Making the Most of Your Hay

Hay BaleWith early season drought conditions spreading from the eastern half of Montana, across the Dakotas, and into northwest Minnesota, finding high quality pasture and range land has been a challenge. With limited grazing resources, many cattle producers have been forced to turn to hay or other harvested forage much earlier in the season than usual. With hay prices expected to climb due to the increased demand, it is more important than ever to get the most out of hay through minimizing harvest, storage, and feeding losses.

The time from cutting to baling is the number one factor which will influence harvest loss. Rapid drying is the key to minimize losses and maintain nutritive value. Mother nature has a mind of her own when it comes to providing ideal conditions for drying, but every effort should be made to select a cutting date which offers the lowest chance of precipitation or one which offers only a chance for precipitation closer to the cutting time (less dry matter loss if rain falls on wetter hay materials than dry). Mechanical conditioning can also be used to hasten the drying process by exposing more plant surface to moisture losses. If necessary, hay can also be baled at a higher moisture content than normal (18-22%) and treated with a preservative such as Crop Cure®.

You may not have control over the weather and its impacts on your hay crop, but you do have a choice in how your bales are packaged. Based upon cost alone, twine wrapping is the easy winner when compared to net wrapping. However, twine-wrapped bales can cost you dearly in operating speed (more wraps slows down bale production), handling losses (struggle to maintain shape, less uniform and instable), and storage losses (poor water shedding if stored outside) when compared to net-wrapped bales. When it comes to minimizing material and nutritive losses, net wrap is the clear winner. While it may pain many to spend a significant amount more (2-3x cost per bale) on a material which simply gets thrown away after use, return on investment economics win the argument. Assuming an added cost of 80 cents per bale for net wrap, reducing storage loss by as little as 1% will recoup your investment with current hay values.

Avoiding Loss

With the cost of harvesting and packaging already invested, it is essential to properly store hay to maximize its value. According to a study conducted at the University of Tennessee, storage losses can range from as little as 5% when stored in a hay barn to as much as 30% when stored uncovered. Storage losses when bales are stacked on pallets and tarped falls intermediate at 14%. Taking these additional measures to preserve your crop will certainly add cost, but the return is that much greater with higher hay costs. It will also allow for more effective stockpiling to ensure supply when drought conditions arise.

All your good work can be undone if your hay ends up as glorified bedding due to feeding losses. Feeding hay in small amounts (daily rather than weekly), using a hay feeder rather than feeding on the ground, and locating your feeding area in a well-drained area are all methods to reduce feeding loss. It is also best to first feed hay stored outside before hay stored inside. The longer hay is stored outside, the more prone it is to spoilage and cattle are much more likely to waste and refuse poor quality hay.

Using even the best management practices from cutting to feeding, you can still expect dry matter losses in the range of 15-20%, but these losses can easily run over 50% if corners are cut. Preserving and maximizing your feed resources is crucial for the financial wellbeing of your operation. Please contact your CHS Larsen Cooperative representative to discuss a comprehensive forage management program for your operation.

Original Source: Form-A-Feed Written by: Simon Kern, M.S., Form-A-Feed Business Manager

6 Tips for Minimizing Heat Stress on Your Dairy

Cooling Cattle

Minimizing heat stress is a goal of every dairyman. Tunnel or cross ventilated barns have given us a cow comfort standard that we can try to attain in many barns. There have been improvements in air movement and sprinkler systems in most dairies. But what else can we do?

 1. Feeding more digestible forages. Low quality forages stay in the rumen longer and produce more heat than high quality forages.

Target these mineral levels in summer:

Potassium                          >1.5%

Sodium                                 .4-.55%

Chloride                                <.35

DCAD                                   At least 300 meq/Kg

2. Lowering stocking density.  If possible, especially in pre- and post-fresh pens. This will help reduce metabolic disease incidence.

3. Provide shade. Cows under stress are light sensitive and bunch up in areas away from sunlight.  Shade cloth on outside walls or lowering the lower curtain can allow cows to spread out.

4. Feed multiples time a day. Feeding multiple times a day will keep fresh feed in front of cows and ensure adequate feed at night as cows will eat more in cooler temperatures.

5. Water. Waterers need to be cleaned more often in hot weather. Access to water immediately after milking is more important than ever.

6. Hydro-Lac. 

Hydro-Lac Provides Hydration and Energy Support During Periods of Stress.

It’s a palatable source of blended electrolytes, multiple energy sources, minerals, vitamins, and osmolytes. From this patented technology, Hydro-Lac provides the necessary nutrients to recover from the effects of heat stress, such as dehydration, and help restore animal health for better all around productivity.

Using Hydro-Lac can improve cow performance by helping reduce milk loss due to heat stress, promote more rapid production response post-calving, and encourage feed and water intake to overcome health challenges.

