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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Management Tips

Livestock Update, June 2001

John Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

June Beef Management Calendar

Spring Calving Herds

Fall calving herds

July Beef Management Calendar

Spring Calving Herds

Fall calving herds

Plan now for feed shortages

Recent rains have bolstered forage growth, but first cutting hay yields are still running at _ to 2/3 of normal. Therefore, hay supplies may be short this fall. Also, the forecast for the summer is drier than normal to normal precipitation. Even if we have normal rainfall, some areas may still be short of forage.

Early June is the last chance for most areas of Virginia to plant summer annuals like pearl millet or sudan x sorghum hybrids. Summer annuals can provide both grazing and hay. Summer annuals are very productive yielding several tons of forage per acre depending on variety, fertilization and rainfall. They are fairly expensive to plant, but are usually cheaper than buying hay in a drought year. If you have limited experience with summer annuals contact your County Extension Agent for variety, planting and management information.

Reports from the Midwest indicate that the corn and soybean crops are looking very good with planting ahead of schedule. With the rain they had recently, development of the crops are also progressing rapidly. Right now the supply of corn, soybeans and soybean meal looks plentiful this fall which should hold down feed prices. Remember, cows can be wintered more cheaply on inexpensive corn and limit feeding hay or straw than hay alone if hay prices are high this fall. Poultry litter, peanut hulls, and corn stalks are all sources of fiber for cows as well. Alternative feeds like corn gluten and soy hulls may also provide an inexpensive source of nutrients for cows.

Consult your Animal Science Extension Agent or nutritionist for assistance with designing an alternative feeding program for your herd.

Early weaning may be an option

If the drought returns or pastures do not come back to full production, producers may want to consider early weaning of calves. This usually means weaning calves at 4 to 5 months of age rather than 7 or 8 months of age. However, calves can be early weaned as early as 90 to 100 days of age without the use of liquid milk replacers. During drought, early weaning can improve calf gains, cow condition and lower feed costs.

Information that Dr. Wahlberg and I developed in on early weaning in July, 1999 is available on the VA Cooperative Extension Website at in the livestock - beef - management area. The two articles are entitled "Cow-Calf Manager: Early Weaning -- Should I Wean Now??" and "Management of Early-Weaned Calves".

Stocker cattle benefit from reimplanting and ionophores

Stocker cattle will gain an extra 20 to 25 lbs if reimplanted in mid summer. Producers should use the same implant as previously given or another implant for that weight and sex of cattle. Ionophores can also benefit grazing stockers. Products like GainPr® or Rumensin® are approved for grazing cattle and can result in increased gain of 10 to 15%. Remember that response to implants and especially ionophores require abundant good quality pasture. Results with these products after July may be disappointing if you are grazing overmature grasses or have limited grazing available.

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