Home Columnist HORACE MCQUEEN: Gearing Up for Winter Feeding

HORACE MCQUEEN: Gearing Up for Winter Feeding

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That sudden burst of winter weather a couple weeks ago flat bit our summer grasses hard. It’s time to count the hay bales, check with the feed store and line up protein supplements. And once we start feeding hay, the bovines think they are on the welfare wagon — standing at the gate and asking for more free goodies.

There is plenty of hay around, but locating quality hay is another story. Buying hay without a hay test is like buying a new pickup. The good ones come with four tires and a spare and an automatic transmission. The sorry hay is lacking in all the good stuff. Too many hay sellers promise that the meadow was “fertilized” — but the only question must be “when”? Last year doesn’t count! Size of the hay roll also counts. A bale measuring 4×5 feet is far less than a bale measuring 5×5 feet.

Dr. Monte Rouquette, who works with beef cattle and forages at the Texas A & M Overton Center says that if the ryegrass was not planted prior to November, grazing is going to be limited this winter. He suggests that if you need winter green for fall-calving cows, replacement heifers or stockers that will be carried through the winter, small grain plantings will provide more forage and earlier than late-planted ryegrass. Many cattle folks are taking a closer look at their now brown pastures and seeing volunteer ryegrass. If that volunteer is good enough it may require some fertilizer soon to make it grow and prosper.

Locating a pasture for rent or lease is a futile quest for many who want to add acreage for more cattle. I have had many calls from producers who are seeking more land. But the number of “good” places are few and far between. Lack of fences, brush, water and location often makes plenty of pastures undesirable. Landowners want to get the best deal when renting or leasing pastures. Offering a three to five year rental agreement with some perks thrown in like cost sharing new fencing, weed and brush control and adding a tank for water can be incentives for both owner and renter.

In our part of East Texas getting vocational training for well-paying jobs is like pulling eye teeth. In Crockett, the former Crockett State School is again vacant. After two attempts to keep the facility open as a troubled youth and treatment center the plans didn’t work. Now with a multi-million dollar facility standing dormant, the movers and shakers in Crockett and Houston County need to make some decisions that could bring new life to the facility Area school systems would be a good starting place. The schools could band together and offer some hands on training for both their students and adults who could benefit from the training. Our high school students and adults in low paying jobs deserve having a place where they are trained for jobs that offer more pay and better working conditions. That’s just my two-cents!

Horace@valornet.com

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