Dangers of Harvesting and Grazing Certain Forages Following a Frost

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Frost on sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums create an intermediate high potential for prussic acid poisoning. Photo: Mike Estadt

As cold weather approaches, livestock owners who feed forages need to keep in mind certain dangers of feeding forages after frost events. Several forage species can be extremely toxic soon after a frost because they contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. Some legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. In this article I discuss each of these risks and precautions we can take to avoid them. Continue reading

Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, late fall 2017 issue)

Color is seldom an accurate indication of hay quality!

Across most of Ohio, 2017 has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business.  In 2016, while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down.  Since the end of June, however, 2017 has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days.

With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices.  However, for the astute cattleman that either makes his/her own hay or knows the nature of the business, this also means high quality hay may just be the proverbial needle in the haystack, and for the most part, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While there are many options to manage the situation, Continue reading

Cull Cows and Stockpiled Forage

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator, Ag/NR Monroe County (previously published in Farm & Dairy)

At this time of year many cow-calf operators are weaning/selling calves and determining which, if any, cows are going to be culled and sent to market. The sale of cull cows can be a significant source of cash flow for cow-calf operators. Data shows that 15-25% of cow-calf business’ returns are a result of selling cull cows in the fall, after weaning. For this reason, cow-calf operators should carefully consider how and when they market their cull animals.

If you decide to delay marketing cull cows in an effort to add weight, improve quality, and capture a stronger early spring market, stockpiled forage makes a good feed source.

Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension Cattle Specialist, said, “It is important to understand the Continue reading

Year Round Grazing Project at Farm Science Review

Tim McDermott, OSU Extension Educator, Hocking County

A new demonstration area has been created at the Gwynne Conservation Area for Farm Science Review that exhibits forage species adapted for year around grazing.

Spring oats planted at the Gwynne Conservation Area of FSR in early August

This summer a 1.1 acre plot that had been planted previously in warm season bunch grasses was converted into a series of different forage varieties designed to help teach management intensive grazing principles so that producers can get closer to a year round grazing program. The acreage was divided into four roughly quarter acre plots and planted with Continue reading

PRF: A “Crop Insurance” Program from RMA for Forage Growers

Billy Fanning, Silveus Southeast

Hay and pasture producers, are you frustrated with the limited attributes of the NAP program?  Are you looking for something to better cover your risk with hay and pasture acres?  If so, you really need to look at the Pasture, Rangeland, Forage (PRF) program available from the Risk Management Agency (RMA).

PRF is a federally subsidized product offered through RMA to producers in all 48 lower states.  The PRF program is designed to provide insurance coverage on your pasture and/or forage acres.  This innovative program is based on a precipitation Rainfall Index.  PRF gives you the ability to Continue reading

Perennial Weed Control in Grass Hay and Pasture

– William S. Curran, Professor of Weed Science, Penn State University

At the recent Ag Progress Days in Pennsylvania one of the most common questions asked involved perennial weed control in grass hay and pasture. While we still have nice warm days, it is good time to scout pasture and hay fields for the presence of perennial weeds. As you hopefully have heard before, late summer and fall is the best time to control most perennials with a systemic herbicide because herbicides are moved into the root systems allowing more permanent control. With the autumn weather, these plants more actively transport carbohydrates and sugars to underground storage structures such as rhizomes, tubers, and roots to enable them to survive the winter and to provide the necessary energy to begin the next cycle of growth in the spring. Mowing the pasture and hay fields in mid-summer or several weeks before the herbicide application to prevent seed production and to promote healthy new leaf tissue that can intercept the herbicide is also important. In general, the application window runs from Continue reading

Last Alfalfa Cutting and Risk Management

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

It’s the end of August and some alfalfa growers will need to make a decision if they should take another cutting of alfalfa, and if so, when. The recommendation in the newly revised 15th edition of the Ohio Agronomy Guide is to complete the last regular harvest of alfalfa by September 7 in northern Ohio, September 12 in central Ohio and by September 15 in southern Ohio. At this point, undoubtedly some alfalfa growers are saying that they have taken a last cutting at the end of September or early October without any harm to the stand. True though that be, the fact is that the last or fall harvest of alfalfa is a question of Continue reading

Manage for High Quality Corn Silage

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County

Corn silage harvest will have an extended season this year, reflecting the range of corn planting dates. Some of the late April planted corn will soon be ready for chopping. Producing a consistent, high quality corn silage requires planning and management. The goal is to provide an environment conducive to a quick and favorable anaerobic (without air) fermentation process. Characteristics of high quality silage include a pH below 4.5 and a lactic acid content of 65% or greater of the total volatile fatty acids. To accomplish this requires Continue reading

Livestock Manure; an Option for Replenishing Soil Nutrients in Hay Fields

Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist; Rory Lewandowski, Eric Richer and Sam Custer, OSU Extension Educators (This article appeared originally in the Early Fall 2017 issue of the Ohio Cattleman)

When hay is harvested nutrients are removed from the field. A ton of alfalfa removes approximately 13 pounds of phosphorus (as P2O5) and 50 pounds of potash (as K2O). According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, Ohio harvested 2.6 tons per acre of alfalfa in 2016.

Many hay fields are not pure alfalfa. The acidic soils of the southern and eastern parts of the state make it difficult to maintain an alfalfa or clover stand so a mixed stand of grass and alfalfa/clover is common. Stands in older fields are often just mostly grass. A grass hay crop will remove just as many nutrients per ton as an alfalfa crop. The big difference is Continue reading

Forage Seeding; Do you always have time to do it over?

– Dr. Jimmy Henning, Extension Professor, Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky

You always find time to do it over.

My father used to tell me, “You never have time to do it right, but you always find time to do it over”. You can imagine the context. In defense, it is human nature (at least my nature) to be in a hurry, to skip steps in a process that seems to be less than absolutely necessary. Few processes on the farm provide as much temptation for this ‘skip a step’ thinking as forage establishment.

The following is a typical exchange Continue reading