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Title: Range Cattle REC newsletter
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00089215/00018
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Title: Range Cattle REC newsletter
Series Title: Range Cattle REC newsletter
Physical Description: Serial
Creator: Range Cattle Research and Education Center, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida
Publisher: Range Cattle Research and Education Center, University of Florida
Publication Date: December 2003
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Bibliographic ID: UF00089215
Volume ID: VID00018
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.


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University of Florida, IFAS
Range Cattle Research and Education Center
December 2003
________________________Volume 6, Number 4

Fntt!R R!CJ M w lQ^ r

Calendar of Events
Month Date(s)
January 14-15
January 24
February 5-16
March 9-11

Cattlemen's Institute
N Florida REC Bull Test Sale
Florida State Fair
FCA Quarterly Meeting


Cow and Calf Gains on Creeping Signalgrass and Bahiagrass ......... .............................................. 2
Forage and Cattle Production in Slash Pine-Bahiagrass Silvopasture at Ona ................................ 2
M in eral In tak e in G razin g C battle ......... .................................... ............................................................. 2
P hosphorus for the B rood C ow H erd................................................................ .............................. ..... 4
Forage Production of Ryegrass Cultivars Grown at Ona .......................................................... 5
Cattle Situation and Outlook; Winter 2003 Spring 2004 ............................................... ........ 6
Legume-Bahiagrass Pastures for Mature Cattle not Yearling Steers...................................................... 7

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Cow and Calf Gains on Creeping Signalgrass
and Bahiagrass.

This fall we completed a 4-year study
comparing creeping signalgrass (Brachiaria
humidicola) and Pensacola bahiagrass. Grazing for
Brangus cows and calves began in mid-May, calves
were weaned the first week in August, and cows
remained on pasture through October. Cattle were
stocked at 1 pair/acre and grazed in a 28-day, 4-
pasture rotation. At weaning, calves on signalgrass
averaged 549 lb vs. 519 lb for bahiagrass at 266-
days of age. Cows, which began in May at an
average 1133 lb, were 1145 on signalgrass and 1093
on bahiagrass in August. In October cows averaged
1241 lb on signalgrass vs. 1136 lb on bahiagrass
with a body condition score of 5.7 and 4.7,
Let's put this information in perspective.
Creeping signalgrass has potential as a speciality
grass and is not a replacement for bahiagrass. It is a
summer grass with no appreciable growth before
mid-May, while bahiagrass can provide grazing in
early March. Signalgrass produces about 10% more
grass annually than bahiagrass, but signalgrass is
difficult to stock correctly because it has a
tremendous flush of growth in mid-June to July.
We needed to double our cow numbers on
signalgrass during this 4-6 week period in order to
utilize the grass efficiently and not end-up with a
large mass of poor-quality pasture. Signalgrass is
not cold tolerant and considerable stand loss can
occur. These grasses share many desirable
characteristics such as both are seeded grasses,
persistent and tolerate close grazing, and do not
require high levels of fertilizer. If you are
considering planting signalgrass, give thought to
where weaknesses occur in your grazing program
and why signalgrass might make a contribution.
Please call us or your extension agent if you have

Forage and Cattle Production in Slash Pine-
Bahiagrass Silvopasture at Ona.

Braford cows (52 cows weighing an average
1124 lb at start) and calves (112- d-old, 361 lb at

start) grazed two silvopastures and an open pasture
(no pines) for 112 d from 1 June to 15 September
2003 (weaning). All pastures were bahiagrass with
the legumes carpon desmodium and creeping vigna,
and pastures were stocked at 1 cow-calf pair/acre.
Both silvopastures had 12-year-old south Florida
slash pines, but one had 200 trees/acre while the
second had been thinned to 100 trees/acre. Trees
were planted in double rows (rows 8' apart with
pines 4' apart in rows) with a 40' alley between
double rows. Annual forage production totaled 9080
lb dry matter/acre in open pasture compared with
the two silvopastures which were not different and
averaged 6680 lb/acre. Available forage averaged
2190 lb/acre in all pastures at the start in June, but
forage declined steadily over the grazing period in
silvopastures. Available forage in the open pasture
increased from June to July, then declined through
September. Cows lost an average 194 lb on the
silvopastures compared with a loss of 48 lb for open
pasture. Calf weight at weaning (236 days of age)
was 466 lb on open pasture compared with 394 lb
on silvopastures, which were not different.
Silvopasture provides a return from sale of
cattle, timber products, and hunting leases, while
open pasture has a return mainly from cattle. Our
work indicates that cattle (and forage) production
may reduced to about 75% when pines are 12 years
of age and should continue to decline as pines
increase in size. If this were a commercial
enterprise, other sources of income must
compensate for reduction in cattle production. Our
hope is that over time we obtain the information
needed to determine if silvopasture is a viable
practice in south-central Florida.

