to join unions. Beef from clones may enter food supply Recent reports indicate that meat from the offspring of cloned livestock is indeed entering the U.S. food supply, which is a cause of alarm to some consumers and advocacy groups. Though only a tiny portion of the U.S. beef supply could come from clones, which number in the hundreds or thousands of the country’s nearly 100 million head of cattle, USDA’s Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight recently admitted that he can’t rule out the presence of clone offspring in the food supply. Knight noted, however, that consumers are "highly unlikely" to receive beef from the offspring of clones. In January, the Food and Drug Administration deemed products from cloned cattle, pigs, goats and their offspring as safe to eat. Maximizing market cow and bull value Cattle producers have taken an active role in improved animal care, management practices and nutrition, but there’s always room for improvement. According to a checkoff-funded 2007 audit, cattle had fewer bruises as compared to 1999, less hide damage, and an overall improvement in animal welfare and handling practices. Nonetheless, the condemnation rate from down cattle, incidence of antibiotic residues, bruising, and lameness continue to warrant further attention. Producers can take the initiative to be proactive to ensure product safety and integrity, monitor herd health and market cull cattle in a timely manner, use appropriate management and handling practices to prevent quality defects, and recognize and optimize the value of market cows and bulls.

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Friday, September 5,2008

Plant identification important in range monitoring

by WLJ
Range monitoring requires a working knowledge of plant identification. But acquiring the knowledge can be a daunting challenge that often prevents producers from implementing important aspects of range monitoring. "However, one does not have to be a plant identification expert," says Chuck Lura, Extension rangeland specialist at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Central Grasslands Research Extension Center near Streeter. "Simply knowing a few key species and monitoring their abundance can provide producers with valuable information." Accurate monitoring helps rangeland managers determine whether their grazing management strategy is working. Key species are species in a pasture that can serve as indicators of management effectiveness. They generally are species that are abundant, productive and palatable, and were dominant plants in the historical climax community of a particular ecological site. A historic climax community is a plant community that existed at the time of European immigration and settlement in North America and was best adapted to the unique combination of environmental factors associated with a particular site. Lura recommends rangeland managers select one to three key species for monitoring on a particular ecological site. For example, a key area in much of the Missouri Coteau in North Dakota is the loamy ecological site. The key species on this site likely would be some combination of western wheatgrass, slender wheatgrass, green needlegrass and needle-and-thread. Collectively, these grasses may account for up to one-half of the total forage production. Monitoring the response of a few key species on key sites will help rangeland managers judge whether the management within a pasture has been successful. "Generally, when range management principles are properly used, the entire pasture may be considered correctly used," Lura says. The Central Grasslands Research Extension Center has a program to assist producers in implementing and maintaining range monitoring procedures. The program is made possible through funding from NDSU, the North Dakota Natural Resources Trust, and Ducks Unlimited. — WLJ

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Friday, September 5,2008

World Livestock Auctioneer Championship starts in Miles City, MT

by WLJ
The road to Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA’s) 2009 World Livestock Auctioneer Championship (WLAC) begins in Miles City, MT, Sept. 9 for 32 contestants. Miles City Livestock Commission LLP is hosting the first 2009 WLAC quarterfinal competition. Three titlists will be named at each contest, and the top eight scorers will qualify for next June’s WLAC, set to be at Fergus Falls Livestock Auction Market Inc., Fergus Falls, MN. The other WLAC quarterfinals will be Oct. 29 at Texhoma Livestock Auction LLC, Texhoma, OK; Nov. 18 at Muskingum Livestock Auction Co., Zanesville, OH, and Dec. 2 at Kingsville Livestock Auction, Kingsville, MO. LMA, the national trade association for livestock marketing businesses, created and conducts the annual WLAC. The championship in Minnesota will be the 46th annual. Miles City Livestock Commission co-owner Rob Fraser said, "September ninth will be a special day for all of us at the market. We’ll be welcoming some of America’s best livestock auctioneers who will be selling top-quality cattle from some of the best producers in this area." He expects about 4,000 head of cattle, mostly yearlings, for the sale. And, he said, he wanted to invite "anyone who enjoys listening to the sound of a good auctioneer to join us on the ninth." The sale will start at 9 a.m. (MT), with the contest getting under way at 10 a.m. This is the third year LMA has used the four-contest format to qualify contestants for the June championship. The annual WLAC, Fraser continued, brings two things into focus: that competitive livestock marketing is "the best way to get the best price for your livestock" and the "continuing importance" of the auctioneer in that process. Contestants must be at least 18 years old and employed and sponsored by a livestock market. Each contest is an actual sale, with buyers on the seats. The three titlists in the June WLAC—world champion, reserve and runner-up world champion—will receive thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. — WLJ  

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Friday, September 5,2008

Extended grazing can reduce feed costs

by WLJ
By extending the grazing season into the fall and winter, many producers can reduce their harvested feed costs, said a University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) specialist. Although winter or dormant season grazing of pasture and feeding of a protein supplement is a common practice, several other strategies can work well for producers in other parts of the state, said Jerry Volesky, range and forage specialist at UNL’s West Central Research and Extension Center in North Platte. Producers can start now to prepare for extending the season by planting annual forages such as oats and turnips to use later, he said. They can also stockpile perennial grasses. "We’ve done some research on stockpiling cool season perennial grasses," Volesky said. "We graze those grasses in the spring and early summer, then let them accumulate the rest of the season’s growth for the fall and winter." Volesky found that even into November and December, the stockpiled forage maintained its nutritional value with protein levels as high as 12 percent. It wasn’t until January and February that crude protein and digestibility decreased significantly. "But even at the end of February, nutrition was still relatively high and we were meeting the nutritional needs of most grazing animals," Volesky said. Producers have also used windrow, or swath grazing. It involves swathing forages in late summer or early fall, then leaving the windrows in the field to feed in late fall or winter. That allows the producer to capture the quality of forage at the time of harvest. Grazing the windrow is possible even with snow cover. That strategy saves money because it eliminates the cost of baling, hauling the bales off the field, and then feeding them. In addition, grazing the hay in the field returns nutrients back to the soil. There is an outside chance that there will be too much snow to use these feeds, Volesky said. Unless the snow is very deep, though, more than six to eight inches, it won’t matter. Ice is much more of a problem. Barring unusual weather, then, extending the grazing season can help cattle producers save money and increase their profits. — WLJ

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