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Producers gain knowledge from SAREC

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Lingle – Wyoming producers had the opportunity to learn more about winter peas, cheatgrass control, Roundup Ready alfalfa and feedlot diets during the annual open house at the James C. Hageman Sustainable Agriculture Research and Extension Center  (SAREC) in Lingle on Aug. 2.

Tour participants rode on tour trailers to view crop and livestock research projects that are progressing considerably this year, compared to conditions sustained during last year’s drought. 

According to researchers, 2012 was recorded as the driest year in history in southeastern Wyoming, with range production at only 10 percent of 2011 and dryland crop yields nearly void of production. 

Despite that, irrigated crop yields were average to above average last year at SAREC, since the research station is well equipped with irrigated water.

Winter-hardy peas 

Producers in Wyoming have expressed more interest in growing a variety of winter peas in their winter wheat-summer fallow rotation that are economically and environmentally sustainable in the central Great Plains. 

Currently, UW researchers are evaluating the best breeding lines of peas they have developed and comparing them to existing winter pea cultivars available in the U.S. to determine which varieties will perform the best in the Wyoming climate. 

Benefits of adding peas into a winter wheat rotation include soil nitrogen, increased organic matter, reduced soil erosion, pest control, increased soil water-storage efficiency and economic diversity. 

Currently, seven Wyoming breeding lines and three pea cultivars from the Pacific Northwest – the Common, Specter and Windham varieties – are being tested and evaluated for yield under both dryland and irrigated conditions. 

Current indications are that three varieties, Wyo #11 and Wyo #13 and a mix between the two are yielding considerably well and are very adaptable to the Wyoming climate. 

Wyo #11 is currently in seed increase and expected to be released in the near future. Wyo #13 is also under purification and seed increase.

Cattle diets

Producers also made tour stops to look at a group of feedlot heifers currently being studied by research personnel. These heifers are being evaluated for their feedlot performance, feed efficiency and profitability, based on whether they were fed a complete mixed ration or allowed to voluntarily select their diet. 

Steve Paisley discussed this three-year SAREC project, which currently includes 36 yearling heifers that weighed 600 to 650 pounds when they were purchased in May from the sale barn. Paisley said the heifers were sorted into light and heavy groups and then randomly assigned one of two treatments. 

The first treatment consisted of eating a mixed ration consisting of 60 percent whole shelled corn, 25 percent grass alfalfa haylage and 15 percent alfalfa pellets. The second group was fed a choice ration consisting of the same ingredients but fed in separate feeders to allow the animals to select their own diet.

Feeding results

 Paisley shared the results indicated by the research performed to this point. 

The free choice group had total feed costs varying from $97.06 to $141.33. Their average daily gain was between 4.1 to 4.5 pounds per day, and the cost of gain varied from $0.78 to $1.04. 

The second free choice group showed similar results. Their total feed costs varied from $98.44 to $130.98, with an average daily gain of four pounds. Their cost of gain ranged from $0.80 to $1.10.

Comparatively, the mixed feed group had more total feed cost for generally less daily gain. 

The first mixed feed group had total feed costs ranging from $102.26 to $132.21, with a 2.6 to 4.9 average daily gain. Their cost of gain ranged from $1.29 to $0.89. 

The second group of mixed ration heifers had total feed costs of $87.66 to $122.79, with an average daily gain of 3.3 pounds. Their total feed costs were between $.86 and $1.21. 

In the second phase of the study, Paisley said they plan to evaluate some producer-owned heifers to see how they compare to the heifers in this year’s study.

Gayle Smith is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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