When You Don’t Exist, Try Harder

I was at a field day not long ago and had opportunity to visit with an Alberta beef producer who I had never met, but I’ve known his and his family name for many years, because they are involved in many aspects of industry, but, he had never heard of me orGrainews.

My initial thought was “how have these people survived, let alone flourished without reading Grainews?”But, then I came to a realization that this was just a life lesson in humility. Much of the time we run around in a busy day thinking what we do is so damn critical to world function, and the reality is if we just sat idle in a chair the world would get along just fine.

That doesn’t mean what we do everyday isn’t important on some level — if only just to ourselves — but, we do or I do have to keep things in perspective — don’t take ourselves too damn seriously.

Having said that, to keepGrainews readership high, I know where this guy lives and I was thinking of showing up at his house on Christmas Day with presents. But, maybe that is pushing it.

WATCH OUT FOR MOLDY HAY

After such a wet growing and production season, the Western Beef Development Centre in Humboldt, Sask. warns beef producers to pay attention if they have a stockpile of mouldy hay.

Hay production was not only late in many areas, but the WBDC says in many instances, producers were baling tough hay at 18 to 20 per cent or higher moisture. However, safe hay moisture level depends on the density and size of the bale. While moisture metres (retailing between $200 to $300) are a good investment to test bale moisture and avoid baling too wet, some producers may have felt pressured to just get hay made despite high moisture levels. Producers using moisture metres should calibrate them before use (compare them to oven-drying). If hay is not cured sufficiently in the windrow prior to baling there will be mould growth, heat damage and a subsequent loss in nutritional value (protein and energy).

Producers faced with this reality must manage quality and palatability issues arising from heat damaged and mouldy hay, say industry advisors.

While mould may be visible when feeding bales this winter, it is a good idea to have your feed tested to check for heat damage. The acid detergent insoluble nitrogen (ADIN) test is key to detecting if hay has received heat damage. Be sure to advise the testing lab to add the ADIN test as it is not typically part of a general feed analysis.

If a producer’s hay has mould there are several strategies to minimize potential dangers:

Limit feeding of mouldy hay to backgrounder/finisher calves and bulls and avoid feeding mouldy hay to pregnant cows due to risks associated with mycotoxins.

Roll mouldy forages on the ground or run bales through a processor so mould spores blow away and livestock can be more selective of which plant parts to consume.

Try to limit mouldy hay to 40 to 60 per cent of your livestock’s ration makeup, mixing mouldy hay with good quality forage.

Supplement Vitamin A to avoid deficiencies associated with feeding mouldy hay fed for long periods.

And, if high moisture hay is placed into confined storage there is risk of spontaneous combustion due to reduced air circulation and release of heat from the bales. The risk tends to be low for most producers as bales are often left out in the field for several weeks after baling. However, if temperatures of stored hay rise above 130 F (55 C), a chemical reaction occurs producing flammable gases that can ignite when exposed to air. It is suggested that a producer check hay regularly if they known their hay was baled at moisture levels over 20 per cent. Homemade temperature probes are easy to construct to check temperature.

Producers concerned about hay quality should contact a provincial forage specialist, a livestock nutritionist or other wise person. The WBDC has developed a good list of contacts that can be found in a more detailed report on hay condition on their website at www.wbdc.sk.ca, click on their Publications and Information button and then click on News Releases.

WHAT A WELCOME

A cousin in Ireland sent me an email with a story about a young female relative — fifth cousin, twice removed — who hadn’t been home in five years.

Upon her return, her father cursed her heavily.

“Where have ye been all this time, child? Why did ye not write to us, not even a line? Why didn’t ye call? Can ye not understand what ye put yer old mother thru??”

The girl, crying, replied, “Sniff, sniff… daddy… I became a prostitute…”

“Ye what!!? Out of here, ye shameless harlot! Sinner!

“You’re a disgrace to this Catholic family!”

“OK, daddy… as ye wish. I just came back to give mum this luxurious fur coat, title deed to a ten bedroom mansion plus a $5 million savings certificate. For me little brother, this gold Rolex. And for ye daddy, the sparkling new Mercedes Limited Edition convertible that’s parked outside plus a membership to the country club… (takes a breath)… and an invitation for ye all to spend New Years Eve on board my new yacht in the Riviera.”

“Now what was it ye said ye had become?” says Dad.

Girl, crying again, “Sniff, sniff… a prostitute daddy! Sniff, sniff.”

“Oh! Be Jesus! Ye scared me half to death, girl! I thought ye said a Protestant.

“Come here and give yer old Dad a big hug.”

While the Waldron Grazing Cooperative Ltd. of Stavely, Alta. won the national 2010 Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA), presented by the Canadian Cattleman’s Association, they were just one of several excellent provincial nominees vying for the award. Here’s a quick recap of the provincial TESA nominees in Western Canada.

SASK. NOMINEES FOR TESA

Will holistic pasture management become the cattle producers’ equivalent of zero tillage, a new approach slow to catch on but bound to eventually dominate the industry? That was a thought expressed by one of the producers who toured the Ekert ranch near Moosomin, Sask., in August after seeing their lush pasture.

