A Comparison of Continuous vs. Management Intensive Grazing Systems

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team, with DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, Dalton Shipley, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students

While this grazing project was conducted with small ruminants, it also relates easily to pasture management of beef cattle.

Another school year has passed and I am happy to say that I have completed my third year of being involved in AS 4004, Small Ruminant Production at The Ohio State University. This year Dr. Liz Parker and myself co-instructed this course and worked diligently to expose our students to every aspect of the small ruminant industry, including extension outreach and producer education. As a part of the course curriculum, students were challenged to compose an Ag-note (educational poster) to highlight a specific topic that is related to sheep or goat production, management, and husbandry. As viewers, you will see these unique postings appear periodically and will be noted in the title as “Ag-note.”

For our first Ag-note (linked below), OSU students DeVaughn Davis, Nathaniel Kinney, Kristy Payne, and Dalton Shipley share an economic perspective on the comparison of Continue reading

Multiflora Rose Problems in Pastures? Control it Now!

– Dwight Lingenfelter, Penn State Extension Associate, Weed Science

It’s the right time to be scouting and managing multiflora rose in your pasture. Photo credit: Penn State Extension

As spring progresses, multiflora rose aggressively grows and eventually blooms in late May/early June. Several tactics can be used to control this problem weed and these methods will be briefly discussed.

Mechanical control methods include mowing, which requires repeated mowings per season for several years, and excavating, which involves pulling individual plants from the soil with heavy equipment, can be costly, time-consuming and laborious. However, these are viable means for multiflora rose management. Also, management techniques which include Continue reading

Haying Pastures Likely Not the Cure for Depleted Forage Supplies

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

Severely tight hay reserves will undoubtedly cause many farmers to aggressively put up hay this spring. When the weather is right and hay fields are mowed there will be many farmers looking over the fence at pastures as an opportunity to make more bales. While it is important to get hay reserves built back up on your farm, I would caution producers against baling pastures.

Forage harvested from pasture fields isn’t free feed!

Illinois is not home to many pasture-rich cattlemen. Thus, baling pastures will likely rob forage that could be consumed by cows during the grazing season. Cows harvesting pasture is much more efficient than a mechanical harvest. The last thing any farmer wants to do is bale grass in the spring to feed it in the summer.

Next, taking hay off of pastures is not free. For each ton of dry hay baled, approximately 40 lbs. of Nitrogen (N), 20 lbs. of Phosphorus (P2O5), and 50 lbs. of Potassium (K2O) are removed. Using current fertilizer costs, the total nutrient value of hay harvested per ton would be around Continue reading

Pastures May Need Extra Management This Year!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Forage is maturing exponentially fast. Extra management may be needed this year to maintain quality and production . . .

I am running a bit late this month. What can I say; busy times. May was a very interesting month. Forages went from barely growing, to boot stage, to seed production in what it seemed about ten days. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen forages jump quite like this. We were shy on growing degree days up to that point, then with ample sunshine and some heat, there was “compensatory” growth.

Forages were stressed this spring. Though I have seen some really nice pastures and hay fields this year, those numerous cloudy and cool days earlier this year have Continue reading

When Should We Mow Pastures?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

The spring of 2018 was the latest I can remember feeding hay to cattle and many producers were searching at the last minute to find some extra hay. Pastures were very slow growing this spring until it finally warmed up in early May. On my farm, common orchardgrass typically starts heading out in late April and it was two weeks later this year. The late arriving spring brought many challenges around farms and the rush to get crops in the ground and to make hay has put mowing pastures on the back burner. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures.

