Livestock Newsletter Summer / Fall 2020

— Written By Rebecca Bradley
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Livestock Newsletter

Farm animals

Articles Included:

  • Looking Back on 2019
  • How to Combat Mud in Feed Areas
  • Seed Choices
  • How Much is She Costing You?
  • Problem Places
  • Hay Testing

Looking Back on 2019   

Ag Day – The 1st Annual Ag Day occurred on June 5, 2019, with the collaboration between the Extension office as well  Robin Hughey, the Middle School Agriculture teacher. At this event the Madison Middle School students rotated through stations consisting of the Southwest Dairy Farmers trailer, a virtual reality tour of a dairy farm, careers in agriculture, Buster Norton brought his horses, a 4-H booth as well as a FFA booth, poultry, horticulture/smoothie station, and Coy Griffin demonstrated the importance of PTO safety. The kids had a fun and educational day learning about agriculture.

Dairy project – The 1st Annual Dairy Project ran from August until September where the youth involved participated in the Madison County Fair Livestock Shows. This project allowed youth to get hands-on experience with calves while learning about their life cycle, animal care, the dairy industry, and preparing for a show. This project is sponsored by local Madison County farmers, Matthew Cody, and Lynn Bonham with Lyndel Farms as well as Sliver Mill, Heritage Farm Supply, and Parkers Farm Supply.

Livestock Judging – A team of five students showed what they have learned and the benefits of dedication to practices when they placed second in Skillathon at the 4-H NC State Livestock competition in Raleigh. These kids were charged with learning meat cuts, hay, wool, tool identification, breeds of all species, as well as feedstuffs. Please give these five students a pack on the back: Justin Ingle, Matthew Crawford, Sarah Holder, Elizabeth Hendrix, and Cate Ayers.

The classes offered in 2019 were a Rotational Grazing Workshop, a Chute-Side Workshop, as well as a Livestock Marketing class. The Rotational Grazing Workshop included hands-on demonstrations at Stuart and Cherri Murray’s farm where participants learned all of the ins and outs of rotational grazing. The Chute-Side workshop also included hands-on demonstrations at Jamie and Chasity Jenkins’ farm where those participants learned how to pregnancy test, castrate, grade cattle, and much more. The Livestock Marketing class gave attendees the chance to learn about discovering your niche, the various marketing avenues available, and what consumers want. With all of these great classes in 2019 there are more to come in 2020, once we get back to normal!

Kids with cows Horses pulling people

How to Combat Mud in Feed Areas

Welcome to Madison County where mud, rain, and livestock are plentiful! The last few years we have had a steep learning curve on how to navigate the mud during winter months. We have all learned some hard lessons and also grown to be crafty. Would you have thought that mud makes livestock want and need to eat more? Please refer to the “Effect of Mud on Cattle” table. Knowing that mud forces us to feed our livestock more quality forages allows us to plan for next winter and also understand why we may have come up short on our hay supply the last few winters.

Mud will happen, it is a fact, so how can we combat it? First, be sure that your hay is in a feeder of some sort. Without a feeder over 50% can be wasted. Second, create a sacrifice area that you will dedicate to your winter feeding space. If you do not have space to sacrifice, try moving your hay rings instead of keeping them in the same spot or unroll your hay. Third, if your livestock are in a small sacrifice area footing materials can be put down to help combat the mud. Refer to the “Footing Materials” table for material choices, depth, cost, pros, and cons to find the best fit for your farm. Fourth, reseed this area once winter feeding is over. The land may need a drag run over it to smooth out the surface to create the best seed bed and then reseeded. It may be too late to plant warm-season grasses to prepare for the winter mud, but now is the time to plan for cool weather forages. There are 5 excellent annual cool-season grasses to choose from that grow quickly, are relatively cheap, and easy to obtain. Please refer to the “Seeding rates for annual cool-season grass species” table. Fifth, if your animals are in a confined space that has footing, scrape all of the manure away and create a compost pile to help next year’s spring grasses get a jump start.  Using this handful of steps will help you, your farm, and your livestock combat the mud. 

Footing materials chart Effects of mud on cattle chart

Seed Choices

Cool Season Annuals

  • Rye
  • Ryegrass
  • Wheat
  • Oats
  • Triticale
  • Vetch (can become invasive if not managed)

Cool Season Perennials

  • Fescue
  • Orchard grass
  • Clover
  • Bluegrass
  • Timothy
  • Warm Season
  • Sorghum
  • Sudan grass
  • Sorghum Sudan
  • Millet
  • Crabgrass
  • Cowpeas

Seeding rates

How Much Is She Costing You?

In the beef cattle industry the goal for the producer is to have one cow produce one calf every year. If producers are unaware which cattle are pregnant and which are not, the producer may keep the cow for one year or longer without a calf, resulting in decreased profit. The producer will provide veterinarian care, feed, water, and time to a cow/heifer that is not carrying a calf resulting in potential loss of $1,200.00 per cow per year. The main reason that producers were taking this loss is that they assumed that a veterinarian was needed to test the cattle to confirm if they were pregnant. But producers can now test cattle themselves. A blood sample will be taken typically from the tail and mailed to a lab where the sample will be tested. With the nominal cost of $3.00 per cow to determine pregnancy, this test can save each producer hundreds of dollars and make it more feasible to reach a profit for cattle producers in Madison County.

If you are interested in learning more about the test or how to tail bleed your cattle please call, email, or stop by the office.


Problem Places

Step 1 – Take a soil test

Step 2 – Amend soil per recommendations

Step 3 – Consider your budget and amend what you can afford per acre not overall acreage

Step 4 – Plant timely annuals or perennials *if planting on a steep area or space where there is substantial soil exposed it can be helpful to spread old hay on these areas to reduce erosion and increase germination*

Step 5 – Give the grasses time to establish themselves before grazing

Step 6 – Continue to monitor these areas for regression and replant as needed

Horses plowing

For more information please contact Rebecca Bradley at the N.C. Cooperative Extension of Madison County office at or 828-649-2411 ext. 4.