Mineral Intake in Grazing Cattle

The lack of essential minerals in Florida
forages has been understood and research to
overcome these deficits has been conducted. Two
of the most lacking minerals in Florida's forages
include copper and zinc. As well, phosphorus and
potassium may also be lacking during a beef cow's
lactation period. A summary of cow mineral
requirements and specific functions of individual
minerals is available at the UF-IFAS EDIS website

(AN086), Essential Trace Minerals for Grazing
Cattle in Florida, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
Free-choice, loose mineral supplementation is
by far the most common mineral supplementation
strategy in grazing beef herds. In nearly all cases, it
is an effective, cost-efficient means of delivering
adequate vitamin and mineral supplementation to
the cowherd. Although formulations vary greatly,
the common base mix should contain approximately
20 to 25% salt, along with 8 to 12% phosphorus.
This variation in phosphorus content typically
provides the most significant influence on overall
cost of the product. Intake is often targeted at two
to four ounces per head daily. Achieving this target
intake by all animals does not occur. Several
animals within a herd will consume very little to no
mineral at all. However, on the average, mineral
consumption usually meets the desired intake
levels. It is this averaging effect, over time, which
allows free-choice mineral supplements to be the
most practical choice for most cattle producers.
In Florida, seasonal variation in mineral intake
is evident. During the wetter summer months, cattle
readily consume salt-based mineral supplements. In
contrast, during the dryer winter months free-choice
intake may be greatly reduced. We recently
completed a three-year study at the Range Cattle
Research and Education Center that investigated the
annual variation in free-choice, salt-based mineral
intake. In our study, the seasonal changes in
mineral consumption were clearly noticeable
(Figure 1). Cows were offered a weekly amount of
mineral that was equal to their targeted intake of
two ounces per head daily (14 ounces per cow
weekly). The amount of mineral not consumed was
weighed and removed each week. Our results show
that during the summer months, cows readily
consume their two ounce per day allowance;
however, during the winter months cows often
consumed less than 12 of their two ounce allowance.
These differences in mineral intake are likely due to
several factors, but the most important contributors
are probably the moisture content of the pasture
forage and the presence of winter supplement.
This new information is important to consider
when evaluating a mineral supplementation

program. For instance, during the summer months
cows may consume mineral at a rate that exceeds
their targeted intake. In our study, we only offered
mineral at the two ounce per day level, but clearly
they would have eaten more during the summer.
Often this weekly allowance was completely
consumed within four to five days. There is nothing
wrong with allowing the mineral feeder to remain
empty for a couple days. Providing mineral to cows
every week or two weeks at a rate that is sufficient
to provide their targeted intake is an excellent
method of controlling overeating. As cows
consume more mineral than required, their body
expends energy to excrete extra mineral into the
urine. Over-consumption of mineral is usually not
considered a health problem; however, there is
some evidence of reduced reproductive
performance in heifers and young cows that
consume too much mineral. The most pronounced
impact of mineral overeating is economic, as the
producer is receiving no additional benefit from the
added costs realized by the additional mineral
In the winter when consumption is often
reduced, try blending your mineral with your winter
supplement. If you do not utilize winter
supplements, or blending is unfeasible, try mixing
your salt-based loose mineral mix with cottonseed
meal or soy hulls at a one to one ratio. Remember
to double your offer and monitor intake. An
increase or decrease in this ratio may be used to
control intake to your desired level. If you are
purchasing a commercial feed supplement, ask your
sales professional about the mineral content of the
feed. In many situations, commercial winter
supplements are fortified with a sufficient amount
of mineral to meet a cow's requirements. When
feeding these products the producer may be able to
discontinue offering free-choice mineral or only
offer stock salt. This may result in a substantial
savings in a herd's annual mineral supplementation

