- Steps to Manage Short Forage Supplies
Effect of Sorting and Mixing Strategy on Pig Growth Performance
[This Month in Ag
Connection] [Ag Connection - Other Issues Online]
Steps to Manage Short Forage Supplies
The spring season of 2000 provided
very little moisture for growing forages for pasture or harvesting as hay. This lack of
available forage is spread across much of the central United States. Many producers convey
the message that the meadow production is cut by at least 50% compared to normal.
The following are suggestions for managing beef operations
during drought conditions.
Forage that is available can be stretched several ways. Start with managed grazing,
electric fencing is a cheap and effective method of managing the grazing areas for your
livestock. Managed grazing increases only slightly the time required, but moving livestock
requires less effort than hauling feed and water.
Forages need to be harvested when they are in the growing stage. Many individuals are
thinking of delaying grazing or hay harvest and hoping for additional vegetative growth.
This may occur, but it depends largely on the amount and timing of rainfall. Dont
let the forage stand on the stump until it burns or becomes extremely dry. The nutritional
value depletes rapidly to the point you are essentially feeding straw. Nutritional samples
have indicated protein values can be reduced to 3.67% compared to the same specie of cool
season grasses harvested at the early stage of 17.1%. Fiber content also increases
drastically as maturity proceeds. The fiber factor increased from 31.8% to 53.0% on these
Probably the most profitable time to creep feed calves is during a summer drought. If
forage is limited, a full feed of a 16% protein grain mix is advisable especially
when grain is relatively cheap.
Early weaning should be considered when a summer drought hits. Cows can be maintained on
low-quality hay or what is left of the pastures. If the breeding season is still under way
(in spring-calving herds), early weaning will help get the cows bred back. If the cows are
already bred (in fall-calving herds), early weaning will help keep cows in condition for
Retaining ownership of calves through the feedlot adds flexibility to your management
program. When a summer drought hits, calves can be weaned early and sent on to the
If the drought continues to the point that pastures are grazed close and cows are
losing condition, supplemental hay should be provided. If you start feeding your winter
hay supply now, consider planning alternative winter feeds now. This illustrates
the value of an emergency feed supply (in addition to the winter feed needs).
Open and Old Cows
When feed shortage is a problem, pregnancy test and cull any open cows and cows
that are over 10 to 12 years of age.
When feed must be purchased to get through the winter following a long summer
drought, producers should consider feeding grain, by-products, or commercial mixes to cows
and heifers. Research has shown that feeding high grain rations will work, but a minimum
of 4 pounds of hay should be fed to maintain normal rumen function. A ration of about 12
pounds of a 12 percent protein grain mix (92 percent corn and 8 percent soybean meal) and
4 pounds of hay can be used for mature dry cows, and 8 to 10 pounds of a 15 percent
protein grain mix (85 percent corn and 15 percent soybean meal) and 4 pounds of hay can be
used for developing heifers. Lactating cows will need 4 pounds of hay plus 15 pounds of a
15 percent protein grain mix.
Saner and Dale Watson, Livestock Specialists)
[This Month in Ag
Connection] [Ag Connection - Other Issues Online]
Effect of Sorting and Mixing
Strategy on Pig Growth Performance
The method of sorting and mixing growing pigs at weaning has
caused considerable debate. Typically, pigs are sorted to ensure maximum growth rate, make
efficient use of the pig space available, maintain or possibly improve pig health, and
reduce the weight variation of the pen. The producers weaning decision includes the
number of pigs per pen, which pigs should be penned together based on age, weight, sex, or
ancestry, and determine if the pig flow requires groups or pens to be mixed or resorted
later. The main factor influencing these decisions is the nutrition program. Feed cost
represents the majority (> 50 %) of the total costs of production. If pigs are grouped
within a pen of similar age, weight and growth rate, the pigs will have similar nutrient
requirements allowing for more efficient feed utilization.
The challenge is that the social environment has
unknown impacts on the growth performance and the weight variation within the pen. Weight
variation is expressed as the coefficient of variation (CV), which relates the standard
deviation of the pen to the pen average. The decision of what pigs should be penned
together is ultimately based on the marketing strategy of the producer since the packer
usually pays a premium for a uniform group of market hogs or offers a lower price to those
market hogs that were not in the ideal weight range being either too light or heavy.
Variation in weight and rate of gain amongst a group of pigs penned together can vary as
much as 10 to 15 %, resulting in a 25 to 50 lb. weight difference. Therefore, a producer
may choose to market pigs over a wider range such as 3 to 4 weeks instead of 1 to 2 weeks
to minimize the amount of weight variation. Efficiency of space used in a building is
increased if the time between the first to last marketing is reduced. If altering the
social environment can in anyway reduce the variation in weight, then the profitability of
the operation will improve.
Sorting By Weight
A uniform weight group of pigs at weaning might not be the
best option in order to reduce weight variation at market. Besides weaning weight, the age
of the pigs grouped together may affect weight variation within the pen at market.
Typically, an age range of 7 days will result in a weight variation of 11 to 15 lbs. at
market. A study conducted by Gonyou (1998) evaluated weight variation at market looking at
pigs weaned into pens with high weight variation (20 lbs) versus low weight variation (10
lbs) and ensuring that the treatments had similar average weights in a pen. The results of
the study indicated that the weight variation between treatments were similar when the
pigs reached market weight, indicating that a low weight variation in a pen is not
maintained when sorting pigs by weight at weaning. The social strife in a pen appears to
be the greatest between pigs of similar weight because the hierarchy structure of the pen
is possibly pushed to increase variation until social order is established.
