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Forage Testing Project After Poor Weather

27 September 2010

US - This year’s weather has been one for the record books, and that’s not good news for the state’s cattle producers. Dan Loy, interim director of the Iowa Beef Center (IBC) at Iowa State University (ISU) said continued rain has made hay baling extremely difficult, resulting in over-mature hays, rain damaged hays and lack of hay supplies in some areas.

“Our beef team has developed a forage testing and cattle feeding project to help producers manage their poor forage conditions and prevent calving problems,” Mr Loy said.

“This forage testing project is a multi-pronged approach by ISU Extension beef programme specialists to determine the nutrient value of this year’s forages, assist in balancing feed rations for cattle performance and educate people about forage nutrient values and rations.”

IBC, the Grass Based Livestock Working Group from the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Forage and Grassland Council and the Southern Iowa Forage and Livestock Committee are sponsoring the first phase of this project this fall: collecting and testing forages.

Additional sponsors are being sought for the education portion of the project and a second year of testing. This project currently includes a 50 per cent cost share on sample testing for producers, thanks in part to a collaboration with Dairyland Laboratories in Wisconsin.

In addition to receiving information on quality of their forages, producers might use test results to prove losses under the Farm Service Agency’s Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) Programme.

Denise Schwab, ISU Extension beef specialist who is helping lead the project, said county extension offices are vital links in the project.

“The extension beef specialists will work directly with county offices to provide all necessary sample bags, information forms and mailing envelopes, and do necessary monitoring of samples and sample locations,” she said.

“We consider county offices our partners in this project, from publicising its availability to helping direct producers to the appropriate people and resources to participate in the project. Producers will bring their samples to the county office, so the county office staff are vital to the success of this project.”

While most of the samples will be weather-impacted hay samples, Mr Loy said the project also will include some silage samples.

“We want to be sure we have adequate sample numbers to be able to offer ration balance assistance yet this fall for winter feeding,” he said. “So, if you’re interested in taking part, or you have questions about the project, contact your county ISU Extension office or your beef specialist soon.”


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