Brown County Ag Day set for April 27

Brownwood Bulletin
Scott Anderson

Tuesday, April 27 is the date of the Brown County Ag Day. This program is being conducted by the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and is sponsored by the Brown County Farm Bureau. It will be held at the Brown County Fairgrounds located at 4206 US Highway 377 South in Brownwood. The Ag Day program will begin with a sponsored meal at 5:30 pm.

The first 3.5 months of 2021 have not been kind to area livestock producers. Snow fall, cold weather, drought, a severe weather storm and prolonged windy days have left most pastures with very little grazing. Most livestock producers have depleted available hay supplies.

Dr. Jason Cleere, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist from College Station will discuss spring cattle management and Dr. Reid Redden, Extension Sheep and Goat Specialist from San Angelo will discuss spring sheep/goat management. The focus of both presentations will be on what decisions do producers make now to continue this year.

The Brown County Ag Day is open to anyone interested. There will be a $10 registration fee payable at the door. Pre-registration is required by April 26 so that proper meal planning can be done. To pre-register or for more information, contact the Brown County Extension Office at 325-646-0386.

Efficient water use is increasing in importance. Especially when you don’t have enough. We were really starting to get dry until we received the much-needed rain a couple of weeks ago. The question is being that the start of us getting more rain and get us caught up on annual rainfall or was that just a teaser and are we going back dry? We don’t know.

The easiest way to use stored rainwater is for landscaping. In many Texas community’s 40-60 percent of total water use during peak summer months is for landscape irrigation.

Back about eight years ago we were in a serious drought, the water level in Lake Brownwood was way low, we had water use restrictions and we lost many trees. Several folks were catching the used shower water and using it to try to keep their yard trees alive.

Rainwater harvesting allows for efficient use of this valuable resource. Rainwater is high quality water. It helps to reduce flooding and erosion.

A typical rainwater capture and storage system consists of a catchment surface, gutters, downspouts, filtration, a storage tank, and a distribution method. The amount of water caught or “yielded’ depends on the size and surface texture that the rain falls on. Most highly successful family type rainwater harvesting systems utilize the roof of a house, barn, garage, etc.

In general terms a 1-inch rainfall yields approximately 0.6 gallons of water per square foot of roof or catchment surface. A 2-inch rainfall yields 1.3 gallons of water per square foot of catchment. Provided the catchment surface is considered a “high yield” such as a metal or composition shingle roof. Bare soil is not considered high yield.

It does not take a large catchment surface to yield quite a few gallons of water. So, make sure you plan for a large enough storage tank. For example, a 25’ X 25’ roof = 625 sq. ft. so a 1-inch rain yielding .6 gallons of water x 625 = 375 gallons of water harvested.

Before water is stored it should be filtered. A simple in-line filter is easily made and includes screens placed over gutters at the top of the downspout. A diversion made of up to 6” pvc standpipe used as roof washing catchment that has a valve at the bottom for cleanout. The standpipe fills up first then the cleaner water is moved past the standpipe into the storage tank.

The bigger the rainfall catchment surface is the more water that can be harvested during any single rain.

Most folks that own rural land are interested in making some improvements. Adding some type of rainwater catchment for wildlife can be done without it being too cost prohibitive and elaborate. In areas where rainfall is short it is recommended to locate wildlife guzzlers within 100 acres of each other to benefit more wildlife. Many wildlife guzzlers are designed to take advantage of the topography and natural slope of the land to improve the gravity flow movement of the water captured.

Keeping horns on cattle shows up in bruising and reduced prices at feedyards.

Dehorned calves affect not only the quality of the end product, but also the value of feeder cattle. While it may seem to be an easy part of the management process, dehorning calves is often overlooked.

Implementation of education related to added value has been positively received as current trends are dictating more cattle are coming to market without horns.

Two decades ago, the National Animal Health Monitoring System reported a 2.1% reduction in horned marketed cattle over the previous five years. To date, this trend continues with a reduction in the number of horned cattle marketed.

Value of hornless cattle

Data from the University of Arkansas shows 86% of that state's feeder cattle arrive to market hornless. The Arkansas data also showed a $4 per cwt. increase for polled cattle, whereas data from Kansas showed a $2.18 per cwt reduction for horned cattle.

Implementation of polled genetics has played a large role in the reduction of horned cattle for northeast Missouri's cattle market.

However, as genetic improvement can also incorporate horned cattle for hybrid vigor, cattle with horns will always exist. There will constantly be cattle of unknown pedigree utilized for breeding. Therefore, horned genetics could be a possibility.

Problem with horns

The economic impacts of incorporating polled genetics and dehorning are many. Price docking for horned cattle exists to justify the loss of value. An evaluation of 16 packinghouses 15 years ago reported that 22.3% of cattle processed still had horns, falling short of the goal of 5%.

Horned cattle require more space in transit, the feed bunk and at the feedlot. They tend to be more aggressive and cause more injuries. This is not just relegated to feeder cattle. The price significance of horned versus non-horned cattle can add up during the duration of the animal's life span.

A National Non-Fed Beef Quality Audit disclosed a higher frequency of horns in cull cattle, including bulls, when compared to fed cattle. It also showed twice as many bruises in horned cattle when compared to hornless cattle. This equated to a $12 loss per head for each animal culled. Thus, even for replacement females, it pays to dehorn.

Price exchanges from purchaser to seller also see an impact on profits contributed to horned cattle.

Sold feeder calves requiring dehorning have shown a reduced rate of gain and an increase in sickness. Dehorning related to these calves typically comes at a time when cattle stress is high because of weaning, marketing and transportation. This increases costs for buyers as these losses must be spread across other purchases, thus reducing profits for producers.

Feedlot research shows cattle dehorned at least four weeks before shipping had a reduced rate of sickness and death.

Industry drives change

Cattle bruising creates a $10 million loss to the industry each year. Packing plants are forced to trim bruised carcasses and thus discard profits. This loss of product also contributes to less profit for beef producers.

Data has shown that polled cattle penned with horned cattle exhibit twice as much bruising. To compensate for this, most feedlots will either explicitly state no horns on buyer orders or require heavy docking for purchasing horned cattle. This in turn reduces profits for beef producers.