By

Rebecca Kern-Lunbery, MS, PAS Animal Scientist
It was just a little over a year ago that Chuck Powell, a goatpacker from California called our lab regarding his packgoats and urinary calculi. He was reaching out in a last-ditch effort to determine what was going on with his goats. To determine why they were developing urinary calculi. Mr. Powell had already lost...
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As a consultant at a commercial testing laboratory, “Why is my RFV and RFQ different?” is one of the most common questions I receive from producers looking at their forage report. Most often, the question is posed when there is a major difference between the relative feed value (RFV) and relative forage quality (RFQ). The...
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Dr. Ray Ward speaks on panel at MarkeTech Conference
We often get the chance to listen to hear Dr. Ray Ward speak about soils, we seldom get to hear Dr. Ray Ward’s Business Advice. However, Dr. Ward was invited to speak on a panel, Big Businesses Start Out Small, at the 2022 MarkeTech conference here in Kearney. The moderator stumbled over Dr. Ward’s bio...
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Cattle on Cover crops
Often, we struggle to find forage in a drought. In Nebraska, the effects of the drought are prevalent. We have seen no April showers, instead wind and grass fires. These conditions are forecast to persist. So we are going to need to start making our forage plans early. Additionally, we will have to rely more...
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Beef Cow Licking Mineral Tub
In 2017, in an effort to support my own continuing education, I attended the first mineral nutrition for beef cows program. The very first program was an all day meeting hosted by Adele Harty of SDSU Extension at the Cottonwood Range and Livestock Field Station. The day was packed with an abundance of information. Subsequently,...
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The ultimate question of why Ward Laboratories, INC. has a feed department: Why test feeds? Approximately 2 years ago, in 2020 I tried to answer this question in blog post: Value in feed testing: feed analysis pays off in profits. Here we are 2 years later with drought conditions persisting across western United States. These...
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For many cattle producers, it is a relief to put the cows to pasture. We have just overcome winter feeding obstacles, and many of us are ready to turn the cows out and focus on other tasks. However, are you certain they are receiving the nutrients required to support their calf? Lactation is a demanding...
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Recently, I have consulted with packgoat hobbyist and livestock producers to interpret their livestock water suitability report. Because water is a vital nutrient, understanding these reports is very important to make good decisions. Water plays an important role and many biological functions including transportation of essential nutrients to body tissues and cells, lubricant for the...
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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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