Fescue Toxicosis-Knowing the Signs

Christine Gelley, Ohio State University Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Noble County (Originally published in the Summer, 2017 issue of the Ohio Cattleman magazine)

Tall fescue “Kentucky-31” (KY-31) is one of the most predominant forages in the nation. Its popularity began in the 1930s when a wild strain of fescue was discovered on a Kentucky farm and it became recognized for wide adaptability. In the1940s, the cultivated variety was publically released and can now be found in most pastures in the United States. This cultivar is easy to establish, persistent, tolerant of many environmental stresses, resistant to pests, and can aid livestock managers in prolonging the grazing season. However, tall fescue does not accomplish all of these tasks unassisted.

An endophytic fungus called Neotyphodium coenophialum can be credited for many of these benefits. The fungus cannot be seen and can only be detected by laboratory analysis. The fescue endophyte forms a mutually beneficial relationship with the grass, but this symbiotic relationship does not Continue reading

Controlling Pasture Flies on Cattle

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County

Horn flies and face flies are the two most common flies that bother cattle in pasture settings.  From an economic standpoint, horn flies cause the most damage.  Research indicates that a good horn fly control program can result in 12 to 20 pounds of additional weight gain for calves as well as reduced weight loss for nursing cows.  The economic threshold for horn flies is generally considered as equal to or more than 100 flies/side or 200 per animal.  Face flies do not cause the same type of economic damage and no economic threshold number is available, but they can Continue reading

Clipping Just for Aesthetics is Hard to Justify

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

July 4th usually reminds me that half of the growing season is pretty much gone. After panicking for a moment or two, it is best to just come to the conclusion that everything is done that needs to be done, and if not, perhaps it just wasn’t that important. I long for those July 4th holidays in the past that were huge family get-to-gathers, those out-of-the back of the vehicles while putting nitrogen on knee high corn in the river bottoms or the leisurely porch gatherings eating watermelon and blackberry pie. I’m not sure why all of a sudden everyone seems so busy, and there is just never enough time.

By now, most have made the decision on whether to clip pastures or not. Like I said before, clipping just for aesthetics is Continue reading

Should I clip/mow my pasture?

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

A frequent question for early summer time is “Should I clip my pasture?” In most cases, the farmer is seeking a yes or no answer…and hopefully validation of their current practice. Unfortunately, the answer is somewhat dependent on your previous pasture management and current grazing system.

If you have pastures with heavy weed pressure, encroaching woody species, and a predominantly continuous grazing system… then clipping pastures is most Continue reading

Options to Extend the Grazing Season

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Morgan County

There have been numerous articles over the years in the Ohio Beef Cattle Letter about how to extend the grazing season and now is the time to consider those options. Today, I thought I would approach it from the amount of time and effort that will be required to extend the grazing season. I think one of the easiest ways to extend grazing, if you have the option, is to Continue reading

Wean Early and Save 25 Percent of Pasture Forage

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Did you know you can save more than 25 percent of available forage by weaning calves early?

The current dryness affecting the land has caused all livestock producers to review options. For some in a drought situation, the only real solution is rain. But producers need to take charge, whether the season is dry or wet.

The Dickinson Research Extension Center has and will continue to manage during dry times. The center is in a semiarid climate and dryness is not a stranger.

Managing grazing time and stocking rate is critical. As a result, the center has measured available biomass on the range when cows have their calves removed in mid-August versus early November.

The thought is that removing calves would lessen the impact on the production unit during times when rain is scarce. First, no drought plan works if there is no grazing plan to start with.

To begin, a Continue reading

How Early is Too Early to Wean?

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Can I wean 90-day-old calves that weigh 300 pounds?

The answer is yes. Dry weather has made this – and variations – the question of the day.

In an ideal world, mother and calf should enjoy green pastures from birth until weaning at about 7 months of age. The typical weaning age is 192 days for producers in the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System (CHAPS) program. However, some calves are weighed along with the administration of preweaning vaccinations prior to the actual weaning day, so the average age at weaning could be a few days older.

The CHAPS profile shows steers weigh 566 pounds, heifers 535 pounds and Continue reading

What is Your Pasture Score?

Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County

It is difficult to objectively evaluate what we see every day.  We have all heard the old saying “can’t see the forest for the trees”.  Important decisions such as livestock feed inventory, forage stand replanting, fertility needs, weed control, etc., all hinge on what we see in the pasture. That is why an objective evaluation of a pasture is a valuable tool.  Dennis Cosgrove, Dan Undersander of the University of Wisconsin-Extension and James Cropper with USDA/NRCS have developed a tool known as the, “Guide to Pasture Condition Scoring.”  The scorecard can help Continue reading

Extending the Grazing Season – Preparing for the Summer Slump

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

The late spring rains and unseasonable cool temperatures have afforded our pastures exceptional growth into June in Pennsylvania, when it is common to see pasture growth begin to slow about this time of year when temperatures escalate and rainfall diminishes. However, with summer quickly approaching, it is important to remember that it is very likely that soon pasture growth will decline and the “summer slump” will be here.

Most often in the mid-Atlantic region, pastures are comprised of cool season perennial forages – including, but not limited to, orchardgrass, bromegrass, fescues, timothy, ryegrass, birdsfoot trefoil, red and white clover. Commonly, these forages thrive in the cooler temperatures and shorter days, causing grazing livestock producers to be faced with slow-growing, unproductive pastures during the hot summer months.

One of the best and easiest ways to reduce the negative effects of the summer slump is to Continue reading

Sorghum x Sudangrass, a Real “Slump Buster”

Mike Estadt, OSU Extension Educator, Pickaway County

Major League Baseball players are infamous for trying strange practices to get out of hitting slumps. Not shaving, not showering, and trying to keep the routine they used when the bat was finding the ball. Grazers in part of Ohio typically have a period of time called the “summer slump”, usually in late July and early August when hot and dry weather force cool season grasses into partial dormancy. Quite often we become like baseball players trying the same routine.


Initial grazing at 45 day after emergence

Sometimes we as grass managers need to Continue reading