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Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

June 30, 2014

Dr. Tom Troxel                                                                                Dr. Michael L. Looper


Department Mourns Loss of Long-Time Professor


The University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Department of Animal Science recently said goodbye to a longtime member of the faculty. Dr. A. Hayden Brown Jr., 67, of Fayetteville, died May 26, 2014, in Washington Regional Medical Center in Fayetteville following a short illness.

He was born Oct. 13, 1946 in Cookeville, Tenn., to Mrs. Imogene (Jean) Flatt Brown of Cookeville and the late Avert Hayden Brown, Sr. He grew up on a farm run by his Ma and Pa Flatt (Carlie B. and Vella Rogers Flatt). He graduated from Cookeville High School in 1964 and from Tennessee Tech University in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in animal science and began working for the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Tennessee, as an assistant extension agent in Jamestown,  Tenn., from 1968-74. He earned M.S. (1974) and Ph.D. (1976) degrees in animal breeding and genetics from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He and his wife, Helen, married on Sept. 9, 1977, and moved to Fayetteville.


He worked at the University of Arkansas, starting in 1977, serving as an assistant, associate, and full professor in the Department of Animal Science. A celebration of his life was held in Fayetteville on June 1 at the Pauline Whitaker Animal Science Center, University of Arkansas. Memorials may be sent to the Scholarship Fund, Department of Animal Science, University of Arkansas, 1120 W. Maple St., AFLS B114, Fayetteville, AR 72701.


Department Hosts Annual Judging Camp


The Department of Animal Science recently hosted its annual summer judging camp. Bringing together kids ranging in age from 9-18, from all across the state; the camp offers participants a chance to learn and prepare for the upcoming 4H and FFA state competitions.


Lasting three days, the camp teaches attendees to evaluate sheep, hogs and cattle; and how to formulate a set of reasons for ranking the animals in the order they chose. The camp also helps teach and improve public speaking and decision making skills.


Every year the camp ends with the campers participating in a judging competition. They evaluate several categories of the animals that they have learned about during the previous days; rank the animals then present their reasons for their choices. During the competition the campers are broken out into three groups: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Awards are presented in each group for highest points overall, reasons and in each individual category.

This year during the awards presentation, Bryan Kutz presented recognition awards to Joe Don Greenwood and Steve Jones. Both have been involved in the judging camp for many years and both are retiring this year.


This was the 14th time the Department has hosted the camp and the proceeds help with the Department’s Judging team’s traveling expenses.

Left to Right – Bryan Kutz, Kinsey Watkins (Faulkner County, senior high individual), Mesa Kutz (Washington County, senior second high individual), Jeffery Marley (Independence County, third high individual) and Steve Jones.

Left to Right – Bryan Kutz, Kinsey Watkins (Faulkner County, senior high individual), Mesa Kutz (Washington County, senior second high individual), Jeffery Marley (Independence County, third high individual) and Steve Jones.












Bryan Kutz presented recognition awards to Steve Jones.

Bryan Kutz presented recognition awards to Steve Jones.










Bryan Kutz presented recognition awards to Joe Don Greenwood.

Bryan Kutz presented recognition awards to Joe Don Greenwood.












Beef Cow Liquidation Halts


Total beef cow slaughter so far in 2014 is down 13% compared to last year, and is on pace to be down 300,000 to 400,000 head for the year. During spring and summer 2013, beef cow slaughter rates increased more in line with the seasonal trend, but this year it is clear that more producers are holding onto cows given the record-high calf prices and better pasture conditions for much of the country.


Beef cow slaughter rates have been flatter than normal from March through June, and the overall slaughter levels have been well below recent years. Last year, beef cow slaughter dropped off relatively significantly during the last five months of the year. As a result, this year’s beef cow slaughter will likely close the gap with last year somewhat during the last five months.


Remember, CattleFax expects total beef cow slaughter for 2014 to be down 11 to 13% compared to last year. Add to this the trend of a lower percentage of heifers compared to steers going into the slaughter mix, and it suggests the beef cowherd is in fact on target to be larger on January 1, 2015. This year will mark the third year in a row for declining beef cow slaughter, which will be down 1 million cows compared to what it was in 2011 (Source CattleFax).


