Celebrate National Forage Week, June 17-23, 2018

This is National Forage Week. In the video embedded below, OSU Extension Educator Christine Gelley and retired Ohio NRCS State Grasslands Conservationist Bob Hendershot discuss the impact forages have on Ohio farms and in our environment.

Considerations for Harvesting High Quality Stored Forages

On a recent show from WQKT Farm Hour Radio, OSU Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski discussed a number of different considerations for getting the highest quality forages placed into storage. You can find that 9 minute conversation embedded below.

Don’t Trip on Triple-19

– Jimmy Henning, Extension Professor, University of Kentucky (modified from Forage Doctor column, The Farmers Pride – Nov.16, 2017)

There are wrong ways to do right things. Repeated use of products like triple-10 (10-10-10) or triple-19 (19-19-19) on hay fields can ultimately make that field unresponsive to the fertilizer that is applied. Don’t get me wrong, fertilizing is a ‘right’ thing. People that fertilize their pasture and hay fields have a special place in my heart. But here is why triple-19 can trip you up.

The nutrients in a hay crop are 100% removed from the field, unless that hay is fed back in the same field. It takes 18 pounds of P2O5 and 50 pounds of K2O fertilizer to replace the nutrients in one ton of grass hay (Table 1). Using triple-10 or triple-19 alone to replace these nutrients is guaranteed to over-fertilize with P or under supply K.

Soils have very different abilities to supply Continue reading

Hay Moisture Levels

Chris Penrose, OSU ANR Extension Educator, Morgan County and Dan Lima, OSU ANR Extension Educator, Belmont County

With the limited opportunities and short windows many have had to make hay so far this year, some hay may have been made at higher moisture levels than we would like. Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality. What we have found to be a consistent number in the literature is 20% moisture maximum. To be more specific:

    1. Small squares to be 20% or less,
    2. Large round, 18% or less and
    3. Large squares, 16%

Hay baled at 20% moisture or higher has a high probability of developing mold, which will decrease the quality of hay by decreasing both protein and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC) AKA energy! The mold will also make the hay less palatable to livestock and could potentially be Continue reading

A Comparison of Continuous vs. Management Intensive Grazing Systems

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team, with DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, Dalton Shipley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students

While this grazing project was conducted with small ruminants, it also relates easily to pasture management of beef cattle.

Another school year has passed and I am happy to say that I have completed my third year of being involved in AS 4004, Small Ruminant Production at The Ohio State University. This year Dr. Liz Parker and myself co-instructed this course and worked diligently to expose our students to every aspect of the small ruminant industry, including extension outreach and producer education. As a part of the course curriculum, students were challenged to compose an Ag-note (educational poster) to highlight a specific topic that is related to sheep or goat production, management, and husbandry. As viewers, you will see these unique postings appear periodically and will be noted in the title as “Ag-note.”

For our first Ag-note (linked below), OSU students DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, and Dalton Shipley share an economic perspective on the comparison of Continue reading

The Cost of a Windrow

– Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Specialist, University of Wisconsin

When harvesting hay or haylage we tend to think in terms of how long it takes to get the hay off the field. However, the first concern for quality hay/haylage should be how long it takes to lose the first 15-20% moisture. Forages have 75-80% moisture when cut; they will continue to respire sugars (break down and give off heat and carbon dioxide) at a high rate until the plant is dried to 60% moisture. If we want to save the energy of the starch and sugars for our cattle, we need to dry off the first 15-20% moisture as quickly as possible.

Most of the respiration takes place in the leaves. We should remember that conditioning is for drying the stems but has little impact on drying the leaves.

A wide swath has the biggest effect on rate of leaf drying. Leaves dry faster in a wide swath because Continue reading

Haying Pastures Likely Not the Cure for Depleted Forage Supplies

– Travis Meteer, University of Illinois Extension Educator, Commercial Agriculture, Orr Agricultural R&D Center

Severely tight hay reserves will undoubtedly cause many farmers to aggressively put up hay this spring. When the weather is right and hay fields are mowed there will be many farmers looking over the fence at pastures as an opportunity to make more bales. While it is important to get hay reserves built back up on your farm, I would caution producers against baling pastures.

Forage harvested from pasture fields isn’t free feed!

Illinois is not home to many pasture-rich cattlemen. Thus, baling pastures will likely rob forage that could be consumed by cows during the grazing season. Cows harvesting pasture is much more efficient than a mechanical harvest. The last thing any farmer wants to do is bale grass in the spring to feed it in the summer.

Next, taking hay off of pastures is not free. For each ton of dry hay baled, approximately 40 lbs. of Nitrogen (N), 20 lbs. of Phosphorus (P2O5), and 50 lbs. of Potassium (K2O) are removed. Using current fertilizer costs, the total nutrient value of hay harvested per ton would be around Continue reading

Pastures May Need Extra Management This Year!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Forage is maturing exponentially fast. Extra management may be needed this year to maintain quality and production . . .

I am running a bit late this month. What can I say; busy times. May was a very interesting month. Forages went from barely growing, to boot stage, to seed production in what it seemed about ten days. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen forages jump quite like this. We were shy on growing degree days up to that point, then with ample sunshine and some heat, there was “compensatory” growth.

Forages were stressed this spring. Though I have seen some really nice pastures and hay fields this year, those numerous cloudy and cool days earlier this year have Continue reading

Southeastern Ohio Hay Day June 21, 2018

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

“Hay Day” is free, but please RSVP

Southeastern Ohio Hay Day returns to the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (located near 16714 Wolf Run Road Caldwell, OH 43724) on Thursday, June 21, 2018 with hay equipment demonstrations, a trade show, educational presentations, a meal, and door prizes. This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 4:00 p.m. with the trade show, meal offered beginning at 4:30 p.m., and equipment demos beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Demonstrations and presentations will include topics such as raking, weed control, mowing, cutting height, tedding, hay drying tips, baling, hay preservatives and conditioners, bale wrapping, and Continue reading

The Hay Debate: Quality versus Quantity

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

One of the greatest debates in the cattle industry may revolve around the hay industry since most cattle operations utilize hay at some point through the year. The crux of the debate is quality versus quantity.

In Tennessee, cool season grasses are the primary forage for most operations, and forage species such as tall fescue have already started to produce a seed head which means the quality of the forage is starting to decline. There is a balance between quality and quantity and what individual operations need from a quality standpoint may differ based on Continue reading