Figure 1

Winter Winter Winter
1999-2000 2000-2001 2001-2002

Phosphorus for the Brood Cow Herd

Recommendations on the phosphorus
requirements of producing brood cows have been
substantially reduced over the past 30 years.
Developed by a committee of animal scientist from
all areas of the U.S., nutrient needs are published as
the Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle by
National Research Council. It is important for
Florida cattlemen to take note of changes in the
nutrient recommendations which can save money
on production cost and be of benefit to the
environment, especially water quality.
In 1976 the requirements of phosphorus by a
1,000 pound lactating cow was 28 grams/cow/day
throughout the nursing period.. Today, the
requirement for phosphorus at peak lactation, the
second month after calving, is 21 grams/cow/day
and progressively decreases to 11 grams/cow/day at
nine months after calving. This is approximately a
50% reduction in phosphorus recommendations for
beef cows from 1976 to 1996.
On many ranches phosphorus contained in
pasture forage could provide all the needs of the
brood cow and no phosphorus supplementation
would be needed. The level of phosphorus needed

in the forage to meet the total requirements of
producing brood cows is 0.2%.
The greatest need for phosphorus on most
south Florida ranches is during the winter months
when cows are nursing young calves and exposed to
bulls for rebreeding. The content of phosphorus in
grasses is also the lowest during the winter months.
It is very important that brood cows receive
adequate amounts of phosphorus at this time to
ensure conception of the next calf crop .
To best manage the feeding of phosphorus
ranchers must determine the phosphorus content of
their pasture forage. On small ranches this would
require 3 to 5 forage samples in mid summer and
again in mid winter. Sampling for only two or three
years will provide an adequate profile of the
phosphorus content of the pasture forage, and
further sampling is not needed. It cost about $5 to
analyze a forage sample for phosphorus, or a total
cost of $30 to $50 per year for small ranches. More
sampling would be required for large ranches which
usually grow numerous forage varieties and have
many different ecological areas.
It is possible that no supplemental
phosphorus is needed by the cow herd, especially
during the spring and summer periods. This savings
in phosphorus supplementation would more than
pay for the sample analysis.

Another way that phosphorus may be
overfed is offering a mineral mixture containing
phosphorus during the winter in addition to feeding
phosphorus contained in a winter supplement.
Some liquid supplements may contain up to 1.0%
phosphorus. Commodity feeds like cottonseed meal
and wheat midds contain in excess of 1.0%
phosphorus. If these commodity supplements are
fed, a mineral mix containing phosphorus is not
needed. But, a word of caution, trace minerals like
copper, cobalt, and selenium are often deficient in
Florida forages and, must still be provided in a
mineral supplement if they are not contained in the
winter supplement.
It is very obvious that Florida cattlemen can
save substantial dollars by better managing the
feeding of phosphorus to the cow herd. At the same
time the quality of our water resources will be

Forage Production of Ryegrass Cultivars Grown
at Ona

Annual ryegrass is a cool-season bunchgrass
which can be an important source of forage during
winter and early spring. In central Florida these
grasses are seeded in early November and can be
grazed within 8 wk after seedling emergence and
grazing may extend from 90 to 120 days. Ryegrass
is most productive when seeded alone or in
mixtures with small grains (wheat, rye, oat, and

