ST. CLOUD, Minn. — Wednesday, September 1, 2021, the Mississippi Valley Cattlemen held their annual meeting at Clint and Roxane Kathrein’s beef operation. This networking and educational program was attended by 83 beef producers from primarily Benton and Morrison Counties. Attendees gathered in the barn and listened to three speakers throughout the evening. The evening started with an introduction of the UMN Beef Team and then proceeded into presentations addressing the 2021 drought and how it has significantly reduced the forage yield for beef producers across the state. The concepts in this article were presented to beef producers in Central Minnesota but are relevant to all those adapting to the results of drought stress.
The opening presentation was offered by the UMN Extension cow-calf specialist Dr. Eric Mousel. His brief presentation revolved around “right-sizing” your beef herd to meet forage supply going into the cooler months and winter. Dr. Mousel also made a point of advising beef producers to seriously evaluate older, open, and late-bred cows. Culling these animals from a herd will allow producers to focus on strengthening their core group of cows moving forward. These steps will play a strong role in adapting to low forage supplies, reducing animals to feed, and avoiding overgrazing (resulting in it taking longer for the grass to “bounce back”).
It was also stressed that calf care and growth should not weaken because of limited grass or forages. Creep feeding a low to moderate energy creep feed can reduce grass intake by as much as 20%. Dr. Mousel briefly mentioned early weaning as an additional strategy that can be implemented during the peak summer to reduce stress on pasture. Early weaning has been shown to reduce grass intake of cows by about 25%. Calves can be successfully weaned at about 90 days of age and started on feed relatively easily, particularly if they have been creep fed before weaning.
Next week’s article will revolve around Local Extension Educator Troy Salzer’s presentation regarding Fall and Spring forage options to help with forage supply. These strategies can play a key role in supporting beef producers during these unconventional times.
The information for the above article was from both the presentation at the event and UMN Extension (https://z.umn.edu/UMNExtDroughtAndBeef). Residents of Stearns, Benton, and Morrison counties can direct questions to either my email (email@example.com) or call my desk phone at (320) 255-6169 x 3.
— Dana Adams, University of Minnesota Extension
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