Ag News and Views: August 2012
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This question developed during a farm visit while discussing fence line contrast of rangeland between a property that had been well managed for years and a neighboring property. Our objective was to evaluate rangeland health of forage for cattle and sheep, and wildlife habitat following the impacts of 2011 - drought and wildfire.
So far 2012 has been a better year climate-wise than 2011. However, the full impact of the 2011 drought on warm-season forages was not fully realized until the early spring and summer of 2012.
Cattle producers and equine enthusiasts in the Southern Great Plains rely heavily on introduced warm-season grasses for their winter hay needs. Primarily, these grasses are either bermudagrass or old world bluestem varieties.
The Noble Research Institute conducted a study to evaluate various implants for use in stockers grazing wheat and rye pastures. Implants are comprised of hormones compressed into pellets that are placed under the skin of the animal's ear to stimulate additional weight gain and efficiency.
At the time of writing, urea costs about $750 per ton. This means that a pound of nitrogen from urea costs about 82 cents. This is a very high price and leads to the logical question, "Is it worth the cost to fertilize winter pasture for stockers?" I'll try to answer this question, but let's define the ground rules.