News Release Distributed 09/24/13
MANGHAM, La. – Cattle producers interested in learning proper cattle handling procedures were not disappointed by attending a beef and forage field day at the Goldmine Plantation on Sept. 19.
Hearing about a successful technique is better than never hearing, but seeing the technique in action is what LSU AgCenter regional livestock specialist Jason Holmes was able to do as part of the field tour.
Working cattle without sticks and lots of noise was unheard of not long ago, but things have changed in a way that helps producers demand a higher price for higher quality.
Animals with bruises or that have been stressed during the handling tend to be what is called a dark cutter, which means the quality of the meat is lower, Holmes said.
The days of whooping and hollering at the animals are gone, Holmes said. “There is a major push on now for good stockmanship. No. 1 is because it improves carcass quality in the processing plants.
“The importance of being ethical stockmen and using low-stress handling techniques have become popular in recent years by people like Temple Grandin in Colorado and Ron Gill in Texas,” he said.
Holmes demonstrated how to load animals in pens, through alleyways and into squeeze chutes by using minimal noise or equipment.
Several variables are involved in determining what type setup a stockman needs. “If you’re running more than 100 head, it is worth using the close-sided, S-shaped chutes versus the open-sided, straight alley type,” Holmes said.
LSU AgCenter forage specialist Wink Alison discussed the importance of having high-quality forages to get the herd through the winter.
“Clovers are probably the highest-quality forage we can grow consistently in this area,” Alison said. “It’s a beneficial plant to have in the pasture, and animal production is improved if clovers are present.”
LSU AgCenter beef cattle specialist Karl Harborth told producers that when they think about adding supplements to their winter rations, the main question to ask is “do I have enough pasture or not?” “In many areas of the state that answer will be ‘I do not,’” he said.
If supplements are needed, there probably won’t be a need for a high-protein variety, Harboth said. “You’ll more than likely only need a medium protein supplement to keep a balance with the forage that’s out there.”
LSU AgCenter weed scientist Ron Strahan brought a variety of weeds to show and talked about ways to control each.
“I actually collected plants all the way from Baton Rouge because it is so much easier to talk about a plant that I’m holding in my hand,” Strahan said.
As with most of Strahan’s presentations to cattle producers, controlling the Chinese tallow tree, which is also called the popcorn tree, always ranks high on his agenda.
“One of the ways that we’ve found to control this tree is through what is called the hack and squirt,” he said.
With this control method, Strahan takes a hatchet and makes a cut every 3 inches around the diameter of the tree, then he sprays each cut with the herbicide Tordon RTU.
LSU AgCenter county agent Keith Collins from Richland Parish, along with Goldmine farm manager Richard Morris, discussed the advantages and disadvantages of owning the different types of pasture and hay equipment that was on display.
Morris said being the host of the field day was a way to show appreciation for all of the work Collins has provided to the Goldmine Plantation’s operation over the years.
“We were in the farming business until this year, and anytime we called Keith, he was here,” Morris said. “Not only is he our county agent, but he’s also a good friend.”
Other presentations included information on some of the latest GPS equipment and the importance of health care in cattle during the winter.
Collins anticipates having a similar event each year to provide cattlemen in his area with the latest research-based information. Johnny Morgan