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Staying ahead of the cattle game

Recent observations by Don Hubbell, resident director of the University of Arkansas Livestock and Forestry Experiment Station near Batesville, Ark., got my attention.

Don noted practices that have served to improve his personal forage/livestock program, as well as to make it more profitable. I took the liberty to arrange them alphabetically since the level of importance will vary from farm to farm, regardless of the type of livestock being produced.

Try them on for size to see if they match your train of thought.

• Buy good hay instead of baling your own.

• Deworm, implant, castrate and vaccinate.

• Incorporate a defined breeding/calving season.

• Identify calves to cows and back to the sire.

• Plant winter annuals as fall grazing for weaned calves and fertilize for high production.

• Reduce machinery costs by renting, leasing or hiring services.

• Soil test every other year and follow the recommendations.

• Stockpile fescue to reduce winter feeding costs.

• Use intensive grazing to improve forage utilization and animal production.

• Use available resources at optimum levels, rather than at maximum levels.

Because they have to deal with high corn, fertilizer, fuel, equipment and maintenance prices, a reduction in the availability of rental acreage, the loss of poultry litter as a fertilizer, the rapid encroachment of urban/suburban development and the impact of environmental regulations, agricultural producers must constantly figure ways to stay in business.

Sometimes a review of basic practices and available resources can help identify or remind us, as in Don’s case, of the things that help chart a course for making necessary improvements that can impact the future.

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