More than 125 people from 19 parishes attended the Acadiana Cattle Producers Field Day March 9 at the LSU AgCenter Iberia Research Station with presentations on cattle and forage research.

Bill Richardson, LSU AgCenter chancellor, told the crowd that the Iberia Research Station’s future is intact, despite higher education cuts in the state budget. “This station is an important part of the AgCenter’s mission,” he said.

Mike Strain, Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry commissioner, said the governor’s tax proposal had recommended removing sales tax exemptions on farm equipment and supplies, amounting to a $400 million expense for agricultural producers. But Strain said the governor’s office has agreed not to lift the sales tax exemption.

Strain also said a federal regulation requires livestock over 18 months old shipped out of state to be tagged with identification and a health certificate.

Under the Animal Disease Traceability Final Rule, unless specifically exempted, livestock moved interstate would have to be officially identified and accompanied by an interstate certificate of veterinary inspection or other documentation, such as owner-shipper statements or brand certificates.

More specific details about the regulation and how it will affect producers are available online at www.aphis.usda.gov/traceability.

State Sen. Bret Allain, whose district includes the Iberia Research Station, said the LSU AgCenter has been an integral part of farming throughout the state. “Without the AgCenter, sugarcane farmers would not have new varieties, and rice farmers wouldn’t have new varieties.”

Allain also said the tax exemption for seed, feed, fuel, fertilizer and equipment would pose a burden on farmers who are not able to pass their costs on to buyers of their products.

During the presentations, Karl Harborth, AgCenter livestock specialist, said early castration of cattle results in better calves with less aggression and better quality carcasses. Hormone implants enable producers to get more money for their calves, although replacement heifers that will be part of the herd should not be given hormones.

LSU AgCenter veterinarian Christine Navarre said parasite control is essential, but all parasites will develop resistance to deworming products. A $2 deworming can result in an increased return of $30-40.

Navarre recommended working with the herd veterinarian to maximize returns while at the same time slowing down the development of resistance.  She recommended against using generic dewormers.

Andrew Granger, LSU AgCenter county agent in Vermilion Parish, and Stan Dutile, LSU AgCenter county agent in Lafayette Parish, demonstrated how to vaccinate, deworm and castrate a calf.

Granger said consumers are willing to pay more for local beef. “They want to know where their meat comes from, and that sentiment is growing every day.”

Dutile said proper storage of vaccines out of the heat is essential and demonstrated how to inject a vaccine. Dehorning conducted at an earlier age is less stressful and easier, Dutile said.

Granger and Dutile demonstrated castration with rubber bands and with a knife. A knife-cut castration is the most reliable method.

LSU AgCenter beef cattle nutritionist Guillermo Scaglia presented results of the first year of a research project. It is studying the effect of different stocking rates of one, two or three heifers per acre, and supplementation with corn or soybean hulls to heifers on the high stocking rate on animal performance using Nelson ryegrass.

So far, the low and medium stocking rates allow heifers to gain more than two pounds per day. ”Probably two heifers per acre is the stocking rate where you want to stay,” Scaglia said.

LSU AgCenter forage specialist Ed Twidwell said it’s too late to control buttercup weeds now, but crabgrass can be controlled with the pre-emergence herbicide Prowl.

A heavy concentration of weeds should be expected in the first year for a field planted in pasture grasses, Twidwell said. The herbicide Pastora has good control of vaseygrass and johnsongrass.

Dutile also announced that a new class of the LSU AgCenter Master Producer Program will be held in the fall. The cost of the 10-week program is $125 and includes a meal held at the Monday night sessions.

Harvey Gonsoulin, president of the Louisiana Forage and Grassland Council, announced the organization’s annual meeting will be held Dec. 6 at the LSU AgCenter Dean Lee Research Station in Alexandria. It will focus on forage-fed beef production in Louisiana.