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Waffle Hill Farm wins first-ever IRM "Tips for Profit" Award Cattle producers Lawrason and Ned Sayre, who own and operate Waffle Hill Farm of Churchville, Md., are recipients of the 2000 national Integrated Resource Management's (IRM) first-ever "Tips for Profit" award from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA). The award, sponsored by Pennington Seed, recognizes ingenious cattle producers for innovative, home-grown inventions. It hopes to facilitate the flow of these new ideas and beneficial technologies to improve the efficiency of beef production. And, it was presented to the Sayres at the 2001 Cattle Industry Annual Convention. The Sayres invented an efficient way to feed hay to their cattle and to manage waste manure more effectively. They received $3,500 cash prize, plus an all-expenses paid trip to the convention. "We're really happy to have the Sayres as our first-ever award winners. Their invention is a real standout, and we believe cattle producers everywhere can gain a great deal by taking a closer look at what they've accomplished," says Homer Buell, IRM subcommittee chairman and cattle producer from Rose, Neb. "Their invention not only improves efficiency, it also reduces production costs and protects the environment at the same time." The second-place award was presented to Pattie Farm, Harrison, Ark., and third place went to Lindsey Angus, Jayton, Texas. Pattie Farm received $1,500 cash prize and Lindsey Angus a $1,000 cash prize. The award's selection committee included Joe Roybal and Clint Peck of BEEF Magazine; Robert E. Lee, Robert E. Lee Ranch Company; Robert E. Blaylock, Auburn University; Dick Helms, Flying H Genetics; and Benny Robertson, Pennington Seed. Following are descriptions of all the IRM Tips winners: First Place and Region 1 winner Lawrason and Ned Sayre Waffle Hill Farm, Churchville, Md. Hay feeder and manure management system Maryland is far from an ideal location to winter cows. It has prolonged periods of wet and muddy conditions, making it difficult for farmers to store, handle and feed hay to cows. Over the years, Lawrason and Ned Sayre looked at several methods to overcome these challenges. First, they fed with hay rings in pastures, but found the cows wasted too much hay. They also damaged fields when they hauled out round bales. Then they used silage pits, but discovered they were inefficient, too. The Sayres also wanted to ensure they were managing waste manure properly — and any feeding system they developed had to be environmentally sound. This is key, because their farm is just eight miles from the headwaters of Chesapeake Bay, one of the country's best—known waterways and wetlands, home to countless waterfowl, wildlife and fish. So in the early 1990s, the Sayres drew up plans for a structure that would allow them to feed hay efficiently, manage manure effectively and protect the environment at the same time. The farm, which raises about 140 registered Angus cows, now has two of these structures in place. The structures consist of two 50-foot-long pads, where the cows stand while feeding. A bunk, which feeds cattle on both sides, is located down the middle of the structure. And, behind each of the pads is a 30-foot by 30-foot manure pit that's sloped away from the bunk and allows water to drain away from the pit. A picket drain and 200-foot settling terrace allows water to drain out of the pit. To further simplify the structures, the Sayres placed hay storage sheds next to the bunks to minimize field damage and improve hay quality. They constructed a calving barn at these sites as well, making it easier to catch "calfy" cows. They built these structures on existing pasture fencelines, so two separate groups of cattle could use the facility at the same time. The Sayres also worked closely with local NRCS representatives to design and construct attached manure storage pit, along with a drainage terrace. NRCS also provided some of the cost—sharing for the construction of project. Results so far have been astounding. The Sayres estimate they've reduced their feeding costs by about 30 percent, due to improve feed quality and less waste. They've also reduced the incidence of calf scours. "Virtually all hay we put in the bunk is consumed and not wasted," says Lawrason. "And we're much more efficient from a manpower perspective. With this facility, it takes one person to scrape the alleys, refill the haybunk and feed about 90 cows for four to seven days. Before it would take 4 to 5 bales of hay each day, requiring one man work 1 to 2 hours every day. The savings is about 125 man hours during the 100-day feeding period." Despite receiving the first—place award, the Sayres plan to make continued improvements to their invention. "One of the changes we'd like to make is to widen the alleys to have more space for cows to get into the bunk," says Ned. "We are also considering putting a shed roof with gutters over the pads to divert rain and snow from the pit as well as protect the feed from inclement weather. Keeping water from the pit would minimize water outflow through the settling surface." Second Place and Region 4 winner Joe Pattie, Pattie Farm Harrison, Ark. Hydraulic Round Bale Scale Like thousands of cattle producers across the country, Arkansas' Joe Pattie feeds round bales to his cows every winter. Trouble is, in order to deliver the right amount hay each day, a producer must know how much the bale weighs before unrolling it, and when to stop unrolling once the desired amount of feed has been placed in the pasture. The challenge, however, is that it would have been unfeasible for Joe to purchase a set of scales to weigh bales prior to feeding, and then to