It has been a while since I have posted last, and had I not met with some friends today it probably would have been a while longer! Anyway, I was telling my friend about what all we’ve had going on at the station, and he replied “no need to do that I read your blog/newsletter, I’m up to date”. This guy is famous for his sarcasm, so I took that as a kind request to Post Something! I think I lack a “creative” gene in my DNA, and I find coming up with topics very difficult at times, so I take the easy way out and find other things to do. I have started to do a better job updating our Facebook page (White Sand Branch Beef Unit; shameless plug), and I promise, my loyal readers to do a better job with this.
We have had a busy winter/spring. We had an implant study going on with ryegrass cattle, did an encapsulated fertilizer study, then we were fortunate enough to work on a contract project with a private company, which allowed us to almost triple our research capacity at the Experiment Station. We now have 38 replicated pastures (which the crew essentially built from the ground up -water troughs, gates, etc., in a span of 5 wks) , which for the types of studies we do, means we have 38 experimental units, which allows us to increase the number of studies, and can increase the turnaround on projects as well. For example, a “rough” number of replicates needed to find a difference is around 4 or 5. If we have four treatments, then we need anywhere from 16-20 units (four x 4 or 5 = 16 or 20). Studies can eat up space really quick! I hope to discuss this further in greater detail in a later blog, so stay tuned…
Before I get out of topic, let me share what we’ve been doing the last few months at the experiment station:
Long term implant study. We looked at a 200 d versus a 70 day implant (given twice) on performance of beef cattle grazing ryegrass pastures. As expected we had an implant effect compared to controls, the cattle were shipped to Iowa where our friends at Iowa State will be getting them fed out. This is the second and final year of this study. Last year’s data will be presented at the ASAS national meeting in Indianapolis this summer. There was an implant effect during grazing, but at the feedlot, there were no carry over effects noted. Many times our producers are under the assumption that by implanting cattle while they graze they somehow hurt carcass quality. We did see a slight dip in % Choice, but the carcasses were much heavier thereby more than making up for that loss. That was something I learned at Texas Tech, while working there, with the cattle we shipped to slaughter and reviewing the close outs. A heavier carcass has greater benefit despite the loss from losing a bit of quality grade. Anyway it will be interesting to see if the cattle do similarly this year…
encapsulated urea. We have done some work looking at an encapsulated urea product compared to other commercial fertilizers on ryegrass production. This product has a coating around it that releases ammonia when soil temperature and moisture levels are correct. We have not completed the total analyses yet, but as of the March harvest, the encapsulated product alone or mixed with urea (50:50) had better response on the small plots compared to conventional fertilizer types. We have begun a hay study looking at the product’s effects on hay production.
Hay injection systems. We tested a commercially available product that is designed to be injected into round bales to increase quality. Injection (at label directions) did not improve quality. Injected bales were put into pastures randomly with non injected bales to see if there was animal selection preference, and none was noted as well. We hope to do some follow up work looking at increasing the level of product applied.
So in a nutshell those were the three major studies that we worked on this spring. We have sorghum sudangrass in the ground and are making preparations for our final year of our N-source study.