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Articles from 2008 In April


The REAL measure of Energizer Performance & Battery Powered Energizers

The REAL measure of Energizer Performance & Battery Powered Energizers

FENCING TIP OF THE MONTH:

Sponsored Content by Gallagher Animal Management Systems
The real measure is a complex combination of voltage, current energy, and rate.

Volatage is an indication of electrical pressure.

Current, or amps, is an indication of electrical flow.

An electrical pulse (rate) travels down the fence line. It’s best to choose a low impedence energizer that delivers a safe and effective shock.

A Stored Energy Number System (Joules) gives the best indication of the energizer’s ability to handle fence load and maintain an effective shock.

A battery powered energizer needs a constant current from a battery. If not re-charged, the battery will eventually become completely discharged and the energizer will stop. The amount of current required by an energizer increases with the size of the energizer. The amount of charge stored by the battery is measured in Amp-hours (Ah) and increases with the size of the battery. A battery should be chosen which is designed for regular charge and discharge cycles, and for discharging most of its capacity without damage.

For small enclosures, D cell batteries can be used for compact enerizers, but more powerful energizers for larger enclosures, deep cycle batteries are recommended.

Deep cycle batteries are designed to be discharged and re-charged without damage, whereas, automotive batteries are not designed for multiple re-chargings.

Batteries should be placed on a level surface and be protected against extremes of temperature. They should not be in direct contact with cold surface such as the ground. Placing suitable insulating material under the batteries, or placing them in a battery box and burying the box will also help increase their service life. Ensure that the battery has adequate ventilation to allow gases to escape.

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Fall calf marketing process should start in spring

Many cow-calf producers are finishing another successful spring calving season. Thoughts of marketing those new calves in the fall may be far from their minds. However, spring is an ideal time to start the marketing process, even though the actual sales date is still months away.

Last fall, the range in prices for similar weights and grades of calves at the same sale was wider than at any other time in history. Northern Plains auction markets recorded $15 per hundredweight (cwt) or even greater ranges in prices. Fall 2008 price ranges could be even wider.

A group of 550-pound calves that brings $15 per cwt more than another group at a sale returns an additional $82.50 per head. Keep in mind that an additional $50 to $100 per calf may be the difference between profit or loss this fall. Trying to reduce costs by that amount may be difficult due to rising feed, fuel and land costs. So, selling calves near the top of the range rather than close to the bottom will be important.

Since supplies of calves will be near last year’s levels, the two most important fundamental factors that will affect fall calf prices will be corn and fed cattle prices.

Corn prices are higher than last year and will continue to be volatile as news reports about planted acreage and weather in the Corn Belt and even worldwide are released. Usually, a 10-cent-per-bushel change in corn prices causes a $l-per-cwt change in the opposite direction in fall calf prices. Higher corn prices will continue to put downward pressure on calf prices, which is just another reason to try to add value to calves.

Fed-cattle prices in 2008 have been lower than last year because of deteriorating economic conditions in the U.S., increasing supplies of competing meats and struggles to regain export markets for U.S. beef.

Cow-calf producers have no control over corn and fed-cattle prices, but can influence some of the many factors that affect feeder-calf prices. What can be done to assure that calves bring the best possible price now is the question. Of course, good management practices, such as dehorning, castrating and marketing larger, uniform lots, help enhance prices.

However, other factors also can have a significant impact on prices. A first step is to visit the market where calves usually are sold for tips on management and marketing practices that can favorably impact prices. Decisions on whether to implement a number of value-added strategies need to be made now.

Calves that have had appropriate vaccinations that can be documented may bring premium prices. Check with both your veterinarian and market to determine what health program is best for your area.

Calves that have been weaned and bunk-trained usually are preferred by feedlot buyers.

Natural beef is increasing in popularity and calves that qualify for natural programs may bring premium prices. The key is being able to document that calves have not received growth implants or antibiotics.

Age- and source-verified calves may bring a premium because beef exported to Japan must be verified as coming from cattle that are 20 months of age or less. Several large beef retailers in the U.S. now prefer source-verified beef.

Documenting the feedlot performance of past calf crops, enrolling in beef quality assurance programs or marketing at special feeder calf sales sponsored by state or local purebred cattle associations may be other ways to increase calf value.

High-quality replacement heifers also are bringing premium prices. Bangs vaccination, uniformity of the lot, reputation of the seller and providing genetic information are important factors that impact prices.

