Dogwoods are blooming and azaleas are showing fantastic colors. Plus lots of other “bloomers” abound in our country. We have some of the most prolific beauties to be found anywhere — and bluebonnets are starting to show their heads and soon will be abundant, especially along roadsides and many pastures. After a winter “not so fine” the change is welcomed by all.
The long hay feeding period will end soon. But for a handful of cattle folks it’s time to recognize the fact that their cattle did not winter well. Poor hay, lack of protein in their diet and general inattention to livestock condition is starting to show. In order for those malnourished bovines to add some weight — and raise a quality calf–add cubes or other protein and energy supplements to the diet as soon as possible. A trip through the cattle chute may help — deworming cattle that wintered rough is well worth the time, money and effort. So many dewormers on the market that it is a question of choosing the one that is easiest to use for most of us. Whether a pour on, injectable or cubes laced with a product that will help to get rid of the profit-robbing worm load will help. And for many novices, asking the local large animal veterinarian for advice is recommended.
Improving condition of the cow herd is not simply waiting and watching. Weed control and pasture and hay meadow fertilization is important. Some farmers are using poultry litter to give a start to grass in pastures and hay meadows. That is a solution used by many — but comes with a caveat worth remembering. That poultry litter may bring a new set of weed infestation to the farm. Another question about using poultry litter comes from a neighbor several years ago that asked if we were going to apply poultry litter that spring. When I said yes, he asked if we could get it spread early in the week, and not on Friday, as he wanted a fresh aroma over the weekend and not the smell of “fresh” chicken manure! Message received!
Probably the most important suggestion is to use talented, honest merchandisers of the products for use on the farm. Last year we went “outside” our normal process of using our local fertilizer dealer and tried a new one because of the mixture offered. Never again — I could write a book on what went wrong, but at least I won’t make that same mistake again!