By

Rebecca Kern, MS, PAS Animal Scientist Consultant
Utility hay is low quality hay. Typically, hay categorized as utility hay is high in fiber and low in energy and protein. Upon visual inspection, poor quality hay often contains seed pods, if it is a legume species, or seed heads if it is a grass species. Utility hay is hay that has been harvested...
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Acute nitrate toxicity occurs when animals consume high-nitrate forages for a short period of time. Nitrate is converted to nitrite by rumen microbes as an intermediate step in converting the nitrate to microbial protein. Ruminant animals are specifically at risk, as they bring up the feed bolus for chewing and inhale the nitrite. The nitrite...
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Its time for beef producers to look to the future and that inventory of stockpiled winter nutrients! It is time to be prepared for winter. That is right I said its time to be prepared, not time to start preparing.  By this time of year cattlemen should have a plan in place to feed their...
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brown black and white cows drinking water during daytime
Often, I consult with livestock producers testing forage for their animals. Inevitably there are two numbers on the report they are most concerned with, protein and relative feed value (RFV). Protein is an important value to understand if the forage meets animal requirements. RFV is a useful index to quickly compare or rank forages. However,...
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BMR forages include sorghums, millets, sudans, corn and hybrid variations such as sudex. BMR stands for brown midrib, the visible phenotype associated with the low-lignin genetic mutation. These forage varieties claim to improve animal performance when fed ad libitum. Improved digestibility increases the rumen passage rate. A rapid passage rate results in less time spent...
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Ward Laboratories, INC. takes the steps from sample receiving to results reporting to ensure your confidence in NIRS analysis of forages. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) is commonplace in commercial feed testing laboratories. Most forage samples are ran by NIRS in our lab. Unfortunately, NIRS results undergo more skepticism than wet chemistry methods. However, NIRS is...
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Grandpa always said he cut the best hay under a full moon. said a hay customer during a report consultation. This customer was not the first this year who was disappointed in her forage quality. Another gentlemen stated, “I was so on the ball this year, up and cutting by 9am!” I certainly feel for...
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Welcome to Ward! Here, we strive to provide quality analytical analysis of agricultural samples. Soil, plant, and fertilizer reports allow farmers to make informed decisions regarding field amendments. Additionally, Soil health analysis provided producers with a tool to compare management practices. While, water testing can ensure safety and quality for intended use. Furthermore, feed reports...
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Surveying the financial horizon may lead some cow/calf producers to determine feed analysis is an unnecessary cost. However, upon closer examination there is value in feed testing. Let’s see how knowing the actual protein content of feed-stuffs can pay off in just 1 week. The cost of the the feed and the analysis Of course...
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There are 5 principles of soil health as defined by the Natural Resources Conservation District. Armor the Soil (keep crop residue on the soil to prevent errosion)Minimal Soil Disturbance (No-Till)Plant Diversity (Grow more than just row crops, consider cover crop mixes)Keep a continual live root in the soil (again cover crops) But it is the...
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Brown mid-rib forage (BMR) varieties have been around since the early 2000s. Yet, I still find producers aren’t sure about what BMR means to their operation. Traits associated with BMR varieties can impact forage quality and animal performance. First, lets define what BMR really is. Then, we can examine how this trait impacts forage quality...
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It’s that time of year, when most Americans start dreaming of turkey, potatoes, gravy and stuffing. Before there are any drumsticks on our plates however, turkey producers must focus on feeding turkeys for holiday feasts. To maximize production efficiency nutrient requirements must be met. Energy Energy comes from carbohydrates and fat in the feed. It...
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Here at Ward Laboratories, INC. we have recently updated our fee schedule and website. One major change in the fee schedule is that we are asking clients to call and visit with our Professional Animal Scientist prior to sending samples to be analyzed for Prussic Acid in livestock feed. We have heard some of the...
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I receive many phone calls about interpreting a feed report. The interpretation depends on the reason for testing. Some reports help formulate an animals diet. Other reports determine hay quality for buying and selling. At Ward Laboratories, INC. , we provide the Ward Guide to help producers interpret agricultural testing reports. Here are my tips...
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First cutting is starting to come in for NIRS analysis here at Ward Laboratories, INC. That means it’s the season for making hay! So, let’s take a look at how agricultural testing can help producers make quality hay from seeding to feeding! Match the hay production system to resources and environment. Observe the field intended...
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Recently, I attended the Wyoming Stock Growers Association’s Cattlemen’s Convention and Tradeshow in Gillette, Wyoming. While driving up I noticed the diversity in the livestock in rangeland grazing. Most grazers were beef cattle. I also saw horses, sheep with lambs and goats with kids. Additionally, deer and pronghorn were sharing many of these rangeland grazing...
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The removal of corn oil from distillers co-products resulted from livestock industry feed back. Interference of fat with rumen metabolism required low inclusion rates in the beef diet. Full fat DDGS had a negative impact on milk quality in the dairy industry. Swine fed co-products with full oil content resulted in soft bacon. The ethanol...
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As spring continues to progress into summer, many livestock growers will move herds onto lush green pastures, and toss out a mineral supplement. But what happens if that supplement doesn’t provide balanced mineral nutrition to those animals? The first major concern is magnesium deficiency referred to as ‘Grass Tetany’. However, that isn’t the only mineral...
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Even before the ‘bomb cyclone’ hit, it was a heartbreaking spring for livestock producers. I was receiving phone calls of late term abortions and lost calves and cows due to poor nutrition. Before these historic floods, Nebraska and surrounding states were already enduring unusually low temperatures and heavy snow fall. Producers were struggling with guidelines...
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I don’t like political topics; however, with the buzz surrounding the new green deal, those of us in the beef industry need to speak up. Beef producers truly do provide a nutrient dense, environmentally responsible product. North American beef producers have made strides toward increased efficiency and environmental responsibility. Greenhouse Gasses In the past 20...
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