triticale), following a vegetable crop or in a pasture
renovation program. Ryegrass seeded in cultivated
soil establishes more rapidly than sod-seeded
ryegrass and normally requires half the nitrogen
rate. This method of seeding ryegrass will produce
about 6 times more forage than sod-seeded ryegrass
and average 3.0 ton/acre. Ryegrass responds well to
nitrogen fertilization leading to rapid growth and
increased forage quality. Well fertilized ryegrass
will average 21% crude protein and 75% digestible
Since new ryegrass cultivars are continually
being released it is important to test them under
south-central Florida conditions. All ryegrasses
were seeded at 20 lb/acre on clean tilled soil, and
fertilized with 50-30-60 lb/acre N-P205-K20 + 1.5
lb/acre Mn, Zn, Cu, and Fe (sulfate form), 0.15
lb/acre B, and 6.0 lb/acre S immediately after
emergence. Thirty-five lb/acre nitrogen was applied
following each harvest (30 day intervals). Irrigation
was used as needed during the growing season. The
following ryegrass cultivars were grown over a 3 to
6 year period at the Range Cattle REC, Ona (Table
1). These yields provide good representation of each
cultivar, since they were grown for more than one
year under different environmental conditions, at
the same location. The cultivars that consistently
produced high dry matter yields year after year were
E TX 'Prine' (3.0), SSS 'Jumbo' (2.9), LSC 'King'
(2.8), and E TX Brigadier (2.8 ton/acre). PM

ASC Ampac Seed Co.
ASP American Seed Products
Bar USA Barenbrug USA, Tangant, OR
DLF DLF International Seeds, Inc., Halsey, O
E TX East Texas Seed Co
ForbesForbes Seed and Grain, Inc.
LSC Lewis Seed Co.
PSC Pennington Seed Co.
SSS Smith Seed Services, Halsey, OR
Wax Wax Seed Co., Amory, MS

Cattle Situation and Outlook; Winter 2003 -
Spring 2004

Cattle inventory continues to decline despite
very favorable market conditions. This is a sign
that many producers are finding it too costly to
rebuild herds at this time. As of July 1, 2003, all
cattle and calves inventory was down 1 percent
from 2002 and down 2 percent from 2001. Total
cows and heifers that had calved were down slightly
from 2002 and down 1 percent from 2001. Heifers
held for beef cow replacements were steady while
heifers held for milk cow replacements fell 3
percent from 2002. The 2002 U.S. calf crop was

down 1 percent from 2001, and the 2003 calf crop is
expected to be below 2002's level.
2003 beef production has been slightly
below 2002's record level. This is expected as
inventory has been continuing to shrink. It is also
notable since carcass weights have fallen to 35 or
more pounds below 2002. The phenomenal prices
for all levels of beef production from feeders to fed
cattle have encouraged marketing to be higher this
year which has allowed the total beef production to
remain as close to last year's level as it has. Futures
markets have traded at unprecedented levels, and
they suggest that prices should be strong through
the middle of 2004.
The current projection for feed crops is
mixed with corn being favorable and soybeans

Table 1. Dry matter yields of selected ryegrass cultivars grown over a 3 to 6 yr period at the Range Cattle REC, Ona, 1997-


Brandt Cultivar 1997 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Avg
------------------------------------ton/acre--- ------------------------

ETX Prine 2.6 3.5 3.2 2.5 3.0 3.0
SSS Jumbo 3.0 3.4 3.0 2.4 2.9 2.9
LSC King 2.6 3.1 2.8 2.5 2.8 2.8
ETX Brigadier 3.2 2.6 2.5 2.8
SSS Big Daddy 2.7 2.4 3.3 2.6 2.6 2.8 2.7
Wax Jackson 2.3 2.7 3.0 2.5 2.7 2.9 2.7
Wax ME 94 2.4 2.5 3.1 2.7 2.4 2.8 2.7
ASC Fantastic 3.1 2.7 2.4 2.7
SSS Ed 3.2 2.7 2.1 2.9 2.7
ASP Graze-N-Gro 2.4 3.0 2.7 2.4 3.1 2.7
PSC Passerel Plus 2.9 2.5 2.3 2.8 2.6
DLF Surrey 2.4 2.3 3.0 2.8 2.2 2.9 2.6
DLF Surrey II 2.5 2.8 2.5 2.2 2.5 2.5
Wax Marshall 1.9 2.3 2.8 2.4 2.4 3.0 2.5
DLF FL 80 2.3 2.3 3.0 2.6 2.3 2.5 2.5
DLF Gulf 2.5 1.9 3.0 2.1 2.1 3.0 2.4
Bar USA Ribeye 2.5 2.3 2.5 2.4

