Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Have you watched an NRCS “water infiltration” demonstration lately?


Byron Seeds’ annual “Cover Crop Field Day” was April 22 in Rockville, Indiana.   As part of the program they had their county NRCS staff do a “water infiltration” test with blocks of soil and sod taken from Samuel Fisher’s working farm nearby.
These blocks included:
A tray of fully tilled soil (as you would find in conventional row crop farming)
A tray of disked sod (as you would find in rotating from hay to any row crop)
A tray of over-wintered cover crops
A tray of perennial grass-based pasture

After spraying with water to simulate 1 ½ inches of rainfall, and catching water in jars that either “ran off” the top of the soil or “infiltrated” through the layer of soil, the trays were dumped upside down to compare the effects.

Surprisingly, the full-tilled soil had most of its “rainfall” run off: underneath, the soil remained totally dry (none of the rain infiltrated that soil where you would be planting your seed).
The disked sod passed roughly half the rain away as runoff, half infiltrating the seed layer.    Water clearly followed the path of roots into the soil mass.

The remaining two samples were totally watered, having absorbed all the “rain”.  Lots of root hairs were clearly visible, and were acting like sponge to absorb water and storing it in the growth zone of the topsoil.

In the opinion of the NRCS people, cover crops are the superior way to build soil, and when your farm includes animals, their “residues” feed the soil biology best.

Distributors for  Byron Seeds  (featuring Kingfisher brand)

Did you know?    Besides club calves, we have these:

Limousin:   Homozygous polled.    Red hair.

Among dairymen who are transitioning their herds from “dairy” to “beef” breeds we have had a demand for various unique sire combinations.    Polled Red Limmy was one of those that was particularly difficult to locate…  until we figured out a source from Europe (Masterrind, a major AI system in NW Germany).    We now have semen on the bull “Torphy” and at a fairly reasonable price.

Belgian Blue
Pretty much a terminal cross (the females can be difficult calving due to double muscling), but producing amazing lean carcasses that have an edible muscle proportion that rivals the most efficient of pigs.

In Japan, these smaller frame but superior marbling cattle are the basis for that ultra-premium “Kobe Beef” eating experience.    For those seeking calving ease on heifers and have a “grassfed” freezer beef market, these have great potential.

Dual-purpose German Fleckveih
A significant number of grass-based dairies are utilizing this breed to produce milk without needing grain supplements.   They have strong annual calving fertility due to summer heat resistance and good body condition maintenance.   Deacon bull calves often top the local sale barns, because they look “beefy” compared to the many Angus x Holstein calves (often confused with Jersey x Holstein dairy crosses)
Fleckveih was one of the early source breeds for the American Simmental.

MSU Polled Hereford
One of the last polled Hereford sires bred in MSU’s now dispersed purebred herd was “MSU Yarborough 37H” purchased by Dallas Sutliff of Bannister MI.    He was a younger full brother to a $50,000 syndicated Colorado-bound sire MSU bred.
Dallas collected more semen than needed and is sharing it commercially with us.

Pinebank Angus
You may see ads in specialty grazing publications like Stockman for the strain of New Zealand Angus cattle that have strong feet and durable legs.   We have them.

Distributors for “Cattle Visions”  (your comprehensive sire source)

Products that may complement your management:

Conklin “Fastrack”

This may be the most well-known of probiotic feed supplements, providing an assortment of rumen microbials that help cattle get through transitions (like weaning) and get on feed efficiently (when entering feedlots for finishing).

There are handy oral paste forms useful when prepping cattle for shows and sales as well as powdered top dresses for bunk rations.     The oral paste will also help a stressed calf (eg, twins, rejected by a heifer, born in the rain, etc) get up and go.

P Tests

Is it inconvenient to get your veterinarian out to ultrasound or palpate for that time when you need to know if you have a pregnancy?    Emlabs’ “P Test” has found favor with many of us for its economical and relatively easy (noninvasive) use.     Measures hormone levels in the urine of serviced animals.

Estrotects     and    Tail chalk

These are the two most common aids to heat detection that work with visual observation.     The “estrotect” glues over the tailbone and glows in color if the cow is mounted and stands.     The concept behind Tail Chalk is you apply it to cows you are watching every two weeks (or after any rain hard enough to wash it off) and—if rubbed off—you know a heat is in progress.


The estrus synchronizing aid preferred by Embryo Transfer tech’s as providing the “tightest” window for heats with a minimum of hormone injections necessary.  
Developed in New Zealand, you insert into the vagina using the applicator they designed for it, leave it in for seven days, then remove it, give lutalyse, and you should see each animal “in heat” in 48-54 hours.

Breeding  is  mostly  in  full  swing  now  for spring  calves

That miracle of nature—depending on breed, you service your cows today and in nine months and a few days find a newly-delivered calf in your pastures.

Did you pick the right bulls to get the calf you wanted?    We like to help with that.   Clay has been observing the leading club-calf breeders for years now, and can add his insights if you want them.     Sue keeps track of your semen orders and gathers them together to minimize or eliminate shipping costs from diverse sources.

If you are not yet confident in your breeding technique and have no one nearby to help you, give Greg a call and coax him into stopping by for some pointers.

We stock new and used semen tanks, extra canisters, AI equipment and kits, thaw warming units, a range of AI supplies, and provide nitrogen for freeze branding as well as keeping your on-farm tank cold.    Complete service is our goal.


Mich Livestock Service, Inc    ph (989) 834-2661     Ovid, MI        Distributor for “Cattle Visions”


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