Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bucks Fertility in Extreme Heat

Note the heat effect on male animals. 71 days for bulls, 56 for rams and potentially bucks. He says that it is not expected to affect long-term fertility, just X-days from extreme heat.

From Dr.David Fernandez, U of AR

Livestock producers may see lowered fertility in herds this fall

Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Updated: August 28, 2012

PINE BLUFF, Ark. – As if drought damage to pastures and high hay and feed prices aren’t enough, livestock producers may see reduced fertility in their breeding herds this fall, says Dr. David Fernandez, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Cooperative Extension Program livestock specialist.

“The exceptionally high heat could impair the ability of bulls, bucks, rams and boars to produce viable sperm,” he says. Cows, does, ewes and sows may produce less viable eggs or experience higher levels of early spontaneous abortions.

Here’s why. Most male mammals’ testes are located in the scrotum outside their bodies. This allows the male to maintain his testes at a temperature several degrees below his body temperature which is essential for sperm production. When temperatures exceed 103 F for several days, the testes cannot be cooled adequately, and sperm production can be impaired, says Dr. Fernandez.

The damage to sperm production can be long term. Sperm production in the ram requires an average of 47 days plus another nine days for the sperm to migrate to the storage area. That’s 56 days. Similar time frames are believed to exist for bucks. For bulls, it is more than 70 days. The damage is not readily apparent, he says. In some cases, the number of sperm and their motility may be reduced.

“Much of the damage appears to be done to the DNA of the sperm,” he says. This means that a sire may appear to be normally fertile after a breeding soundness exam, but pregnancy rates of dams may be low, with many repeat breeders.

Compounding the problem are the effects of high heat on female reproduction. When temperatures are high, eggs may be less fertile and may not survive to form a viable embryo after fertilization. Fortunately, the effect of high temperatures on females tends to be limited to the estrus cycle in which it occurs.

“Unfortunately, no cost effective on-farm method exists to determine whether the problem is with the male or female,” says Dr. Fernandez, who advises that the best thing to do is to provide plenty of cool water and shade to help keep livestock cool. Also, monitor the herd’s nutrition as they may not eat enough feed when days are extremely hot.

Finally, producers should plan ahead so they are prepared if their herd’s breeding season begins and ends later than usual. And, investigate alternative marketing strategies and parasite management schemes for next spring and summer, he says.

Friday, August 24, 2012



Today let’s play a little game of ‘what if’. As in ‘what if it rains’? What if your pastures and hay meadows green up and grow. Should you graze? Stay tuned.

What if it rains? What if it rains enough for your pasture to green up and grow enough to graze? Will you succumb to the temptation?

As tempting as it may be to give your animals some nice green grass, resist that temptation. If you do graze, it might do more harm to your grass than if it did not rain at all.

How can that be? To understand this risk, we need to review what happens when a dormant plant starts to grow. When a dormant plant starts to green up and grow, like in the spring following winter or after a rain during a drought, the plant mobilizes nutrients from its root system to energize the initial growth. This process actually weakens the root system and the plant temporarily. As the plant grows and produces more leaves, those leaves eventually harvest enough sunlight energy to replace the nutrients used during the green up process.

However, if some of the leaves are removed by grazing before they replace the nutrients used during green up, the plant will try to mobilize even more root nutrients to restart the process. At this time of year, though, the plant actually needs to increase root nutrients for winter survival. If grazing prevents that from happening, plants will go into winter in a very weakened condition. Some may die. And those that survive to next spring will grow very slowly until they have recovered from the multiple stresses of drought and untimely grazing.

So do yourself and your pastures a favor. Decide right now that no matter what happens this fall, you will not graze green growth again until next year. Pasture survival may depend on it.


Many dryland alfalfa fields have been sitting dormant for many weeks. If it rains heavily, how should you manage any cuttings if that alfalfa begins to regrow. Stick around.

If it rains very much in the next few weeks, dormant alfalfa is going to start to regrow. If that happens, what should you do?

To be honest, I really don’t know. We are kind of in uncharted territory with newer alfalfa varieties and this severity of drought.

It might depend on when that rain occurs and if it becomes enough to support regular growth rates. Since we are approaching the usual winterizing season for alfalfa, I think alfalfa that has been virtually dormant the past few weeks should be allowed to grow without any harvest at least until mid-October.

About the only exception to that recommendation might be to consider a salvage harvest or a stimulation harvest.

A salvage harvest would be a situation where your alfalfa has gone fully dormant due to drought, there is enough standing growth to harvest economically, and that standing growth is starting to drop leaves. It doesn’t matter if it rains or not. Harvest shouldn’t hurt that stand and harvest will give you some needed feed.

A stimulation harvest would involve cutting off any standing crop immediately before or as soon as possible after a heavy rain to encourage new shoots. Regrowth then may develop a little faster without the influence of a standing crop. It isn’t necessary to cut off the standing crop to get new growth but it might help.

It’s been a tough year for alfalfa. Without rain, some of it may not survive the winter. But with rain we must be careful to allow the plants adequate time to winterize. Maybe then, next year will be better.


