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AGRICULTURAL
NEWS LETTER
F E D E R A L
Vol. 11, No. 9

R E S E R V E

BA NK

OF

DALLAS, TEXAS

D A L L A S
September 15, 1956

COSTS OF PASTURE IMPROVEMENT
Unimproved pastures in east Texas in
1954 provided an average of only 50 days
of grazing per acre, while the four highest
yielding improved pastures furnished 170
days of grazing per acre, according to results
of a study conducted by A. C. Magee and
Bob H. Stone of Texas A. & M. College and
Ralph H. Rogers of the United States
Department of Agriculture.
The study, which included 36 east Texas
dairy farms, was conducted to determine the
costs incurred and the results obtained from
pasture-improvement practices. The farms
were classified into three groups, according
to the number of days that grazing was
provided for one cow.
Soils in the east Texas area are generally
sandy. Without pasture improvement, forage
usually consists of some Bermuda grass in­
termingled with needle grass or three-awn,
paspalums, and other native grasses and
weeds. As the level of soil fertility is raised,
the cover of Bermuda and Dallis grasses also
contributes considerable grazing.
On farms which had the highest yielding
pastures, improvement practices included

applications of lime and fertilizers according
to soil tests, use of available manure, seeding
of adapted legumes and grasses, growing
winter grazing crops, and mowing to con­
trol weeds. In addition, some of the land was
cleared of underbrush.
At the other extreme, farms with the low­
est yielding pastures made limited use of
only one or two recommended practices. On
the majority of the farms, however, the ex­
tent of pasture improvement was between
these extremes.
None of the improvement programs in­
cluded all of the recommended practices.
Research has shown that more intensive im­
provement programs will result in much
higher levels of p ro d u c tio n th a n w ere
obtained in the east Texas study.
The four highest yielding improved pas­
tures averaged 170 days of grazing per acre
in 1954, or more than three times the grazing
obtained from unimproved pastures in the
area. The cost of the increased grazing re­
sulting from the improvement practices
averaged 13 cents a day per cow grazed,
based on an annual pasture-improvement
expenditure of $15.81 per acre.

AVERAGE PASTURE IMPROVEMENT COSTS, 1954
East Texas Dairy Farms
Farms

Item
N um ber of farm s...............................................................................
Acreage im proved per farm .............................................................
A nnual per acre cost of m aterials..................................................
A nnual per acre cost of labor, power, and equipm ent..............
T otal annual per acre cost......................................................
Days of grazing per acre for one cow ...........................................

where pasture-improvement practices were:
Lowest
Highest
Intermediateyielding
yielding
yielding

4
41
$11.29
4.52
$15.81
170

25
62
$5.28
3.16
$8.44
106

7
62
$1.60
2.49
$4.09
70

2

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

Reducing feed allowances for steers on
Intermediate yields, averaging 106 days
of grazing per acre for each cow, were ob­ full fattening rations will decrease water con­
tained on 25 of the farms. The annual cost sumption and may help stockmen through
of improving intermediate-yielding pastures a short-time water shortage. However, if feed
averaged $8.44 per acre. During 1954, allowances are cut sharply, considerable
these pastures provided more than twice the time may be required to get the animals back
grazing furnished by unimproved pastures. on full feed when the water shortage is
The cost of the increased grazing through relieved.
pasture improvement was 15 cents a day
As the temperature rises, the water intake
per cow grazed. The methods employed are
of
animals increases. In addition, water con­
representative of the pasture-improvement
sumption
is influenced by the size of the
work on most east Texas dairy farms.
livestock. Messrs. Winchester and Morris
Less intensive methods of improvement found that, with other factors being equal,
were used on seven east Texas farms where a 500-pound animal drinks 0.6 as much
permanent improved pastures were classi­ water as a 1,000-pound animal and a 100fied as lowest yielding. These pastures fur­ pound animal drinks 0.2 as much as a 1,000nished an average of 70 days of grazing per pound one.
acre for each cow, or only 20 days per acre
By using the data in the Winchester-Mor­
more than unimproved pastures. The annual ris tables, a stockman can estimate the prob­
cost of pasture improvement was $4.09 an able daily water consumption of a large herd
acre, and the cost per cow for the extra graz­ of cattle and plan an adequate water system
ing resulting from the improvement practices for his farm or ranch. The data are not in­
was 20 cents a day.
tended for use in determining requirements
of individual animals or small herds because
of wide variations in the water intake of
Weathering the Drought
individual cattle.
Stockmen faced with the problem of
Copies of the Winchester-Morris tables
carrying cattle through droughts with short can be obtained from the Inform ation
water supplies may find a great deal of help Division, A gricultural Research Service,
in information compiled by United States United States Department of Agriculture,
Department of Agriculture scientists on Washington 25, D. C.
water consumption by beef cattle and dairy
animals. C. F. Winchester and M. J. Morris,
scientists of the Department’s Agricultural New Sorghum and Clover Varieties
Research Service, have consolidated pub­
Combine Hegari — a high-yielding grain
lished information with data from experi­
sorghum — and Cogwheel bur clover are
ments at Beltsville, Maryland.
new crop varieties developed by the Texas
The scientists point out that feed consump­ Agricultural Experiment Station at College
tion and water intake of animals are closely Station.
related. If consumption of one is curtailed,
the other is limited also. Water intake per
unit of dry matter is constant whether cattle
are on full feed or on near-starvation rations.
For example, water consumption of a herd
can be reduced 50 percent by halving the
feed allowance. However, this practice should
never be used with lactating cows because
of the resulting decrease in milk production.

The following are characteristics of the
new grain sorghum variety.
1. It is adapted to combine harvesting.
2. The stalks are well braced.
3. Growth of the plants is uniform.
4. It produces high yields under good
growing conditions.

