Bale Grazing Dos and Don'ts

If you’re going to be feeding your livestock this winter, bale grazing could be right for you. It can save you time and money and even improve your pastures. Here are some tips from the Manitoba Grazing Council to help you get started and make it work for you. How Many Bales Should You Put Out? This math really isn’t any different than what you use when you’re figuring how much hay to purchase. The amount of dry matter feed needed will be 2.5 to 3% of each cow’s body weight. Don’t forget to factor in waste. In the Manitoba publication they suggest 20% as a good rule of thumb for figuring waste. Others suggest numbers as high as 50%. Check with an expert in your area to give you an idea what

Let Cattle do the Seeding

Cattle can be managed to produce calves, beef and milk, but can they also be put to work re-seeding pastures? The palatable black seed pods of cicer milk vetch will no doubt be consumed by these yearlings on this fall-grazing pasture and distributed over other parts of this and other pastures. Most of the cicer milk vetch in this pasture was establish by cattle depositing seed through their manure. As long as you’re not in a hurry, producers who manage beef cows and yearlings so they distribute legume seeds through their manure, say “yes” it can be a passive, yet effective means of establishing desirable forages on pasture. Photo: Sainfoin reseeded through manure in Alex Robertson's Pasture

Is it Time to Start Early Evening Feeding?

It is generally accepted that adequate supervision at calving has a significant impact on reducing calf mortality. Adequate supervision has been of increasing importance with the higher price of live calves at sale time. On most ranching operations, supervision of the first calf heifers will be best accomplished in daylight hours and the poorest observation takes place in the middle of the night. The easiest and most practical method of inhibiting nighttime calving at present is by feeding cows at night; the physiological mechanism is unknown, but some hormonal effect may be involved. Rumen motility studies indicate the frequency of rumen contractions falls a few hours before parturition. In

Reproduction & Grazing Were Designed for Each Other

For optimum energy utilization, the cows' reproductive cycle should coincide with the grass production cycle A study from the United Kingdom shows that calving or lambing outside of the seasonal cycle of pasture production can increase costs by up to 75% over spring calving or lambing. In other words if we require our cows to calve in the winter months it is going to cost more than if the herd calves in the spring. As ranchers and farmers go we are a group of people who often would rather be doing the production activities that we love than doing the hard work of bookkeeping and analysis of what pays and what doesn’t in our operations. I include myself in this group as I too would rather be

Dung Beetles Found to Reduce Survival of Livestock Parasites

Scientists from the University of Bristol have found that dung beetles can help farmers by reducing the development and survival of parasites in cowpats that cause serious illness in cattle during the summer months. The study was led by Bryony Sands from the School of Biological Sciences, a NERC-funded PhD student and is published in the Journal of Applied Ecology. Artificial cow pats were made using feces collected elsewhere and were manipulated by adding dung beetles and varying simulated rainfall. After two weeks, parasitic larvae were taken from vegetation surrounding the cow pats. Photo: AgAnnex The numbers of parasitic larvae found on vegetation around pats increased over the first six

Grid-Tie Solar Options: What Makes it Different?

What is Grid-Tie Solar? It is becoming increasingly profitable for Albertans to generate their own electricity and sell it to the grid, utilizing the renewable energy sources on available right on their property. Grid-tie eliminates the large cost associated with the batteries used to store solar energy. How Grid-Tied Solar Power Works Sunlight is captured via solar cells in a solar panel/module which generates an electrical current. The electricity is then converted from DC to AC using an inverter. This AC electricity is then transmitted to the building’s distribution panel which decreases the power drawn from the grid. In the summer months and on sunnier days, excess power is created and

Canada Thistle Mining Weevils: A Hopeful Biocontrol?

What if we could control Canada thistle without the use of herbicides that destroy our mixed legume and alfalfa stands? And more importantly, save money in the long run without the expensive costs of annual herbicide application? That is where the Canada Thistle Mining Weevil comes into play or Hadroplontus litura. This weevil was first introduced to Canada from Europe in 1965 and feeds solely on Canada Thistle and a few close relatives. It attacks the rosettes of Canada Thistle in early spring before the thistle bolts. The adult weevils attack the foliage of the thistle plants and the larvae mine the inside of the stem. In early summer when the larvae have fully fed, they emerge from the th

How to Tell Your Farm Story using Social Media

We Are Our Own Gatekeepers Just a decade ago, the media was dominated by a few (very loud) voices. We watched the TV news at 5 p.m. and read the newspaper over coffee. If, as a farmer or a manufacturer or an inventor, we wanted to tell our story, we wrote up a press release and faxed it out – hoping someone would bite. Or, we sank thousands into advertising. For the most part, farmers didn’t need to hire a big-city public relations firm to tell consumers that milk came from cows. Then came the social media revolution. For the first time in history, the “gatekeepers” of media didn’t have the power to pick through a pile of press releases and decide which story to run or which consumer questio

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