Small Carpetgrass: Another invasive grass to watch for

Jordan Penrose, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Gallia County

Small carpetgrass is a new annual invasive grass weed.

Earlier this fall as dad and I were going along checking and fixing fence along a field that we have been stockpiling for cattle, we found a grass that we had never noticed in the field or on the farm before. The first thought that came to mind was that it was Japanese stiltgrass, but after looking up some pictures of Japanese stiltgrass on our phones, we determined it was not. Then we went and used a plant ID app on a phone to see what it would come with, and it identified it as small carpetgrass. To verify, we searched for small carpetgrass on the internet looking at an Extension website to confirm.

Small carpetgrass also known as joint-head grass, was introduced into the U.S. from Japan and eastern Asia. The earliest reports of the plant are from the early 1970s. Small carpetgrass is an annual invasive grass weed that thrives in sunny, moist areas and prefers wet habitats like stream banks, pond and lake margins, wetlands, and disturbed areas. We found it an area where the soil gets disturbed from where we feed round bales on pasture in the winter. This fall we did notice the grass died off with the first frost and that our cattle avoided eating it. What stuck out the most about this grass was the Continue reading

Stockpile; Take it now, or take it later?

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Should I still be grazing stockpiled forage?

I’d quickly take one of the hottest weeks in the summer over some of the frigid weather we have seen this winter. My wife just hopes that the long, icy-cold period was long enough to set back the stink bugs still hanging around.

Cold weather can have some advantages, especially after some of the rains we received lately. If you are having to concentrate livestock or are wanting to graze wet or saturated ground, frozen ground or free concrete has some advantages.

If you are still grazing stockpiled forage, frozen ground helps to protect the soil surface and reduce compaction from hooves. In reality, if you have a good stand of stockpile, it has to get almost bitter cold to freeze that ground. The blanket of forage serves as pretty good insulation. Like I’ve said before, if I have to dig a hole in the winter time, I’m for sure going to dig where I have heavy sod, it is most likely not frozen.

On the contrary, ground that has Continue reading

Nutritional Considerations Going into Calving

– Lawton Stewart, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, UGA

Nutritional requirements change with the stages of reproduction.

As we start 2024, many beef cattle producers are about to start the calving season. Across the state, forage availability is variable. Some places have seen severe drought in late summer/early fall, causing producers to feed more hay and deplete their winter hay supply. Many producers were able to put up plenty of hay. However, we have received several emails and phone calls dealing with hay quality being lower than expected this year. Entering the peak of hay feeding season, here are a few situations we are seeing, and the potential ramifications.

  1. I will restrict feed in the last trimester to decrease calf birth weights.
  2. I need more protein to go with my hay.
  3. There is a tendency to underestimate crude protein and overestimate energy.

I will restrict feed in the last trimester to decrease calf birth weights.
Is this correct? Absolutely! The problem is that is not the only thing it will affect. Recent research has focused on fetal programming. Fetal programming is the concept that maternal stimulus or insult during fetal development has long-term effects on the offspring. One of the most critical aspects of fetal programming involves adequate nutrition, or lack . . .

Continue reading Nutritional Considerations Going into Calving

Winter Application of Manure in Ohio

Glen Arnold, CCA, Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

Keep some things in mind as you wait for frozen ground.

Most producers have had the needed dry weather this fall to get livestock manure applied to fields. However, a wetter than normal corn crop and full elevators, did delay corn harvest longer than normal in some areas. For livestock producers waiting on frozen ground to apply manure, here are some things to keep in mind. Frozen ground would be soil that you cannot inject the manure into or cannot conduct tillage within 24 hours to incorporate the manure.

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. Several commercial manure applicators have established manure storage ponds in recent years to help address this issue.

In the Grand Lake St Marys (GLSM)watershed, the winter manure application ban . . .

Continue reading Winter Application of Manure in Ohio

Reviewing the January Cattle-on-Feed Report Ahead of this Week’s Inventory Report

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Extension Professor, Livestock Marketing, University of Kentucky

January has brought a steady stream of reports for livestock market analysts to digest. This began with hay stocks the second week of the year and will culminate on January 31st, when USDA releases their inventory estimates for 2024. As I write this week’s article two days ahead of that release, I wanted to quickly review what we learned from USDA’s January Cattle on Feed Report, which came out on January 19th. Cattle on Feed estimates have always been significant, but even more so recently, as they were a major driver behind the market decrease that was seen in the fourth quarter of last year.

Total feedlot inventory was estimated at 11.9 million head. As has been the case since October, cattle on feed numbers continue to exceed year-ago levels. On its face, this has been surprising as the cowherd has been getting smaller for several years and the number of cattle outside of feedyards was thought to be relatively small in the second half of 2023. We previously discussed the high placement levels seen in September and October and the impact that had on feedlot inventories. I still think fall weather led to some Continue reading

The role of sulfur in pastures

Dan Lima, OSU ANR Extension Educator, Belmont County

Sulfur is needed in legumes for nitrogen fixation.

