Baleage Mistakes Can Lead to Major Health Consequences

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), Dr. Ray Smith, Livestock Forage Extension Specialist, and Krista Lea –UK Dept of Plant and Soil Sciences

Baleage or “wet wrapped hay” is simply forage of a relatively high moisture content that is baled with a round baler and then sealed in a plastic bag or wrapped in plastic, to keep oxygen out. Anaerobic bacteria (those that live without air) convert sugars in the forage to lactic acid which in turn lowers the pH and preserves the forage as silage, with full fermentation completed within 6-8 weeks. Round bale silage (“baleage”) is an alternative to baling dry hay that allows shorter curing time and saves valuable nutrients by avoiding rain damage, harvest delays, spontaneous heating and weathering if stored outdoors. Grasses, legumes and small grains can be effectively preserved by this method but only if proper techniques are followed. Forages should be cut at early maturity with high sugar content, allowed to wilt to a 40-60% moisture range, then tightly baled and quickly wrapped in plastic to undergo fermentation (“ensiling” or “pickling”), a process that should drop the pH of the feed below 4.5 where spoilage organisms will not grow. Problems arise when Continue reading

Establishing New Forage Stands

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

This month provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring vs. summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Prepare a good seedbed for conventional forage seedings.

Probably the two primary difficulties with spring plantings are Continue reading

New OSU Extension Forage Website Launched

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Our new Ohio Forages website has been launched, and can be found at  This is the same url as our old Ohio Forage Network site.

­­We intend for this website to be the go-to place to find all things forage within the Ohio State University Extension system. We are still in the process of Continue reading

Decisions Made Now Can Impact the Entire Grazing Season

Chris Penrose, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension (this article was published previously in the Ohio Farmer magazine at

Considering how early our forages broke dormancy this year, we will soon reach a stage where our forage management decisions can affect grazing for the entire season. In 2012 when we also experienced a very early spring our forages were finishing up their “reproductive” stage of growth with grasses setting seed heads and legumes blooming by late April. After they set seed, perennial plants quickly transition from the Continue reading

Should I add more legumes to my pasture?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Noble County (This article first appeared in Progressive Forage on-line)

Including legumes in grass pastures has the potential to increase the overall nutritive value of the pasture and decrease the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Read on to find out if you should add more legumes to your pasture.

What is so special about legumes?

There is something special about legumes that sets them apart from our other forages. They have the ability to Continue reading

Poison Hemlock: Time to Take Action!

Stan Smith, PA, OSU Extension, Fairfield County

Poison hemlock plants in Seneca County, Ohio in January of 2017

As we’ve discussed a couple of times in the past, poison hemlock is a biennial member of the carrot family that can be fatal to livestock if ingested in sufficient quantities. That said, while much of the poison hemlock we’re seeing today has been alive but dormant much of the winter, those plants are now in the early stages of bolting across much of Ohio, and also positioned nicely to be controlled at this time.

While the taste of poison hemlock leaves to livestock is unpleasant and toxic quantities are seldom consumed, if grazing animals are turned out in early spring onto pastures with less than adequate forage, the risk Continue reading

Don’t Remove Your Plants’ Solar Panel by Grazing Too Early!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Yes, there is new green growth, but that doesn’t mean start grazing!

Yes, it appears that we are trying to having an early spring, but I refuse to count those chicks before they hatch! Abnormally warm weather in February and early March is not that uncommon here in Indiana, unfortunately neither are late March and early April snows. The accumulated growing degree days so far this year, on average across the state, are higher than normal.

Now, it is REALLY early still, but I know how some Continue reading

Making Hay from Seeding to Harvest Workshop – April 3rd

Are you interested in learning more about hay production? The Hardin County OSU Extension office is having a workshop titled ‘Making Hay: From Seeding to Harvesting’ on April 3 from 6:30-9:00 pm. The location of the Extension office is 1021 W Lima Street, Suite 103 in Kenton. Topics taught during this program will include Continue reading

Running on Empty? Lack of Energy in the Diet Will Cause Cattle Deaths

– Michelle Arnold, DVM, Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL

From a weather standpoint, the winter of 2016-17 has been a non-event. Record temperatures recorded in February and very little measureable snow throughout winter has been a welcome change from previous years. Despite this unexpected warmth, submissions at the UKVDL and telephone conversations with veterinarians and producers confirm many cattle are losing excessive body condition and some are dying of apparent malnutrition. This indicates winter feeding programs on many farms this year are not Continue reading

Early Grazing Observations

Chris Penrose, Associate Professor and Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension

March 3rd was the last day I fed my spring calving cows hay. You may have read in previous articles (2/26/ 2014, 3/7/2012, 3/1/2006) some of the advantages of stockpiling fescue and grazing it during calving season. This includes a thick sod to calve on, no mud, and no hay to feed. I do have to admit that I feed a couple pounds of whole shelled corn right on the ground to give the cows a little more energy, but every year I see a rapid improvement in body condition when they go out on stockpiled fescue. When we moved the cows to the pasture on Saturday (March 4th), I noticed that there was more new growth for early March then I have seen in over Continue reading