The key to enhancing fall calf prices is to start the marketing process early. Now is the appropriate time to implement the strategies that can add value to calves. Don’t wait until sale day to simply haul the calves to market and expect premium prices.

Range Science 101: Weed control options for pastures

As you look forward to getting cows onto summer range, you might notice that a lot of the green you are seeing is weeds in your native range, especially cheatgrass and Japanese brome.

These two species probably cause more irritation to grazing managers than any other undesirable species out there. Weeds in general are a bane to good grass management as they use up precious moisture that could be used for grass growth later on in the summer and they confiscate priceless nutrients from the soil profile.

Many of these weeds, like cheatgrass and Japanese brome, can develop so much growth that they restrict the early development or crowd out the desirable grass species. But what makes these weed species especially difficult to manage is the fact that they are annuals. They shoot up out of the ground about two weeks before any other plant out there, soak up the lions share of the moisture and nutrients, and then set seed and are fully mature within a couple of weeks.

Fortunately though, there are several control options we can use to take advantage of the growth habit of these weed species and limit the damage they do to our forage resource.

Chemical Control
Cheatgrass and Japanese brome generally green-up at least two weeks before our key forage species. This provides some unique opportunities to control them using herbicides. Glyphosate can be used to control these species, however, treating early to eliminate cheatgrass and Japanese brome before perennial grass species emerge is risky and therefore, is not recommended on range and pasture.

A better option would be to use Plateau at a rate of 4-12 oz + a surfactant at 1 qt./A early in the season and possibly again in the fall if necessary. Consult the manufacturer’s label for proper application instructions.

Prescribed Burning
In some areas, prescribed burning may be a much more cost effective method of control than chemical treatment. Timing of the burn is critical to effective control. Burning in the early spring when cheatgrass and Japanese brome are two to three inches tall, green, and actively growing is an effective method of limiting new seed production and the ability of these species to crowd out desirable grasses.

It is important to understand however, that due to an extensive bank of seeds already in the soil, one prescribed burn is not going to eliminate the problems associated with these weeds. Multiple treatments including herbicides, prescribed burning, and grazing will likely be required over a period of years for successful control.

Mob Grazing
Pre-season grazing is another option for cheatgrass and Japanese brome control. Heavy, pre-season grazing is cheap, much cheaper than chemical or even prescribed burning. Furthermore, cheatgrass and Japanese brome are grasses; and green grass is green grass when fuel and fodder are at all-time highs. So why not let grazing livestock perform your weed control for you?

Pre-season grazing to control annual weeds however, requires much more grazing pressure than your normal summer stocking rate can provide. Mob grazing is a grazing system that can provide the increase in grazing pressure needed to successfully control these weeds.

Pre-season mob grazing will not hurt your spring or summer grasses so long as heavy grazing ceases before desirable grasses get more than a couple inches tall. Spring-time cool-season grasses generally won’t start growing until early- to mid-May so as long as you pull cattle off pasture or at least back the grazing pressure down to summer stocking rate levels by this time no damage will be done.

When using mob grazing however, it is important not to let livestock linger in an area too long. Excessive grazing pressure over too much time can compact soil and damage plant bases. Let the mob clean the cheatgrass and Japanese brome in a grazing area up and keep them moving to fresh allotments. Livestock probably won’t clean up every single weed plant, but you can’t beat the cost of this weed control treatment.

Aiming for CAB? Here are factors to improve your odds

Most beef producers own at least some Angus cattle. They may have wondered what it takes for their calves to qualify for the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand.

CAB’s Gary Fike, beef cattle specialist, and Darrell Busby, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef specialist, recently shared data that help explain. The two presented abstracts at the Midwestern section meetings for the American Society of Animal Science in Des Moines, Iowa, in March.

Both papers outlined characteristics of Angus-influenced fed cattle that were more likely to meet the 10 CAB carcass specifications (www.cabpartners.com/facts/faqs.php#). Mike King, data analyst for CAB, ran the statistical analyses.

“We used our CAB Feedlot-Licensing Program [FLP] database of 2005 to 2006 live and carcass records on 21,000 cattle,” Fike said. “Those were sired by Angus bulls on Angus or Angus-based cows.” Busby relied on an analysis of similar 2003-2007 data from nearly 24,000 head in the Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity (TCSCF).