Sorting By Sex
More recently, producers have been sorting pigs by sex to reduce feed costs and
better match nutrient supply with requirements since barrows grow faster and eat more than
gilts. Several studies have been conducted to evaluate gender ratios among pens and the
effect on performance. Overall, no differences in weight variation among a pen of pigs
were observed when the pen contained various gender ratios.
Sorting By Litter
It has been known for decades that mixing pigs results in more aggression, which
ultimately affects the productivity for at least the following 2 weeks. Unfamiliar pigs
will fight for several hours after being sorted or mixed and can result in injuries or
death. Therefore, maintenance of familiarity amongst pigs may be important when trying to
maximize performance and reduce the weight variation of pigs at market weight. One way to
maintain familiarity is to keep litters of pigs together at weaning. However, studies have
shown no differences in performance due to the number of pigs coming from the same litter
within the same pen.
The objective behind the development of wean-to-finish facilities was to minimize the
moving and resorting of the growing pigs between the nursery and finishing phase.
Wean-to-finish buildings reduce labor on the farm as well as provide more space per pig.
Earlier weantofinish research has only looked at the impact during the nursery
period on growth performance. The research concluded that pigs housed in wean-to-finish
housing system were slightly heavier in body weight at the end of the 8 week nursery
period compared to pigs weaned into a conventional nursery. However, these pigs have now
been finished out to determine if there is an additional improvement during the
An experiment was conducted using PIC crossbred barrows (n
= 240) to determine the impact of wean-to-finish housing system on pig performance during
the growing-finishing period with four replications of four treatments (Brumm et al.,
2000). The four housing treatments were:
- Weanto-Finish (WF) into 2.4 x 4.3 m pens (15 pigs/pen)
- Double stock wean-to-finish (Same pen)
- Double stock wean-to-finish (Move to new pen)
- Nursery (N)
The data suggests that the wean-to-finish response is a
nursery phase response with no difference in growth performance between the housing
(wean-to-finish) and mixing during the growing-finishing phase. Those pigs housed in a
wean-to-finish building did have a lower coefficient of variation at market weight or when
the first pig was removed from the pen, which could result in better market premiums or
less sort loss applied by the packer.
of Wean-to-Finish Housing System on Growth Performance
Initial Wt. (lb.)
CV within Pen
In conclusion, the need to maintain a social hierarchy within the group favors some degree
of variation and it appears that weight is the contributing factor. As for the best method
to sort or mix a group of pigs at weaning is whatever minimizes labor requirements and
maximizes the pig flow of the working facilities. There appears to be no lasting impact of
mixing or sorting on nursery or grower pig performance, however, regrouping pigs
near-market weight (finishing phase) should be avoided. The bottom line for any swine
operation on what the best sorting or mixing strategy to use is to assess the management
factors that impact productivity such as if phase feeding and split-sex feeding strategies
are implemented to reduce feed costs and the amount of nutrients excreted.
Carlson, State Swine Nutrition Spec.)
Month in Ag Connection] [Ag Connection - Other
Dont Get Stumped in a Sale of
The large quantity of logs being transported down the highways
suggests there is a great amount of standing timber being sold from area farms.
Professional assistance should be sought in determining the quantity/value of your timber
and the potential tax liability resulting from the disposal of standing timber. Research
at the University of Missouri suggests significant price variation in timber contracts
offered in the Midwest.
The two most common methods which farmers utilize in
disposing of timber are lump-sum contract and pay-as-cut contract. With lump-sum
contracts, the farmer is paid a lump-sum for the timber regardless of the quantity or tree
selection harvested. The pay-as-cut contract requires the timber purchaser to cut
designated trees and to purchase them at an agreed upon unit price.
If the one-year holding period has been met, most sales of
standing timber by farmers qualify for long-term capital gains treatment. If the sale
qualifies for capital gains treatment, the income will not be subject to self-employment
From the tax standpoint, the most common and challenging
issue involves determining the tax basis (cost basis) of the timber being disposed. Tax
basis is subtracted from the sale proceeds to determine the amount of gain or loss.
If land is acquired that has standing timber, a portion of
the acquisition cost should be allocated to a timber account, just as cost would be
allocated to other improvements such as fences, water systems, or buildings. When standing
timber is sold under the lump-sum or pay-as-cut methods, basis in the timber account is
recovered and utilized in calculating the gain or loss.
Ideally, the timber account basis was determined at the
time of land acquisition. However, if it wasnt, contact your accountant and/or a
forestry consultant to determine a justifiable and reasonable amount of the acquisition
cost to be allocated to your timber account.
Timber taxation is an arena in which few tax professionals
specialize. Thus, it is important you educate yourself as to the basics. A good web site
to begin your journey is http://www.fnr.purdue.edu/ttax,
a national timber tax web site.
Your area Department of Conservation forester can
be reached at the following locations:
Columbia Forest District (573-882-9880)
Clinton Forest District (660-885-6981)
Lake Ozark Forest District
Green, Farm Business Specialist)
[This Month in
Ag Connection] [Ag Connection - Other Issues Online]