How to get More out of your Pastures and Improve Water Quality

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist, NRCS

Improving your pasture management skills will grow more forage that will have higher quality that will better feed your livestock and make you more money. A better pasture should just keep getting better year after year including; improving the environment; improving the soil, water, air, plants, and animals as well as reducing your energy requirements. Healthy soils can grow healthy plants that can allow animals to grow quicker, stronger and healthier, which will reduce the cost of production. We will discuss ways to improve the water quality in the runoff from your grazing system; improve the soil fertility in your pasture; that will improve the pasture plant composition; and will Continue reading

There’s Still Time to Manage Pastures

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

What percent of this pasture is clover?

It seems that we try and crowd way too much into some months, especially December, when we probably should be slowing down and enjoying family and friends and the reason for the season. I have a hard time accomplishing that.

I just spent a week on the Tennessee-Kentucky line with a national work team revising the NRCS pasture condition scoresheet. Pasture regions across the nation were represented, including Alaska. Our charge was basically to Continue reading

Using Goats to Improve Cattle Pastures

Marcus McCartney, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Washington County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

Do you have leftover fair goats, or inherited some that did not make weight at the fair?

Perhaps your kids or grandkids have been bugging you for the small ruminant animal for some time. Or by chance, did you come into a small herd recently?

If so, then don’t perceive goat ownership as a chore or inconvenience but rather embrace it, think positive, and start letting the goats work for you.

There are several ways goats can be a useful management tool in Continue reading

Managing Forage Risk: Specie Diversification and PRF Insurance

– Andrew P. Griffith, University Of Tennessee

First question, who remembers the drought periods of summer and fall 2016, summer 2015, summer 2012, winter 2011, fall 2010, summer and fall 2008, and pretty much all of 2007? It is pretty easy to make the point that cattle producers have faced several challenging times as it relates to precipitation and forage production. Next question, knowing that drought periods have been fairly frequent and intense, what management decisions have been made to reduce the negative impacts of such events?

Managing forage risk is probably not at the top of most producers’ minds as hay feeding will soon dominate cattle diets. However, now is a prime time to Continue reading

Grazing Bites: Estimating Feed Resource Inventory vs The Needs

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I really don’t know what happened to the fall. It seems like it should still be September, not November, but the weather is now starting to confirm the date and the realization that winter will soon be upon us.

I often talk about taking inventory of winter feedstuff. I’m primarily measuring dry matter, e.g. hay, pasture, stockpile, crop residue, and grazable annuals still left. October rains certainly helped to green things up and provide some new growth, but that won’t last much longer and real growth is about done and dormancy of perennials is not far off. Three or four nights in a row in the 20’s is usually enough to stop and/or kill top growth and force dormancy. If the weather stays cold or at least cool, plants will remain Continue reading

When the ideal grazing scenario does not work

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension, Morgan County (previously published in Farm & Dairy)

Over the years, I have been asked “What is the ideal number of paddocks to have?” There are many factors involved and everyone’s situation is different, but if I had to give that answer, I would say eleven paddocks. That way we can move every three days and grazing forages from eight to three inches would be the ideal scenario. Those eleven paddocks and moving every three days gives each paddock thirty days to recover. The three day limit in a paddock generally means Continue reading

Water Distribution an Important Aspect of Pasture Management

Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County (this article appeared previously in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

A plentiful, properly located source of quality water is an important element of a pasture management system

Planned paddocks, good fencing, improved forages, grazing management, pasture fertility, and livestock genetics are all important elements when maximizing a grazing system. Water distribution, however, is arguably one of the most important elements of pasture based livestock systems. Pasture water system needs vary based on livestock species, availability of electric, soils, water supply needed, and travel distance to water. Water systems should be developed based on individual farm resources, as each farm is unique.

In Southern and Eastern Ohio, spring systems are the most often developed water sources. Springs can provide adequate, low cost, low maintenance water systems. Water quality and quantity are major considerations when Continue reading

Feed alternatives allowed by a corn, soybean & wheat rotation that includes cows!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

I know I’ve shared this story before, but considering the weather we experienced across much of Ohio the first half of summer, it’s appropriate to tell it again. Dad was a mechanic for a local farm implement dealer. Once while out on a combine service call in mid summer he asked the farmer if he’d gotten all his 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, and then followed by a very dry late summer, the fact is that we still have an abundance of feedstuffs available that will maintain beef cows cost effectively if Continue reading

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

Grazing Bites: Looking at Dry Weather Late Season Pasture Management

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

White snake root; either eaten in large amounts at one time or in small amounts over a period of time, both can be fatal. (Victor Shelton photo)

As I write this in early October parts of Indiana still remain dry with an intensity rating of abnormally dry to moderate drought. It’s certainly been drier in the past, especially thinking back to 2012, but we could benefit from some rain. Forage regrowth has slowed down and opportunities for fall annuals remains challenging.

I planted some annuals; they emerged but would greatly benefit from some precipitation in order to meet their purpose. If we get some rain, along with enough warm days for good growth, they may still provide some forage for grazing.

The earlier we can get those fall annuals up and growing, the more growth potential they have. If you haven’t Continue reading