Glen and Dawn Ekert, who were recently honoured with a provincial TESA (The Environmental Stewardship Award) award, hosted a tour of their ranch to show producers their winning approach to pasture management, which is based on holistic principles. The Ekerts use planned grazing to maximize grass production. “It’s not intensive grazing; it’s intensive management,” comments Glen as he addressed the tour group while standing waist high in grass not far from a herd of yearlings.

By moving cattle through paddocks during the summer and winter feeding on grazing land, the Ekerts’ pasture quality has improved substantially. But making those gains initially required a leap of faith and a willingness to critically evaluate their previous grazing practices.

In doing so, they found some of the management decisions they made before adopting the holistic approach actually worked against maximizing production, even though they could be described as following conventional wisdom. As an example, on one stop along the tour Glen points to an area of land with some small willows growing in low-lying areas. “We spent a whole bunch of money on a caterpillar getting rid of all the trees,” he says. “Now, we’re waiting for them to grow back.” They found having some trees can actually increase grass production.

Glen credits their holistic philosophy as key in the success of the ranching operation. “Holistic management showed us how to manage the land,” he says.

The Saskatchewan TESA award is sponsored by RBC Royal Bank, Ducks Unlimited and the Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association (SSGA). It is given to producers who demonstrate innovative and successful approaches to environmentally and economically sustainable cattle production.

Chad MacPherson, general manager of the SSGA, was on the committee that selected the Ekerts as provincial winners. “They just stood out,” he says. “The principle and fundamentals of how they approach their business revolves around [sustainability]. Their goal is to leave the land better than they found it.”

B. C. NOMINEES FOR TESA

The B. C. Cattlemen’s Association presented Rainer and Gigi Kru-msiek of Big Bear Ranch in Horsefly, B. C. with the 17th Annual Environmental Stewardship Award. The Environmental Stewardship Award (TESA) is presented annually by the B. C. Cattlemen’s Association to recognize B. C. ranchers for going the extra mile in enhancing the environmental attributes of B. C. ranchland through outstanding management practices.

Big Bear Ranch is located in the foothills of the Cariboo Mountains with hundreds of lakes and streams in the surrounding area. The Krumsiek’s have maintained a focus of working with Mother Nature to raise their livestock and grow their forage. This priority has enabled Big Bear Ranch to implement management practices that exemplify the ranch’s commitment to water quality, riparian and rangeland stewardship, nutrient management and habitat conservation.

“We are proud to recognize the Krumsiek’s for their stewardship and innovation,” says Kevin Boon, General Manager of the B. C. Cattlemen’s Association. “B. C. cattle producers care about the environment and the land they work on. Presenting Big Bear Ranch with this award gives us the opportunity to acknowledge the hard work that they have put into implementing environmentally sustainable management practices on their own ranch.”

This award would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors: BMO Bank of Montreal, PrairieCoast Equipment Ltd. — Kamloops, The Beef Cattle Industry Development Fund and the B. C. Wildlife Federation.

MAN. NOMINEES FOR TESA

And in Manitoba, Ted and Rebecca Artz, earlier this year, were named winners of the Manitoba Cattle Producers Association, 2010 TESA.

The Artz family, which ranches near Pierson, in the very southwest corner of Manitoba raise cattle on 17 quarters of land that have been sown to forages, all cross-fenced into 40-acre paddocks and they rent another 11 quarters.

A one-time mixed farming operation, they have increased their breeding herd from 70 cows when they were also grain farming, to 425 and normally carry 50 to 80 replacement heifers, along with back-grounding their calves to sell off grass as long yearlings.

WSGA TOUR

The Western Stock Growers’ Association (WSGA) has rescheduled the postponed Alberta-wide beef industry bus tour to October 25-27, 2010.

Buses beginning in both Grande Prairie and Lloydminster, will pick up producers for the trip south. The Grande Prairie route will include pickups in Va l l e y v i ew, Ma y e r tho r p e , Drayton Valley and Innisfail while the Lloydminster route will include Vermilion, Wainwright, Veteran, Castor, Hanna and Brooks. All participants will meet in Lethbridge the evening of October 25th.

While in Lethbridge, participants will tour the Lethbridge Research Station and various feedlots in the area. Sponsored in part by the Alberta Cattle Feeders’ Association, one of the purposes of the tour is to encourage beef industry groups to work together to represent our industry to government, consumers and other audiences. An additional intent of the tour is to discuss relevant industry issues with producers and receive feedback on the issues affecting them.

The WSGA also hopes to engage producers more actively in industry organizations while improving communication between primary cow-calf producers and feedlot operators. By including such a diverse geography for the tour, the WSGA is creating a significant networking opportunity for those participating. Young people involved in the beef industry are also encouraged to attend and utilize this opportunity.

For more information or to register to participate, please visit the newly redesigned website www.wsga.ca or contact the WSGA office at 403-250-9121.

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