Dale Watson
Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist
University of Missouri Extension




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Please send your comments and sund suggestions to Dale Watson, Commercial Agriculture Beef and Livestock Specialist, University of Missouri Extension, 111 N. Mason, Carrollton, MO 64633, call 660-542-1792, or send messages by e-mail to: watsond@missouri.edu.
For the Week of
May 18, 2000

Summer Forage

Precipitation continues to be very short for much of the central United States. This is very evident from reports from the U. S. Drought Monitor, Missouri Crop and Weather report, and local weather reporting media. Additional exposed shoreline continues to be a concern on all water impoundments. This shoreline exposure is becoming a huge concern for many communities. Don’t forget that all of these impoundments have a V-shaped bank and bottom which definitely reduces the amount of available water as the amount of shoreline exposure increases.

Beef producers need to consider forage management as the drought continues. This includes reducing the grazing area by strip grazing versus conventional grazing. Cull the cow herd by removing the lower producing portion. Early wean this year’s calf crop and feed the calves. Dry cow nutrient requirement is much less when compared to cows nursing calves. Feed dry cows poor quality roughage. Supplementing the cow herd on pasture with hay or other energy sources will definitely extend the grazing potential for pastures. Planting small grains and sorghum crosses and hoping for a shower to stimulate their growth is another technique.

Annual warm season grasses are often used throughout much of the Midwest to provide additional grazing, hay or silage. Many annual crops have been used for summer grazing; pearl millet and sorghum-Sudan grass hybrids are the most common. Several hybrids have been developed that provide a reduced potential for prussic acid. Although these type crops tend to be more drought resistant, moisture is still required for growth and production. Pearl millet can be seeded on sites with lower water holding capacity because of its higher drought tolerance, while sorghum-Sudan grass hybrids will perform better on sites with a good supply of moisture. A major factor limiting the time of establishment after mid-June is the availability of moisture.

Heavy nitrogen fertilization followed by drought is the most common situation that causes nitrate accumulation in forage. Shading and cool, cloudy weather can also contribute to this problem. These environmental conditions result in nitrate accumulation because growth is limited while nitrate uptake continues. In cattle, nitrates are reduced to nitrite in the rumen. Nitrites are toxic to livestock because they interfere with the ability of blood to carry oxygen.

University of Missouri ExtensionDale's Country Trails - May 18, 2000
http://outreach.missouri.edu/agconnection/DCT/CT051800.html -- Revised: April 20, 2004