The Iowa study showed that the higher the Angus percentage, the greater the CAB acceptance rate. For every 1 percentage-point increase in Angus heritage, CAB acceptance rate rose by 0.093 points. If a pen of 50% Angus steers went 20% CAB, everything else being equal, a pen of 75% Angus steers could be expected to have a CAB acceptance rate of 22.235% (0.093 x 25).

In both studies — the “steer” futurity includes 26% heifers — steers had relatively lower marbling scores. Thus, CAB acceptance rates were almost 9 percentage points higher for heifers in the CAB study (33.6% vs. 24.7%). The Iowa data revealed nearly a 15-point increase for heifers over steers.

“Feedlot delivery weight was a significant influence,” Fike said. “In general, the lighter the cattle upon arrival, the higher the CAB acceptance rate.” In the FLP study, for each 100-pound (lb.) drop in placement weight, the CAB acceptance rate rose 1.85 percentage points. The TCSCF data showed a 6.6-point increase for each 100-pound (lb.) drop.

In the Iowa example, if a pen of Angus-influenced steers placed at 600 lb. had a CAB acceptance rate of 20% at harvest, you could expect a pen placed on feed at 500 lb. to achieve 26.6% CAB acceptance, all else being equal.

The reports differed on the impact of gain cost on CAB acceptance. As these costs decreased, CAB acceptance rate increased in the FLP study. “For every 2.2-cent drop in the cost of gain, CAB acceptance rose by 1 percentage point,” Fike noted. The Iowa study showed no correlation.

Non-implanted cattle in the FLP database had a 14-point higher CAB acceptance rate than other cattle, averaging 38% CAB. There was no difference in the CAB rate between cattle implanted once and those implanted two or more times. All TCSCF cattle were implanted at least once with the same product, and no implant-related differences in CAB acceptance were observed.

Cattle with higher average daily gains (ADG) showed better CAB acceptance rates in the Iowa study. For every 0.1-lb. increase in ADG, the CAB acceptance rate increased by 1.45 percentage points. No differences were found in the CAB abstract.

“Finishing cattle to their optimal quality end point pays,” Fike said.

“In our FLP database, cattle that were not sorted and shipped as one unit averaged 23.3% CAB, while those that were sorted at least once averaged 29.6%. Those sorted twice or more averaged nearly 34% CAB.” TCSCF cattle are routinely sorted as two harvest groups.

In both studies, cattle that had higher feed/gain ratios also had higher CAB acceptance rates.

“It looks like a bit of a conundrum that higher CAB-acceptance cattle in our database had a lower cost of gain, yet they were somewhat less efficient,” Fike said. “But we have to remember that these factors are independent of one another.” There may be geographic reasons as well, he added.

Time of year, or season of harvest had an effect on CAB acceptance rate in the Iowa study, but not in the CAB data. The ISU paper concluded, cattle that were harvested from October through December had lower CAB acceptance rates than those harvested in other months.

Medicine cost per head, death loss, days on feed and final live weight showed no relationship to CAB acceptance in either study. In the CAB paper, which included feedlot cattle from New Mexico to Iowa, location had no effect on CAB acceptance rate, nor did relative starting age as calves or yearlings. The Iowa study included mud score, disposition score and region of origin, with no statistical differences in CAB acceptance.

The presentations are available atwww.cabpartners.com/news/press.

Preconditioning Review: Is it for the average cow/calf producer?

Preconditioning is an effort to prepare young cattle for the marketplace of optimal health and ability to withstand the stresses associated with leaving the home farm, passing through various trade channels, and adjusting to a new environment.

After calving and weaning, this transition is one of the most stressful events that cows might experience in a lifetime. Most of these calves are destined for the feedlot where there is overwhelming evidence that preconditioned cattle significantly outperform those that are not. Advantages include less shrinkage, increased average daily gain, less total days on feed, lower disease incidence with associated costs of medicine, labor, facilities, and mortality, and increased percentage that grade choice.

Preconditioning is a protocol that establishes specific requirements for management procedures and their timing, vaccinations, and sometimes nutrition. The objective is to protect calves from diseases they might encounter and to acclimate them to the environment and feed of their next home.

With growing popularity, there are a multitude of programs offered by state beef and veterinary associations, Extension Service, private marketing alliances, and branded product retailers. Some require third party certification usually by a veterinarian, and some require specific records of dates, procedures, products used, and even genetics. The best program is one tailored to your farm and your intended market.

