As always, our aim is to let you know what management decisions would have a positive impact on your bottom line based on our research. Each year is dif ferent and has its own challenges. Too hot, too cold, too dry, too wet… you get the picture. Evaluating production practices often to see what worked during each cycle is time well spent. Remember, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Forages, management, health – they are all tied together. One weak link in the system can affect the total outcome of a year’s profit potential. Knowing what our inputs do is the key to making everything work to our advantage. Kentucky 31 endophyteinfected fescue is the predominate forage in northern Arkansas. Armed with the knowledge that it will produce an AVERAGE of 1 to 1.25 pounds of gain from October to May is almost a sure thing. There are times that fescue will add closer to 2 pounds, which is usually from March 1 through about April 10 each year. That makes up for the quarter-pound calves gain each day as soon as the weather warms in mid-April and May, hence, a 1-pound average for six months of grazing.
Two other profit-boosting practices that are underused are implants and fenceline weaning.
When it comes to implants, what else can you do that costs $1 to $1.25 per head and will provide an extra 20 to 25 pounds of gain? Suppose an implant earned 20 extra pounds of growth from each animal in the 300 Days of Grazing demonstration? It would add up to almost 2 “extra” calves worth of body weight to sell. In our case, the weighted average was $99.30 per hundredweight. That was a $765 return for a $45 investment!
Fenceline weaning vs. drylot for the calves yielded a gain of 41 pounds of growth for fenceline-weaned calves compared to a net gain of only 5 pounds of gain for drylotted calves for the first 28 days after weaning. Reducing stress during the weaning process is a big factor in subsequent animal gains. The fenceline-weaned calves walked the fence for a day or two but spent a lot of time grazing. The drylot calves spent seven days walking the fence, eating very little. The drylot calves had to learn where the feed was (hay ring), whereas the fenceline calves had feed available all around them in their pasture. The fenceline calves could still see and hear momma but didn’t worry too much about her after about the third day. Seven days after separation, fenceline-weaned calves were moved to another pasture, away from dams. Drylot calves were still bawling.
Pulling weaned calves off of Kentucky 31 endophyte fescue prior to April 10 gives a consistently higher average daily gain; fenceline weaning allows you to put, or keep, pounds on at weaning and reduces stress. Implanting can help add extra dollars to the sale barn check for one of the smallest per-head investments. These are three cost effective ways of managing some of the “little” things that could potentially put more dollars in
Source: Donald Hubbell, Resident Director in Charge, Livestock and Forestry Branch Station, University of Arkansas Extension