Influencers on Feeder Cattle Futures


Due to tighter calf supplies and supportive demand from feedyards for replacements, feeder cattle futures have been trending significantly higher this year. The August feeder cattle futures prices have increased about 15% since April 1. With an increase of this magnitude, there is a natural desire to identify future price trends. Remember feeder cattle futures are strongly correlated with deferred live cattle futures due to the supply relationship: consumer demand for beef, demand for fed cattle drives feeder demand, etc. Feeder cattle and fed cattle prices movements are often in lockstep because of this relationship. Based on more than 40 years of data, the 2014 price relationship has only been stronger 16% of the time.


Corn futures prices can also influence feeder cattle futures, but the relationship between these two variables is not nearly as impressive. It takes a structural breakdown in the feeder cattle and fed cattle relationship for corn prices to become a more consistent factor. For instance, look at August feeder cattle and December live cattle futures. Several periods saw the price relationship deteriorate: 87-88, 99-00, 07-08, 11-12. In these years, tighter corn supplies created a stronger than usual feeder cattle to corn relationship. Analysis shows for these years, a 10% increase in corn price corresponded with a $51/cwt increase in feeder cattle futures prices. Therefore, focus on the corn market if the current relationship between feeder and live cattle weakens (Source CattleFax).


For more information about cattle production, visit or or contact your county extension office.

Forage Management to Decrease Fescue Toxicity

June 6, 2014

Join us July 1, 2014 for Forage Management Program

SWREC Fescue managment field day_Page_2


For more information, contact Dr. Paul Beck


Phone: (870) 777-9702 ext. 105

Southwest Reserach & Extension Center

362 Highway 174 North

Hope, AR 71801



Should I creep feed?

June 5, 2014

     This time of year, cattle producers begin to ask ‘Should I creep feed my calves?’. The answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. There must be a definitive purpose for creep feeding and purposes may include:

  • Increase weaning weight of purebred bulls and heifers

  • Increase growth and maturity in replacement females

  • Increase weaning weight of commercial market calves (steers and heifers)

  • Take nursing pressure off the cow

  • My neighbor creep feeds

    While some of these bullets are justifiable, others are erroneous and some have the potential to be detrimental to both production and the pocketbook. For instance, heifers that become fleshy early in life due to creep feeding may have reduced milk production as a first-calf heifer and market data shows fleshy to fat cattle are discounted $5 to $18/cwt. Arkansas markets during the week of May 29, 2014 reported fleshy heifers, although few in number, discounted $17/cwt.

    A common myth is creep feeding calves provides relief to the cow. Calves that are creep fed will continue to nurse their dams; therefore, creep feeding won’t be a direct benefit to the cow. If creep feeding benefits the cow, it will most likely be an indirect response to having slightly more available forage if calves are being creep fed at a high enough rate to substitute creep feed in place of pasture.

    Forage quality and quantity should be the initial determinant of the creep feeding decision. Creep feed is essentially a supplement to or substitute for pasture forages during the 60 to 90 days prior to weaning when a substantial part of the calf’s diet is no longer milk, but pasture. By this point in a calf’s life, milk has become more of a supplemental food source.

   The economic return to creep feeding is influenced by creep feed, feed conversion and feed cost. Creep feed, feed conversion is the amount of additional weight gain associated with creep feeding. For instance, if calves gain, on average, 2.25 lb per day without creep feed but gain 2.5 lb per day when fed 1 lb of creep feed per calf, daily, the creep feed conversion is 1 (2.5-2.25) = 4 lb feed per lb additional weight gained.

    Table 1 below provides a guideline for possible creep feed conversion ratios given various categories of forage quality and quantity.


   To help determine the break-even point between creep feed, feed conversion and feed cost, table 2 provides the break-even value of the additional weight gained.


   While forage quality and quantity will ultimately determine calf response to creep feeding, feed price and calf value will ultimately determine return on investment for calves that will be marketed after weaning.

   A common mistake when evaluating the value of gain is to apply current market price as the value of gain. In Arkansas, 550 lb steer calves were averaging $208/cwt the week ending May 29, 2014. Although these calves are selling for $2.08 per pound, this is not their value of gain.

   To examine the value of additional weight gain based on current market prices, calculate the difference in total gross income for two different weights and divide that value by the difference in weight to estimate value of gain. For example, 475 lb number 1 steers were selling for $2.23/lb and 525 lb number 1 steers were selling for $2.13/lb. The value of gain from 475 to 525 lbs is (1118.25 – 1059.25) / 50 = $1.18/lb.

