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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Golden Plains Area Ag Newsletter

Did you miss the December issue of the Golden Plains Area Ag Newsletter?
Click on the link below to read the newsletter.

Article topics include:

Navigating the Online Energy Information Landscape
Colorado Agricultural Energy Efficiency Program
Economic and Environmental Potential of High Plains Cover Crops
Project Learning Tree and Environmental Education Council Meeting
Late Blight
Squash Bees
More Freeze Damage
What Can the Past Tell Us About Range Management?
Holstein and Beef Production
Ag Market Prices

If you would like to receive this newsletter by email, just call or email at 970-332-4151 or

Monday, October 3, 2016

September 2016 GPA Ag Newsletter

Check out the newest issue of the 2016 Golden Plains Area Ag Newsletter at the following link

If you would like to receive this newsletter by email, just call or email at 970-332-4151 or

Mineral Antagonism - Important Minerals May Not Be Reaching Your Livestock

By Chris Shelley, CSU Extension Area Livestock Agent
This is a remarkable time to be in the livestock industry. The overwhelming amount of research and technology has elevated livestock production to a level of proficiency unimaginable by our predecessors. From artificial insemination technology to invaluable pharmaceuticals, sometimes it seems like we may have everything figured out. However, the complexities of an industry that involves range land ecosystems, weather patterns and animal biology are far from being completely understood.

Despite one’s best efforts to apply sound research and modern technology, some problems can still arise. Although most cattlemen today provide a mineral supplement containing many macro and trace minerals, it is possible to have inadequate mineral absorption by livestock. Common reason denotes that if the recommended amount of mineral is supplied in the diet, the cattle will have what they need. This is not always the case and mineral antagonism can be the culprit.

One example of mineral antagonism occurs with copper. Copper plays an important role in bone density, immune function, growth and fertility. Copper varies considerably depending on the forage source and geographically, and is often deficient in grazing cattle diets. A rancher that is supplying the recommended amount of copper (10 mg/kg of diet, NRC 2000) for his cattle may still have cattle with a copper deficiency. Molybdenum, Iron and Sulfur all can interact with copper, making it unavailable to the animal. We call this an antagonism, which can cause a deficiency just the same as the absence of copper from the diet.

Figure owned by Chris Shelley

Many cattle producers are skilled at diagnosing the visual cues and production decreases caused by disease or malnutrition. If something does not seem right, err on the side of caution and investigate further. Although one can directly sample the cattle’s copper status from the liver and blood, the easiest and recommended method is to sample the diet. A quick sample of the forage being consumed, along with a water sample, will indicate what level of minerals the cattle are consuming and how to best balance them to avoid an antagonism.

Sample collection in and of itself is a straightforward process and many labs have instructions and tips on the correct procedure. The more daunting task is interpreting the results received and how to proceed forward. This process involves calculating mineral levels in the feeds, verifying animal requirements and a basic understanding of scientific units and conversions.

There are several resources to help with this task. Your local CSU Extension offices are happy to help as well as mineral dealers who are trained in that field. The most important thing to remember is a balanced nutritional plan can save on feed costs and improve animal performance.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Right Tools for the Job

By Chris Shelley, CSU Extension Area Livestock Agent

Everyone knows life can be tough and that finding the right resources when you need them can be even tougher. What you may not know is that Colorado State University Extension is here to help!

The Smith and Lever Act of 1914 marked the birth of the Cooperative Extension Service. Since then, Extension programs have been serving Americans in many ways. However, even with over 100 years of service, we still meet people that are unfamiliar with what we do.

In short, Extension is here to help you. The Smith and Lever act stated that the land grant universities (like CSU) are to provide instruction and demonstrations in agriculture and home economics. Today, CSU Extension still provides trusted, practical education to help you solve problems, develop skills and build a better future, only the scope and focus has broadened with the needs of Coloradans.

CSU Extension is now helping in the areas of Agriculture, Animal Health, Energy, Home, Family, Finances, Food Safety, Health, Insects, Natural Resources, Nutrition, Water, Yard and Garden, and 4-H Youth Development. We have many agents and specialists all over the state of Colorado who are ready to help.

Lou Swanson, the current Director of Extension, implemented a new approach to Extension work in Colorado. It brilliantly pairs local concerns and interests with University research and information. We conduct needs assessments in the community and talk to as many people as we can to get a direction for the programs we offer. Unfortunately, we cannot reach everyone, but we hope that you will contact us if you see a need in the community or if we can help you.

As a livestock agent, I have the privilege of working with producers in northeastern Colorado. Recently, a man called the office and wanted to learn more about grazing and the nutritional needs of his cattle. We spent some time doing range inventory, assessing the nutritional needs of his cattle and balancing rations. Today, he feels more confident with stocking rates on his operation based on the amount of rainfall and forage produced. He also knows his cow’s nutritional needs to achieve the level of performance he wants. The best part is that many of our programs and help is free.

So the next time you wonder when to prune your trees, if your pressure canner is still safe, or how much crude protein your heifer calves need, give us a call. We’re here for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Mineral Supplementation for Your Herd

by Chris Shelley
CSU Extension

Mineral supplementation has been a part of livestock nutrition and management for well over one-hundred years and still remains just as important today. The first documented case of mineral supplementation was by George Fordyce in the late 1700’s. Researchers have since documented 17 important minerals required by beef cattle. Many of these minerals are found in commonly used feedstuffs; however, some cattle diets can be deficient or devoid of certain minerals.

