May 20, 2019
Rebuilding hay supplies
by Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension livestock marketing specialist
The latest Crop Production report from USDA-NASS included the May 1 hay stocks for the U.S. and states. Total U.S. hay stocks were 14.9 million tons, down 2.9 percent year over year. However, May 1 hay stocks in 2018 were also small. The 2019 figure is down 31.4 percent from the five-year 2014-2018 average and 28.8 percent lower than the ten-year average from 2009-2018. The 2019 hay crop year is starting with current hay inventories the smallest since the drought years of 2012-2013. More states had smaller year over year May 1 hay stocks than increases but states with the largest stocks were mostly up including Texas (up 33.6 percent); South Dakota (down 3.2 percent); Montana (up 120.0 percent); Nebraska (up 52.9 percent) and North Dakota (38.9 percent). These five states accounted for 39.7 percent of total May 1 hay stocks.
Hay production data is reported as all hay; and in two sub-categories: alfalfa and other hay. Total hay production in 2018 was 123.6 million tons, down 3.6 percent year over year and down 9.1 percent over the previous ten-year (2008-2017) period. 2018 alfalfa hay production was down 5.7 percent year over year and was 14.7 percent lower than the previous ten-year average. Other hay production was 2.0 percent lower year over year and was down 4.4 percent from the 2008-2017 average.
Table 1 shows the top ten states for all hay; alfalfa hay; and other hay production for the 2009-2018 average. Over this ten year period alfalfa hay has averaged 44.9 percent of total hay production and other hay accounting for 55.1 percent. The top-ten all hay production states accounted for 45.8 percent of all hay production. The top-ten alfalfa hay producing states represented 59.4 percent of alfalfa hay production; while the top-ten other hay producing states accounted for 55.0 percent of other hay production.
Table 1. Hay Production Top Ten States (2009-2018 Average)
|Rank||All Hay||Alfalfa||Other Hay|
|Total%||133.7 MillionTons||44.9% Total||55.1% Total|
|Top Ten%||45.8% All Hay||59.4%Alfalfa Hay||55.0% Other Hay|
With mostly excellent moisture conditions nationwide currently, the prospects to rebuild hay supplies in 2019 around the country are very good. While wet conditions may impact crop planting, good moisture ensures hay and pasture growth; though continued wet conditions could impact hay quality.
I recently traveled through western Oklahoma and confirmed that the wheat looks very good. The latest crop progress report showed U.S. winter wheat condition at 64 percent good and excellent and Oklahoma at 75 percent good and excellent. I noted in my drive that a significant number of wheat acres are being grazed out and substantial acres have been cut for hay. Current low wheat prices and low hay stocks makes utilizing wheat for hay an attractive option for some producers.
Cow disposition affects pregnancy rate
by Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension animal scientist
Now we have another good excuse to cull cows due to bad temperament. Producers that routinely breed cows artificially realize that cows that are unruly and nervous are less likely to conceive to artificial insemination. Presumably the lowered conception rates were because they have been stressed as they are passed through the working facilities and restrained while being synchronized and inseminated. Research trials indicate, even in the serenity of a natural breeding pasture, cows with bad dispositions are less likely to conceive when mated with bulls.
Louisiana State University researchers (DeRouen and Reger, 2007 Journal of Animal Science Abstracts) presented data about the impact of temperament on growth and reproductive performance of beef replacement heifers. They used crossbred heifers that were evaluated for “chute score,” Heifers were scored as 1= calm, no movement to 5= violent and continuous struggling while in the working chute and exit velocity. Exit velocity is a measurement of the speed at which the heifer would travel as she exited a working chute. “Slow” heifers (presumably more docile) were heavier at breeding time and tended to have a higher body condition score.
Pregnancy rate did not significantly differ between slow, medium, and fast heifers when all crossbreds were considered. However, it was interesting to note that pregnant Brahman-Hereford F1 cross heifers tended to have lower exit velocities (at both weaning and at the end of the breeding season) than their counterparts that failed to become pregnant. These researchers concluded that some important relationships between growth, reproduction and temperament may exist in beef replacement heifers.
University of Florida animal scientists recorded disposition scores over two years on 160 Braford and 235 Brahman x British crossbred cows. They wanted to evaluate the effects of cow temperament and energy status on the probability to become pregnant during a 90-day natural breeding season. Cows were scored as 1= calm, no movement to 5= violent and continuous struggling while in the working chute. Also, a pen score assessment was assigned as 1= unalarmed and unexcited to 5 = very excited and aggressive toward technician.
An exit velocity speed score was measured as the cows exited the working chute as 1= slowest and 5 = fastest. An overall temperament index score was calculated by averaging the chute score, pen score and exit velocity score. Blood samples were analyzed for cortisol concentrations. Cortisol is a hormone released when mammals are stressed or excited. Increased cow temperament score and elevated plasma cortisol concentrations both were associated with decreased probability of pregnancy. These results suggest that excitable temperament and the subsequent elevated cortisol concentrations are detrimental to reproductive function of cows. These authors concluded that management strategies that improve cow disposition, enhance their immune status, and maintain the cow herd at adequate levels of nutrition are required for optimal reproductive performance. Source: Cooke and co-workers. 2009 Florida Beef Research Report.