Clark County Spring Beef/Forage News
March 2017
Thank you for subscribing to the Clark County Beef/Forage Newsletter. 

Amy Simpson 
County Extension Agent-Staff Chair , 870-246-2281
640 S. 6th, Arkadelphia

Pasture Calendar
-Take Soil Samples
-Apply recommended lime
-Plant cool-season grasses
-Plant annual clovers
-Plant red & white clovers
-Plant small grains & ryegrass

-Take Soil Samples
-Apply recommended lime
-Apply herbicides for winter annual weeds in dormant bermuda
-Spray for buttercup & other winter annual weeds
-Graze cool-season perennials grasses when ~6" tall
-Graze cool-season annuals when ~8" tall
-Graze cool-season legumes

- Soil test & lime
-Winter weed control
-Continue grazing cool-season grasses & legumes

Upcoming Beef & Forage Events
Monday, October 24th:  Bangs Vaccination Route
Tuesday, October 25th:  AI Field Day @ SWREC
Monday, December 4th:  Pesticide Applicator Training, EHC Kitchen
Thursday, December 14th:  Four States Cattle Conference, Texarkana
Bangs Vaccination Date Set
     The Clark County Fall Bangs vaccination day will be Monday, October 23rd.  Vaccination of heifer calves (4-12 months old) against Brucellosis is recommended and is available to you through the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission and USDA-APHISVS.  We have mailed Bangs Cards to you, and we have extended the deadline to Tuesday, October 17th.  Please call and tell us your name, address of the facilities, and how many heifers you need vaccinated by then.
     Remember, you will need proper restraint facilities which includes a chute and head gate. Also indicate on the card your facility location and how many head you will have to vaccinate.

AI Field Day at SWREC in Hope
     Tuesday, October 25th is the date of the upcoming AI Field Day, hosted by Select Sires and the University of Arkansas Southwest Research and Extension Center near Hope.  The program includes:
  • 1:00 p.m. Production and Economic Advantages to AI, Dr. Paul Beck
  • 1:45 p.m. 'Preseason Breeding Checklist and Sync Protocol', and 'How to Choose the Right One for Your Operation', Matt Caldwell
  • 2:30 p.m. Travel to Research Farm Stocker Unit @ SWREC to look at progeny
    • o   Angus bulls progeny: Comrade, Venture, Blackfoot, Rushmore, Bankroll, & Niagara
    • o   Simmental bulls progeny: Robust & Unified.
No registration is required.  SWREC is located at 362 Highway 174 N., Hope.  Call 870-777-9702 for more information.

Pesticide Applicator Training
Monday, December 4th
6:00 p.m.
EHC Kitchen, Clark County Fairgrounds
Register by calling the Extension Service office at 870-246-2281.
$10 fee paid at the door.

Four States Cattle Conference
     Cattle producers from the four state region will have an opportunity to meet and learn about important topics related to cattle production on Thursday, December 14 at the Texas A&M University of Texarkana University Center Building located at 7101 University Avenue in Texarkana.
Topics include:           
"Utilizing Legumes in Pastures"
"Common Cow Herd Health Problems"
"Cattle Market Outlook"
"Protecting Revenue in Today's Cattle Market"
     Brochures with registration information will be available soon.  Preregistration cost is $30 for an individual, $50 for a couple, and $15 for FFA students before November 27th.  After November 27th, the individual cost is $45, and the couple cost is $70.

Forage Lime Demonstration Results
     My colleague, Brad Runsick, Fulton County Extension Agent, has been conducting a Forage Lime Demonstration for the last 18 months, comparing different rates of both ag lime and pelletized lime and their effectiveness of raising soil pH levels. 

The results are interesting, and I encourage you to read his work:
     We have made it to the 18 month mark on our pasture lime demonstration. With each of these plots being sampled, not only are we able to track the changes in the pH since we made the lime applications back in January 2016, but we're also able to see the phosphorus and potassium values. One unintended takeaway from this project is that it demonstrates how critical it is for soil sampling to be representative of the entire field and not just a few shovelfuls here and there.

