Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost Continue reading

Despite a Hay Making Season to Forget, Options Remain!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

I know I’ve shared this story before, but considering the weather most of Ohio experienced, it’s appropriate to tell it again. Dad was a mechanic for a local farm implement dealer. Once while out on a service call in mid-summer he asked the farmer if he’d gotten his first cutting hay made. The response – in a deep German accent – was, “Yes, it got made . . . but it rained so much I never got it baled.”

Despite that being the case in many parts again this year, we still have an abundance of feedstuffs available that will maintain beef cows efficiently when managed properly. With Ohio farmers harvesting more than 3 million acres of corn this year, a brood cow’s feed supply could easily be extended by utilizing crop residue. Corn residue is practical for feeding dry, gestating beef cows in mid gestation providing they have average or better body condition. Plus, it’s also the perfect crop to utilize during the time Continue reading

Do You Have 100 Days of Grazing Still Ahead?

Mark Landefeld, OSU Agriculture Educator, Monroe County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

As we move into the fall season here in September, how much longer will your livestock be able to graze forage from your hay and pasture fields? Have you prepared stockpiled forages? Are you able to utilize your livestock to take that last growth of forage off your hay fields rather than using equipment?  Not using equipment to make a last cutting of hay, not having the livestock in pasture fields right now and not feeding hay for a while yet seems to be a winning combination all the way around.

Everyone’s situation is different and many producers are not able to get livestock to every hay field. Nevertheless, where you can use livestock to harvest forage from hay fields, production costs can be reduced. Producers who have not been doing this should try using their livestock, not the equipment to make later cuttings of hay and this last cutting everyone wants to get off in late September and  October. This allows pasture fields and stockpiling areas to grow the maximum amount of forage before killing frosts arrive. I believe this is one of the best opportunities livestock producers have to reduce costs and make more profit year after year. There are some limitations and guidelines producers should consider when doing this and Continue reading

It’s time to grow forage, take inventory, and use it efficiently

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Allocating out forages and strip grazing them can greatly improve the efficiency of the forage.

Fall is here and it means that our perennial forages are starting to think about taking a siesta. You will want to do three things this time of year: grow as much forage as you can prior to plants going dormant, be as efficient as you can with what you have to graze, and take inventory on how much winter feed you have on hand.

There are still plenty of good growing days left this fall and they need to be taken advantage of. One of the first things to do to make sure you obtain as much growth as possible, especially with perennial forages, is to stop grazing forages that can and will Continue reading

Beef and ‘Bobs’ – Maximize Cattle Production and Help Bobwhites on Your Land

– Nick Schell, Wildlife Biologist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Bobwhites seek brushy habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures, and old fields.

You’re probably familiar with the northern bobwhite and its decline. The bobwhite, or what many of us call quail, has seen its population dip by more than 80 percent across large sections of its range during the past 60 years.

Farmers can greatly help the species with a few tweaks to their cattle operations.

Why Are Bobwhites in Decline?

Bobwhites are an “edge” species, meaning they seek brushy habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures, and old fields. But this type of habitat is Continue reading

Fall Baleage Production

– Jessica A. Williamson, Ph.D., Penn State Extension Forage Specialist

Wrapping wet bales for baleage is a viable alternative for harvesting forages in the late summer and fall. Photo by Jessica Williamson, Penn State University

Wrapping wet bales for baleage could help to ensure your hay fields are harvested at the correct stage of maturity, providing adequate quality for livestock.

First and foremost, good quality baleage must be achieved by baling at the proper moisture content. Rather than aiming for 16-20% moisture, which is the common target for dry hay, forage can be baled for baleage at 45-65% moisture. The proper moisture content allows for optimal fermentation after the bale is covered and sealed and oxygen can no longer penetrate the bale.

When individually wrapping bales, plastic should be about one mil (25 microns) thick low-density polyethylene and each bale should be wrapped a minimum of 6 times, but 8 is more ideal, with at least a Continue reading

Posted in Forages

Fall Plant Control of cressleaf groundsel; Prevent the sea of yellow in the spring

– Dr. Diane Gerken, DVM, ABVT Veterinary Toxicologist

ODA’s Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab has been involved in two separate cases with animals affected by the toxicity of this plant in the past year.

This plant is Senecio glabellus or now called Packera glabella which occurs in some uncultivated Ohio fields. This is a picture indicating possible plant density in the springtime. If you made hay/haylage with this plant in it, the recommendation is to NOT feed it to livestock or horses. Also, do not use as pasture for any grazing animal.

ODA-ADDL personnel have been involved in two separate cases (one with classic pathology and the second with a positive chemical analyses for the specific pyrrolizidine alkaloids in this plant) with animals affected in the past year. This plant contains at least one toxic pyrrolizidine alkaloid (PA), senecionine but reported to contain more. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids cause liver disease in humans and animals after Continue reading

Utilizing Corn Stalks and Extending the Grazing Season

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Corn stalks can be an option to allow more time for more forage growth.

The older I get, the more I tend to philosophize about things. I’ve been asked a few times why I am such an advocate for sound grazing practices. Best management grazing practices, just like conservation practices for reducing or preventing soil erosion on cropland, help preserve and or regenerate resources not only for present generation, but also for future generations. Keeping a field in forages will save more soil and conserve more water than almost all other erosion control practices. As the world population continues to increase and the acres of viable land that we can grow food on continues to decrease, we have to be more efficient and more productive with what remains while also maintaining and improving water quality. Food quality and nutrient density need to also improve.

I’ll refrain from getting too deep and prevent you from possibly thinking you need to put on Continue reading

Effect of Corn Residue Grazing or Baling on Subsequent Crop Yield and Nutrient Removal

– Kristen Ulmer, Jordan Cox, Manbir Rakkar, Robert Bondurant, Humberto Blanco-Canqui, Mary Drewnoski, Karla Jenkins, James MacDonald, and Rick Rasby. Condensed from the Nebraska Research Report on Grazing or Baling Corn Residue by S. Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

For every bushel of corn, 18 lbs. of stems, 5.8 lbs. of cobs and 16 lbs. of husks and leaves are produced. Opportunities exist to remove the corn residue from the field for feeding later, or grazing residue in the field. There continues to be questions about the effect of residue removal on corn grain yields in subsequent years. Because yields are the most important profit indicator for a crop farmer, it is necessary to evaluate possible changes in grain yield with residue removed either by baling or grazing. With corn residue baling, it is important to determine the amount of nutrients removed per acre from the field to determine potential impacts on Continue reading

Posted in Forages

Get After the Weeds Yet This Fall

Mark Landefeld, Extension Educator, Monroe County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

Left: no herbicide, Right: dicamba. Label requires livestock be removed from treated fields at least 30 days before slaughter. No waiting period between application and grazing for non-lactating animals. Don’t graze lactating dairy animals for 7 to 60 days after application, depending upon rate applied. Always read herbicide labels for restrictions.

You may not want to put the sprayer away for winter just yet. Weeds can be a problem that reduce quality, quantity and stand life of our forages. We generally think of battling weeds in the spring or early summer, as crops begin to grow, because we naturally want to reduce competition for our forage crops. However, the best time to control many winter annuals, biennials and cool season perennial weeds is mid/late-September through early November.

Highly productive pastures and hay fields do not happen just by accident. Good grazing management, weed and pest control, nutrient management and properly timed harvests all have an important role. Weeds often reduce the palatability of forages and certain weed species are potentially poisonous to grazing livestock making plant identification even more important.

The Ohio State University Extension Weed Control Guide (Bulletin 789) suggests the best way to control weeds in established stands Continue reading