   Based on the value of gain and using table 2 above, if creep feed costs $260/ton delivered, steers would need to convert creep feed to weight gain at a rate less than 9 lbs feed per lb of additional weight gain. This rate of creep feed conversion or better could be expected when forage quality or quantity is moderate to low. If creep feed were to cost $320/ton, it is very unlikely feed conversion will be good enough to be profitable.

   As a general rule, lower supplementation rates have better feed conversions. If forages are low in protein but not limited in the total amount available for grazing, place more emphasis on supplementing with just 1 to 2 pounds of a high protein supplement. If forages are moderate in protein content or forage quantity is limiting, consider a moderate protein supplement, and if necessary, feed at higher rates (1% body weight) when forage substitution is needed.

Grass Growing Strategy for the Rest of the Year

May 28, 2014

John Jennings, Professor – Extension Forages

The highs and lows of pasture growth over the past three years have shown one thing is for certain. Producers following a good pasture management strategy have a more consistent supply of forage than those that rely only on Mother Nature. With rising costs, controlling inputs is important. But the main input of pasture planning is strategy and that doesn’t cost anything. How you manage pastures in this season or this month greatly influences pasture performance in the next season or next month. For example, grazing a fescue/clover pasture early in April promotes more leafy grazing thirty days later and less seedstalks. Cutting fescue hay down to a 2-inch stubble in late June just as high temperatures hit in July stops growth and causes a lot of stand damage. The key to good pasture strategy is to stay on schedule. So this article will give some grass growing points and details for the remainder of summer into fall. Our experience on the research stations at Batesville, Fayetteville, and Hope and with many producers across the state, north to south and corner to corner, shows that all these practices work (or else I wouldn’t be recommending them).

July: Plan for a last hay crop and for grazing through the rest of summer

  • Rotate pastures on a weekly basis to keep grass in a growing stage. This will be worthwhile when drought occurs. (Savings from improved grazing management = 2-3 weeks more grazing when drought hits)
  • Fertilize for the last summer hay cutting and then cut and put it in the barn. Don’t plan on feeding it until late winter because you will be planning to grow lots of fall pasture. Barn stored hay will keep through next year and longer. (Savings from reducing hay waste with covered storage = 15% to 25% of your crop).

August: Plan for fall pasture

  • Pick one or two bermudagrass or bahiagrass pastures to stockpile for fall grazing. These could be where you cut that hay in July. Clip or graze the stubble to about three inches tall and apply 50-60 lbs/acre of nitrogen fertilizer between August 1 and 15 (August 15 and 30 for far south Arkansas). Then let it grow until October just as you would for a hay cutting. But you will plan to strip graze it using a single temporary electric wire to make it last longer. The level of quality in this forage will support your cows until late December if enough forage is available. (Savings from grazing stockpiled forage instead of feeding hay = $25-$50 per animal unit or $50-$75 per acre of forage stockpiled).
  • Pick a bermudagrass field or a field to be renovated and plant forage brassica and ryegrass. Brassica planted in late August or early September on a lightly disked pasture will be ready to graze by mid to late October or can be deferred to graze in late November to December after the stockpiled bermudagrass.  This option gives fescue/clover pastures more growing time in fall for grazing in November and December. The companion ryegrass in the mixture will be ready to graze in March and April. (savings from forage brassica/ryegrass = $25 to >$100 per animal unit)

September: Plan for winter pasture

  • Pick a fescue field to stockpile for winter grazing. Clip or graze off old fescue forage to a 3-inch stubble and apply 50-60 lbs/acre of nitrogen fertilizer between September 1 and 15. Let it grow until early December or defer until January 1 if you have brassica to graze in December. Strip graze it with a single temporary electric wire to make it last twice as long as it would without strip grazing. The level of quality in this forage will support cows until spring greenup if enough forage is available. (Savings from stockpiled forage instead of feeding hay = $25-$50 per animal; Savings from strip grazing = an additional $10 per animal unit)
  • In bermudagrass-based systems, interseed wheat and ryegrass for winter and spring grazing. Plant in a disked pasture in September and apply N fertilizer after emergence for grazing by December. Planting in October/November delays grazing until late winter or spring.
  • Test all hay to determine quality levels. Producers had lots of hay last winter, but many complained at the poor performance of their animals being fed. Hay tests help you feed the best hay when livestock need the best quality. You can also limit feed hay to animals grazing winter annuals or stockpiled forage. This makes the pasture last longer and supplements hay quality.

