December 05, 2016

(Dr. Dan Thomson) Hey folks welcome to the show, glad you joined us today. We’re going to have a great episode. We have Dr. Patrick Gunn who is the Cow/Calf Extension Specialist at Iowa State University. He’s a Ruminant Nutritionist. We’re going to talk about something that’s probably one of the most economically driven things that you need to do for your cowherd, which is testing your hay. When we come back, we’re going to be joined by Dr. Patrick Gunn.

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(Dr. Dan) Folks, welcome to DocTalk. Dr. Gunn, welcome to DocTalk. (Dr. Patrick Gunn) Thanks for having me. (Dr. Dan) Folks, this is Dr. Patrick Gunn. He is the Extension Cow/Calf Specialist here for Iowa State University in the Department of Animal Science, covering the state. I know that you cover a lot more than just the state. You do a lot across our country in cow/calf nutrition and expert in cow/calf nutrition. Folks, today we’re going to talk about hay testing. (Dr. Patrick) Yes, absolutely. Obviously, I think one of the biggest things that a lot of producers overlook particularly right now when we’re in this period of tight margins is we start looking for ways to cut costs. I think philosophically, for me, one of the worst ways we can go about cutting costs is not testing our forage in the first place. If we’re not testing our forage, any self-implementation scheme that we’ve got going on is a complete guess. If we’re under supplementing, we’re probably losing production in some way, shape or form, and for over supplementing, obviously, we’re wasting money. We talked about forage testing in general. I think it’s a greatly underutilized process on most operations. Most of all, I think it’s probably one of the best return on investment we can have for a given operation. (Dr. Dan) Yes. I see that all the time. Just like what you’re saying. We’re sitting there on our end; we’re going to step over dollars to pick up a dime. When we’re not testing our hay, you start to think about under supplementing. If we’d have a harsh winter, and body condition score on our cows and then breed back potential, it could be economically wrecked by something as simple as hay test. (Dr. Patrick) Absolutely. I mean, even beyond body condition score and breed back, there has been tons of research done, some of by Kansas State in the late ‘70s up into the mid-90s, it looks at body condition scores and late gestation nutrition, how it affects not only breed back, not only general body condition score, but quality of colostrum, amount of colostrum, long-term health for those calves. It’s really imperative that we make sure that nutritional status is correct all the way through late gestation and clear through lactation. (Dr. Dan) Now, after you get hay, is there any time period that you need to wait until after you put up hay or can you just — if hay comes in and let’s put up, I can start testing immediately on when it’s coming in and on arrival? (Dr. Patrick) If it’s really dry, if it’s 90% dry matter, you can probably get by with testing it right away. Typically, we say test it as close to the time of feeding as possible that allows you to still make your ration and supplements as need be. When you bring that hay in, even if it’s 80, 85% dry matter, it’s going to go through a sweat a little bit. We’re going to bind up some nutrients. The big thing is this, allow yourself enough time to develop your supplementation scheme, but do it is as closely as you can to the time of feeding it. (Dr. Dan) Some of the things that we’re going to talk about today, you said; how many samples; what kind of samples to take; where to sample the bale. I think that when we think about different ways of storing it and making sure that hay quality is maintained, this is just going to be a great show. (Dr. Patrick) Thanks for having me. (Dr. Dan) You bet. It’s great to have you. Folks, this is Dr. Patrick Gunn. He’s a cow/calf Extension Specialist here at Iowa State University. When we come back, we’re going to talk about how many samples to take, which way to take those samples, and then what you’re going to do with the samples after you get them. It’s a great show. Stay tuned, more for Ames Iowa after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with my friend and colleague, Dr. Patrick Gunn. We’re in Iowa State University where Dr. Gunn serves as the Cow/Calf Extension Specialist for the State of Iowa and beyond. He’s a ruminant nutritionist and we’re talking about hay sampling, which is something that you just can’t believe anybody that has any cows wouldn’t do it, but they don’t. Let’s talk about how you go about it. Let’s just walk through samples, tests, and how you take those samples and different things about it. (Dr. Patrick) Absolutely. As we talked before, I think it’s a grossly underutilized process, but even those that it utilize forage testing, I don’t know if they always go by the correct way to maximize the value associated with taking those samples. I think the biggest pitfall that we often run into with producers is, quite simply, they’re not taking enough samples. Maybe they test one or two bales out of a lot, or maybe one or two bales out of everything they have for the entire winter. I think first and foremost, we got to take plenty of samples. When I say, “a lot”, I mean that’s every cutting from every field, because obviously, we got different composition of forages in every field, and we’re going to make multiple cuttings in most instances. The big thing is, we want to take 20 samples from every lot, every cutting in every field if possible. That doesn’t mean we’re going to test 20 samples, we’re going to make composite sample out of those 20. We need to take 20 random bales from any one field in any one cutting, and put them into a single Ziploc bag and send off for analysis. (Dr. Dan) You go in, you take your 20 samples. Depending on the bale, is there a different type of sample? I mean, we always hear about the core sampling technique. Is that what we’re going to do on this? (Dr. Patrick) Yes. We’re essentially looking to get a core sample, something that’s fairly a representative of the entire bale. If you’re looking at small square bales, typically, we just set them on in lengthwise and just puncture right through that last flake of hay, so to speak. The biggest thing is how to encourage producers to invest in some kind of hay coring probe. A lot of people do grab samples, because they say that mimics what the cow is actually grabbing, but often times, we lose the leaves. We lose a lot of that high quality dry matter, because we’re just grabbing kind of the long stemmy stuff out of the bale. I highly encourage using the core sampler, first and foremost, but with small squares or large squares, we can just tap right into the end of the bale. If we’re utilizing round bales, big thing is cut through the net wrap, and then take a core sample 12, 18 inches deep. Typically, 18 is what I suggest. (Dr. Dan) You bring them back in these samples; do you put all 20 of them into something and mix them up, and then take a sub-sample of that? Or do you just keep the 20? (Dr. Patrick) It’s completely up to what kind of probe you have and how much sample comes out of that probe. A lot of time, I suggest producers put that in a bucket, mix it up, and then send off a quart bag full from that particular lot. Some samplers are set up and designed so basically over 20 samples you won’t actually pull a core material out there. At the end of the day, we want to send off about a quart’s worth of the material to the testing firm. (Dr. Dan) Obviously, when it gets there, we have test that you can request or — (Dr. Patrick) Absolutely. (Dr. Dan) All right. Well, folks. It’s time for a break, time for commercials. Again, hay testing might be one of the most economical things you’ll do for your beef herd this year, make sure you do it. We’re going to talk more with Dr. Gunn when we come back after these messages. We’re on the road at Iowa State University. Stay tuned.

