Wet, cold weather continues to persist in Illinois. Naturally, these conditions create mud. Muddy conditions are rather difficult to navigate on the cattle farm. These conditions can be frustrating for the farmer and the cattle. Challenges associated with mud on the cattle farm need to be identified and evaluated to ensure the environment is not detrimental to animal health and performance.

Challenges

Beep! Ding! Buzz! The noises and alerts that come from a cell phone can absolutely dominate your day. Answering calls, emails, texts, social media alerts, and on and on… the happenings around you can come and go while you are still staring at your phone.

While taking pasture samples a few weeks ago, I challenged myself to observe. I turned my phone to silent and left it in my pocket. I wanted to focus on the pasture conditions and the behavior of the cattle.

Here are a few really simple observations I made when sampling pastures:

Authored by Ashley Cooney, Intern, University of Illinois Orr Beef Research Farm.

The best way to utilize cornstalks is to graze them. Cattle graze selectively, looking for the more palatable feedstuffs. The more palatable parts of the plant are also more nutritious. Cattle first eat the remaining corn grain, then husks, then leaves, and finally the stalk.

Authored by Ashley Cooney, Intern, University of Illinois Orr Beef Research Farm. At the Illinois Beef Association's Summer Conference, I had the chance to talk to producers and learn about how they operate their farms. One conversation with a producer stuck out to me and got me thinking. The producer's cow-calf operation had two calving seasons: fall and spring. My conversation with the producer led me to a comparison of the calving seasons and which one could be the most ideal.

Limited hay supplies have cattle producers looking at opportunities to grow more forage yet this fall. An early maturing crop is going to open the door for use of row crop acres to grow more forage.

Many producers have already identified the opportunity to put Oats, Cereal Rye, Turnips, or other forage crops in this fall. As a result, expect to see shortages in seed supplies, higher priced seed, and some delay if seed is not in stock. However, don't let this keep you from consulting your seed salesman. They will have options for you.

Spring forgot to set the alarm clock! While we are waiting for Spring to wake up and replace this persistent winter weather with warm temperatures, many cattle owners are struggling to stretch an already short hay supply.

Many cattle producers are still looking for economical forage to use as winter feed for beef cows. Cornstalks, bean-stubble, wheat straw, and CRP hay are a few of the low-quality forages that are being considered by farmers. Some areas that experienced drought conditions this summer had CRP (Conservation Reserve Program) acres released for haying. Thus, questions are coming in about CRP hay. CRP hay is not something cattle producers use annually and many may be unfamiliar with its characteristics. Thus, I will discuss my thoughts on CRP hay… The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Illinois Performance Tested (IPT) Bull Sale was the lead-off event of the 2018 Illinois Beef Expo held on Feb. 22 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill. The sale averaged $3,875 on 50 lots.


"This sale continues to be one of the best sources for total performance genetics in the Midwest," said Travis Meteer, IPT sale manager. "During the past 50 years, the sale has sold 4,740 bulls valued at over 8.7 million dollars."

BAYLIS, Ill. – The annual Orr Beef Research Center Field Day will take place at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 5. The meeting will be held at the John Wood Ag Center located on State Highway 104 in Baylis. Speakers from the University of Illinois will lead discussions that will address research, current topics, and situations producers are facing on-farm. A meal will be provided to those who take part in the discussions and tour.

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a national program that provides a continuing education opportunity for farmers and ranchers. BQA equips producers with production strategies and general skills to maintain and strengthen a quality, wholesome food supply.

Severely tight hay reserves will undoubtedly cause many farmers to aggressively put up hay this spring. When the weather is right and hay fields are mowed there will be many farmers looking over the fence at pastures as an opportunity to make more bales. While it is important to get hay reserves built back up on your farm, I would caution producers against baling pastures.