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Black angus cattle feeding in a feedlot.

What Goes Into Calculating Yardage?

Yardage cost is the non-feed cost per head for every day that an animal is fed harvested feed in some form of confinement. Yardage is usually associated with calves and yearlings in the feedlot, but this concept can apply to drylotted or wintering cows as well.

Three, four-wheel drive John Deere tractors, pushing up chopped corn silage into a drive over pile on a dairy farm.

Harvesting Silage on a Wet Year: Moisture is Critical

Fall is on its way in South Dakota. However, with many flooded and saturated fields, some producers are growing concerned that there will be little opportunity to harvest silage before corn dries down past desired moisture levels or frost occurs.

High-moisture corn being stored in a bunker for use as cattle feed.

Harvesting High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

Producers who raise both corn and cattle have the option of harvesting some or all of their corn acres as a high-moisture grain crop to be marketed through cattle. There are several advantages to harvesting corn earlier at a high-moisture content.

Corn earlobe being stored in a bunker for later use as cattle feed.

Valuing High-Moisture Corn and Earlage

A key advantage to using commodities that meet standard specifications and are frequently traded is that it is very easy to establish an economic value that is accepted by most users. The marketplace sets the value of corn, and other feedstuffs on a daily basis, provided those products meet some set of standard specifications.

Group of calves grazing in a fenced-in area.

Weaning Calves on Cover Crops

What do we do if it is time to wean calves, but the pen isn’t ready? That can be a real concern during wet fall seasons, such as 2019. Putting calves into muddy pen conditions is far from desirable, but holding calves on the cows deep into fall increases the risk of adverse winter weather and tends to pull body condition off the cows.

A patch of western wheatgrass with ergot fungus growing throughout.

Ergot in Western Wheatgrass and the Potential Effects for Winter Grazing

2019 has been a year fraught with challenges for ranchers across South Dakota. Abundant precipitation is usually a blessing, however, wet conditions coupled with a cool spring followed by warmer temperatures has caused another problem across the rangelands of South Dakota: ergot poisoning.

A group of cattle grazing on crop residue.

Farm Practices That Improve Soil Health: Integrated Crop-Livestock Systems

An integrated crop-livestock system can provide an alternative management strategy that benefits producer’s income, soil health, and the environment—all while increasing production.

A group of black heifer calves in a feedlot.

Choosing the Right Custom Feeding Partner

Custom cattle feeding can be a “win-win” strategy when done correctly. Feeding someone else’s cattle provides a method to market feedstuffs without tying up the capital required to own the livestock.

A field of standing corn covered in snow.

Standing Corn Considerations

The January 2020 South Dakota Crop Progress Report indicated four percent of S.D. corn acres remain in the field. Given the record rainfall of 2019, current snow pack levels and the 3-to-6-month precipitation forecasts, farmers will likely be dealing with a wet spring in 2020, thus making the removal of those acres important but hard to accomplish.

An aerial view of a series of swine finishing facilities.

Methods to Slow Finishing Pig Growth

In abnormal situations, like with the packing plant closure we’re currently dealing with, pork producers may need to “hold” their pigs past normal marketing dates in order for other processing options to open up. We can accomplish that in two ways: altering internal barn environment and changing diets.