Our perennial grasses go through two stages during the growing season: the reproductive stage and then the vegetative stage. When grass starts growing in the spring, its’ main objective is to reproduce, resulting in a seed head. The net movement of energy is up. Once it has produced a seed head, it will transition from the reproductive stage to the vegetative stage and hopefully the Continue reading

Short Pastures and Supplementation Considerations

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Beef Cattle Specialists, University of Kentucky

Several county Ag Agents have reported producers asking what to do supplement-wise for grazing livestock with the slow pasture growth this spring. A lot of this is related to the fact that we are roughly 100 growing degree days less this year than the same time frame a year ago. Combine this with the wet weather leading to muddy feeding conditions, producers were happy to see cows begin to pick grass. Low hay stocks also contributed to producers pulling hay away a bit prematurely. Cooler temperatures has resulted in slow pasture forage growth and cows are nipping it off faster than it is growing. This situation has led to several questions regarding supplementing grazing cattle under these conditions and I’ll try to share a few things to consider.

1) No free lunch – Grazing energy expenditure based on research is significantly greater than the energy required to walk, stand, and other activities. A cow grazing an acre would expend more energy than simply walking that same distance. The energy to Continue reading

Sacrificing Clovers for the Greater Good

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

While we may all agree having clover in the pasture mix is good, occasionally they may need to be sacrificed for the greater good of the pasture!

As our world becomes increasingly connected, weed pressures and populations continue to expand. The diversity of a typical mid-west pasture creates difficulties when it comes to dealing with weed populations. These pastures usually contain a mixture of grasses, legumes, and forbs, some of which are beneficial and some of which are weeds. Eliminating the weeds while preserving the beneficials is a challenge and sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made for the greater good of the pasture and in turn, your livestock.

The list of weeds you may find in your pasture is nearly endless. Some of the most ominous weeds in Ohio pastures are Palmer amaranth, thistles, marestail, and coming soon to a pasture near you- spotted knapweed. Due to Continue reading

Monitor for Ticks When Working Pasture

Timothy McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County

Despite an increase in tick-vectored diseases throughout Ohio, it’s common to believe that ticks such as this deer tick are only present during spring or summer.

There has been an increase in tick-vectored diseases in Ohio to livestock, companion animals and humans over the last several years. This has occurred as the different tick species that inhabit Ohio have increased their habitat range and gradual spread from the south and east towards the north. The increase in awareness of tick-vectored diseases is now only starting to catch up as a public and livestock health awareness priority. Ticks have been found to vector not only bacterial diseases, but new-vectored viral diseases as well as allergic reactions have increased in frequency and severity. As the producer gets ready for spring production work, they have multiple potential chances to interact with ticks. This might include inspecting fence for post-winter repair, checking on spring calving, walking pasture to evaluate forage stands or moving cattle to different paddocks to take advantage of lush spring growth. Understanding tick habitat preferences, knowing what life cycle stages are present and making a personal protective biosecurity plan will allow the producer to Continue reading

Making Forage Improvements

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

We are currently at a very important point in the annual beef and forage production calendar. We are concluding the winter hay feeding season and transitioning to the spring grazing season. Most producers are welcoming this change as we have just experienced a difficult winter with extreme conditions ranging from bitter sub-zero temperatures to excessive mud. I know that I am ready for warmer temperatures and greener grass!

Now is a good time to evaluate the forage portion of your farming operation and how it is influencing your beef production unit. Forage management decisions can focus on pastures as well as hay production, storage, and feeding. These decisions will have a huge impact on the overall profitability of your beef enterprise. Keep in mind that the largest expense in any cow-calf budget that you can find will be feed costs. Grazed and harvested forages obviously will comprise the largest portion of the feed expense line of the budget.

Most Ohio beef operations will typically have a forage base that combines a variety of cool-season grasses with legumes. A few producers will also Continue reading

Crabgrass Can Be Friendly

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Noble County (previously published in Progressive Forage)

Forage type crabgrass – ‘Quick-N-Big’

Crabgrass is a hated weed in the world of turfgrass management and often seen as a plague in lawns and on sports fields. Despite it’s bad reputation as a weed, crabgrass was originally introduced to the United States for livestock and can be a friendly forage.

Dispelling a Bad Rep: Crabgrass possesses traits that allow it to excel as a weed, but those same traits implemented in the right place at the right time can be used to your advantage as a livestock forage. It is fast growing and fairly easy to establish. It is tolerant of foot traffic and close harvest heights. It provides excellent nutritive value and is Continue reading