Forage Analysis: Sampling and Interpretation of Results

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Athens County

This past summer’s weather, while good for forage growth, was not conducive to making high quality hay. Farmers had to work around frequent rain showers and sometimes it was a question of delaying cutting while the forage continued to mature and lose quality, or cut and then watch as the crop was rained on. Either way, there is some poor quality hay that will get fed this winter.

The economics of feeding livestock are improved by matching the nutrient needs of the animal to forage quality. When forage quality comes up short of the animal’s nutrient needs then the ration must be supplemented. The only way to really have a good handle on forage quality is through forage testing. Reliable results depend upon Continue reading

“The rest of the story” on harvesting and feeding crop residue!

Stan Smith, Fairfield County PA, OSU Extension

Last week in this publication we mentioned that with over 3 million acres of Ohio corn to harvest this fall, the opportunity is great for extending the brood cow grazing season well into fall and perhaps winter. While corn stover offers a considerable amount of digestible energy and fiber, it’s always good to review the palatability and practicality of utilizing crop residues resulting from corn or soybean harvest as a significant feed source.

Of the two, certainly soybean stubble bales must be viewed as a last resort unless you have a bale processor and feed it in limited quantities to “dilute” other high quality feeds in the ration. In fact, if your vision for utilizing soybean residue is simply placing bales of the “feed” in bale feeders, it’s probably not worth the time, fuel, wear on the machinery, and Continue reading

Looking for Fall Feed? What About Corn Residue?

Jeff McCutcheon and Dave Samples, OSU Extension Agents

Ohio produces over 3 million acres of corn each year. Most of those acres are harvested for grain with the rest of the plant left in the field. In addition to the value of the grain, one acre of corn residue can supply enough forage to sustain a 1,000-pound cow or animal equivalent for 1.5 to 2 months. Any quick calculation you do, should lead to the conclusion that there is enough feed remaining on corn fields after harvest to significantly increase the grazing days for ruminant livestock. The use of corn residue offers producers increased flexibility for fall and winter pasture and helps reduce the overall feed costs.

Ideally corn fields should be used immediately after harvest for 30-60 days to take maximum advantage of the feed value of the residue. This would allow Continue reading

Electric Fence Review

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Athens County

For many graziers using rotational grazing, the electric fence is a critical component of the total system. I know of examples where just 1 or 2 strands of electrified high tensile wire are serving as a perimeter fence along a road. The grazier is trusting in the electrical system and the prior experience/training livestock have received to insure the fence is not crossed. In wet years, there are a lot of electrical fence systems that can do an adequate job. Soils with good moisture insure that the animal is well grounded, and when wet nose meets a wire, even if the voltage is not high, a good circuit is made and the resulting shock can convince an animal that the grass is not really greener on the other side. In dry years, like we are currently experiencing, marginal electrical fence systems may not maintain the desired voltage. Dry soils don’t provide the same grounding between animal and fence. Fences that might not be challenged in a year with plentiful forage may be tested in dry years with limited forage growth. During dry years we talk about slowing rotations down and even holding animals in one paddock as a sacrifice area until grass growth allows the rotation to be resumed. Can your fence keep your livestock from moving to where the grass really is greener?

Although many graziers have learned the basics of electric fencing, most of us can benefit from a review Continue reading

Protein and Energy Supplementation of Crop Residues for Breeding Cattle

Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

The 2007 summer’s drought conditions in much of Ohio, West Virginia, and Kentucky caused much concern as many people were asking ‘what can I feed’ and ‘what’s the value of corn stover’? Since those are still relevant questions as cattlemen do what they can to reduce feed costs, here are a few thoughts to consider.

First, the good news is that we have several sources of alternative sources of high-energy feeds in this area including corn, distillers grains, and pelleted soybean hulls. However, the price and availability of these is not always cost effective. Additionally, many producers do not have Continue reading