Good Hay Weather!

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

Hay season is officially underway!

The trade off between quality and quantity can be a delicate compromise.

Dry conditions are expected for the next couple weeks in our area. Haymakers, take advantage of this extended window of opportunity for harvest! After first cutting, consider applying some fertilizer to give grass a good boost for second cutting. Nitrogen in the form of urea will require at least a half inch of rainfall within four days to become active in the soil and reduce the risk of nitrogen volatilization. So, wait for rain to be in the forecast before you apply urea. Also, watch for problematic weeds that tend to show up around this time and cause issues for second cutting.

Making hay in May and early June is worthy of celebration because the most influential factor on forage quality is plant maturity. As grasses and legumes emerge from the soil in springtime, energy is allocated to leaf production. This is the vegetative stage of growth. The leaves are the most nutritious part of forage crops for livestock to consume either by grazing or as stored feed. It is ideal to harvest forages before Continue reading Good Hay Weather!

Forages; Not a ‘normal’ year

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

“It’s not a normal forage year so far.” – Victor Shelton

It’s June. Well, at least the calendar says it’s June. The temperatures have felt like they were about a month behind schedule while the forages have appeared to be at least a couple weeks ahead of schedule and I’m just trying to maintain some type of schedule!

If you look at growing degree days (GDD) around the state for the last month, we have been a little behind the average. The season didn’t start that way. We had several really nice, warm days early this year.

I’ve talked about GDD’s before. Growing degree days are calculated by taking the average between the daily maximum temperature and daily minimum temperature and subtracting the base comparable temperature for each day. Days are then added together to compare periods. It is probably the most common way of assessing where we are in plant growth compared to other years, since weather is different from year to year.

Growing degree days provide a “heat” value for each day. The values added together can provide an estimate of the amount of growth plants have achieved. Some people use GDDs to predict when plants will reach a certain growth stage. The developmental stage of most organisms has its own Continue reading Forages; Not a ‘normal’ year

Understanding and Preventing Acidosis

– Francis L. Fluharty, Ph.D., Professor and Head, Department of Animal and Dairy Sciences – University of Georgia

Each time whole corn is ground or split further the total surface area of the feed increases, and the rate of ruminal fermentation is increased.

As the movement to regional food production increases, smaller-scale beef processing plants are opening. The result is that many people who have not had a long history of finishing cattle on high-grain diets are starting to feed cattle. The diets used in growing yards are more forage based, whereas finishing diets have more grains and grain by-products. So, why do we need to feed diets that have a greater percentage of grain in order to get more average daily gain (ADG), be more efficient, and get better marbling?

Well, the major volatile fatty acids (VFA) produced by rumen microorganisms are acetic acid (CH3COOH), propionic acid (CH3,CH2COOH) and butyric acid (CH3,CH2,CH2COOH). These VFA are the main products of the digestion of feed by bacteria in the rumen, and serve as the main precursors for both glucose and fat in ruminants. On a forage-based diet, the proportion of VFA would be approximately 65-70% acetic, 15-25% propionic, and 5-10% butyric. Feeding grain-based diets high in readily fermentable carbohydrate (starch) increases the proportion of propionic acid produced through ruminal fermentation, and results in . . .

Continue reading Understanding and Preventing Acidosis

Does beef supply impact consumer demand?

– Dr. Andrew Griffith, Assistant Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee

A question was asked this week concerning beef supply and demand. From an economics perspective supply and demand are calculated based on quantity and price. The general public uses these terms a little more loosely and sometimes confuse demand with quantity demanded and the same on the supply side.

However, the beef market witnessed a strong surge in beef demand the past few years. Consumers proved they were willing to purchase more beef at higher prices, which is a clear indication of stronger demand. As the market heads into a time period of strong beef prices and a reduced supply due to environmental issues that caused a cattle herd size reduction, it is less certain if consumers will shift demand or if quantity demanded is the only thing that changes as price changes.

In simple, demand can stay the same even when consumers are purchasing less because prices increase. Thus, when prices increase, consumers tend to reduce the quantity demanded, but that does not mean demand decreased.

Pasture Conditions and Market Update

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

USDA-NASS begins releasing pasture and range conditions in May each year and the charts below show conditions in the Southeast and Southern Plains regions as compared to a year ago and the five-year average from 2017-2021. These charts show the percentage of range and pasture that is classified as “poor” or “very poor.”

The percentage of poor pasture in the Southeast is around Continue reading Pasture Conditions and Market Update

Re-Evaluating Pasture Utilization

Dean Kreager, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Licking County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Leaving adequate forage mass is essential for optimum regrowth when rotational grazing.

Farmland prices continue to rise and so does the value of pastureland.  As I listen to discussions on renewable energy, carbon sequestration, and land development, I can only imagine that land values will continue to rise.  As land values go up so will rental rates for both farmland and pasture.  Sometimes the true value of pasture forage is overlooked and not maximized.  Is there a practical option to increase productivity on your pastureland and increase your profit per acre?

