Dave Lalman Offers Considerations for Haying or Grazing Out Damaged Wheat

May 07, 2014

With freeze and drought taking their toll on this year’s wheat crop, many producers in western Oklahoma are considering whether to turn their cattle back out on the wheat or harvest it for forage.

In a report for SUNUP, Dr. Dave Lalman, Oklahoma State University Extension beef cattle specialist, says producers might want to think about haying the wheat as early as possible if weather conditions hold. He says that would help defray next year’s feed bills.

For those producers who can turn cattle back out, he says they want to consider the possibilities of wheat pasture bloat and grass tetany.

“I would guess that most people’s wheat is far enough along with the flag leaf and maybe even developing a head. At that point, wheat pasture bloat is probably not a big concern, but the easy thing to do to prevent that is to make sure the cattle are full when they are turned out the first time.

“Grass tetany is an issue of supplying adequate calcium and magnesium and that can be done through the mineral supplement.”

He also said that growing calves and yearling cattle, heifers, dry cows and cows with calves that are older than four months are less susceptible to grass tetany and would be a good option for graze out this year. Cows that are about to calve or have just calved are the most at risk of contracting grass tetany.

It is important for producers to have their crop insurance agent come out and evaluate their wheat before undertaking a graze out program, Lalman says.

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