Variability in Soil P and K
     Across all 45 plots, the soil P (phosphorus) and soil K (potassium) both ranged from Very Low to Optimum. For fescue pasture, at best, the need is just 175 lbs. /acre of ammonium nitrate at a cost of $29.75 to boost yields in the spring, and no P or K needed. At worst, it's 200 lbs. /acre potash, 217 lbs. /acre DAP, and 60 lbs./acre ammonium nitrate. At current prices, that comes to an estimated price of $97.70/acre. If we average the soil tests from each of the 45 plots to give us a better idea of the overall field average, the soil P and K comes to Low and Medium, respectively. That equates to a fertilizer need of 100 lbs. /acre potash, 175 lbs. /acre DAP, and only 26 lbs. /acre ammonium nitrate that comes at a cost of approximately $63.80 / acre... a difference of $34 per acre just due to incorrect soil sampling procedures. The forty-five plots are all contained within approximately 1/8th of an acre. Imagine how variable the soil fertility is across, say, a 20 acre field.
     So, doing a poor job of soil sampling can result in a huge over-application of fertilizer that is an unnecessary cost or a huge under-application which is going to result in poorer quality pastures and is a waste of your time. Take the time to do it right, and it'll help both your pastures and your bank account.
Here are some quick tips on proper sampling:
  • Individual samples should not represent over 20 acres. This is a general rule of thumb. If you have a field that is 25 acres that is uniform and that you treat the same in regards to management, then go ahead and just do one sample for all of it. What you want to avoid is sending in single samples that are for, say, a 60 acre hayfield.
  • Each sample should be comprised of at least 10-15 smaller "sub" samples that should be mixed together to make up the sample that you bring to the Extension Office.
  • Sample at the same time of year. Nutrient and pH levels fluctuate throughout the year due to environmental conditions. You want to make sure you're comparing apples to apples.
Soil pH Changes: Ag Lime vs. Pelletized Lime
      These plots initially sampled out to an average pH of 5.3 back in January 2016, and the soil test recommended 2 tons lime/acre.  This is for lime with an ECCE % of 47% (average Arkansas lime quality). As you can see, treatments 2-8 are very close to that; 9-15 were applied with significantly higher quality lime. ECEE is the Effective Calcium Carbonate Equivalent, which is the legal standard by which liming materials are measured.
     Since lime can take 3-6 months to fully break down and actually change the pH in the soil, these plots have been sampled at 3 weeks after treatment, 3 months after treatment (MAT), 6 MAT, 9 MAT, 12 MAT,  and 18 MAT. The current results are in Chart 1.A soil pH of 5.3 is below what we would be ideal for grass growth, and well below what we would like it to be for forage legumes. So, it was an ideal spot for some test plots. The lime applications (Table 1) were made in late January 2016, and to date, follow up sampling has been done at 3 weeks, 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, and 18 months after the initial lime application.
Table 1. Lime applications and rates
Lime rate (lbs/acre)
Lime rate (lbs./acre
1. Check - no lime
9. Pelletized lime (64% ECCE)
2. Pelleted lime (46% ECCE)
10. Pelletized lime (64% ECCE)
3. Pelleted lime (46% ECCE)
11. Pelletized lime (64% ECCE)
4. Pelleted lime (46% ECCE)
12. Ag lime (77% ECCE)
5. Ag lime (53% ECCE)
13. Ag lime (77% ECCE)
6. Ag lime (53% ECCE)
14. Ag lime (77% ECCE)
7. Ag lime (53% ECCE)
15. Ag lime (77% ECCE)
8. Ag lime (53% ECCE)
     As in the past, the plots that received the recommended rate of ag lime of 2 tons/acre are holding very near that 5.8 pH, which is optimum for grass growth.  The pelletized lime plots, even at 1000 lbs. / acre and a cost of $100+ /acre, are below that. Pelletized lime can be handy, though, for small areas such as food plots, gardens, orchards, etc., but it is not practical or economical to use in pastures. And if used, the recommended rate cannot be cut significantly and expect the same change in soil pH as you would see with the recommended rate. The research doesn't support its use versus ag lime in pastures and hayfields, even in the short run.  Also, the myth that a little pelletized lime will get you by for that season is false. With the exception of the high quality, pelletized lime at 1000 lbs./acre, at no time during the sampling did the pelletized lime plots raise the pH to an optimum level for grasses.
  Late Summer Flush of Dallisgrass Can Lead to Ergot Poisoning in Cattle