Cattle requirements for minerals, or any nutrient for that matter, may change depending on a variety of factors including the age, stage of production, body size, temperature and even the diet they are eating. This makes it very important to be able to identify in which stage of production your animal is and their corresponding nutrient requirements. When considering mineral nutrition in Northeastern Colorado, there are several key events: lactation, spring grass grazing, fall grass dormancy, corn stalk grazing and any major diet change.

For most of the required minerals, cattle can tolerate a wide range in the level of supplementation. If we use cobalt as an example, the minimum amount that cattle need is 0.1 mg/kg in the diet on a dry matter basis. Signs of toxicity are not seen until 100 times that amount, or at 10 mg/kg in the diet on a dry matter basis. These ranges provide flexibility for cattle producers to select from a variety of supplement options. However, over feeding can lead to excess mineral excretion and in some scenarios environmental concerns. Feeding excess minerals is also an economic inefficiency and is unnecessary. Providing a year round all-purpose mineral can be convenient, but may over or under supply expensive nutrients. It is more effective and economical to determine cattle requirements and mineral concentrations in feeds at various stages throughout the year so a precise supplement can be designed. Understanding animal requirements and nutrients supplied can create the potential to save money.

The following graph depicts the mineral requirements (blue bars) with toxic levels (red bars) for a 1000 pound cow in early gestation consuming 25 pounds of forage on a dry matter basis.

Building a custom mineral program for your herd does not need to be a laborious process. Cattle producers in Colorado have many resources available to them including Colorado State University Extension, the USDA, and many mineral manufacturers. If cattle are predominantly grazing on rangeland, the process should begin from the ground up. Frequent analysis of soils and forages will provide invaluable information on the minerals and other nutrients available to your herd. Any mineral deficiencies found can then be addressed with supplementation.

Today’s producer can select from a variety of options to make sure cattle have their needs met. The choice can be difficult with the vast options and products. Many additives including ionophores, probiotics or other health products may also influence your decision. When considering only the minerals, there are several methods of feeding or delivery available. First, and not in order of importance, is supplementing your rangeland or farmland soils to bolster up the level of minerals in the forages and feeds. Second is the option to mix minerals into a complete ration. This method is effective for complete mineral delivery, as animals consuming the diet will also consume the mineral. In grazing operations, and with no complete mixed ration being fed, a third option is to provide a free choice supplement where cattle have access to consume as much or as little of the supplement they want or need. It can be challenging to manage the desired mineral consumption. Lastly, an injectable dose of minerals can be an effective way to deliver minerals. This is also a very effective method to deliver the exact desired level of supplementation.

Regardless of which product and method you choose to implement, there are a few key points to remember.

1. Know your animal requirements
2. Know what is being supplied in the diet
3. Find a supplement that supplies what you are lacking
4. Compare the price of various supplements

For additional information or for help to customize your mineral program, contact your local county extension office.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

North Eastern Colorado Cattlemen’s Day

"Last year was not as good for cattle producers as 2014 had been. Cattle prices in 2015 were lower in some cases by $500 per calf. Mother Nature, as usual, was unpredictable but generally wetter than previous years. Input prices also continued to creep upward- forage was no exception.

As a cattle producer, you may have questions about what to do next in 2016. A series of meetings in ten locations across western Nebraska and eastern Colorado will be focusing on the changing beef industry." -Excerpt from Kacy Atkinson, CSU Extension Agent

Addressing these conditions will not be easy but CSU Extension is here to help.  NE Colorado will be offering two opportunities to attend the cattlemen’s day. It will be hosted in Yuma, on February 10, from 10 am to 2 pm at the Yuma County Fairgrounds. The cattlemen’s days will also be held in Brush on February 11, from 10 am to 2 pm in the 4-H building at the Morgan County Fairgrounds.

Numerous topics will be covered including:

“Mineral Supplementation for Your Herd,” Chris Shelley, CSU Livestock Agent

“Bulls by the Numbers,” Travis Taylor, CSU Extension Agent

“Importance of BQA in a Modern Beef Operation,” Kacy Atkinson, CSU Livestock Agent

“Fly Control for your Pastured Cattle,” Dave Boxler, UNL Extension (Yuma only)

“Increasing Reproductive Efficiency in the Cow Herd,” Randy Saner, UNL Extension

“Matching Your Calves to a Backgrounding System,” Erin Laborie, UNL Extension (Brush only)

“Grazing System Management and Using Annual Forages,” Troy Walz, UNL Extension (Brush only)

“Managing Replacements to Maximize Heifer Values, Can You Afford to Rebuild Your Herd?” Robert Tigner, UNL Extension (Yuma only)

Registration one week prior is needed for a meal count. Please send registrations, found on the Golden Plains Area Extension website, to:

Yuma County Extension 
310 Ash St. Ste B
Wray, CO 80758. 

Cost to attend is $10 per person if pre-registered or $15 per person at the door. For more information or to register by phone, please contact either Chris Shelley at 970-332-4151 or email