The Role of Soil Health in Water-Logged Fields

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator, Jefferson & Harrison Counties (originally published in the Expo 2019 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

Healthy soils = productive pasture. And, water-logged soils that resulted in mud is just one component that might have led to decline in soil health in 2018!

It was just a little while ago when we wanted the rain to stop and the temperatures to drop below freezing to end the accumulation of mud in our fields. We got our wish later in January, but what will be the long-term implications of these muddy fields?

First, we need to understand what created these water-logged conditions in the first place. While excessive rainfall certainly has a role to play, the health of the soil affected will determine how long mud persists and whether forages will be able to recover in the following spring.

Before going into what soil health is, let’s explore what soil is. Soil is not just made up of “dirt.” It consists of mineral material derived from the bedrock below, pore space filled with air and water, and organic matter generated by microbes and macro-invertebrates. Healthy soils will have all of the aforementioned components and function as a living ecosystem – if a component is missing or one occurs in excess, we will begin to see Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Mud Damaged Pastures: We Gotta Play the Hand We’re Dealt

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

Few Ohio cattlemen are without areas like this that must be addressed after soil conditions permit this spring.

Winter always creates challenges for livestock producers. Keeping ice out of water buckets and off our water troughs can be a challenge, especially with sub-zero temperatures like we had a few weeks ago. Of course that did provide solid ground for a few days, something we have not seen much of this fall or winter. Pastures and feeding areas have really taken a “hit” this year causing mud to sprout and grow everywhere it seems. Every livestock owner I have talked to the last few weeks has the same situation, more mud and more tracked-up fields than they can ever recall before.

Mud increases stress for the livestock and the farm manager. The way you manage, or don’t manage, muddy conditions affects your livestock’s performance and may have a big impact on damaging forage plants in your pastures. Multiple research studies have shown that, when Continue reading

Grass Tetany –Start Preventive Measures Now

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL); Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, University of Kentucky; Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, Veterinary Toxicologist, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

What is “Grass Tetany” and when are cattle most likely to have it? Grass tetany, also known as spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, winter tetany or lactation tetany, is a condition due to a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the blood. The disorder in adult cattle begins with muscle spasms and quickly progresses to convulsions, respiratory difficulty, and death. The amount of magnesium in the blood is completely dependent on the amount obtained from the daily diet. Deficiencies occur most often in beef cows when they are nursing a calf and grazing young, green grass in early spring. Fast-growing spring pastures are high in potassium (K+) and nitrogen (N+) and low in magnesium (Mg++) and sodium (Na+). Affected cattle often have low blood calcium concurrently. Fall calving cows may also experience grass tetany during the winter months.

Will Feeding Plain White Salt to Cows Prevent Grass Tetany? This claim is shared every spring and, indeed, there are producers who do not have grass tetany that only feed salt. How can that be? Simply put, for those few lucky producers, the minerals available in their soils and forages are enough to meet the needs of their cows. A number of complex factors contribute to Continue reading

Gearing Up for Spotted Knapweed Control

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

It is never too early to think about weed control in Ohio pastures. While it may only be February, there are steps you can take to get prepared for combatting weeds in 2019.

Extension Educators across Ohio are actively training new and experienced private and commercial pesticide applicators on integrated pest management, safe handling of pesticides, responsible record keeping, and new rules and regulations. To learn more about training and recertification opportunities for pesticide applicators, visit

Those of us on the Eastern side of Ohio are gearing up to address a new aggressive weed in our pastures, CRP land, and roadsides. Spotted knapweed has been creeping its way into our landscapes over the past few summers. Along with traditional education about pasture management and weed control, additional help is available for landowners who spot spotted knapweed on their property.

The Spotted Knapweed Treatment for Ohio Producers (STOP) Project is funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Landowners of Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Ohio Beef School Podcasts Released

To suggest the past year has been a challenge for Ohio’s cattlemen is, at best, an understatement. The weather made it nearly impossible throughout 2018 to harvest high quality forage in a timely fashion, the constantly muddy conditions caused animals to utilize more energy than normal, and even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were expending more energy than normal. Then, as late January evolved into February, in many cases mud was matting down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to utilize even more energy in cold weather.

