Improved Pastures, Production Practices Headline Beef Field Day

By Johnny Morgan, LSU AgCenter

ST. MARTINVILLE, La. — Beef producers heard about improved pastures, production practices and marketing at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day on Oct. 21.

The field day, organized by the LSU AgCenter and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville.

LSU AgCenter agent Stuart Gauthier discussed hay combustion and the importance of drying hay properly before storing it at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

LSU AgCenter agent Stuart Gauthier discussed hay combustion and the importance of drying hay properly before storing it at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

“This field day allows our faculty to present data on forages, economics and reproduction along with our agents doing demonstrations on hay quality, shrink and weed control,” said Phil Elzer, AgCenter associate vice president for animal sciences and natural resources.

AgCenter agent Stuart Gauthier discussed hay combustion and the importance of drying hay properly before storing it. He showed what hay looks like at different moisture levels.

When the temperature of hay gets above 130 degrees, flammable gases start to build up. At that point, producers need to continue to monitor the temperature, he said.

“We need to be really careful when baling hay to avoid a problem,” he said. “You want to get the moisture down below 20 percent.”

Brian Kibbe, laboratory assistant at the UL-Lafayette, discussed ways to control smutgrass with a 6-foot roto wiper.

“This piece of equipment works similar to a wick bar, where you pull it behind a tractor and it drags over the top of the weed for control,” Kibbe said. “We use a 33-percent mixture on smutgrass, which is two parts water and one part Roundup herbicide.”

LSU AgCenter agent Stan Dutile discussed the importance of better management of cattle to avoid the loss of weight during transport at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

LSU AgCenter agent Stan Dutile discussed the importance of better management of cattle to avoid the loss of weight during transport at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

AgCenter agents Andrew Granger and Stan Dutile discussed the importance of better management of cattle to avoid weight loss during transport.

“There is some research out there that shows that cattle with better temperament are less likely to be affected by shrinkage or weight loss during transport,” Granger said. “For instance, the Angus breed is usually calmer than the Brahman breed.”

Kurt Guidry, an economist and director of the AgCenter Southwest Region, said projections are showing an increase in cattle numbers in 2018.

“This is a negative for producers because with increased production, we will see a decrease in prices,” Guidry said.

LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell discussed bermudagrass planting methods, bulrush control and winter weed control strategies at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell discussed bermudagrass planting methods, bulrush control and winter weed control strategies at the Acadiana Cattle Producers Fall Field Day held at the UL-Lafayette Cade Farm in St. Martinville on Oct. 21, 2017. Photo by Johnny Morgan/LSU AgCenter

AgCenter weed specialist Ron Strahan and forage specialist Ed Twidwelldiscussed bermudagrass planting methods, bulrush control and winter weed control strategies.

“We get a lot of calls from producers in the spring asking about establishing a new pasture or hayfield, and we tell them one thing they will want to do is make sure the weeds are kept low so the bermuda can get full sunlight,” Twidwell said.

Strahan added that keeping weeds clipped short in bermudagrass will help it green up faster in spring.

“Another thing that weed suppression does is allow your first cut of hay in spring to be cleaner,” he said.

AgCenter ruminant nutritionist Guillermo Scaglia discussed the importance of producing good quality hay.

“Producing hay is expensive already, so if we’re going to do it, we need to make sure that it is the highest quality possible,” he said. “The reason for that is if it’s not good quality, we’re going to need to add some other supplements to the ration to cover the requirements of the animal that we are feeding.”

The field day concluded with AgCenter agent Allen Hogan giving an update on the Louisiana Master Farmer program.

AgCenter agents and specialists worked closely with UL-Lafayette staff to prepare for the event, which Dutile said has been held since the late 1990s.

“We have a cooperative effort here between the LSU AgCenter and the University of Louisiana Lafayette,” Dutile said. “We’re here in the heart of Ragin’ Cajun country, where there’s a lot of rivalry in sports and some other things, but in terms of agriculture, the two universities cooperate tremendously.”

On alternating years, the field day is held at the Cade Farm, the AgCenter Iberia Research Station in Jeanerette and the Cecil McCrory Exhibit Building in Abbeville.