I implore producers to think of preconditioning not as a set of rules but rather as a concept. Let’s back up to the fundamentals of good husbandry and remember that cattle are most content with the herd and without changes in their daily, consistent routine. Happy cows are healthy and productive.

To maximize health, our goal is to perform necessary changes and procedures in small incremental steps. It is best if we can avoid multiple stressors at one time and can allow for a recovery period (return to the routine) between them. In Vermont, success depends heavily on good fences, facilities, and our ability to work cattle in a calm and gentle manner.

Preconditioning is not for everyone. While some of the principles may enhance the success of an average cow/calf operation, one must consider the costs, the facility and labor requirements, and the potential benefits of subscribing to a specific program.

There are three situations where I think preconditioning is worthy of consideration. The farm or ranch which places high priority on offering the healthiest cattle possible that perform maximally at their final destination is such a case. If motivated by pride in one’s effort or a desire to establish a reputation in the marketplace, this is a tool to help achieve that end. It is not uncommon for producers of quality seedstock, broodstock, stockers, and feeders to be sought after by buyers for repeat business.

Secondly, I would strongly encourage any producer who decides to retain ownership to consider preconditioning. While the benefits of this effort are generally reaped by the buyer or the recipient of cattle, in this case you remain the beneficiary. Perhaps the most common reason to precondition cattle is that your chosen market requires it and/or recognizes the “added value” with premiums or other financial incentives. The numbers vary widely so suffice it to say that the costs of preconditioning range from one to ten dollars per hundredweight and gross returns fall into the same range. From a business perspective you must know your costs and your market. A good starting point for help with this kind of analysis is the Extension Service and your veterinarian.

The following is a basic preconditioning program that I use as a baseline. It is intended to be modified as needed or required to suit the individual farm and the expectation of the market

REQUIRED

  • Weaned 45 days
  • Dehorned , castrated, and healed
  • Vaccinated and boosted 3-5 weeks later or according to label instructions
  • IBR, BVD, PI3, BRSV. Modified live whenever appropriate
  • Leukotoxoid pasteurella (manheimia) vaccine
  • Avoid vaccinating during times of stress, such as surgery and/or weaning

RECOMMENDED

  • Clostridium 7 way vaccine with booster
  • Hemophilus vaccine with booster if this has been a documented problem on your farm or if recommended by your veterinarian
  • Deworm at first vaccination – internal and external parasites
  • Adjust ration during background period to prepare cattle for feedlot. Teach cattle to use feedbunks and water tanks or fountains
  • Castration method of choice is by knife
  • The earlier the age at castration and/or dehorning, the better. (3 days to 3 months acceptable)

Additional Comments
Name of vaccine, serial number, date and person administering vaccine should all be documented. All animals should have clear and permanent identification. Vaccinations are most effective when initiated after 4 months of age but at least two weeks prior to weaning. Planning so that boosters are given before weaning is ideal, given at weaning is often acceptable, and given at least 2 weeks after weaning is also effective. Many modified live vaccines are not labeled for use in calves nursing pregnant cows. Killed vaccines may be used when vaccinating pre-weaning. All injections should be given in the neck region in front of the shoulder blade. Use sub-Q injection whenever appropriate.

Pasteurella hemolytica (now called manheimia) is the most common bacteria in the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex causing shipping fever. The pathogenicity of pasteurella moltocida is debatable, certainly hemolytica is life threatening. This bacteria is part of the normal flora of a cow’s respiratory tract. It generally causes disease in conjunction with viral infection or when the animal is immunosuppressed due to stress.

Booster vaccinations for products that don’t require boosters by label are given to protect animals that didn’t respond to the first injection.

Hemophilus somnus has long been recognized as a possible component of BRD complex. The efficacy and possible immunosuppressive effects of this vaccine remain under debate.

This Election Could Devastate The Cattle Industry

Don’t get excited, I’m not going to give you my opinion of the candidates or look at how they stand on issues important to the cattle industry and ag, in general. In fact, this year’s election, if nothing else, serves as a stark warning that ag and the livestock industry are simply not even on the radar screen of any presidential candidate or their party.

Certainly, exploding food prices are starting to be felt by consumers, but the response there has been disconcerting, as well. While riots over food prices have hit the streets of developing countries, and the United Nations and other groups are warning about catastrophes, the response has been different in the Washington Beltway.

The widespread perception was that higher food prices would force people to take food less for granted, thus increasing their interest in ag. But the reaction appears that the powers that be are content to allow food production to move outside our borders.

