Exposure to the sun is the single most important weather factor to speed hay drying.
Many forage producers across Ohio have suffered severe forage stand losses; however, there are areas where the stands have survived and those are ready for harvest. Unfortunately, recent and forecasted rains are preventing the first harvest of many of those acres. Despite the need to harvest now for quality forage, I strongly urge patience in waiting for soils to firm up before attempting to make our first cutting of hay, because harvesting on soft soils does long-term damage to future productivity.
Once the soils are firm enough, there are several proven techniques that can speed up the hay drying process to take the most advantage possible with any sunny days we do get.
Forage stands that have survived this year continue to advance in maturity. Some producers in northeast Ohio were able to harvest last week, and many wet-wrapped the forage. Unfortunately, in other parts of Ohio, the rains have continued, and the forecast is not good for drying conditions this week. Although forages are ready for harvesting (see table below), keep in mind that harvesting when the soil is too wet and soft will do non-reversible compaction damage to the stand and will lower the productivity the rest of this year and into future years.
Below is the update on the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) levels of alfalfa standing in the field. A short video describing the method we used to estimate NDF in the field can be found at the following . . .
One the more common questions I receive with regard to analytical testing of forages and other feedstuffs is, “I have the sample, now what do I test for or what analysis package should I select?”
The basic components that nutritionists need to evaluate a feedstuff or develop a ration are dry matter or moisture, crude protein, an estimate of the energy content of the feedstuff — Total Digestible Nutrients (TDN), Net Energy for Maintenance (NEm), Net Energy for gain (NEg), and the macro minerals, Calcium and Phosphorous. These are the most basic numbers that are required but including some additional analyses in the report can give us additional insight into the quality of the feedstuff or improve our ability to predict animal performance, which is the primary reason we analyze feedstuffs.
I recommend that the report include acid detergent fiber (ADF) and neutral detergent fiber (NDF). The amount of NDF in forage reflects the amount of cell wall contents (hemicellulose, cellulose, and lignin) within the sample. The NDF fraction is often associated with the respective bulkiness of forage and is correlated with dry matter intake of the forage or feedstuff. Therefore, the amount of NDF may be used to estimate the expected Continue reading →
– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
Spring rains have filled the ponds and saturated the ground in many pastures. As the temperatures heat up, cattle will start to congregate around or in the ponds or other standing water. One of the challenges that cattle producers may face this summer is the occasional lame cow or yearling. “Foot rot” is a common cause of lameness in beef cattle on pastures. Foot rot is an infection that starts between the toes of the infected animal and usually is a result of the introduction of a bacteria through broken skin. The infection causes pain and the resulting lameness. The lameness can cause decreases in weight gain of young cattle, milk production decline of adult cows and lame bulls will be reluctant to breed.
Treatment of foot rot can be successful when the treatment is started early in the disease process. Most cases require the use of Continue reading →
In this edition of the Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits with Guernsey County ANR Educator Clif Little about pasture weed management. Below they discuss ways of controlling invasive weeds such as Japanese Stilt Grass, Spotted Knapweed, Canadian Thistle and many more.
– Matthew A. Diersen, Professor and Extension Specialist, Department of Economics, South Dakota State University
The May feeder cattle futures and options contracts expire later this week. The contracts will settle to the CME Feeder Cattle Index, which now includes various cattle that were previously excluded from the index, mainly any cattle labeled as “fancy, thin, fleshy, gaunt or full.” A trace-back confirmed that some fleshy 8-weights from Billings, MT were added to standard 8-weights in a recent index. The CME has been reporting the side-by-side totals for most of the past year, and the series has been collected by the LMIC during that time. Logic dictates that adding additional cattle would mean that the new index procedure should have more cattle than the old procedure. The last date using the old procedure was April 18, 2019. The new index included 1,042 more head and was $0.13 higher than the old index on that date. Thus more head are represented in the index now, and the price is similar to before because, for example, the lower price for a few thin calves would be offset by the higher price for a few fancy calves.
A chart of the full side-by-side comparison (not shown) is a little messy. There are several dates where the volume with the added data is less than Continue reading →
– Garth Ruff, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Ohio State University Extension, Henry County (originally published in Ohio’s Country Journal on-line)
Less than ideal conditions have led to forage shortages throughout the Midwest. Photo: Ohio’s Country Journal
Low hay inventory this past winter combined with poor pasture stands due to excessive moisture have led to a greater proportion of thin beef cows both across the countryside and on the cull market. As we evaluate the toll that this past winter took on forage stands, especially alfalfa, hay is projected to be in short supply as we proceed into next winter as well.
For a beef cow to be efficient and profitable, we must meet her nutritional requirements for maintenance in addition to those for reproduction and lactation. As a reminder, the hierarchy of nutrient use is as follows: Maintenance, Development, Growth, Lactation, Reproduction, Fattening. This applies to all nutrient categories, not just to energy alone. As we conclude calving season, we are entering the most challenging time in production cycle when it comes to providing adequate nutrition. If the cow does not intake enough nutrients and is in suboptimal body condition at calving (BCS < 5), reproduction is the first to fail. With that in mind, one strategy available to minimize body condition and reproductive losses when forage is in short supply is to early wean calves.
Early weaning is certainly not a new concept and is one that is often employed when Continue reading →
– Dwane Miller, Penn State Extension Educator, Agronomy
Whether you’re taking the crop as haylage or dry hay, it’s important to pay attention to forage cutting height. One of our goals as farmers is to maximize our yield; however, cutting a crop too low can lead to several negative issues. The introduction of the disk-type mowers (discbines) allows for cutting very close to the ground. I’ve seen many fields that have been “scalped” right to ground level. This differs considerably from the older sickle bar mowers (haybines), whose technology required that some level of stubble height remain. Stand longevity can be compromised when the crop is cut too low. As a general rule, alfalfa can be cut closer to the ground than our grass crops. We need to think about where energy reserves are stored in the crop. For alfalfa, carbohydrates are stored below the ground in the taproot. Grasses store their energy above ground in the stem base or tillers. Frequent mowing at a close height will continue to deplete these energy reserves, resulting in stand longevity issues.
– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist
Only 1 to 2 months ago the spring calving cows were calving, the temperatures were colder and the calving pastures were already covered with muck and manure. Experience would say that you do not want to ask cow calf operators how calving is then, because the response would be less than objective, reflecting bone-chilling cold and not enough sleep.
If you wait too long, perhaps until this fall, time will have mellowed most of the events and one soon has difficulty matching a calving season with particular problems. Plus it may be too late to make the necessary changes to reduce calving losses. Now is perhaps the best time to make a few notes on what to change for next year.