In combination, this created potential for the “perfect storm” that reportedly is resulting in a challenging calving season in parts of Ohio, as well as concern for conception rates as we move into the subsequent breeding season.

Taking all those concerns into account, the 2019 Ohio Beef School consisted of a single ‘live’ webinar on February 5th that featured three different speakers. Collectively, the overall theme of Beef School was Winter Management of the Cow Herd to Insure a Productive 2019. Each of the Beef School’s approximately 30 minute presentations are embedded below under the Continue reading

Cull Cow Prices Increasing Seasonality

– Derrell Peel, Oklahoma State University Extension

Cull cow prices in Oklahoma in the latest weekly data averaged $59.50/cwt., up from $58.00/cwt. the previous week. Boning cow prices have risen four consecutive weeks since mid-January. The increases are exactly as expected seasonally as cull cow prices typically increase sharply from January into February on the way to seasonal peaks in May. Cull cow prices typically achieved the bulk of the seasonal price increase by March and hold close to seasonal peak prices through August before declining to fall lows.

Though seasonal price patterns are among the strongest tendencies of cattle markets, they do not always follow exactly. Cull cow prices in 2018 did not follow seasonal price patterns for the entire year. After increasing seasonally from January to March, cull cow prices began to weaken almost immediately. Boning cow prices in Oklahoma peaked in March at $67.59/cwt. before declining to an average level of $58.99/cwt for the May to September period. Boning cow prices dropped further in seasonal fashion with the Continue reading

Catching Up on Reports

– David P. Anderson, Professor and Extension Economist, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

USDA continues to catch up on reports stalled by the shutdown and as part of catching up released the January Cattle on Feed report on Friday, February 22. The report has lost a little bit of it’s normal timeliness, but still contains a few interesting nuggets.

The headline numbers were placements down 1.8 percent, marketings down 0.6 percent, and January 1 Cattle on Feed up 1.7 percent. The year-over-year increase in cattle on feed continues to get smaller. Another month of reduced placements, the fourth in a row below the year before, means that Continue reading

Sanitation Procedures When Implanting

Stephen Boyles, OSU Beef Extension Specialist

Sanitation is paramount when administering implants for beef cattle. Manure, dirt and bacteria must be removed and a disinfectant solution should be applied to the implant injection site area of the ear. Growth implant efficacy and return on investment decreases if an abscess forms because of unsanitary practices. In one study, average daily gains were decreased 8.9% (3.18 versus 2.92 pounds) and feed efficiency decreased 8.5% (5.62 versus 6.14 pounds of feed per pound of gain) by abscessed growth implants.

A number of years ago a method called “scrape, brush and disinfect” was introduced to raise the awareness of ear sanitation prior to implanting by cattle processing personnel. Make an initial assessment of ear Continue reading

Frost Seeding Now Can Improve Pasture and Hay Stands

Garth Ruff and Chris Penrose, OSU Extension AgNR Educators

With all of the rain we have had, hay fields, and pastures may need re-seeded in areas that have been torn up. There is a method called “frost seeding” where you apply seed to the ground and the freezing and thawing of the soil in February and early March will provide seed to soil contact allowing germination of the seed. There is a little more risk of the seed not germinating than a traditional seeding, but the cost and time is a lot less.

Pasture and hay fields that have thin stands and exposed soil, especially fields that have been damaged from the wet weather are good candidates for frost seeding. The seed that works best is clover. Medium red clover is the cheapest seed and works well. Other clovers will also work, and even some grass seeds.

Simply apply 3-10#/acre of seed and let Mother Nature take her course. Some steps to improve germination include Continue reading

Forage Varieties Matter

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension (originally published in Progressive Forage magazine)

At A Glance:

When you are in the market for forage seed, get prepared before you drive to the co-op to shop. Variety is an influential factor in the success or failure of your forage stand.

Species vs. Variety vs. Cultivar

If you are not familiar with binomial nomenclature (the international language for naming plants), lets clarify the differences between species, variety, and cultivar, which are all terms you will encounter during seed selection.


L. H. Bailey, the author of the Manual of Cultivated Plants, defines species as “a kind of plant or animal distinctly different from other kinds in marked or essential features that has good characters of identification, and may be assumed to represent in nature a continuing succession of individuals from generation to generation.”

So essentially, the main traits of plants within the same species group will Continue reading