(Dr. Dan) Hey, folks. Welcome back to DocTalk. Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Patrick Gunn. We’re at Iowa State University. Dr. Gunn is the Extension Cow/Calf Specialist for the State of Iowa, does a lot of work in cow/calf nutrition, production, management, and different areas. We’re very thankful that he would take time out of his busy schedule during this time of the year to come and spend with us on an important topic. Dr. Gunn, when we send a sample in to a laboratory, what are some of the tests and what are some of the things that we’re going to be asking them to do? (Dr. Patrick) It’s really going to depend a lot from producer to producer, what basic information we need. I think at a bare minimum, obviously, we got to get our energy. We need our protein, and if possible, calcium, and phosphorus just so we can kind of balance those micronutrients within the diet. We go about a lot of different ways. If you have a more conventional feedstuff such as silage or hay, NIR would be a perfectly acceptable way to go about testing that forage and from anywhere from $15 to $25 depending on the lab, and how much you want to pack into it. If you have what I consider to be a less conventional feed resource like corn stover, maybe a really low quality CRP hay or something like that, that they don’t have a lot of samples on file. We probably need to do a wet chemistry on that, which is going to be a little more costly, but I would still suggest that it’s a extremely good return on investment. (Dr. Dan) So, come back to me a little bit then and let’s explain to the viewers what the difference between an NIR and wet chemistry really is. (Dr. Patrick) NIR is really just computer automated near infrared spectroscopy. Over time, we take the wet chemistry analysis that we have on multiple feedstuffs. They run 10, 20,000 samples through and can calibrate the computer basically to take a snapshot of that feed resource, and give us all the information we ever need on it. Unfortunately, utilizing some of those less known or less widely used samples or feed resources it’s necessary to do that basic wet chemistry, kind of traditional under the microscope, on lab bench-type chemistry to get those energy and protein values, mineral values that we’re looking for. (Dr. Dan) Got you. Feedstuffs that are common. We have a big reference lab. So, you really fine tune, it’s kind of like anything. You got something that you’re not used to looking at, trying to go back to the basics and get that done. You get the crude protein, you get the energy, you get the calcium, phosphorus. Assume vitamin A could be one of the vitamins that we might test for if we’re going to look at anything. (Dr. Patrick) Yes, absolutely. If you want to start adding some bells and whistles to the analysis of vitamin A and E, I think it’d be really imperative particularly if we’re in drought stressed regions or feeding some really low-quality forage, because they don’t probably they don’t have vitamin A and E. I think that’d be imperative. Particularly here in the Midwest, we’ve seen a lot of vitamin A, vitamin E deficiencies around the time of calving the last couple years. That would be a good one. Depending on how you put up those forages, iron analysis, any other analyses that maybe antagonist to your general micronutrient, micromineral program. That would be a good addition as well in many instances. (Dr. Dan) Well, that’s understanding, and now when we come back with Dr. Gunn, we’re going to talk about some of those scenarios out there that maybe when your hay comes back, and it tests really low or tests just right; how you might handle some of that; how we might combat that and move forward with your cowherd in proper production. Thanks for watching DocTalk folks. We’re going to take a break, more with Dr. Gunn after these messages.