This has always surprised me from a national-security perspective. If people are frustrated over military spending and the dispatching of our soldiers to foreign lands to ensure a continuing flow of oil, just think of the implications when we’re forced as a nation to do the same to ensure the flow of food into our country.

Their argument is that ag is an evolutionary step in an economy, and that outsourcing food production will stabilize other regions of the world, providing them income and raising their standard of living. America, they say, has evolved to where it doesn’t need to raise its own food. A model might be the state of New York where the bulk of its food needs are imported, leaving the populace to focus on higher outcome activities. While this is a topic that deserves some serious conversation, it’s not the thrust of this article, however.

The potential devastation I’m talking about as a result of this extended election cycle is simply its effect on beef demand. It began with the invisible “depression” that started about eight months ago.

Any analysis of the basic underlying economic numbers of the economy showed slow growth, but it was growth. This economic downturn was created in large part by politicians and the media, as it served their political purposes.

It was a self-fulfilling prophecy – reality eventually matched the perception. Consumer confidence is plummeting. According to some recent polling data by ABC, nine in 10 Americans now give the economy a negative rating; 51% say it’s in “poor” shape. This is the worst sentiment about the economy in more than 15 years!

The thing is that, as the news coming out of Iraq turned decidedly favorable, the political campaigns saw Iraq move down the list of concerns. They thus turned to the economy. As a result, the last 60 days saw the biggest decline in response to people’s perception of the economy since the monthly poll was initiated in 1985.

In fact, one political analyst remarked that with consumer confidence falling so sharply, we could actually be in a full-blown recession by fall. What was disconcerting to me was that this person viewed that as positive relative to their election goals.

This political race, on both sides of the aisle, has largely been about change – who can best position him or herself as the candidate to bring about change. Sure, that’s been the major theme of just about every election since the beginning of the republic, but this campaign season has seen politicians not only position themselves as the candidates of change, but also focus on making the case for change – to the detriment of the nation.

And their case for change is simple – the present isn’t good. While that may be good election-year politics, it’s not good for beef demand. We need to get this election over so that we have a shot at rebuilding consumer confidence.

A Humbled Industry Takes A Different Election Approach

The last presidential election seemed to be the perfect opportunity for the cattle industry. On almost every important issue, including the environment, taxes, private-property rights, trade, etc., the two candidates – John Kerry and George W. Bush – were starkly different. It was arguably the clearest cut choice we’d ever faced as an industry.

Even more importantly, President Bush was the favorite to win reelection. It was argued that by taking the unprecedented approach of throwing the support of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association behind him, the industry could expect to wield unprecedented influence in getting its legislative priorities enacted during his second term.

It was widely debated whether an endorsement was worth the risk, and those raising concerns about the gambit certainly proved to be correct. The second Bush term has been, in virtually everyone’s view, a total disaster from a cattle-industry standpoint. It’s resulted in the most significantly negative policy decisions ever for the cattle industry.

We lost billions of unrecoverable dollars to an inability to restore beef trade with Japan and Korea, while ethanol subsidies proved the most devastating policy ever enacted against livestock production. We saw the majority of industry issues get hung up in a game of political partisanship that certainly wasn’t helped by our open support of the Bush administration. And despite the death of the industry’s internal political struggle, we saw the industry’s issues continue to be used as political footballs.

Certainly nearly every industry has made similar political miscalculations; some would argue the Bush administration’s abandonment of the beef industry would have occurred with or without our support, and with even worse results. I’m not sure what “worse” would have been, however.

The fallout from the political disaster of the last four years is, in many regards, just beginning to be understood. The U.S. cattle industry is in a tough position in today’s political environment; we’re out-manned, out-gunned, and find ourselves in direct opposition to some of our traditional allies, corn growers, for example.

Plus, those who openly support our demise have gained strength and political clout, and appear to be building on those gains in the upcoming election. None of the presidential candidates appear to favor the industry on the majority of major issues, and the interests of rural America continue to move toward the back burner.

The industry must continue to reevaluate its strategies relative to achieving political aims, and we must do a much better job of mobilizing producers and grassroots efforts. Nor can we afford to speak with a divided voice, allowing ourselves to be used as a political football, as we have the last 10 years.

One could argue that the industry’s internal struggle was a necessary evil, but any internal debates must occur in the industry’s meeting rooms, not in the halls of Congress.

