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.
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.
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.
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.
In response to the production risk caused by dry weather and prolonged drought, a relatively new program sponsored by the Risk Management Agency of the United States Department of Agriculture provides pasture, rangeland and forage insurance for pastures that are grazed or used to produce hay.
Cattle producers in the Southern Great Plains had to reduce cow numbers in 2011 due to the most severe drought in decades. Replacement cow prices are at an all-time high in 2012, and most pastures are still in poor condition, making it difficult for many producers to restock to former levels.
In the summer of 2011, I was preparing to go to Iraq - not as a soldier, but as an agricultural consultant. More specifically, I was going to Erbil, in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq, to teach crop residue management for a week.
Most rangeland burns rely on fine fuel made up predominantly of warm-season grasses for combustion to create the desired impacts. As such, adequate "standing dead" grasses must remain in the field to serve as fine fuel until the time of a prescribed fire.