Field results have shown that cows fed Hydro-Lac maintain and drink more water and have positive responses in milk production.

“In warm weather, it’s a no brainer! It just makes good sense. Hydro-Lac is a tool that should be in everybody’s cattle feeding toolbox.”Ron Nykamp

Hydro-Lan Proven Cattle Hydration Product

Combat heat stress this summer!

To learn more about Hydro-Lac click here.

Original Source: FormAFeed Blog

New Feed Department Manager

New Feed Department Manager

On May fourth, Dustin Millard accepted the Feed Department Manager position. From November 2016 through April 2017, Dustin worked as the interim feed department manager. During this trial period, he exhibited his growth in leadership as he transitioned from operations to department managerial duties. His strength came from his operations experience while bringing a quality product to customers by improving organization, efficiency, and safety through the feed mill.

After starting his career at Larsen Co-op in 2006, Dustin moved up into leadership roles, such as mill operator and operations manager. As operations manager, he has been diligent in finding ways to better our feed department. One area has been his passion for safety, where Dustin has worked persistently to improve days without a lost time accident which is up to 1,700 days as well as working with a third party to get the mill both HACCP Certified and Safe Feed, Safe Food Certified. With these improvements in operations and safety, he has been able to increase feed quality and decrease shrink loss from $10,000 a month down to $0 a month now, and he helped the labor efficiency improve by 30%.

As the interim manager, Dustin worked very closely with the Form-A-Feed team to build a partnership that brings great value to our local farmers. By having this partnership, we are able to offer our customers the assistance from many experts in the dairy and animal nutrition field. The Form-A-Feed team brings expertise on a much higher level, having Ph.D. level professionals who specialize in calves and pre-fresh transition cows. With such a diverse team of people, specializing in areas such as analytics, training and development, and nutrition, as partners, we have the right combination of resources to help solve the issues farm operations face today and move forward towards tomorrow.

Going Forward

Dustin is excited for this new opportunity to work with the agricultural community and to help farmers with solutions. He lives in New London and has a small hobby farm where he raises dairy beef bottle calves and finishes butcher steers to sell locally. With raising animals at home, he personally knows how important it is to feed livestock a high quality feed that our mill in Weyauwega produces.

Dustin plans to continue to find ways to improve and build a department that will help ensure we can serve our producers now and into the future. He plans to do this by working meticulously with the strong nutrition team at Form-A-Feed as well as with our local private consultants to keep our customers’ needs in the forefront. We will also continue to pursue additional alliances, with Form-A-Feed to bring the best possible service to our farmers.

Please help me in congratulating Dustin Millard in accepting the Feed Department Manager position at CHS Larsen Cooperative.

The Cool Side of Managing Heat, Diet and Transport Stress at Breeding Season

Managing Heat

The primary area of heat stress impacts on the beef industry has been focused largely on feedlot performance.  However, during the course of our field research on Hydro-Lac® for mitigating the effects of heat stress, some astute producers have tied some common sense-logic together with some of the most relevant and latest reproductive science to improve embryo transfer (ET) and artificial insemination (AI) results on their operations.

One area that producers and scientists alike have looked to most recently is improving fertilization rate and improving embryo survival rate.  Recent research in early embryonic death has been linked to heat stress, transport stress, body condition loss and dietary shifts near or shortly after the time of breeding¹.  Several, if not all of these potential stressor conditions, can exist in the scenario of beef cows and heifers being synchronized for timed AI programs.  Multiple processing chute trips, transporting to summer pastures with increased exposure to heat and solar radiation, the change in feed from hay-based rations to lush grass, and the potential to lose body weight briefly following this change all can negatively impact AI or ET success in the first 30 days or so post-breeding.  Therefore, managing and mitigating these stressors can have huge economic benefits to beef cow-calf producers.

Body Condition

The impact of body condition gain or loss may seem simple enough, but plane of nutrition at time of breeding can have a significant impact on embryo quality and survival².  This is possibly due to energy reserves available to the growing embryo at a tissue level in utero.  Cattlemen can apply the common-sense approaches of managing for low stress animal handling in combination with a diet transition plan that ensures a positive energy balance for females going out to pastures post-breeding to improve embryo survival.

Managing the breeding season diet is also where the proven practice of feeding Hydro-Lac® prior to and during stress events, such as heat or transport stress, has potential to be a valuable tool to improve first-service conception rates when fed in concert with beef synchronization programs.   Our repeated research trials show improved tissue energy reserves from feeding Hydro-Lac®³.   Producers have repeatedly shared that Hydro-Lac® provides a practical application of the product for the purposes of strategically improving energy status prior to and during the breeding season, which can positively impact overall pregnancy rates.  It’s simple, effective and holds great potential for improving return on the investment in high value genetics through AI or ET.