     Grass seedheads that cattle find delicious could turn fatal, if the seedheads are covered in ergot fungus, said John Jennings, professor-forages, for the University Of Arkansas System Division Of Agriculture.
     Dallisgrass is very common in the southern half of the state and grows in low, moist soils. As a forage, it's high quality and very palatable for most grazing livestock. The problem is a fungus called ergot, which infects the dallisgrass seedhead. As the plant grows, the fungus replaces the developing seed. The fungus contains alkaloids that can affect the livestock's nervous system.
      "Ergot poisoning, also known as 'dallisgrass staggers' is a problem in late summer and early fall," he said. "The rainy weather in August led to a flush of dallisgrass forage and the seedheads are commonly infected with ergot."
     Jennings said the most common scenario for ergot poisoning occurs when new cattle, not previously exposed to dallisgrass, are brought onto a farm and are turned into a field that is at the full seedhead stage. Cattle selectively graze seedheads and that can lead to a very high dosage of ergot alkaloids. Even on farms where cattle are previously exposed to dallisgrass, poisoning can occur when animals are hungry and are turned into a field full of seedheads. Symptoms are much less common in herds exposed to dallisgrass in mixed grass pastures.
     "In the very early stages of the disease, the only sign seen may be trembling of various muscles after exercise," Jennings said. "As the disease progresses the animal becomes uncoordinated with continuous shaking of the limbs and nodding of the head."
     Eventually, a severely affected animal may stagger, walk sideways, or use a goose-stepping gait. Death can occur in severe cases.
     "There is no cure for ergot poisoning, but removing cows from infected pastures when symptoms are first noticed usually results in recovery in three to five days," he said. "Mowing seedheads to prevent animals from grazing them helps prevent the problem from occurring. Ergot toxicity from dallisgrass hay is uncommon since the total intake of hay forage dilutes any ergot contained in the hay."
Spring Calving Herd Tips
  • Weaned feeder calves can be implanted and all retained calves given access to supplements fortified with Bovatec, Gainpro or Rumesin to improve weight gain. These products work independently from the implants and each result in a 10% or more increase in growth performance.
  • Now is a good time to sort cows into winter feeding groups. Cows should be grouped according to stage of production and/or body condition score (BCS). Cows in thin body condition will require additional supplementation to make sure they are in a BCS 5 to 6 by calving.
  • Average quality hay in Arkansas (12% protein and 54% TDN) is adequate in nutrient composition for non-lactating cows that are in moderate to good body condition.
  • Plan replacement heifer development program. Heifer should be fed to achieve 55 to 65% of mature weight by breeding. Estimate mature weight can be from cow size records or heifer frame size (frame size x 75 + 800 = estimated mature weight).
  • Pregnancy test cows. It is very expensive to feed an open cow.
  • Vaccinate heifers for Brucellosis.
  • Forage test hay to determine nutrient value. This will provided much needed information when determining the proper supplementation program.  
  • Provide free choice mineral and fresh water.
  • Cull open, old and non-performance cows and heifers.
Fall Calving Herd Tips
  • Evaluate sire(s) for fall breeding season. If you use AI, now is the time to order semen.
  • Perform breeding soundness exam (BSE) and Trichomoniasis testing on breeding bulls.
  • Fall calving cows need to be monitored closely for calving difficulties. Facilities and equipment need to be readily available for dystocia.
  • Be sure newborn calves receive adequate amounts of colostrum for proper disease protection. Care of newborn calves include dip navels, ear tag, castrate, etc.
  • Body condition score cow. Cows should be in BCS 5 to 6 at the time of calving.
  • Forage test hay to determine nutrient value. This will provided much needed information when determining the proper supplementation program.
  • Provide free choice mineral and fresh water.
  • Fall calving cows need to be monitored closely for calving difficulties. Facilities and equipment need to be readily available to deal with dystocia. Make sure that newborn calves receive adequate colostrum to provide proper disease protection. 


Amy Simpson | Clark County Extension Service | 870-246-2281 ||