With all this winter grazing, maybe you didn’t need to harvest that last summer hay cutting after all. Good thing it’s stored in the barn.

Animal Science: Today and Tomorrow

May 27, 2014

Dr. Tom Troxel                                                                                Dr. Michael L. Looper


Spring Commencement a Big Moment for Students


On May 10, the University of Arkansas conferred degrees to those students at the spring commencement ceremony. The Department of Animal Science proudly boasted a First Ranked Senior Scholar, a Senior Scholar and two Distinguished Graduates.

Named as one of two First Ranked Senior Scholars, Jessie Hargis graduated with a 4.0 GPA after completing all of her coursework at the University of Arkansas. The daughter of Billy and Kristen Hargis of Fayetteville, Jessie was a regular on the Chancellor’s list and was a four-year recipient of the Chancellor’s scholarship. She plans to attend the LSU School of Veterinary Medicine in the fall.

Claire Crews earned the distinction of being one of three Senior Scholars. The Senior Scholar awards are given to those students who have a 4.0 GPA with at least half of their coursework completed at the U of A. The daughter of Vickie Salsbury and Claiborne Crews, she was a member of the Razorback Marching Band; president of the Pre-Vet Club; and studied abroad in Belize providing free veterinary services to animals owned by low-income families. Claire will be attending Veterinary School at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2014. Claire also was a Bumpers College Honors Program Distinguished Graduate.

Rachel Cummins was a Bumpers College Honors Program Distinguished Graduate. She is the daughter of Hal and Patti Cummins; she wrote her honors thesis on the “Palatability of Teff Grass in Horses”.  She will be attending Veterinary School at the University of Missouri in the fall of 2014.

In addition, the Department presented a Doctor of Philosophy to Michelle Thomas. Five Master of Science degrees were presented to: Mohan Acharya, Elizabeth Backes, Jace Hollenback, Brandon Smith and Ashley Nicole Young.

The Department also conferred 45 Bachelor of Science degrees. Congratulations to all of our graduates!


2012 Census of Agriculture is Released

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) conducted the 2012 Census of Agriculture, analyzed the data, and prepared a report you can download. You can find the report at The report is 34,925 KB so it’s contains a lot of information. The census provides a comprehensive picture of American agriculture in 2012, and NASS recognizes and appreciates that many individuals and organizations contributed to the effort.

Most importantly, the success of the agriculture census depends directly on the cooperation of farmers and ranchers across the country. Recognizing that participating in the census is their responsibility and gives them a voice in their future, agricultural producers took the time to provide the information requested. NASS is grateful to every producer who participated in the 2012 Census of Agriculture.

Also essential were the many partners who communicated about the census and encouraged producers to respond. Farm organizations, stakeholder groups, agricultural media, community-based organizations, and land grant and other universities helped to build awareness of the census and its importance to producers, their communities, and U.S. agriculture as a whole. NASS appreciates their help in reaching all kinds of agricultural operations, thereby ensuring a comprehensive census.


United States Data

There is a lot of data in the 2012 Census of Agriculture but the data we are going to share with you is the beef cow inventory. In the US there were 727,906 farms with beef cows (2012) which were a 4.8% decline compared to the number of farms with beef cows in 2007. The beef farms in 2012 contained 28,956,553 head of beef cows which means the average herd size in the US was 40 head of beef cows.

The number of US farms with 1 to 49 head of beef cows was 81% and but only controlled 29% of the beef cows. The number of US farms with 50 to 99 head of beef cows was 10% and they controlled 16% of the beef cows. In addition, the number of US farms with 100 to 199 head of beef cows was 5% and they controlled 17% of the beef cows. The largest beef herds (200 head or more) only consisted of 3.8% of the US beef farms and but they controlled over a third (36%) of the beef cows.


