2019 Challenge: Forage Production Options for Ohio

Mark Sulc, Bill Weiss, Dianne Shoemaker and Sarah Noggle, OSU Extension and/or Department of Animal Sciences

Forages are not only in short supply, but quality has suffered due to delayed harvest.

Across Ohio, farmers are facing challenges unimagined just four months ago.  Widespread loss of established alfalfa stands coupled with delayed or impossible planting conditions for other crops leave many farmers, their agronomists and nutritionists wondering what crops can produce reasonable amounts of quality forage yet this year. In addition, frequent and heavy rains are preventing harvest of forages that did survive the winter and are causing further deterioration of those stands.

With July 1st just around the corner, Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Agronomist and Bill Weiss, OSU Extension Dairy Nutritionist, help address this forage dilemma.  If one is looking for quality and quantity, what are your best options? The article starts with a quick summary of options and then dig into some of the pros and cons of these options (listed in no particular order of preference).

Continue reading 2019 Challenge: Forage Production Options for Ohio . . .

Forage Shortage and Prevented Planting Acres . . . think OATS!

Allen Gahler, Extension Educator, Sandusky County and Stan Smith, Program Assistant, Fairfield County

Oats, planted in July through early August, have commonly yielded from 2 to as much as 5 tons of dry matter in 70 to 90 days.

Last week, USDA released the declaration that a cover crop planted onto prevented planting acres can now be harvested as a forage after September 1st, rather than the normal date of November 1st, which provides a small glimmer of hope for some livestock producers and those equipped to harvest forages. While Ohio is also experiencing a severe shortage of forages for all classes of livestock, weed control on prevented planting acres is a major concern, and with USDA’s declaration, we can now address both problems in one action – seeding cover crops that will be harvestable as a forage after September 1st.

As with everything else this season, however, patience is the key! Although an ideal situation would be cover crops that can be put out immediately and reduce the need for tillage, chopping, or spraying of weeds already present, there are unfortunately not many species of cover crop that will accomplish this and still provide significant tonnage or feed quality as a forage in September. Sorghum/Sudangrass seed is in very tight supply, soybeans as a cover may not be ideal for making hay or producing desired tonnages, and corn as a cover crop is still questionable in terms of insurance payments, and whether or not we can get it dry enough to make good silage. Teff grass, pearl millet, and Italian ryegrass may be good options if you can Continue reading

Using Corn as a Cover Crop

Peter Thomison, Ben Brown, Sam Custer, Greg LaBarge, Sarah Noggle, Mark Sulc, Eric Richer, and Harold Watters, Ohio State University Extension

Based on information from across the Corn Belt, including states where they have more experience with delayed planting of corn (University of Wisconsin – http://wisccorn.blogspot.com/2019/06/B102.html) and Iowa State University – https://crops.extension.iastate.edu/cropnews/2019/05/cover-crop-options-prevented-planting-fields), these are our best recommendations for using corn as a cover crop.

Although the yield potential of corn planted in July for grain and silage is very low, corn makes an excellent “emergency” forage when planted in July. Moreover, unlike some other forage crops, Ohio producers know how to grow it. We also are aware of limited seed supply for several alternatives that typically could be used. Farmers should consult with their insurance agent to see if harvesting as forage will affect any current or future insurance payments on prevented plant acres.

As a cover crop, corn can . . .

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Making High Quality Baleage

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator, AgNR, Crawford County

Spring 2019 has been challenging to say the least. Hay fields have disappeared due to winter kill and small grains matured before we could make hay. Making the forages that you have at the highest quality possible will be key. One way to maintain forage quality with small dry weather windows is to make silage or baleage instead of dry hay. The ideal conditions for baleage is to bale the hay between 40 to 65% moisture and wrap within 2 hours of baling. This process uses anaerobic conditions and the acids produced in fermentations to preserve hay. Baleage fermentation is slower than in haylage, often taking 6 weeks. When forage is baled between 25 to 40% moisture, it will not ferment properly and baleage at these moisture levels should be considered as temporary storage. During such situations, preservation is primarily a function of maintaining anaerobic, oxygen-limiting conditions. Mold is very likely at this moisture; higher bale densities and more wraps of plastic is required to better seal out oxygen. Baleage at this moisture will not maintain quality very long in storage, and thus, it needs to be fed as soon as possible. Baleage can be utilized as a plan or as a backup, but the best baleage is a plan and not a rescue.