Your corn is getting combined. Now you are wondering if you should bale some of the stalks. Is it worth it? Stick around.

What are corn stalk bales worth? Let’s first look at it from the cost stand point.. Nutrients removed by stalk bales may need to be replaced with extra fertilizer. Using this year’s prices, stalks may contain over fifteen dollars worth of nitrogen, phosphate, sulfur, and lime per ton.

Corn stalk removal also can reduce soil organic matter, increase erosion risk, and increase soil water evaporation. Nebraska research shows that the decline in dryland corn yield or the increase in irrigation needs costs about ten to twenty dollars for each ton of residue removed.

Labor and equipment costs average over thirty dollars per ton, and baling stalks tends to cause more wear and tear on equipment than other baling operations. Totaled together, these costs amount to at least sixty dollars per ton of corn stalks removed.

So, what are corn stalks worth as a feed? Some folks suggest the dollar feeding value is midway between that of straw and prairie hay. But feed value of stalks varies greatly, and cattle tend to waste more of it. If you bale the entire field you may only have three to four percent protein and less than fifty percent TDN. Harvest just the tailings in the two or three rows behind the combine and TDN increases to the lower fifties and protein to about five percent. But test to make sure. And don’t forget to test for nitrates this year.

Are baled corn stalks worthwhile? Maybe so this year considering how expensive other alternatives might be. But first make sure they fit your feeding program without damaging next year’s crop production.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Bruce Anderson

Extension Forage Specialist

Department of Agronomy & Horticulture

University of Nebraska

Lincoln, NE 68583-0910

Voice: 402-472-6237

Fax: 402-472-7904


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Herd Evaluations

This June, I had the pleasure of meeting with Tom and Elaine Considine to discuss the reintroduction of a KGBA herd evaluation service for our members.

In the past, herd evaluations were done by Harvey Considine, with his wife Elaine recording the evaluations. Harvey worked closely with KGBA members for many years, developing a Kinder scorecard used by Kinder goat breeders and as a guide for those judging Kinder goats in the show ring. The herd evaluations and scorecard were invaluable in improving Kinder goats as a breed, helping to judge them fairly in the show ring, and helping individuals choose and breed goats more responsibly.

We hope to continue the tradition with Harvey's son, Tom, and really get back on track with improving our herds and ensuring that they are the high quality, dual purpose goats that we all strive for. As Harvey and Elaine's son, Tom has been involved with goats for his entire life. He has been an ADGA licensed judge for 25 years, operates a commercial goat dairy and is a member of the ADGA board of directors. Currently, Tom is a Director for District 4, and is chair of the Breed Standards Committee. He has a phenomenal reputation - not just for his knowledge of goats, but for his willingness to help goat owners succeed, and this has been no exception. He is excited to help us improve our herds, and is committed to doing anything for the KGBA.
As I said, he and his mom came to my house, and Tom evaluated my herd. I will be posting pictures of the good and the bad in the days to come, but for now, I will just say that he did a wonderful job. He took his time evaluating each goat and explaining very clearly the decisions that he made. Elaine was a great help, as she had seen more Kinders than almost anyone in the world, and she is also excited to be helping us again. Here are the specifics on what they think they can do for us:

As it becomes set, Tom will be sending me his show schedule for next summer. He has offered to travel and do herd evaluations anywhere within an hour or so from the shows that he will be judging, and will charge us only the cost of the evaluations. That cost will be around $10-15 per goat. He has also agreed to judge any shows that he can fit into his schedule for a VERY reasonable rate, and will happily do evaluations at the site of these shows after the show itself is done. That means that we can bring our entire herds to a show, spend the morning showing, get our herd evaluated in the afternoon and go home with ribbons, scorecards and a plan for herd improvement!

Because he is pretty busy, I will be the contact person for KGBA members wanting evals, or wanting to plan shows. If you are interested in doing either, just send me an email at, and I will work with you and Tom to arrange a convenient time for evaluations. If we have enough people in one area to warrant it, he might be willing to come just to evaluate herds, but we'll have to see how much interest there is, and where the interested members are located.

I really hope that people take advantage of this opportunity. I knew that evaluations would be valuable, but had no idea just how beneficial they would be until I had the scorecards spread out on my table. Looking at them, it made it easy to decide who to keep, who to cull, and who to breed to whom. So please - contact me if you are interest in getting your herd (or just one or two goats) evaluated. Let's all work together to make our Kinders the best goats in the world!

~Sue Beck

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ballots Are Out!

Hello, Everyone!

Thanks to the hard work of our secretary, Lisa Lamm, ballots have been mailed out for next year's Board of Directors. Please exercise your rights as members by completing and returning them by September 30th. Along with the ballots, you will find a list of candidates and a brief introduction of each person. There is also a space for write-in candidates for each position, and we welcome any interested members to join the race and campaign for a position!

If you can't run now, but think you might want to next year, please contact us any time - we'll be happy to answer any questions you may have, and we'll keep you informed when election time roles around again.

Thank you all for your continued enthusiasm and support - we couldn't do it without you!