If you’d like more information about managing for greater reproductive success by managing diet, transportation and heat stress, contact your Form-A-Feed representative today.

 

¹Bridges, et. al., Nutritional Challenges for Embryo Survival in Cattle, MN Nutrition Conf 2014

²Kruse, et.al. 2013

³Kern, et. al. 2011,2013 & Hoffman, et. al. 2013

Original Source Form-A-Feed Written by: Daniel Kohls, P.A.S. – Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

Have a Comprehensive Plan to Beat Heat Stress

Heat Stress Cows

Written by: Daniel Kohls, P.A.S. – Form-A-Feed Nutrition and Production Specialist

Even though hot summer days seem weeks away, now is the time to start protecting your herd against heat stress. Cow comfort, cow behavior, and grouping issues exacerbate themselves when heat stress is added to the mix. Lower milk production, poorer reproduction, elevated somatic cell count (SCC), increased lameness, and increased cull rate can all be magnified by heat stress events — as they happen and long after the heat has passed. This makes a well-designed plan a high priority for every dairy.

Auditing your dairy for heat stress preparedness and making appropriate changes are highly profitable practices.

Areas to review in your dairy  should include, but are not limited to:
  • Water quality and availability
  • Shade access
  • Air quality
  • Wind and ventilation
  • Parlor and holding area cooling
  • Evaporative cooling equipment such as sprinklers
  • Fly control
  • Nutrient balance
  • Hydration therapy strategies

The use of our Heat Stress Risk Snapshot is an easy to use tool to assist with preparing your dairy for the summer.

(more…)

Evaluating Technologies and Innovations for Dairies

Written by: Dave Lahr, M.S., Form-A-Feed Nutritionist

Technologies and Innovations for Dairies

Dairies have been adopting new technologies for generations.  Our grandparents or great-grandparents may have been among the first in the area to use a milking machine, or AI.  Can you imagine dairying without bulk tanks and refrigeration, or automatic waterers?  Now, robotic milkers and computerized calf feeding systems are common.  New tools and technologies are becoming available with increasing frequency.

So how does a dairy manager decide which technologies are right for their operation?

The ones with the most enticing advertising, or the one used by that elite herd you just read about?

(more…)

Weyauwega Annual Fire District Training at CHS Feed Mill

img_6658On Monday, October 10, 2016 the Weyauwega Area Fire District held a training on grain rescue safety for their volunteer fire fighters at CHS Larsen Cooperative, in Weyauwega. Harvest is well underway and farmers will soon be filling their grain bins again. Working in grain bins can be a dangerous activity. Thus, it is very important to be prepared for any unforeseen emergencies during harvest and have the proper training and equipment.

During the training on Monday night the fire department practiced a few rescue scenarios. They used their Grain Rescue Equipment, including the Great Wall of Rescue, ropes, and harnesses, which they were able to purchase last year with a CHS safety Grant. They partially buried a volunteer firefighter in a load of corn at the mill and then used the Great Wall of Rescue, which acts as a cofferdam, to properly rescue a victim out of loose grain. (more…)

Weyauwega Area Fire District Trains at CHS Larsen Cooperative Feed Mill

On Monday, September 21, 2015 the Weyauwega Area Fire District held a training on grain bin safety for their volunteer fire fighters at CHS Larsen Cooperative, in Weyauwega. Harvest is just around the corner and farmers will be filling their grain bins again. Working in grain bins can be a dangerous activity. Thus, it is very important to be prepared for any unforeseen emergencies during harvest and have the proper training and equipment.

The Weyauwega Area Fire District was selected for a donation from CHS Corporate Citizenship. They received a check for $5,610. With this donation from CHS the fire district was able to purchase Grain Rescue Equipment, including the Great Wall of Rescue, ropes, and harnesses.

img_3419smBob Krentz, CHS Larsen Cooperative Feed Manager awards Tom Cullen, Weyauwega Area Fire Chief with CHS donation.

During the training on Monday night the fire department practiced a few rescue scenarios. They partially buried a volunteer firefighter in a load of corn at the mill and then used the Great Wall of Rescue, which acts as a cofferdam, to properly rescue a victim out of loose grain.

“Having this equipment if needed and the knowledge of how to use it properly is a powerful tool for our volunteer team,” said Tom Cullen, Weyauwega Area Fire Chief, “We had a perfect opportunity to work with CHS Larsen Cooperative Feed Mill to be able to actually use this equipment in grain and get the real experience of what to expect.”

They also we able to tour the mill during this training, this helps the firefighters to be more familiar with the CHS Larsen Cooperative Feed Mill. CHS Larsen Cooperative is very grateful to have such a great fire department to work with in case of any future emergencies.

img_3439e  img_3464e

© 2018 CHS Inc.