If you are thinking baleage might be a needed option for you, either as planned or when your dry hay window disappears, start your plan before you are calling around to find a bale wrapper. The first consideration is . . .

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BQA Transportation

Beginning next year, several packers will require BQA Transportation certification of the hauler/drivers delivering cattle to their plants.

Transportation quality assurance plays a critical role in the health and welfare of cattle. The proper handling and transport of cattle can reduce sickness in calves, prevent bruises, and improve the quality of the meat from these animals. By using best practices, transporters can save the beef industry millions of dollars each year. When a transporter participates in the program they are showing consumers they are ready to take every step possible to keep cattle as healthy and safe as possible.

Beginning in 2020, several major packers will require BQA Transportation Continue reading

Cattle Prices, Pasture Conditions, and Feed Costs

– Josh Maples, Assistant Professor & Extension Economist, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University

August feeder cattle futures prices are down about $25 per cwt from the contract high on April 18th. Similar declines have occurred in cash markets in most areas. A steady rise to start the year pushed Southern Plains feeder steer prices above 2018 year-ago levels where they remained for several weeks into April. Since then, the trend turned downward, and prices are below a year ago.

Much of the recent declines are impacted by seasonal patterns. The usual peak in March or April is generally followed by a decline into the summer. Add in a bearish April Cattle on Feed report, weaker export totals, and the corn market rally, and there was not much Continue reading

Farming with Family through the Tough Times

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

There are days where every farmer wonders what they got themselves into. Days where the work ahead is overwhelming, the kids are sick, the cows are calving, your 4×4 is stuck in the mud, and to top it off, you are running low on stored feed and stored energy in your soul. Farming is tough. No doubt about that.

When the weather and the markets are uncooperative with your plans, the stress can pile up on the farm and on your family. One temporary way to deal with that stress is to be thankful for what you have. Someone out there always has it worse than us and we should be thankful for the things we have each day, instead of dwelling on the things we do not.

This past winter at the American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Conference, a beef farmer named Buron Lanier of Piney Woods Farm in North Carolina, shared a story of forage tragedy and triumph that can help put ‘thankfulness’ into perspective.

Mr. Lanier had presented at last year’s conference about the efforts made to convert his farm from KY-31 fescue to novel endophyte fescue. A significant portion of his farm is dedicated to silvoculture, combining the production of pine trees and feeding stocker cattle. With great effort, he progressed into a 365-day grazing system. He had no need to feed hay and very little supplemental feed. The system was Continue reading

Assessing Relationship Management and Leadership Skills

– Michael Langemeier, Center for Commercial Agriculture, Purdue University (originally published in farmdoc daily (9):109, Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, June 13, 2019.)

As farms continue to consolidate it becomes increasingly important to assess a farm’s management skills. At a certain farm size, it is no longer easy or feasible for the manager or managers to wear every management hat. How does the management team determine when to focus on professional development, delegate management tasks among mangers, and seek outside assistance?

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Summer Heats Up And So Are Brisket Prices

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

Brisket prices are heating up just like summer temperatures. One of the most interesting beef demand trends over the last few years has been the growth in demand for briskets. It’s not just new craft bbq joints popping up everywhere in Texas, but even big chains like Arby’s jumping in and they all serve brisket.

Briskets used to be an inexpensive beef cut that benefited from long, slow cooking at low temperatures. They are no longer inexpensive. What used to be a very inexpensive cut, the primal brisket is now only behind the primal rib and loin in value. In the last week of May, the comprehensive cutout brisket value was $213.47 per cwt., up 19.4 percent from the same week the year before. Just during May brisket prices jumped from $194.39 to $213.47 by the end of the month. The monthly average price was up 12 percent compared to Continue reading