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Volume 9, Number 1 - January 2003

This Month in Ag Connection

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Benefits of Incorporating Legumes in Grass Pastures

Consider Frost Seeding

1. Total Forage Yield

Treatments DM Yields, lb/ac
Fescue-Red Clover
6 lb. Seed/ac (No Nitrogen)
Fescue + Nitrogen
0 N lb/ac
90 N lb/ac
180 N lb/ac

Taylor, T.H., et. al., University of Kentucky, 1978

2. Improved Forage Quality

Pastures Daily Gain Total Gains
  lb/steer lb/steer lb/ac
Fescue + Ladino Clover 1.53 307 582
Fescue + 150 lb N/ac 1.06 203 374
Hoveland, C.S., et. al., Auburn, Alabama, 1981

Pastures Conception Rate %
  Illinois Indiana
Tall Fescue 75 72
Tall Fescue + Legume 89 92

For more information: UMC Guide 4651, Renovating Grass Sod With Legumes

(Author: Wesley Tucker, Ag Business Specialist)

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Calving Season Management

Calving season is here and it is time again to review how to manage potential problems.

Assisting With Calving

Cows behind a fence

Approximately 80 percent of all calves lost at birth are anatomically normal. Most of them die because of injuries or suffocation resulting from calving or delayed calving. Knowing when and how to assist (or more importantly, when the situation calls for the timely attention of an experienced veterinarian) can make a big difference in the calf crop from year to year. Reproductive losses, which affect the percent calf crop weaned each year, are very high in the first two weeks of life and are second only to losses due to failure to conceive!

The first step to a successful calving season is recognizing a normal calving. As long as the calf is normally presented, the vast majority of animals will give birth without assistance. Recognizing a normal calving that does not require assistance can be as important as knowing when calving is abnormal and requires assistance.

Stages of Normal Delivery

Stage and Time Event
(2 to 6 hours)
1. Calf rotates to upright position
2. Uterine contractions begin
3. Water sac expelled
(1 hour or less)
1. Cow usually lying down
2. Fetus enters birth canal
3. Front feet and head protrude first
4. Calf delivery complete
(2 to 8 hours)
1. Button attachments on placenta relax
2. Uterine contractions expel membranes

The most likely animals on the farm to have problems are first calf heifers. Less than 2% of calving difficulties occur in mature cows. Special attention should be given to young heifers, which are also more apt to tire quickly, especially if they are in sub-optimal body condition.

Tips on When and How to Assist the Cow

(Taken from Dr. Richard Randle, DVM, University Outreach & Extension)

Some other tips from Dr. Randle.

It is best for a cow to lie on her left side so that the rumen lies under and not on top of the calf. Always set the cow back up after birth to avoid bloat.

Breach births and/or uterine fatigue are often characterized by a cow that acts like she wants to calve, then stops and grazes for a while, repeating this behavior several times. Call for assistance!

Importance of the Calf's First Meal

That first meal that the newborn calf gets is essential to the calf's health. The newborn calf is virtually devoid of circulating antibodies and is completely vulnerable to disease. Thus, the calf relies on antibodies acquired from colostrum for protection against common disease-causing organisms (pathogens). Significant amounts of antibodies obtained from high-quality colostrum are transferred across the small intestine and into the blood during the first few hours of life (passive immunity).

Blood antibody levels of newborn calves are affected by several factors: concentration of colostrum ingested, interval after birth to first suckling, feeding method, and genetic, physiological and/or environmental factors. Colostrum concentration and interval from birth to first feeding are the most important factors.

Antibody concentration is highest in first milking colostrum. Antibody concentration is variable among cows, however concentrations are the lowest in first lactation heifers. Cows and heifers that are in good body condition at calving are more likely to produce adequate amounts of high-quality colostrum than are cows and heifers that are thin at calving and losing body weight.

Age at first feeding is extremely important. The calf is able to absorb colostral antibodies for only a short time. After 6 to 12 hours of age, the ability to absorb antibodies begins to decline at an increasing rate until 24 hours of age, when absorption ceases. This decline can be measured by the decline in the level of immunoglobins in the blood.

In order for the calf to consume an adequate amount of colostrum, the calf must be able to stand and walk, find the teat and suckle. Also, the cow must be standing, have a good maternal bond and have teats small enough for the calf to grasp. Any problems in these areas can lead to late and/or decreased colostrum intake. Calves born without assistance are quicker to stand and nurse than calves resulting from hard pulls.

Calves that do not suckle should be fed at least 2 quarts of fresh or frozen colostrum within the first 6 hours of birth and another 2 quarts within the next 12 hours. Bottle feeding or esophageal feeder, although inferior to natural suckling, are better than no access to colostrum.

Management practices should focus on the calf to receive adequate antibody passage by ensuring that the dam is able to deliver a healthy calf and the calf is able to consume adequate amounts of high-quality colostrum shortly after birth.

(Author: Wayne Shannon, Livestock Specialist, University Outreach & Extension, )

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Taxation Tidbit: Self-Employed Health Insurance Deduction

Crutches and helmet

If you are self-employed, the percentage deduction for your payments on health insurance and qualified long-term care insurance coverage for yourself, your spouse and dependents has been increased to 70% for 2002. This deduction is reported on Form 1040 as an adjustment to calculate "adjusted gross income".


Good News:
The deductible percentage for health insurance coverage increases to 100% for 2003.

(Author: Parman R. Green, Ag Business Specialist)

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Publishing Information

Ag Connection is published monthly for Central Missouri Region producers and is supported by University of Missouri Extension, the Commercial Agriculture program, the Missouri Agricultural Experiment Station and the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. Managing Editor: Kent Shannon.