Management Considerations for Warm-Season Perennials

Christine Gelley, Noble County OSU Extension Educator (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

During my graduate program at The University of Tennessee there was a defined interest in utilizing warm-season perennial grasses as grazing pasture for beef cattle. One of the greatest influences for this interest is persistence during high heat and drought tolerance. The same could be applied for Ohio.

Although our number of growing degree days are fewer than producers have in the South, we are still capable of incorporating warm-season perennials into our grazing systems. We also experience periods of high heat and drought. Our typical sources of grazing pastures are cool-season grasses (ex: tall fescue, orchardgrass, ryegrass, timothy) and legumes (ex: white clover, red clover, alfalfa), which are much less hardy than the grasses discussed here. Part of the reason is the way the plants photosynthesize (a.k.a. turn light into food), how they utilize water in the process, and differences in structural growth. Warm-season grasses are more efficient photosynthesizers, however the forage they produce in the process is of lesser nutritive value than cool-season grasses.

The tradeoff can be worthwhile in times of stress, on marginal sites, remediation, and for wildlife enthusiasts. Forage of less than ideal nutritive value that is available is more valuable to grazing livestock than no forage at all. The greatest advantages of including warm-season perennials in a grazing system are the ability to Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Winter Application of Manure; Remember Setbacks

Glen Arnold, CCA, Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

Examine fields for tile blowouts, and monitor tile outlets before, during, and after manure application.

Some Ohio livestock producers will be looking to apply manure to farm fields frozen enough to support application equipment. Permitted farms are not allowed to apply manure in the winter unless it is an extreme emergency, and then movement to other suitable storage is usually the selected alternative. Thus, this article is for non-permitted livestock operations.

In the Grand Lake St Marys watershed, the winter manure application ban from December 15th to March 1st is still in effect. Thus, no manure application would normally be allowed from now until March 1st. The ban also prohibits surface manure application anytime the ground is frozen or snow-covered in that watershed.

In the Western Lake Erie Basin (WLEB) watershed, the surface application of manure to frozen and snow-covered soils require there to be a growing crop in the field. This could be a pasture, alfalfa, clover, wheat, or a ryegrass crop. There must be enough vegetation visible to provide Continue reading

Visit our ‘One-stop Shop’ to View Agriculture and Natural Resources Programs

Your on-stop shop for all our winter programming

As the pandemic continues to create challenges for meeting and/or offering ‘live’ and in-person programming, much of our traditional winter programming remains ‘virual’ into the foreseeable future. In response, check out this one-stop shop to view upcoming regional and statewide agriculture and natural resources programs: Once there, simply click the topic you are interested in to view 2020-21 events, including several beef school and forage production programs. If you have any questions, contact your County Extension office.

Posted in Events

Having Your Cake . . .

– Dr. Les Anderson, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

My colleagues and I like to rib each other about which discipline is more important in beef production nutrition, genetics, health, or reproduction. Of course, I argue that reproductive efficiency is the most important because reproductive rate drives gross revenue. But we all know it’s not that simple. All disciplines need to be managed and blended to optimize reproductive potential.

Have you ever baked a cake? I am not a baker, but to make a great cake one needs to have eggs, sugar, flour, butter, milk, and flavorings (chocolate is my favorite). These ingredients mixed in the proper proportions can make an incredible product; a moist, flavorful cake. Adjust or ignore any of the key ingredients and the ability to make a delicious cake is greatly impacted. No flour, no cake. No sugar, and the cake tastes awful. No flavoring and, again, a cake that is not satisfying. Alter any of the ingredients or even the amount used, and the cake can be unsatisfying. To make a GREAT cake, it takes the right ingredients, mixed in the correct amount by a careful practitioner.

If you think about it, reproduction or reproductive rate is the cake and genetics, nutrition, the health program, etc are all essential ingredients. One of the most essential ingredients is Continue reading

Cattle on Feed

– Matthew Diersen, Risk & Business Management Specialist, Ness School of Management & Economics, South Dakota State University

Friday was the December Cattle on Feed report. The trade expectations told a consistent story of lower placements and marketings from a year ago. The actual numbers came in consistent with those expectations. The total on feed, 12.0 million head, was up slightly from 2019. Placements were seasonally lower overall. Kansas was an exception with steady placements, boosting their on-feed total from last year. The placements across weight categories reflected fewer placements in the heaviest and lightest weight categories, following uniformly lower placements last month. Many of the swings from the spring COVID-19 disruptions seem to be working through the system.

Heading into 2021, it is a prudent time to consider marketing plans for cattle. In the northern plains that may very well be several components: one for calves, one for yearlings, one for retained ownership, etc. The cash cattle trade has some consistent seasonal patterns. Catching the early spring seasonal high in fed cattle may be an objective. A way to do that in advance is to use futures or options. For example, the live cattle futures contract currently show the implied pattern prices may take for 2021, with April trading at a $4/cwt premium to the surrounding contract months. As a non-storable commodity, cattle do not have Continue reading

“Pastures for Profit” School Goes Virtual this Winter

Register today!