Sulfur is an element found in two out of the 20 protein-forming amino acids in plants. It is also essential for chlorophyll production, the most important pigment in the plant kingdom.

Additionally, a higher amount of sulfur is needed in legumes for nitrogen fixation. Legumes are thought to be the most sensitive plants to sulfur deficiency due to the fact it will slow down all three essential functions in this category.

For these reasons, plants, and all life for that matter, need sulfur to survive. It is considered a secondary macro-nutrient because of its essential requirement at lower levels than the other macro-nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Plant symptoms of sulfur deficiency are Continue reading

Posted in Forages

Can we Compete?

Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Beef Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Figure 1. U.S. beef cow inventory and cattle cycle as reported by USDA ERS.

Do you know what it costs per pound of beef produced from your farm? How much does it cost to maintain a cow annually? How has the increase in inputs impacted your beef operations profitability? The old saying of you can only manage what you measure still holds. One cannot control the market price. The commodity markets have trends in which prices ebb and flow. Most of us are familiar with the cattle cycle. The cattle cycle historically was a 10-year period between the peaks or valleys of cattle inventory and subsequent prices as a function of macroeconomics. This cycle can be seen in Figure 1 from USDA ERS. The impact of continued drought, land prices, aging farmers, and other factors have resulted in the US Beef Cow inventory being at levels similar to those of the mid 1960’s. This bodes well for market prices over the next couple of years as demand for beef holds steady.

I started my professional career during the early 2000’s. At this time, I was pondering in my mind whether beef cattle systems could compete with grain production. Corn prices were $2.05 to $2.46 per bushel. Figure 2 illustrates Continue reading


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

Seasonality can be relevant across cattle markets for feedlots, various grazing enterprises, and cow-calf operations. With new year-end data, a look at seasonal trends in prices seems timely. Most cattle sectors have some seasonality in prices because of biology, growing seasons of feedstuffs, and climate. Seasonal patterns thus happen in cash prices. These tend to also be reflected in futures prices when contracts across expirations are examined at points in time (like carry in storage markets). A chart of nearby futures prices also reflects seasonal patterns observed in cash prices. However, futures prices are generally unbiased and there is seldom any seasonal pattern for a given contract. For example, there is no seasonality in a June live cattle futures price nor a September feeder cattle futures price.

Fed cattle cash prices have a pronounced seasonal high in March through May with a low in September (and sometimes October). This pattern is consistent in Southern Plains cattle (as tracked by LMIC) and in northern markets (e.g., Worthing, South Dakota). This tendency cannot be ignored. When hedging or negotiating prices, the basis will reflect the underlying seasonal pattern relative to a futures price. For example, the basis in Worthing was very high in May of 2023, reflecting a seasonal cash premium compared to the June futures price. Basis in 2024 would be expected to typically be Continue reading

Risk Management Strategies

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

We make important decisions about our cattle operations and don’t always immediately know the result of those decisions. The time it takes to observe the result of our decision is referred to as a time lag, and it is driven by the biology involved in raising livestock and growing forages. For example, consider how long it takes to market a new calf crop. Your operation is subject to favorable and unfavorable market swings in the months following the calving season. A more extreme example is the time between retaining a group of heifers and those heifers’ first calf crop. In this case, your operation is subject to short-run and long-run market dynamics that might not go your way. These long lags subject our operations to a lot of risk.

Risk is defined as the probability of an event occurring multiplied by the consequence of that event. The types of risk that we face include production (e.g., yields, weaning weights), market (e.g., prices, trade), institutional (e.g., property rights, farm policy), personal (e.g., work injury, property theft), and financial (interest rates, operating loans). Two common strategies to manage these risks include risk transfer and risk mitigation. Most of us already implement these strategies but might not think about them in these terms.

Risk transfer means paying someone else to take on your risk. There is a risk that you won’t produce enough hay because of drought. You could transfer Continue reading

January USDA Cattle on Feed Report Assessment

– Stephen R. Koontz, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Colorado State University

The USDA Cattle on Feed Report released on January 19 with new information regarding what happened in the cattle feeding sector during December was decidedly neutral. All the main pieces of information were very much in line with pre-report expectations. Placements are the most important piece of information in the Cattle on Feed report. Marketings can be assessed through daily and weekly slaughter information. And on feed inventories are largely the net changes due to these marketings and placements.

Placements were lower than those of the prior year and were exactly as anticipated. Pre-report expectations suggested that placements would be 95.5 percent of the prior year with a range of 91.5 to 98.0 percent.  Actual placements during December were 95.5 percent at 1.704 million head. The futures market reacted very modestly lower on Monday with the weakness in the nearby and strength in the deferred contracts. Trading today (2/22/24) is likely reflecting simple everyday volatility as opposed to any reaction to the report.

Fed cattle marketings were very Continue reading