In this edition, we will review the effects of sand bedding on cattle in relation to mastitis, toxins in corn at harvest, and manure testing recommendations.

Mastitis Concerns in Cattle Using Sand Bedding 

We have recently received multiple questions about mastitis in dairy cattle, resulting from the use of sand bedding. Bacteria does not thrive in clean coarse sand, but the greater the amount of clay and organic matter, the more hospitable the environment for bacteria. It is generally recommended that clay content be as low as possible and that organic matter is less than 1%.

Samples of sand bedding, collected from the back half of multiple stalls, can be submitted to our lab for testing. Requesting our Texture testing report will provide the percentages of sand, silt, and clay; whereas the Sand Fraction testing report will report percentages of 22 different particle sizes. Microbiological tests can also be performed, such as Faecal Streptococcus, e.Coli, and Clostridium. To monitor the levels in recycled sand, it is suggested to send samples of both new and used bedding to allow comparison. Please contact us for more information or with any questions you may have.

2014 Forecast for Toxins in Corn

In a cooler, wetter season, higher levels of vomitoxin can typically be expected. Early results from this season do not seem to indicate an issue. A summary of DON result, posted below,will give an indication of corn harvest thus far in the 2014 season. Feel free to contact us with any questions or testing requests.

For Zearalenone, 91% of corn samples have tested less than 0.05 ppm.

Vomitoxin (DON) Level                  % of samples        
  > 6.0 ppm        0.0%
  4.0 to 6.0 ppm        0.0%     
  2.0 to 4.0 ppm        0.0%
  1.0 to 2.0 ppm            17.0%
  0.2 to 1.0 ppm         68.8%
  < 0.2 ppm        14.2%
The Importance of Manure Testing 

Due to the late harvest, post-harvest manure spreading will have a smaller time frame this year than normal. Even though the process may be rushed, it is important to take the time to collect a representative sample if the nutrient value of the manure is unknown. Average values of manure nutrients are readily available, but it is important to remember that an average is not necessarily the true value of any particular manure.  Concentrations will vary depending on livestock diet, bedding, storage type, and other factors.

As an example, the range of Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K) values for different manure types are shown below, based on one year of samples submitted. Converted to lbs per 1000 gallons or per ton applied, the variability of available P2O5 and K20 can be appreciated.

Considering that manure in storage can contain tens of thousands of dollars worth of nutrients, a manure test is a small investment to calculate the applied values and deduct the amount from required commercial fertilizer rates.  Contact us for more information on this topic or to submit testing requests.

LiquidHigh PAvg plow phigh kavg klow k
  Swine (in %)   0.30     0.10   0.02   0.41   0.21   0.10
    lbs/1000 gal   27.50   9.20   1.80   44.30      22.70        10.80     
  Dairy (in %)   0.17   .0.04          .0.01         0.48   0.23   0.07
    lbs/1000 gal       15.60       3.70   0.90   51.80   24.80   7.60
SOLIDHigh PAvg plow phigh kavg klow k
  Dairy (in %)   0.21   0.09   0.03   1.20   0.25   0.06
    lbs/ton   3.80   1.60   0.50   4.50   1.90   0.60
  Beef (in %)   0.35   0.22   0.07   1.18   0.52   0.08
    lbs/ton   6.40   4.0   1.30   7.60   4.80   1.50
  Chicken (in %)     2.04   1.23   0.87   1.94   1.22   0.41
    lbs/ton   37.40       22.50        15.90        44.10      26.60          18.80    
For further information, please contact:

Jack Legg, CCA-ON
Branch Manager, Agronomist
503 Imperial Rd. N., Unit 1
Guelph, Ontario N1H 6T9
t: +1 519 837 1600