Get Ready for Fall

— Written By and last updated by Patricia Burch
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It seems as if the summer time has gone by pretty fast. Some of us have had adequate rain and others not. We had some hot weather; but overall, not too unbearable. Hopefully, you were able to make some hay and your cattle had plenty of grass to eat so they will be going into the fall and winter in good condition.

Your cow herd and calves will benefit greatly from being dewormed in late summer or early fall before going to new grazing. Eggs from mature worms are deposited on the pasture in cattle manure. Larvae hatch from the eggs and move to the grass where they wait to be picked up by a host animal. Cattle pick up worm larvae while grazing. By deworming shortly before moving the cattle to new grazing, you greatly reduce the number of viable eggs that are spread to the new pasture. This is particularly true if you use a product that has some sustained efficacy, such as an ivermectin product, Dectomax, or Cydectin. These products are systemic dewormers. They move through the animals in the bloodstream. Due to this fact, these products will also do a respectable job of killing lice.

If you choose to use a non-systemic dewormer, you should also treat the animals with a product that is labeled to control lice. The lice will live on the cattle in the thick winter hair coat and feed on blood. You will notice signs of lice on cattle by the constant scratching against objects and lost patches of hair. Lice not only cause discomfort to the cattle but also cause a loss in productivity and significant hide damage.

I am often asked if it “is worth” deworming a young calf. My response is usually another question. How old is the calf? A calf will mimic it’s mother and begin to nibble at forage a few weeks after birth. If the calf is only a few weeks old, deworming probably isn’t necessary. Once the calf reaches two to three months old, and is spending considerable time grazing, it is picking up more worm larvae and likely has developed a worm load. Deworming calves at this stage is definitely an advantage. The cost for such a small calf will be minimal but the return will be significant.

Finally, start planning now for your fall and winter grazing. Some years’ seed is in short supply. Planning early will allow you to either acquire seed or find a suitable alternative. Oats will give more early grazing but are less cold tolerant than rye or triticale. A newer variety of oats out called Cosaque touts winter hardiness and may be worth a try on a small scale to see if they work for you. Ryegrass will offer grazing longer into the spring than small grains but will shade out bermudagrass if not managed properly. In addition, if planted in fields where small grains will be grown and allowed to make seed, ryegrass can become a nuisance. Also, remember that forage planted into a bermudagrass sod will not provide significant grazing for the fall. Once you have chosen a forage, be sure to plant it at the proper time, depth, and rate. Planting too much seed can be just as bad as too little, not to mention the additional expense. Many stands have failed due to planting too deep. The small grains can be planted deeper than  most grasses and clovers due to the larger seed size. Ryegrass will make a good stand broadcast onto the ground and rolled over with a cultipacker or trample into the sod by cattle.

If you decide to add a clover to your pasture, don’t forget to inoculate the seed prior to planting. Both Crimson and Arrowleaf clovers work well for our area. Both are annuals but Arrowleaf will keep growing longer into the summer than Crimson. Bloat can be an issue with Crimson but is very rare with Arrowleaf. Both will reseed but cannot be counted on to do so at an adequate rate for next season. As always, if you have any questions or would like more information, contact the Cooperative Extension office at 592-7161.