By CAROL RYAN DUMAS
Four University of Idaho Extension seminars in October will offer tips for cattle producers who are facing higher feed costs and losses of winter range to fire and drought across southern Idaho.
The seminars will focus on reducing winter feed costs while maintaining the nutritional requirements of cows, and are set for Salmon on Oct. 23, Pocatello on Oct. 24, Burley on Oct. 29, and Caldwell on Oct. 30
The most basic strategy is getting a forage analysis on the feed and balancing the ration accordingly, said Steve Paisley, beef extension specialist with the University of Wyoming and a speaker at two of the seminars.
He'll be speaking on how to match available feed to the cow's needs.
Producers can't necessarily skimp on meeting that cow's requirements. Not only does it affect the cow's calving and reproduction but data shows it also affects the subsequent calf crop. Inadequate nutrition can affect the feedlot performance of steer calves and the reproductive ability of heifer calves, he said.
"We can make short-term decisions that have a long-term impact on reproduction and the longevity of heifers," he said.
One strategy that could help smaller producers is managing their bale feeders. Limiting cows' access to hay reduces waste and overall quantity needed. Data shows that cows perform just as well with six to eight hours of access as they do with 24-hour access, he said.
Paisley will be the keynote speaker at the seminars in Salmon and Pocatello. Tim DelCurto of Oregon State University will be the keynote speaker at Burley and Caldwell.
University of Idaho beef nutritionist Mary Drewnoski will be on hand at all the seminars to talk about nutrition.
Her focus will be on cost-effective strategies for protein supplementation, with a focus on what is available locally.
Based on current costs, medium-quality alfalfa hay looks to be the best bet for a protein supplement, but there could be other options, such as bean screenings, she said.
While distiller's grains and corn gluten, a byproduct of corn syrup processing and ethanol production, are good sources of protein, they won't be economically viable this year, she said.
"Anything related to corn has doubled in price this year," she said.
She'll be evaluating the possibilities, focused on cost and availability, to help producers put together a good winter ration, she said.
Breakout sessions following the main presentations will be customized for each location and will include such information as using crop residues, alternative feeds and nutrition for improved reproduction.
The workshops will focus on helping producers develop ways to use feed more efficiently and economically, said Benton Glaze, Twin Falls-based University of Idaho Extension beef specialist.
"Winter feed costs represent a major share of their expenses. In drought years or when range is lost to fire, it is valuable for them to have strategies to efficiently feed their cattle," Glaze said.
The same is true even in normal years, and producers will learn how to better match their feed rations to their cattle's actual needs, he said.
Heifers carrying their first calf or a cow carrying her second have different nutritional needs than a mature cow because the younger animals are still growing themselves, in addition to supporting a calf, Glaze said.
All the seminars will begin with dinner at 5:30 p.m. followed by keynote speakers from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and breakout sessions from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Salmon, Oct. 23, Nancy M. Cummings REEC, 16 Hot Springs Rd., preceded by a cow-calf day beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Pocatello, Oct. 24, Bannock County Extension, 10560 N. Fairgrounds Rd.
Burley, Oct. 29, Burley Inn & Convention Center, 800 N. Overland Ave.
Caldwell, Oct. 30, Caldwell R&E Center, 1904 E. Chicago Street.
For more information about the seminars, contact local University of Idaho Extension educators or Kara Kraich at firstname.lastname@example.org