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

5. The stalks are highly palatable to
livestock.
6. It is good livestock feed.
Combine Hegari is unsatisfactory for
starch manufacturing, as the undercoat of
the kernels imparts an off color to the starch.
Adequate seed supplies of the new grain
sorghum variety should be available to
farmers in 1957.
Cogwheel bur clover, which is named for
the characteristic “cogwheel” appearance of
the bur, is adapted to an area extending from
the Red River on the north through central
Texas and to the gulf coast area from Orange
southward to Refugio County.

3

The results of the tests contradict claims
that meat from stilbestrol-fed steers contains
enough of the chemical to make it unsafe for
human consumption.
Previous studies by the state experiment
stations and the Agricultural Research Serv­
ice at Beltsville, Maryland, show that use
of stilbestrol can increase the rate and econ­
omy of gain in beef cattle without adverse
effect on meat quality.

Micronutrients — Too Much?
Research by the United States Department
of Agriculture shows that a man-made over­
abundance of micronutrients is harming
orange trees and reducing yields. To over­
come soil deficiencies, citrus growers have
been adding the micronutrients copper, zinc,
and manganese as fertilizers for many years.
In addition, copper fungicides sprayed on the
trees accumulate in the soil.

The variety — a close relative of Califor­
nia bur clover — produces a spineless seed
pod, or bur, which is less of a problem in
areas where sheep are raised. Cogwheel
yields an abundance of seed and volunteers
Normal citrus development requires very
readily, but it is not as easy to establish the
little
of these elements — less than 20 parts
first year as California bur. The seed pods of
of
any
one of them per 1,000,000 parts of
the new clover variety usually remain on the
soil.
Growers
have been supplying more than
plant long enough for harvesting. In experi­
a
sufficient
quantity,
and toxic effects of cop­
mental tests at College Station, Cogwheel
per
have
been
observed
in many orchards
produced larger yields of forage than button
for the last several years.
or any other bur clover variety.
Limited quantities of Cogwheel bur clover
seed may be obtained from seed stores this
fall; larger amounts should be available in
the fall of 1957.

Meat from Stilbestrol-fed
Steers Safe
Extensive tissue tests
by the Food and Drug
Administration have con­
firmed previous findings
by state experiment sta­
tions that no detectable
amount of stilbestrol —
a hormone-like chemical — is present in
meat from steers fed the substance in fat­
tening rations, according to reports of the
United States Department of Agriculture.

During 1951-55, tests were conducted in
Florida by the Department of Agriculture
to determine the relative toxicity of copper,
zinc, and manganese. The orange trees used
in the tests were well rooted in the normal
soil, but examination showed that root for­
mation had been retarded greatly when any
of the three minerals was at a high concen­
tration. Copper was the most toxic of the
metals; an equal quantity of copper was 15
times more toxic than zinc and 50 times
more toxic than manganese. The combina­
tion of two elements in excessive amounts
was more depressive to root development
than a single metal. Where all three were in
high concentration, root growth was reduced
more than 90 percent.
Limited evidence from the experiments
indicates that excessive amounts of copper,

AGRICULTURAL NEWS LETTER

4

K e e p C otton Clean!
A few simple precautions in picking
cotton and handling it on the way to the
gin can mean more dollars per bale for
southwestern farmers.
On the basis of 1956 loan values on
1-inch cotton, if the presence of trash
in the cotton causes a loss of one grade
below Middling, the grower loses about
$11 on a 500-pound bale. A decline of
two grades below Middling will result
in a loss of $24 a bale.
Cotton containing grass, bark, and
vines is n o t eligible for the Government
loan.

zinc, or manganese affected the yields of
the fruit, but not the quality. The crop of
fruit borne during the last year of the ex­
periment showed that the yields of orange
trees receiving high copper treatment were
lowered; however, the oranges appeared
normal in composition.

Feed Conversion Rate High
for Broilers
i

*?■

Broiler growers have
earned a reputation among
meat producers of obtainting efficient feed conver­
sion — that is, conversion
of feed into meat.

According to Ben Wor­
meli, Extension poultry husbandman of
Texas A. & M. College, this development has
made possible some of the rapid increase in
broiler production during recent years and
has made broiler meat available to consumers
at prices which are competitive with those of
other protein foods.
The specialist points out that research has
rapidly increased knowledge of broiler nu­
trition, and growers have been quick to use

the information in their operations. Among
the developments are high-energy rations and
many supplements used in broiler feeds.
The first function of the feed is to main­
tain the body weight of the broiler. Results
of research reported by G. S. Traps of Texas
A. & M. College in 1946 showed that about
58 percent of the feed consumed by full-fed
growing chickens was used for maintaining
body weight and the remainder was for gain.
The broiler flock should be provided with
conditions which will encourage the maxi­
mum consumption of feed. According to Mr.
Wormeli, “It’s the extra feed eaten which pro­
duces the extra gain in weight and makes
the profit.”

Young Beef Calves Make
Economical Gains after Early
Weight Losses
Heifers and steers which are 3 to 4 months
old can be kept temporarily on rations that
barely maintain their weight— or even result
in some weight loss — and will recover later
on full feed to make economical gains and
high-quality beef, according to a report of
the United States Department of Agriculture.
Studies at the Department’s Agricultural
Research Service at Beltsville, Maryland,
show that there need be no loss in the growth
potential of the animals as a result of lowcalorie intake for 3 to 6 months if the limited
forage is supplemented with sufficient pro­
tein, minerals, and carotene to maintain
their health.
Many animal husbandmen formerly be­
lieved that unless calves gained steadily at
the rate of at least one-half pound daily, their
ability to make profitable gains would be
impaired permanently.

The Agricultural News Letter is prepared in
the Research Department under the direction
of J. Z. Rowe, Agricultural Economist.