Someone asked me the other day to estimate the cost to the industry of lost opportunities in the last decade. I’m not sure we want to ever know the actual dollar number, but just two of the issues – the losses associated with ethanol and the delays in regaining our foreign markets – could have put a brand new pickup truck in everybody’s yard.

Consider Summer Forages In Your Drought Strategy

Last year’s drought in the Southeast showed many cattle producers that summer is a critical time in a cow-calf operation, says Gary Bates, Tennessee Extension forage specialist in Southeast Farm Press. And late April and May is the time to start working on your summer forage production. If you wait until summer, you’ll have waited too long because you can’t depend on tall fescue/orchardgrass pastures to provide much forage during July and August.

Bates suggests producers start thinking about planting a few acres of grass that will provide summer production. Generically called warm-season grasses, most of these grasses were developed in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, and they have several characteristics that give them an advantage over cool-season grasses during the summer.

Warm-season grasses can produce energy through photosynthesis faster, which allows them to use more of the sunlight that falls on their leaves. They use water more efficiently, plus they have deeper root systems than cool-season grasses. In addition, warm-season grasses’ optimum temperature is about 90° F, while cool-season grasses perform best at about 70° F.

Most producers should think about planting a portion of their acreage to some type of warm-season forage, Bates says. While they won’t eliminate all drought-associated problems, warm-season forage can help mitigate some of the problems.

Here’s a quick primer on warm-season grasses:

  • Bermudagrass is a perennial grass that grows and spreads by above-ground stems known as stolons. A good hay or grazing forage, it’s very tolerant of close, continuous grazing. Some varieties can be planted from seed, while others don’t produce viable seed and have to be transplanted from live, vegetative material from another stand.

    Cold tolerance is a major consideration when selecting a variety, as winter-kill can cause severe stand loss in bermudagrass. Hybrids are highly responsive to fertilizer and can produce high-quality forage if harvested at early stage of maturity. Bermudagrass should be harvested every four weeks.

  • Warm-season perennial bunch grasses include big bluestem, little bluestem, indiangrass, eastern gamagrass and switchgrass. These forages produce high-quality forage early in the season, but quality drops rapidly as plants mature, just as with any of the other warm-season grasses. Seedling vigor is very low in these species, so weed competition can be a problem with establishment. Expect two years to establish a stand.

    Rotational grazing is essential for stand maintenance, so don’t graze below 8 in. If grazed too close, plants will weaken and stands will thin. Because of their sensitivity to close grazing or clipping, these plants are easier to use for hay, but can be utilized with grazing cattle.

  • Crabgrass is an annual grass selected for higher yield from native crabgrass populations in Oklahoma. Oklahoma research shows excellent yield and animal performance, while Tennessee experience indicates it can make an excellent summer pasture for stocker animals.

    Because it’s an annual, allowing plants to produce seed for the next year’s stand is necessary. No info is available to determine how successful natural reseeding of crabgrass will be due to the abundance of native crabgrass seed in Tennessee. There are two varieties currently available – “Red River” and “Quick-N-Big.”

  • Sorghum x sudangrass hybrid and pearl millet are both annuals. Relatively tall growing, they can be quite productive with timely summer rains. Sorghum x sudangrass hybrids can tolerate a cooler soil temperature, so they can be planted earlier than pearl millet. Sorghum x sudangrass hybrids release prussic acid (cyanide) after a frost, so they can’t be grazed as long as pearl millet. If there’s a potential for even a light frost, don’t graze a sorghum x sudangrass hybrid; only cut it for hay, which will allow time for the prussic acid to break down.

  • Teff grass, originally from West Africa, is a summer annual that should be considered along the lines of sorghum x sudangrass hybrids. With a little finer stem than the hybrids, it should be a little higher in forage quality, though yields may not be quite as high as with sorghum x sudangrass hybrids. Because the root system is shallow early in the season, care must be taken with grazing management; it may be better to take the first cutting off as hay.
While warm-season grasses can provide forage when tall fescue pastures are unproductive, their growing season is shorter compared to tall fescue, and there’s considerably more risk with them. If you decide to try one, be reasonable in the amount of land and resources you commit.

Tall fescue should remain the primary forage. A good rule of thumb is to have 70% of your acreage in cool-season grasses like tall fescue; 30% can be sown to a warm-season grass, with the goal to provide grazing during late June through early September.
-- Gary Bates, Tennessee Extension forage specialist