weigh each section of hay as it was fed. So Joe, who raises about 160 head of commercial cows, came up with an ingenious solution: the tractor-mounted hydraulic bale scale. Joe attached a cylinder arm to the top of his tractor's three-point rear hitch, then placed the other end to the top of his bale unroller. He then attached a hydraulic hose to one end of the cylinder, filled the system with fluid and placed a 600 psi pressure gauge that's visible from his tractor cab. To properly calibrate his invention, Joe weighed six full bales and eight partial bale weights on a set of digital, hanging scales. For each bale weight, he took the corresponding hydraulic pressure reading. Doing this, he was able to calculate that for every 20-pound drop in hydraulic pressure, there was a 50 pound reduction in bale weight. "With hay cost ranging from $0.03 to $0.05 per pound, over-feeding of by just 50 pounds a day for a 120-day feeding period can cost a producer $180 to $300," says Joe. "While underfeeding may reduce feed costs, the performance of your cattle can also be greatly reduced resulting in tremendous loss." By using this invention and participating in the Arkansas IRM program, Joe has increased his stocking rates by 33 percent, decreased breakeven price by 14 percent, decreased direct cost per animal unit by 8 percent, increased total pounds of beef produced by 37 percent and improved gross margin per cow by 17 percent. Third Place Kim Lindsey, Lindsey Angus Jayton, Texas The Syringe Coozie Sometimes it's the little things that add up to big—time payoffs. And no one knows better about this than Texas seedstock producer Kim Lindsey. Kim always took careful steps to ensure she was handling vaccines properly. When she went into the field, for instance, she packed them in coolers, protecting from extreme temperatures. But she worried about exposure to sunlight and temperature extremes once the vaccines were removed from a protective place and put in an outdoor, working environment. "Prolonged exposure to sunlight, heat or cold can potentially lead to loss of vaccine effectiveness and place the treated animal or herd at risk," she says. So Kim invented a device called the syringe coozie. It fits a standard 50-cc, one-inch Pistol Grip Syringe commonly used by cattle producers across the country. She made the coozie from 1-inch pipe insulation cut to the correct length, which is slipped over the barrel of the syringe. The idea worked. "Not only does the coozie protect vaccine from exposure to sunlight," says Kim, "it also protects vaccine from becoming to hot, or from freezing. It protects the syringe barrel from accidental breakage and provides a uniform surface for proper vaccine label identification." Other cattle producers have also benefited from the invention. Following Kim's advice, Bradley 3 Ranch Ltd. began using the syringe coozie as one way to improve herd health and survival rates. "Our SPA data show that in 1991 we were experiencing 13.98% death loss from cows exposed to calves weaned," says Minnie Lou Bradley of Bradley 3 Ranch. "In 1998 SPA revealed that we had cut our deathloss to 2.32%." While Bradley admits the improvements were due exclusively to use of the syringe coozie, protecting vaccines in the field probably played a key role. "This is a profitable idea that requires less than a $2 investment," Bradley says. Other regional winners: Region 3 Winner Greg Price South Side Farm Rockbridge, Ill. Price wanted to improve efficiency and profitability, and identify areas in his operation where he could reduce costs. So Price developed a method for stockpiling fescue, which has resulted in a cost savings of 34 cents to 50 cents per cow per day during the first winter the procedure was used. Region 5 Donald LeFever Fort Collins, Colo. One of the goals of life-long animal scientist Don LeFever has been improving results of heifer breeding programs. So LeFever developed a procedure that combines body condition scoring, pelvic measurements, reproduction tract scores with synchronization of estrus with MGA and Prostaglandin. Region 7 Bob Price Gracie Creek Ranch, Burwell, Neb. Bob Price wanted to balance production with resources, and identify optimum marketing windows for his cattle. He implemented a planned grazing system, delayed calving till late April, weaned early and began marketing yearlings in mid-summer to allow stockpiling of standing forage for winter grazing. Jack and Carole Horne Jack Horne Ranch, Coleman, Texas Faced with severe drought, Jack Horne wanted to find a way to creep-feed whole corn and protein to young calves at least cost, labor and sickness. Horne placed creepfeeders in pastures where calves were just a few weeks old. This allowed for an easier, reduced—stress weaning period, improved calf performance and enabled his cows to maintain reproductive performance, despite the dry weather. Ronald Sewell Sewell's Bar S Limousin El Dorado Springs, Mo. Ronald Sewell wanted to increase fescue seed production, improve pasture productivity, promote tree development, enhance wildlife habitat nd reduce haying expenses. So he developed "strip haying," which allows him to accomplish all of these things. The procedure consists of mowing a 100-foot-wide strip through a hay field and leaving a similar strip of unmown grass behind. Cows tend to graze the mowed grass, leaving behind the taller strips for winter grazing, wildlife habitat and tree protection. Bill and Jane Travis Pine Ridge Ranch Dallas, Texas The Travises sought to produce cattle that would reach 1,200 pounds at one year of age and produce a high-Select to low-Choice carcass. So they developed a genetic improvement and selection to reduce costs, improve growth and produce consistent carcass quality.