What’s a Grazier to Do in August?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Should I hay it, or graze it?

August often seems to arrive too early and speeds by way too fast. Mentally to me, August 1st starts the countdown to the first frosty morning. That time frame, depending on where you are in Indiana, is generally 60-75 days. There is a lot to do in that time frame.

My first consideration is staging forages. I hope that you are constantly thinking ahead, planning the next move and knowing where, what, and how much forage is available. It’s time to also start thinking about stockpiling forages for fall and winter use.

What fields are going to be Continue reading

Late Summer Establishment of Perennial Forages

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Seeding alfalfa requires a firm seedbed

Ohio growers experienced another wet spring and compressed 2018 spring planting season.  On some farms, this caused postponement of plans for spring seeding of alfalfa and other perennial forages.  In some areas, the prolonged wet weather affected forage harvest schedules, resulting in harvest equipment running on wet forage fields leaving ruts, compacted soils and damage to alfalfa crowns.  Some of these forage acres need to be re-seeded.

Late summer, and especially the month of August, provides growers with another window of opportunity to establish a Continue reading

Our Best Winter Forage May be Stockpiled Fescue

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in the Summer issue of the Ohio Cattleman)

As I drove around Morgan County in late June and even on my farm, there was still a lot of hay to make. Stems and seed heads on orchardgrass and fescue had turned brown and the quality was poor. We still have a great and inexpensive option for quality forages this fall and winter, and without much effort or cost: stockpiling pastures and even hayfields for grazing.

Stockpile beginning sometime during the next month can result in some of our highest quality and most affordable winter feed.

After feeding corn stalks, probably the lowest cost way to feed cattle in the fall and winter is to stockpile forages. Stockpiling means to make the last harvest by clipping or grazing of a hay field or pasture and then let it grow for grazing latter; in this situation, in the fall or winter. While most predominantly cool season grass based fields will work, fescue works the best as it maintains quality into and throughout the winter better. Many studies have demonstrated that one way to improve the quality and yield is to Continue reading

Beef AGRI NEWS Today, the July Podcast

In this month’s podcast of Beef AGRI NEWS Today, show host Duane Rigsby visits with OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes about the winding down of breeding season, pregnancy checking, culling considerations, and late summer forage and hay management options.

You Finally Got the Hay Made, How Good is It?

Mark Landefeld, ANR Educator, Monroe County

“You gotta make hay while the sun shines”. How many times have you heard that said throughout the years? We’ve had some sunshine this spring/summer, but making first cutting “dry” hay has really been challenging for most farmers this year. Getting two or more days in a row without rain has been rare in the spring of 2018.

Making timely first cutting dry hay in Ohio always has challenges with weather it seems, but this year it definitely has been more than usual. Extremely good, high quality hay is made from young leafy forage at boot stage, not fully mature long brown stems with dried up seed heads like we have been seeing everywhere now in July. The combination of maximum yield and highly digestible dry matter is usually obtained at the late boot, to early head stage of maturity for grasses and in the mid-to-late bud stage of maturity for our legumes. Forages that can be harvested at that time, most often meet nutrient requirements of beef cattle, but accomplishing that this year has really been the exception, not the rule for most producers.

Beef cows do not require the same level of nutrition dairy cows need to maximize production. However, this year is going to be challenging to have enough nutrients in most beef producers first cutting hay to maintain the cow’s minimum requirements without Continue reading

Adequate Vegetative Cover Vital for Efficient Moisture Utilization

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

This paddock may look messy, but what looks like a weed is actually a fantastic, highly nutritious native legume, tick foil (Desmodium).

I certainly didn’t expect the blessed amount of rain that has fallen on most of Indiana in the last month. In some areas, the amount could be considered more of a curse than blessing, especially on cropland. It certainly has made making dry hay a challenge. I am still happy to have the moisture.

My pasture was getting fairly dry before the rains started; dry enough that growth was slowing down. I had already slowed down the speed of the livestock to allow a little extra rest and now I have picked up momentium again. I’m delighted to see good regrowth of forage in paddocks not far behind where livestock had just been.

With more vegetation now and new growth still coming, it is not hard to maintain excellent cover and let the livestock take the Continue reading

Avoiding Forage Shortages

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

Any successful beef producer understands the importance of effective management of grazed and harvested forages. Cow-calf producers, stocker operators, and feedlot managers share a common need for plentiful supplies of high quality forages for the entire year. Unfortunately, environmental factors can make the availability of consistent supplies available from year to year.

USDA NASS reported hay stocks on Ohio farms on May 1, 2018 were 280,000 tons, down 33% from this time last year. All hay stored on United States farms May 1, 2018 was down 36 percent from a year ago. As the summer months move along, producers have made one or more cuttings of hay to accumulate supplies for the winter of 2018-2019. This year’s harvest and carryover stocks from the previous winter will determine the forage management strategies that will be necessary to carry supplies through to the 2019 production season.

If producers are concerned that hay supplies will be tight to carry them through to the next growing season, they should consider a variety of strategies to supplement or preserve existing supplies. Here are a few management decisions to consider to insure Continue reading

When Rain Wrecks Your Pasture Plan!

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, Ohio

A common site throughout Ohio this year, managing flood waters and muddy forage fields continues to be a challenge!

Mud, nutrient leaching, and erosion are a few of the ailments pastures across our region are experiencing in 2018. It can be a challenge to be thankful for rain in years like this. You’ve likely witnessed it wash away freshly planted seed, topsoil, and nutrients while trudging through swamps that should be access roads, watching seed heads develop on valuable hay, and cutting fallen limbs off damaged fence.

Nature has taunted many this season. In Southeast Ohio, opportunities to make hay have been few and far between due to soggy soil conditions and high humidity. The longer harvest is delayed, the poorer Continue reading

Alternatives Remain for Producing High Quality Forages This Year

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Unlike last year when Ohio wheat came off early, this year’s late wheat harvest and wet soils may prevent growers from double cropping those acres to soybeans. All things considered – a late start to spring, abundant rainfall that has destroyed the quality in first cutting hay, and wheat and forage harvest and/or corn and soybean planting delayed by untimely rainfall – utilizing presently vacant acres for growing an annual forage yet this summer is certainly an alternative for cattlemen to consider. If you had wheat, or even acres intended for corn or soybeans you were unable to plant, and have the need for additional high quality forage for grazing or mechanical harvest in 2018 and/or early 2019, review the articles from past years linked below that Continue reading

Stored Forage Production Systems

Last week in this publication we shared “Quality Considerations for Stored Forages” from the WQKT Farm Hour Radio. This week on the show OSU Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski discusses the differences in harvesting and storing dry hay and using preservatives versus balage or silage. This week’s 10 minute show is titled “Stored Forage Production Systems.”