4-H beef club holds final formal meeting

Mitch Haw

The fourth and final formal meeting of the United Beef Club was held on the evening of June 3 at the Short residence in Rainy River.
This meeting was called to order by president Jared McQuaker, who then led the club in reciting the 4-H pledge.
At this time, each member shared his or her response to the meeting’s roll call, “Name one skill that you know how to do that requires tools of some kind.”
Some of the responses included shovelling, ear tagging, hoof trimming, brushing, washing, and vaccination.
Next, each member was asked to present their findings after examining the hooves of their market steer.
They reported that many of the livestock had overgrown hooves, which immediately require trimming.
With this completed, club secretary RJ McDonald reviewed the minutes from the last meeting.
Members found this account accurate and the minutes were approved.
Leaders Bud and Murray then handed out new content for each member, consisting of a booklet entitled, “Feeding and Nutrition.”
Together, members took turns reading this information, beginning with the ruminant digestive system, which the club learned is “like a large factory which turns plants into digestible material.”
A cow’s stomach requires large amounts of microbes in order to break down the fibrous matter which cows consume. For this reason, a cow’s stomach must be an ideal environment for these microbes, both warm and wet.
In reality, however, a cow’s stomach is made up of four different compartments—the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum.
The food passes through the stomach in this order, although coarse fibers are re-chewed after entering the reticulum. This process is referred to as an animal “chewing cud.”
Throughout this entire system, nutrients and water are separated from indigestible material. Some of the main forms of nutrients are energy, protein, minerals, vitamins, and water.
This content is used to form cells and power an animal’s body.
Next, club members looked at where these nutrients derive. For cattle, there are four main categories of feed, each having special characteristics.
There are forages, which often are high in fibre but low in energy. Grains, or concentrates, ordinarily are high in energy but low in fibre.
Meanwhile, protein supplements, like soybeans, are high in protein and energy.
Lastly, there are byproduct feeds, like distiller’s grain. This type of feed varies greatly as far as nutritional content, but usually is very economical.
Taking these characteristics into consideration, the group checked out a feed analysis chart, which showed the nutrient content of a wide range of feeds, from first-cut legume hay to wheat.
This chart proved very effective in determining the quality or value of specific feeds.
This handout also reviewed how to determine the cost of feeding cattle, which is a requirement for this project.
Finally, each member was asked to find a feed tag and check to see what kind of information it contains before the next meeting.
For the rest of the evening, leader Bud McQuaker shared with the club a recent trip to an Alberta feed lot. He explained how these feeder companies are able to quickly finish their market animals.
He also noted this was a very “worthwhile” experience, and that it would be beneficial for every member to see.
Club members then gave a quick update on how their animals are doing. They also were reminded to complete their feed and growth records by the Emo Fair.
The next meeting, an informal club fun day, will be held July 31 at the Haw residence.
With this said, the meeting was adjourned and the club viewed the Shorts’ steers and enjoyed refreshments.