Beef and forage producers turned out for the recent Acadiana Cattle Producers 2009 Spring Field Day held at the LSU AgCenter’s Iberia Research Station, Jeanerette, La.

The field day was the latest in a joint effort among the LSU AgCenter, Louisiana Cattleman’s Association, and Louisiana Forage and Grassland organizations.

Cattle producers saw the work of Wayne Wyatt, LSU AgCenter beef cattle researcher, who is evaluating tropically adapted breeds of cattle for beef production in Louisiana’s hot, humid environment and along the Gulf Coast.

His research compares Hereford-, Braford- and Bonsmara-sired calves out of Angus and Brangus cows. Bonsmara is a South African breed of cattle anticipated to thrive in a sub-tropical environment and produce tender beef. Less is known about the breed’s maternal ability, however.

“It is important to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of these breed types in all phases of beef production to determine how they might best be used for Gulf Coast beef production,” Wyatt said. “The research is still in the early stages, and it is too soon to draw conclusions.”

At lunch, each person was given a steak from one of the breed crosses and asked to evaluate the steak for juiciness, tenderness and overall acceptability. Wyatt viewed this as an opportunity to involve beef producers in research specific to their needs.

“By seeing the cattle and eating the steaks, producers have a better feel for what we are studying and will have a better understanding of the data once the project has been completed,” Wyatt said.

Guillermo Scaglia, LSU AgCenter ruminant nutritionist, talked about his work evaluating the productivity of forage systems that will provide economic and sustainable alternatives to produce forage-fed beef in the Gulf Coast region. These systems will also be evaluated for their capacity for carbon sequestration.

“This project will provide useful information to beef producers regarding the use of diverse forage resources available in the region,” he said.

Scaglia discussed the use and nutritive value of balage produced from forage soybeans and the use of supplementation of beef steers grazing ryegrass and its effect on performance, grazing behavior and forage utilization.

Ed Twidwell, LSU AgCenter forage specialist, showed several different test plots of clover grown at the station. Berseem clover appeared to fare best.

J. Stevens, LSU AgCenter soil specialist, recommended that producers who use byproducts, such as lime from a water treatment plant, have the material tested to determine if other chemicals are present.

Christine Navarre, LSU AgCenter veterinarian, advised cattle producers that the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has imposed emergency rules to test out-of-state bulls for the presence of trichomoniasis.

Bulls don’t show any symptoms of the disease, which can cause substantial losses in cow-calf operations resulting in infertility, spontaneous abortions and embryonic death. Under the rules, bulls that have the disease must be slaughtered.

The disease is not a threat to human health.

“We have it already in our state, so you need to start thinking about how to keep it out of your herds,” she said.

Buying virgin bulls is the best precaution, she said, but producers should obtain bulls from reputable sources and get their animals tested.