being unfavorable. This will translate to low feed
costs in the feedyard, but the use of soybean meal as
a supplement is likely to be nullified because of
costs. While the hay crop was above 2002 level and
prices were down across the board, there are
concerns about the quality of hay produced this year
because of adversity in the weather and harvesting.
This could impact the cost efficiency of this winter
The BSE (mad cow) case in Canada has
helped boost prices here in the US. However, do
not look for the opening of the border to cause a
significant fall in prices in 2004. Futures prices on
feeder calves are still trading in the high $80 range
on mid 2004 contracts. This includes an
expectation that the border will reopen to Canadian
cattle in the early part of 2004. The return of the
Canadian cattle will likely allow feeders to adjust
the currentness of the feedlot and help with the low
supply of choice cattle by allowing more days on
What about that cattle cycle? Do we have
one anymore? Weather conditions have put off the
expected herd rebuilding for three or more years
now. The average heifer placements for 2003
suggest herd rebuilding still has not begun. Many
areas are doing all they can to just keep the herd
sizes as they are while very favorable market
conditions have made retention of extra heifers too
costly to be a serious consideration. This will help
keep the supply tight for the next couple of years,
and with demand appearing to strengthen with the
current popularity of low-carb diets, expect prices to
remain strong even into 2005.
One last note, Canada was the first country
with a case of BSE where consumption of beef in
that country actually increased. Prior to the BSE
announcement, Canadians consumed on average 48
pounds of beef per year. After the announcement,
that average consumption rate increased to 52
pounds of beef per year. The contention is that
Canadians showed patriotism by supporting the
embattled Canadian beef industry.

Figure 2

Forecast 500-550 Feeder Calf Prices in FL


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2003 -- 2003P -X- 2004P --3 year average

Legume-Bahiagrass Pastures for Mature Cattle
not Yearling Steers

We often say that low summer average daily
gains (ADG) by cattle grazing bahiagrass pasture
may be overcome by incorporating perennial
legumes in the pasture. In reality this statement is
only partially true since it depends largely on the
class of animals involved.
In 2002, yearling steers were grazed
continuously on either pure bahiagrass,
Aechynomene evenia-bahiagrass, or creeping vigna-
bahiagrass pastures at the Range Cattle Research &
Education Center, Ona. The steers were only 11
months old and weighed about 450 lbs each at the
beginning of the experiment. These young steers
gained between one and one-half of a lb per day
from April through July. In August, the daily
weight gain slowed sharply and the steers lost all
their weight gain by the end of September. An
energy-protein (molasses-cotton seed meal)
supplement had to be provided to maintain the
steers through October when the study ended.
There was a negative overall live weight gain on all
pasture types for 2002.
We kept the steers on good quality hay
supplemented with molasses-cotton seed meal
through the rest of the fall 2002 and winter 2003.
The animals recovered condition and gained weight
during this period.
In spring 2003, the same steers, now 23
months old with an average body weight in excess
of 800 lbs each, were reassigned to the same three
pasture types for a second years grazing. This time
around, the animals gained more than 2 lbs a day

from April through May and have maintained a
cumulative daily gain of about 0.77 and 1.2 lbs on
pure bahiagrass and legume-bahiagrass pastures,
respectively, through October 2003. Live weight
gain per acre through October is about 90 lbs on
bahiagrass, 140 lbs on evenia-bahiagrass and 170
lbs on vigna-bahiagrass. We only have November
left to complete grazing this year.
These results have shown that when
bahiagrass provides the bulk (> 80%) of the diet in
a legume-grass mixture, the TDN of the overall diet
is inadequate to meet the energy requirements of
young growing steers. We conclude that the
inclusion of legumes in bahiagrass pasture will not
improve forage nutritive value sufficiently to
support seasonal weight gain in yearling steers but
the performance of two-year-old steers and mature
cows may be improved.

Adjei, Martin B.
Anton, T. E., Ed.
Arthington, John D.
Ezenwa, Ike V.
Kalmbacher, Rob S.
Mislevy, Paul
Pate, Findlay M.

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