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posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 3, 2013 11:39

 

Can you identify this plant?  Do horses eat it?

Plant sample cut in hayfield

Plant samples in garden, yard and hayfield

Photo credit:  HorseOwnerToday.com

 

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Feed

Giving Your Alfalfa Stand the Winterizing Treatment

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   August 23, 2013 16:21

Alfalfa field March 21, 2014

Photo credit:  Bonnie Newton

Alfalfa field, one month after first cut.

If not properly managed, alfalfa can suffer winter injury or winterkill. Several factors play into good winter survival of your alfalfa stand.
Taking a Second Cut
For alfalfa, early fall is a critical time as plants are storing nutrients needed to survive the upcoming winter. Cutting plants during this period adds double the stress to the plants as they have to expend energy for regrowth as well as nutrient storage. During a minimum of six weeks after cutting, alfalfa plants need good growing conditions to ensure sufficient regrowth and energy storage to support winter survival. Plants harvested after August 15th may not have six weeks before a killing frost and may be susceptible to winter kill. A killing frost is considered minus five degrees Celsius or lower. Harvesting after a killing frost does
not affect food reserves but reduces the amount of stubble which helps trap snow. The trapped snow provides an important insulating blanked for alfalfa crowns.
Fertility
If alfalfa makes up 50% or more of the production in the stand and was properly inoculated at seeding, nitrogen is generally not a concern in the forage stand as the alfalfa will fix the nitrogen required by the stand. Phosphorus, potassium and sulphur are the three nutrients which should be considered in stands with large proportions of legumes. Phosphorus and potassium are particularly important as they support root and nodule health and over-wintering capability. Both of these nutrients can be fall applied as they are relatively immobile in the soil and will not leach or volatilize to the atmosphere like nitrogen. The most cost-effective way to maintain adequate soil fertility is to do a fall soil test.
Stand Health
An otherwise healthy stand can be impaired by insects and disease such as alfalfa weevils and downy mildew. Scouting for insects during June is important in noticing and minimizing insect feeding damage while disease resistant alfalfa varieties are your best defense against various root and leaf diseases.
Environmental Factors
Not all factors in alfalfa fall management are under your control. For example, wet soil conditions in the fall can reduce the plants ability to harden prior to winter. Lack of snow cover is also a concern as alfalfa crowns can be exposed to extreme cold. Snow cover can be improved by leaving sufficient stubble height.
Planting cold tolerant and disease resistant varieties along with a good fertility program and careful cutting management will help winterize your alfalfa stand for better longevity and productivity.
For more information on this or other topics please call me at the Watrous Ministry of Agriculture office (306) 946-3219, the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 or visit our website http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/

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Fall Feed Management

Lead Toxicity in Cattle

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   June 1, 2012 09:00



Dr. LeeAnn Forsythe DVM, MVetSc, Disease Surveillance Veterinarian

Lead poisoning continues to be the most predominant toxicity encountered in cattle and a cause of significant economic loss for beef and dairy producers. Currently, the primary source of lead on the prairies is discarded vehicle batteries.

 
Symptoms of lead poisoning in cattle include neurological signs such as depression, stumbling or difficulty walking, blindness, and seizures. The most severely affected animals die within 24 hours of initial onset of clinical signs, but some animals may die up to 2 weeks after exposure.  Not all animals exposed to the lead will develop clinical signs; some may appear to be perfectly normal even though the level of lead in their blood is high. The only way to be certain of which animals were exposed to lead is to test blood for lead.

Because lead is heavy, pieces of lead can become stuck in the cow’s stomach. These pieces slowly release lead into the cow’s body over a long period of time.  Lead is deposited in the kidneys, liver, and bone and excreted in the milk, urine and feces. The time to elimination from the body is highly variable. In some cases animals have found to have lead levels above the acceptable limit for years after the exposure.

Livestock producers need to ensure that cattle do not have access to lead by removing discarded batteries, old oil, paint, shingles and other sources of lead. Meat and milk from lead-poisoned cattle is a food safety concern; therefore, these animals should never be used for food production

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