This coming year between January and March, 2021, the Pastures for Profit curriculum will be offered as a virtual course. One live webinar will be offered per month along with “work at your own pace” videos and exercises that accompany each webinar. The Pastures for Profit program is a collaboration between Ohio State University Extension, Central State University, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council.

Each webinar will be offered live on Zoom beginning at 7 P.M. and feature three presentations 0ver a 90-minute span. Attendees will be able to interact with the speakers and ask questions in real time. Once registered, attendees will be granted access to the online course including the webinars and complementary resources. Participants that attend all three webinars will have the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion. Registered participants will also receive their choice of a curriculum binder or USB drive of the traditional course delivered via mail.

The webinar schedule and topics are as follows: Continue reading

Forage Focus: Prioritizing What Hay to Feed and When

Designing good winter feeding programs for ruminant livestock requires an understanding of both animal nutritional requirements and hay quality. The longevity of hay quality retention is dependent on factors determined on the day of hay harvest and the days following in storage.

In this episode of Forage Focus, Christine Gelley- ANR Educator in Noble County, reviews factors to consider when prioritizing what hay to feed and when.

The Cost of Mud to the Beef Cow

– Kirsten Nickles, Dr. Alejandro Relling and Dr. Anthony Parker, the Ohio State University Animal Science Department

Since the mid 1990’s, Ohio has experienced an increase in the number of precipitation events greater than 2 inches (Frankson and Kunkel, 2017), with winter rainfall increasing and snowfall decreasing (Hayhoe et al., 2010). Winter and spring precipitation are expected to increase 20 – 30% further by the end of the century (Hayhoe et al, 2010) and summer precipitation is expected to remain the same or decrease slightly (Wuebbles and Hayhoe, 2004). As a result of these climatic changes, beef producers are dealing with more mud in pastures and lots, and this has a bigger effect on the beef cow herd than you may think.

In spring calving beef cow herds, females are typically in the last third of gestation from January to March. The last trimester of gestation is when most fetal growth occurs, with an Angus type fetus growing approximately 0.9 lbs/day towards the end of the third trimester. The rapid growth of the fetus at this time requires the cow to meet the fetal nutrient requirements by increasing her nutrient intake and/or mobilizing her body tissues. Figure 1 demonstrates the increase in nutrient requirements for maintenance and throughout gestation. At thermoneutral conditions, a 1200 lb non-pregnant and non-lactating cow, requires 8.5 Mcal Net Energy/day to maintain her body weight. At the end of gestation, the same cow requires 14 Mcal Net Energy/day to maintain her body weight and meet the requirements for the Continue reading

Metaphylaxis FAQ’s

– Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) results from the mixture of host (calf) susceptibility, pathogens (viral and bacterial) and the environment to cause disease. Mannheimia haemolytica, Pasteurella multocida, Histophilus somni and Mycoplasma bovis, the most common bacteria in bovine bronchopneumonia, are opportunists that get in the lungs when the calf’s built-in defenses are down due to respiratory viruses and stress. Abrupt weaning, commingling, transportation, castration and dehorning, bad weather, overcrowding, and poor quality air and water are known to compromise a calf’s immune system. A persistently-infected (BVD-PI) calf in a pen results in continuous exposure of the pen mates to the BVD virus and a constant reduction in their white blood cells needed to fight sickness. Lightweight calves, especially those weaned on the truck on the way to the sale, that are not eating and drinking, are also at exceptionally high risk for disease and death. Metaphylaxis is one proven method to decrease sickness, death, development of chronic calves, and will hopefully improve performance.

What is “metaphylaxis”? Although this term can have a variety of different meanings, the most common one is the treatment or mass medication of an entire group of purchased feeder calves with an antibiotic upon arrival to the farm or feedlot. Some definitions also include that metaphylaxis is meant to eliminate or minimize an expected outbreak of disease, usually BRD.

How does a producer, along with his or her veterinarian, decide whether to Continue reading

Posted in Health

Kentucky Beef Cattle Market Update

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

Dr. Burdine will be featured at the OSU cattle Outlook session on January 26!

As we push into winter, I wanted to review what drives fall calf markets and discuss those factors in 2020. Fall is when most spring calving herds wean and market their calves, which means a lot of cattle revenue is received over a fairly short period of time. There are three main routes that weaned calves can take if they are sold in the fall – they can be placed into a small grain grazing program until spring, they can go into a feed-based growing program of some type, or they can go directly to a feedyard. Their value in these programs ultimately determines what they are worth in the fall of the year.

Coming from an area of the country where wheat grazing is not common, it is easy to forget how significant winter grazing programs can be. However, the January 2020 USDA Cattle Inventory report suggested that 1.6 million cattle were grazing small grain pasture in January of this year. I like to say these grazing programs set the underpinning for our fall calf markets. Since cost of gain is lower on these programs, they typically outbid feed-based operators for weaned calves. Weather and moisture conditions have been less than ideal, but calf prices in November did suggest some opportunity for these programs this winter.

Feed-based winter growing programs are more significant in my part of the county. Weaned calves are purchased in the fall, grown through winter, and Continue reading