Arkansas Data

In Arkansas there were 23,385 farms with beef cows (2012) which were a 7.4% decline compared to the number of farms with beef cows in 2007. The beef farms in 2012 contained 813,250 head of beef cows which means the average herd size in the Arkansas was 35 head of beef cows. The January 1, 2014 census listed Arkansas with having 882,000 beef cows so cow numbers have increased by 68,750 head since 2012. With the 2012 drought it is hard to say how many beef cattle farms are in the state in 2014. Many would speculate the number of farms have declined since 2012.

The number of Arkansas farms with 1 to 49 head of beef cows was 81% and controlled 40% of the beef cows. The number of AR farms with 50 to 99 head of beef cows was 12% and they controlled 23% of the beef cows. In addition, the number of AR farms with 100 to 199 head of beef cows was 5% and they controlled 18% of the beef cows. The largest beef herds (200 head or more) only consisted of 2% of the AR beef farms but they controlled a fifth (20%) of the beef cows.



For more information about cattle production, visit or or contact your county extension office.

Livestock owners need to be alert for ‘hardware disease’

April 30, 2014

Fast facts

  • Livestock owners should scout fields for post-storm debris to prevent ‘hardware disease’
  • Blackleg a threat to cattle following flooding



Livestock owners need to be alert for ‘hardware disease’

LITTLE ROCK – Livestock owners need to scan their pastures for storm debris that could prove fatal to their cattle, goats and horses, said Tom Troxel, Associate Department Head, Animal Science, for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.


After the storm has passed, the effects of tornadic winds and floods remain for grazing animals.


“Tornadoes and other storm events with strong winds and flooding can spread debris over a large area,” Troxel said. “This sets the stage for grazing animals to be affected by ‘hardware disease.”


Cattle, sheep, goat and horse owners should take extra time and caution to inspect hay meadows and pastures for debris especially metal objects.


“Cattle grazing may not notice debris such as wood splinters, metal shards or construction items such as screws and nails,” Troxel said. “And sometimes, in fields that have old, rusting fences or bailing wire or where grazing occurs near construction foreign objects wind up bailed in hay.”


Internal injuries

Items such as nails or wire snippets, go directly into the cow’s digestive tract. Contractions that move food along can cause nails and other items to puncture the walls of the digestive tract.


Perforations can cause partially digested foods and bacteria to leak into the abdominal cavity causing infections and scarring.


Symptoms may include:

  • Decrease in fecal output,
  • Mild rise in rectal temperature
  • Heart rate may be normal or slightly elevated, and respiration is usually shallow and rapid.


“Initially, animals will arch their backs, show an anxious expression or be reluctant to move, using an uneasy, careful gait,” Troxel said. “Forced sudden movements as well as defecating, urinating, lying down, getting up, and stepping over barriers may be accompanied by groaning.”


In chronic cases, the animal may not want to eat and it isn’t defecating in its usual volume. In certain animals, milk production remains low. If you see any symptoms related to hardware disease, be sure to contact your veterinarian. Treatment of the typical case seen early in its course may be surgical or medical. Either approach improves the chances of recovery from approximately 60 percent in untreated cases to 80-90 percent in treated cases.



In addition to sweeping potentially dangerous items into fields and pastures, flooding can also increase the danger of blackleg, a fatal disease caused by the Clostridium chauvoei bacterium.


“Blackleg is a soil-borne bacterium infection and any disturbance to the soil such as a flood may increase the exposure of the bacterium to the cattle,” he said. “Blackleg is seasonal with most cases occurring in the warm months of the year – which is coming up. Excavation of soil or soil disturbance is also a concern.”


Blackleg symptoms include: lameness, depression, fever but most of the time sudden death – meaning treatment is useless. However, blackleg vaccine is one of the cheapest vaccines to purchase for cattle.  It is recommended vaccinating all calves and also vaccinating the cows to ensure good maternal transfer for the next calf.


For more information about forage production, visit extension’s Web site,,  or contact your county extension agent.


The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture and offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

CANCELLED / Arkansas Forage & Grassland Council’s 2014 Forage Bus Tour

April 29, 2014
Due to severe storm damage in central and northeast Arkansas, the Arkansas Forage and Grassland Council Spring Forage Bus Tour scheduled in Lawrence and Randolph Counties for Friday May 2 is cancelled.
Please pass on this notice to your producers, related agencies, and other interested persons.
John Jennings 
Professor – Extension Forage Specialist 
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture 
2301 S. University Ave. 
Little Rock, AR 72204 
Office: 501-671-2350

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