Grazed forage is your chance to have a high-quality feed without the expenses and time needed to make hay.  The more days out of the year animals are grazing, the less stored forage is needed, and the less time is spent feeding stored forages.  Let the cows do the work as much of the year as possible.

Many grazing systems have been Continue reading Re-Evaluating Pasture Utilization

Maintaining a Clean Water Trough for Cattle

– Martin Wunderly, Raymond Fitzpatrick, Robyn Stewart, Shanna Reynolds and Pedro Fontes, University of Georgia Extension

Unrestricted access to clean water improves feed intake and average daily weight gains, increases milk production, and decreases illness and disease.

Water is one of the most important parts of cattle diets. It is essential for digestion, thermoregulation, growth, reproduction, and circulatory and nervous system functions. Adult cattle need 8 to 20 gallons of water per day, depending on size, diet, status, and weather. Research shows that unrestricted access to clean water improves feed intake and average daily weight gains, increases milk production, and decreases illness and disease.

On the other hand, restricted access to water and poor water quality negatively impact cattle production and can potentially cause illness and death. Bad odor and taste from water sources contaminated with high amounts of minerals, salt, nitrogen, bacteria, algae, or manure likely will keep cattle from drinking enough water and can cause significant health risks or death. Water sources can become contaminated or polluted by livestock animals, wildlife, local hydrology, or soil and bedrock features. To keep drinking water supplies clean and consistently available for cattle, consider the available water sources, how to exclude wildlife, how cattle will access water and its location, and trough cleaning methods.

Water Sources

Water sources should be evaluated for reliability and water quality. Before initial use, the water source should be tested for nitrates, dissolved solids, salts, pH, and fecal coliform bacteria. It is important to ensure the . . .

Continue reading Maintaining a Clean Water Trough for Cattle

Forage Maturity Across Ohio, May 22, 2023

Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ed Lentz, CCA, and Allen Gahler

Orchard grass is headed out even in the Northern most counties.

Many forage fields were harvested this past week with many more to be harvested this week with the excellent weather ahead. This past week alfalfa fields grew 6-10 inches but didn’t rapidly progress through the maturity growth stages. In general alfalfa varieties with lower fall dormancy ratings will be smaller and slower growing in the spring. With the continuing maturity of forages and insect pressure from alfalfa weevil and armyworm, harvest may be the best option instead of insecticide application. Much of the forage grasses across the state are now headed-reducing digestibility and crude protein. In Ottawa County, the farthest north county in our survey, orchard grass is fully headed and Timothy and . . .

Continue reading Forage Maturity Across Ohio, May 22,2023

EDITOR’s NOTE: For more detail about the trade off between forage quality and quantity and how forages are utilized by the ruminant system, see this 7 minute video from our colleagues at Penn State.

The effect of feed efficiency classification on visceral organ mass in finishing steers

– Cunningham-Hollinger , Z. Gray, K. Christensen, W. Means, S. Lake, S. Paisley, K. Cammack and A. Meyer

Canadian Journal of Animal Science, Vol 102(4), December 2022 (

Meat production is projected to increase by 48,000 kg by the year 2027, and beef production specifically is projected to be 21% greater in developing countries and 9% greater in developed countries in 2027. To allow for this increase in production, improvements in feed efficiency will be required to maintain or reduce input costs while increasing productivity. Residual feed intake (RFI) has been used as a measure of feed efficiency in both research and production fields, as it allows for selection of improved animal feed efficiency without increasing mature body weight.

Hereford-Angus crossbred steers (year 1: 59 steers); year 2: 75 steers) from a single contemporary group in each year (birth to slaughter) were used in a 2-year study.

The presence of small intestinal mass differences only in year 1, when the Continue reading The effect of feed efficiency classification on visceral organ mass in finishing steers

May Cattle on Feed Down 3 Percent

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

USDA-NASS released the May Cattle on Feed report last Friday, providing us with the fifth data point of the year for cattle on feed numbers. According to the report, the number of cattle and calves on feed in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 or more head was 11.6 million on May 1, 2023, 3.4 percent lower than the previous year. Overall, except for cattle placement numbers which we will discuss shortly, there were no major surprises in the report. Everyone expected the report to stick with the trend we have observed all year, declining cattle numbers across the board.

Overall, the United States cattle on feed inventory was 97% of the previous year. Most states showed a decrease in cattle on feed inventories compared to May 1, 2022. Feedlot inventories in Texas and Oklahoma were 96% and 91% of the previous year, respectively. Kansas feedlot inventories were 2% lower compared to last year. Cattle on feed inventories were 5% lower in Nebraska and 2% higher in Iowa. This year cattle on feed numbers are Continue reading May Cattle on Feed Down 3 Percent