Forage Focus: Reseeding Damaged Pastures and Hay Fields

In this edition of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Jessie Radcliff from Noble Soil and Water. This month’s topic focuses on reseeding pastures and making new hay seedings. Christine and Jessie will discuss proper seeding depth, seeding rates, calibrating the seeder, soil testing, proper timing, differences between annual and perennial forages, and harvest management for new seedings.

Compaction; It happens in pasture lands too!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Compacted soils have a platy layered look, not a nice granular or cottage cheese appearance.

I have driven down a lot of roads lately and observed pastures and crops across Indiana and several other states. Most pastures are thriving better than crops, at least the ones being managed well. In the areas where rain has never really completely stopped, forages, especially cool season forages like orchard grass and tall fescue, have not slowed down growth as much during what is normally a slump period or summer dormancy. If you haven’t overgrazed, then there’s a good chance your pastures look pretty good.

There is a lot more variability in the crops depending on when or if they even got planted. Plants quickly got accustomed to the frequent rains this year and some get lazy and don’t put roots down as deep as normal. Well established perennials will do a better job of maintaining deeper roots than annuals or newly planted perennials under continued wet conditions. We need roots to Continue reading

Forage Focus: Getting to Know Your Weeds

In this edition of Forage Focus, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Clifton Martin, OSU Extension- ANR Educator for Muskingum County, for a segment on “Getting to Know Your Weeds.” Clifton and Christine will identify weeds commonly found in Ohio pastures and hay fields, and address the principles of managing them.

Preventing Pasture Damage During Prolonged Periods of Wet Weather

– David Hartman, PA Extension Educator, Livestock

Rotating livestock frequently can help reduce pasture damage during wet seasons.

Grazing cattle during periods of wet weather can damage pasture stands and soil structure. Although some damage is to be expected, there are management practices that can help to avoid or at least reduce some of the potential for damage.

Having a sacrifice area can help prevent damage to permanent pastures, especially if the wet weather conditions become very prolonged. Cattle can be moved to the sacrifice area and fed stored feeds until pasture soil returns to an acceptable condition. As should be done with winter sacrifice areas, the area should eventually be repaired with tillage if necessary and then reseeded to either an annual or perennial mixture, depending on your goals.

Moving cattle more frequently during wet weather can help avoid excessive Continue reading

Stockpiling Fescue and Orchardgrass

Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County

Stockpiling fescue and orchard grass is generally considered an economical way to extend the grazing season and cut feed costs. The cost of fertilizer and application of nitrogen too late in the growing season will affect the economics of stockpiling. In order to maximize yield from stockpiled forage, one must select a field that is suitable for late season grazing, and one that will not be utilized after July 31st.

A timely application of nitrogen can grow an additional ton of high quality forage yet this fall, and significantly extend the grazing season.

Stockpiling has some inherent risks. In order for it to work correctly, the following conditions are required; application of nitrogen six weeks prior to the end of the growing season, rain shortly after this application, and favorable growing conditions. When all variables are met, one can grow enough additional forage to cover the cost. Stockpiling requires the application of approximately fifty units of actual nitrogen (roughly 110lbs of urea) per acre.

To analyze the economics of stockpiling, review the example in the table below. For the example, the assumed Continue reading

Cutting it Close

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County OSU Extension (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

We find more dead tissue in grass stands that are mowed too close. Photo by author

All of us have a bad habit here or there that we have developed over time. Bad habits are often questionable actions that can cause some stress, but rarely have direct negative consequences immediately after. Usually the negative consequences are compounded over time into large problems and that is when realize we have gone wrong.

A bad habit that many grass managers have in lawn and hay systems is cutting it too close. By “it,” I mean the grass. There are some misconceptions about what the best height is to cut grass. It can also be confusing, because ideal cutting height varies with type of grass. The common denominator is Continue reading

Grazing Options for Supplementing Poor Quality Forages

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Many of us will be feeding poor quality hay again this winter, likely similar to last winter. When I mowed down hay over the weekend, the grass was past mature to the point that fescue had already dropped seeds and the tops were brown. Weeds were continuing to overtake the stand and I am not halfway done with first cutting. We have learned of many issues arising from feeding poor quality hay this past winter including lower body conditions, difficulty calving, not re-breeding, and even some cows starving to death with full stomachs. What can we do to avoid problems for this winter? One simple answer will be to add corn to the diet. Quite often, energy is the most limiting factor, maybe protein, maybe both. It is critical to take a forage test on your hay to determine what additional needs will be. Simply a few pounds of corn a day may work. Dr. Francis Fluharty recommended corn cracked into 3-4 pieces will maximize digestibility. When I supplement with corn, often I find a heavy sod and feed whole shell corn on the ground to cattle and they clean it up. If protein is limiting, protein tubs may help. Don’t forget that grinding hay will improve digestibility, but if protein and energy is too low, you still need to supplement.

We are still early enough in the year to consider Continue reading

There’s time to grow more feed!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension, Fairfield County and Allen Gahler, Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Oats planted soon on available acres have plenty of time to become high quality feed!

It’s not often we talk about forage shortages and above normal precipitation in the same breath. Regardless, that’s exactly where we are now throughout Ohio. Over the past year while abundant rainfall may have allowed us to grow lots of forage, unfortunately, it seems the weather has seldom allowed us to harvest it as high-quality feed.

Since last fall the demand for quality forages has been on the increase. It began with a wet fall that forced us from pasture fields early. Followed by constantly muddy conditions, cattle were requiring more feed and energy than normal. At the same time, even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall of 2018, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were, yet again, expending more energy than normal to remain in their comfort zone. Then, as a cold late January 2019 evolved into February, in many cases mud had matted down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to require even more energy in the cold weather.

Reduced supplies of quality forages coupled with increased demand over the past year have led us to a perfect storm that’s resulted in the lowest inventory of hay in Ohio since the 2012 drought, and the 4th lowest in 70 years. The spring of 2019 weather didn’t Continue reading

Filling the Gap with Forages: Cover crop forage options on Prevented Planting acres

If you’re looking to harvest or graze quality forage from Prevented Planting acres yet this fall, or next spring, this is a “must see” video presentation!

Throughout this fast paced webinar recording, Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator in Wayne County, offers a wide variety of considerations for planting cover crops on Prevented Planting acres that can also double as harvest-able or grazeable forage for livestock.

Grazing Workshop to Focus on Forage Diversity and Grazing Efficiency

– John Kellis, ODA Grazing Management Specialist

Summer grazing paddocks with warm season grasses allow cool-season fescue pastures to be rested for strip grazing in late fall and winter.

Livestock producers are being invited to an important grazing workshop at Millstone Creek Farm near Hillsboro on Tuesday July 16th from 6:00 till 9:00 PM.  Tim and Sandy Shoemaker have been working with grazing specialists and wildlife professionals to develop a more efficient and diversified grazing operation since 2004.

The workshop will highlight the recent transition of the Shoemaker’s CRP filter strips to warm-season grass mixed pastures.  This will complete the final major piece of their Grazing Management Plan.  The Shoemakers established a rotational grazing system soon after they started their grazing operation some 15 years ago.  One goal Tim and Sandy set for their new operation was to be efficient as producers, and they integrated fall stockpiling of their fescue pastures to reduce the need to produce hay as supplemental feed for their Black Angus herd.  Adding the summer grazing paddocks will allow them to Continue reading