OPINION

Hodus says

Karl Hoppe, Ph. D.

Howdy!!!

What a weekend we had!!!  Ramsey County Achievement days was held this past Friday and Saturday.  It was a huge success even with wet conditions.  The small animal show, Rabbit’s, Poultry and Pet show on Friday afternoon and it rained throughout the whole show then on Saturday was the large animal show with very wet conditions in the show area.  The best part was no one complained about the muck and we had a very successful show.  4-Her’s participated/laughed/helped each other/ and more importantly were rewarded with great ribbon placings.  The 4-Her’s were great, the families were very good and even helped set up and take down and all the community members were awesome, I cannot say enough kind words for the two days.  And then the Ramsey County Fair Board served a Retirement lunch for me at noon and I can not say in words what that meant, what a great two day event.  I would also like to thank the fair board for providing a tent for us as we would have had to cancel the event for a few days due to the wet conditions.  I might also add I was SUPPER impressed at fair board members sticking around and helping the way they did.  THANKS.

The rain that fell on Friday was sure a welcomed rain.  It came over a few hours so our parched soil was able to absorb all of the drop that fell from the sky.  I know this is a wrong statement but would suggest that the rain that fell on Friday would equal an inch out of a hard pounding thunderstorm as a fair bit of that would have run off.  What a great rain, about a short half inch county wide with some areas receiving up to an inch, in the southern half.  I was told that there was a spot in Arkansas that received 19.25 inches in just 4 hours this past week, that would stink. 

Feed shortages!!!

Cattle producers are being challenged to find feed for their cow herd. Drought has placed a terrible constraint on feed resources, causing extra hay, normally saved for next season, to be currently fed or already consumed. 

It’s a double hit. Reduced pasture growth means feeding more harvested feed before pasture turn out AND fields that are normally hayed are not growing. Consequently, next year’s winter feed supply is looking sparse.

Unless a total drought occurs, there will be some feed produced this summer. It may have been intended as forage, or perhaps a failed field crop. Instead of harvesting for grain, fields can be hayed or made into silage. Drought raised feeds should have their nutritional profile tested before feeding, looking for both nutrient and toxin levels.

Cereal grains such as wheat, barley or oats, can be hayed and make excellent feeds for a cow herd. With normal rainfall, 3 to 6 large round bales per acre could be harvested. During drought, though, only 1 or 2 bales per acre may be realized. 

Be sure to test for nitrates. If toxic levels are found, feed can be diluted with low nitrate feeds when fed.  Making silage from these feeds will reduce the nitrate concentration by 50% as the microbes digest nitrates during the fermentation process.

Corn silage is an excellent winter cow feed. In June, the corn is still actively growing and we don’t know what the yield will be. From a cow herd perspective, we might have to buy more corn acres to chop, probably not a cheap source of feed with higher corn prices forecasted. However, it is a source of feed. Corn silage doesn’t lend itself to hauling distances, though, with a 65% water content.

Corn silage is excellent winter feed.

Drought may be widespread in North Dakota but not across the USA. Feeds can be shipped into North Dakota. Please monitor carefully for noxious weeds that could be in feeds. Shipping screenings from another state in to North Dakota could contribute to palmer amaranth or other weed invasion.

North Dakota processing plants produce co-products like wheat midds, distiller grains, soy hulls, corn gluten feed, barley hulls, pea splits, screenings and many protein sources. A list of co products produced in North Dakota is available at https://www.ag.ndsu.edu/livestockextension/sources-and-prices-for-selected-co-products-produced-in-north-dakota.

North Dakota feed manufacturers provide an abundant source of supplements and complete feeds. When in a drought and feed prices are high, feed manufacturers can still produce a reasonably priced feed. These feeds make a balanced ration with added protein, energy, vitamins, minerals and additives. Manufactured feeds can be at a lower cost than the combined cost of buying each ingredient separately. 

If you need to discuss options, please contact me or your local NDSU Extension Ag and Natural Resources Agent; we’re here to help.