South MS Branch Christmas Letter

I happen to receive a couple of Christmas letters each year from friends/family all over the US, and it is interesting to hear the goings on of what everone has been up to.  I decided to take a new twist on this and do a South MS Branch Christmas letter to let everyone know what we’ve done this past year.

At the writing of this letter, we have four completed projects for the year, and are in the middle of three, and hope to begin one more before year end.  Words cannot express the gratitude I have for the White Sand crew –  Larry Fitzgerald, Melvin Gipson, and Roy Gipson.  We had one other person, Kevin Odom, but he retired in May.  We have truly asked the guys to do more with less, and they have stepped up remarkably.  Anyway in a rough chronological order here go the projects:

Implants for cattle on ryegrass:    we examined the use of a long acting (200 d) implant for beef cattle grazing ryegrass.  One concern we hear regarding the use of these implants are the potential negative effects seen at the feedlot.  Sometimes this is said by others to be able to purchase cattle a bit cheaper (lighter-weight) or take advantage of the “pop” at the feedlot level when they are finally implanted.  We saw that the cattle implanted had better performance on ryegrass and no differences at the feedlot (all cattle were implanted and treated the same at the yard).  There was a slight decrease in marbling but the added performance made up for that.  We will be receiving cattle for the 2nd year of the project in couple of weeks.

Implant managment for calves:  A graduate student I am working with Brad Jones (also of Stone County Extension Fame) has been working on this project.  We have not completed the analysis of this years study, and the calves on this project have found a new home in sunny Iowa enjoying life at Gregory Feeders.  We hope to get feedlot and carcass data back when the cattle slaughter in the spring (so we can examine any carryover effects).  In a nutshell, we were looking the timing of implanting the cattle (at calfhood still with mama, or at weaning) and determine which option might be best for producers.  Additionally, we have noted somethings regarding performance of newly weaned calves that we were not expecting.

Biological soil additive for sudangrass:  Many of you are familiar with these types of products that are supposed to be added to the soil and increase nutrient uptake by the plant, thereby improving the forage mass and quality.  We did a study with a product, looking at use of the product at three levels of N fertilzation (0, 30 and 60 lbs of N per acre).  Due to inconsistent weather we had poor N uptake, so no N differences were noted.  We did not see any effect of the soil additive either.

N-source.  This one looks at whether it is more benefical to supplement cattle N source, or apply it as a fertilizer in terms of performance and N cycling by the animals.  This was the 2nd year of the project (scheduled for 3).  The cattle that were supplemented had greater performance compared to their counterparts.  Fecal N was similar between cattle grazing fertilized pastures and cattle supplemented.  We are in the process of anlayzing this years samples for quality.

Liquid feed for cows.  We are currently looking at liquid feed for cows.  One of the biggest concerns many have for liquid feed in truely having a handle on intake.  We are doing a small project examining intake of liquid feed to have an answer to that question.  In one group measured in early Dec., the cattle (22 head) consumed 75 gallons over a 42 d period.  That equates to 0.08 gallons per head.  With the weight of the product at 10 lbs per gallon we are looking at right under  a pound per head (0.81 lb) at a cost of about $0.21/day/head.  We will have the complete data done by the end of the winter.

Silvopasture.  Stephen Dicke, at Central R&E obtained a grant to look at the establishment of long-leaf pine and silvopasture.  The McNeil Unit was the ideal place for this.  So in  Oct, the White Sand crew and Stephen began prepping the area for tree planting.  After much work the site is ready and we hope to have this set up and going by the spring.  This will provide us with a unique opportunity to look at forages from a unique standpoint.  Stay tuned.

Encapsulated fertilizer product.  We are currently conducting a project looking at using an encapsulated fertilizer product that is designed to release N at more optimal growing periods (based upon soil and envirnomental temperature).  The first application occured on Nov. 14.  We will keep you up to date.

Hay injection.  Rocky Lemus will be helping us with this project.  We will be looking at effects of two hay injection liquids on feed intake and hay quality.  We hope to start this later in the month.

Thanks about it from this side, we want to thank all of you who have helped us and supported us throughout the year.  Also, if any of you have an idea or issue that you think we need to look at, please don’t hesitate to tell us.