Livestoc guide to get the best yield out of your cattle!

arrowquip.com 27-May-19
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The majority of beef cattle operations rely on forage for the bulk of the cattle diet, and as growing season is around the corner, we’re going to focus on getting the best yield out of your forage production.

The type of forage you grow will depend on your region, soil,and nutrition needs of your animals. Contact your local Cooperative Extension agent or an agronomist if you have questions on the best type of forage to grow. An animal nutrition specialist can also assist you with assessing your ration for your cattle and make recommendations for improvements. Don’t neglect your pastures, either. Pasture needs to be re-seeded, should be rotated to avoid over-grazing, and monitored for weeds and invasive species.

Whether you’re planting a field for the first time, or re-seeding after many years, the seeds you invest in matters. Quality seed will be better established and leads to greater yields. Poor seed quality can create uneven growth and bare patches. While it can be tempting to save money with a cheaper seeds, the initial investment in quality seed will pay off over the long-term with higher yields and improved forage quality

Forage quality and overall yield are greatly impacted by the merits of your soil. Simply put, better soil leads to better yields. While some of this is dependent on the soil your operation has, you can take steps to improve the soil through lime and fertilizer applications. The first step to improving soil health is to conduct soil tests and understand what you’re starting with. The company that completes the soil test will make recommendations based on the results. Remember that all soil tests should include samples from various places in the field, or have separate soil tests if you suspect that a field has vast differences in soil quality. The soil testing company will provide directions on the best way to collect the soil sample for testing. Test results can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to be returned during busy soil testing seasons, remember to plan accordingly and test early.

Soil and seed quality can only go so far if you’re not seeding your fields at the appropriate time. Poor decisions will impact your overall forage yield and quality. Your growing zone will be part of the decision on when to you plant or re-seed. The choice of annuals or perennials will also impact seeding times.Again, experts from Cooperative Extension and universities are available to help you make appropriate decisions for your operation

Pasture is an effective way to provide forage for your animals with minimal associated labor. Maximize time spent on pasture by growing cool and warm season grasses in your pastures, and rotating cattle to prevent overgrazing. Pasture should be utilized when the forage in them is at its highest nutrient value. Proper utilization of pasture forage reduces the amount of feed that needs to be purchased and stored on your operation, therefore reducing your other associated costs

Whether silage, or hay, you should test your forages and understand the nutrient value. Not only will this information be crucial in your animal nutrition, it can help you make future decisions on your forage production practices to increase yield and improve forage quality.

How forage is stored can impact the nutrition level of the feed and the amount of spoilage. There are many storage options and these will be influenced by your total yield, operation logistics, type of forage, and budget. Calculate your yield losses each year and make changes as necessary to your storage to improve your operation.

Some fields may be better suited to pasture versus forage production. Careful thought and consideration should go into forage planning and planting on your operation. Also consider crop rotation to improve soil health and reduce soil compaction. Tracking your soil test results, annual forage yields, and forage test results can provide valuable insights into your operation to help make future decisions.

The University of Guelph offers a suite of resources on forage production. Topics include establishment, maintenance, pest management, feed quality, silage, hay, pasture systems, and how it works. Review the videos and fact sheets available to answer many of your forage specific questions. Those of you in warmer climates have similar resources available through the University of Kentucky. Their site also includes publications specific to forage types, including tall fescue, teff, and legumes. Start planning now to maximize your forage quality and yield this growing season

Marketing

Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF) has had a major impact on the dairy industry in the state of Karnataka. It established a 3-tiered cooperative dairy network with the state milk federation at the highest level, then the milk district unions, and the dairy cooperative societies at the village level. More than 2 million dairy producers in Karnataka are affiliated with more than 13,000 dairy cooperative societies. Every village has a cooperative society where producers bring their milk twice a day, every day. These dairy cooperatives are extremely important to poor rural people because if they are involved with the cooperative, they are guaranteed to be paid for their milk. These millions of dairy producers are very small scale, with 2-3 cows. Dairy operations with 200-300 cows or more are considered a very large and are rare. They are usually near cities and do not participate in the cooperative system.

There is a very small market for goat milk in India, which is sold mainly in the cities. Goat milk is sold through private vendors, not through the cooperative system. Although it is a small market, goat milk producers are paid a high price: 90-120 Rupees/liter ($5.08 - $6.77/gallon) for goat milk whereas farmers are paid 30 Rupees/liter ($1.69/gallon) for cow milk.

Extension Efforts

Just like the United States, India's agricultural extension program focuses on research and extension to famers, NGOs, and others involved in agriculture. In addition to typical outreach methods like workshops, newsletters and pamphlets, the extension folks at the Veterinary College, Bengaluru communicate through radio and TV channels. The government of India has launched a special channel exclusively for farmers that telecasts programs for farmers in different languages of the country. Through this channel, local farmers can watch programs on a variety of animal husbandry topics, including how to select a high yielding cow and how to control disease. Indian extension academics have even developed a feed calculator, a mobile application to teach farmers about cultivation practices for cattle fodder and another mobile application that provides information about what new dairy farmers need to know to start an operation. Some farmers cannot read, so in order to reach a wider audience, descriptive images are a key component in these new aps.

Dairy production is an integral part of India's history, culture and economy.Indians use a lot of dairy products in their cooking, including milk, ghee (clarified butter), curd (yogurt), and lassi (liquid yogurt drink). Millions of very small-scale dairy farmers provide the country with its daily dairy needs for tea, coffee, traditional dishes,and sweets.