(Dr. Dan) Howdy folks, welcome back to DocTalk, Dr. Dan Thomson here with Dr. Patrick Gunn. We’re in Ames Iowa, at Iowa State University. Dr. Gunn is the Extension Cow/Calf Specialist and Ruminant Nutritionist, does a lot of work in cow/calf nutrition and production. We’re talking about hay sampling. In the wintertime, folks, when we don’t have grass; we don’t have crop residues anymore; we’re supplementing hay, and we’re feeding those cows hay. What happens when I get my hay test back? Now, what do I do? (Dr. Patrick) Good question because I think that’s, one of the biggest issues, we get people to take the sample, and then you got to utilize it. We got to put that investment to work for us. I think the big thing is just seeking out, “Who can help me with that?” Whether it’s your local Extension Agent; whether it’s a nutritionist; both of those individuals should be able to work with you. If you like pushing the pencil and paper, and want to do some of your own supplementation schemes, that’s fine too, but I think the biggest thing is this: we got to utilize the information that we’ve got on our fingertips. First and foremost, figuring out is that hay going to meet the requirement for those cows at a given stage of production. If not, obviously, we got come up with some kind of supplementation scheme. Since we’re investing the money, it shouldn’t be all about dollars and cents. What’s the lowest cost way to get us there to meet our demands for those cows? On the flip side of things, the further northeast and maybe midwest, we get a lot of producers that actually have hay that’s probably way better quality than what they need for their cowherd. To combat that, how do we get around that? Whether that’s moving TMR and limit feeding; whether it’s just doing night feeding or restricting access to that hay; the big thing is sitting down with a nutritionist or your local Extension Agent, and developing that supplementation that limit fed scheme that best utilizes the resources that you have available to you. (Dr. Dan) Absolutely. I think about, we live in the midwest and in there, there are so many things to supplement with, but if you need it, there’s by-product feeds and different things that we can go out and grab that make pretty good supplements. Also, if you have something, the hay that’s too good, we have some — we’re around a lot of grain, we’re around a lot of different things where we can blend. (Dr. Patrick) Absolutely. Whether it’s your local co-products; whether it’s corn; whatever is the most advantageous and the most cost effective for your operation, no one supplementation scheme is going to be the same. The big thing is that we take the forge analysis, that’s the bulk of the diet, and make sure we develop the rest of the diet around there, and is cost-effective manner as possible. (Dr. Dan) Perfect. Perfect. Thanks for being on the show today. (Dr. Patrick) Thanks for having me. (Dr. Dan) Folks, thanks for watching DocTalk. Remember always work with your local veterinarian and your local nutritionist. If you want to know more about what we do on DocTalk, you can find us on the web at www.doctalktv.com. Thanks for watching the show today folks. I’m Dr. Dan Thomson signing off from Ames Iowa, at Iowa State University. I’ll see you down the road.

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