Kill Poison Hemlock Now

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

Poison hemlock is a concern in public right of ways, on the farm, and in the landscape!

Poison hemlock has already emerged in a vegetative state around Noble County and beyond. Soon it will be bolting and blooming on stalks 6-10 feet tall. All parts of the plant are toxic to all classes of livestock if consumed and is prevalent along roadsides, ditches, and crop field borders. It is a biennial weed that does not flower in the first year of growth but flowers in the second year. The earlier you can address poison hemlock with mowing and/or herbicide application, the better your control methods will be.

Poison hemlock is related to Queen Anne’s lace, but is much larger and taller, emerges earlier, and has purple spots on the stems. Another relative that is poisonous is wild parsnip, which looks similar to poison hemlock, but has yellow flowers. Giant hogweed is another relative of poison hemlock that is also toxic. All of these plants have umbel shaped clusters of flowers.

According to Joe Boggs of OSU Extension, “Poison hemlock plants contain highly toxic Continue reading

Forage Harvest Management to Speed Drying and Store High Quality Forage

Mark Sulc, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, and Allen Gahler, OSU Extension

“Hay in a day” is possible when making hay crop silage.

First cutting should be taken very soon to achieve high quality forage, as seen by some of the estimated NDF levels in standing alfalfa crops around the state. Keep in mind that for dairy quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% NDF and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

So, it is time to be thinking about that first cutting and looking for weather windows of opportunity, especially along I-70 and south. Cutting forage for haylage or dry hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures and the fiber becomes less digestible.

Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment. Compaction damage has long-lasting effects on forage crops. We’ve seen many fields where stand loss in wheel tracks led to lower forage yields, weed invasion, and frustrating attempts to “fill in” the stand later.

Before cutting also keep in mind any harvest intervals required for any pesticides applied. We know some growers around the state have applied insecticides for alfalfa weevil control, so any pre-harvest intervals on the insecticide label have to be followed in order to feed the forage after harvesting.

This article summarizes proven techniques that can help . . .

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Crabgrass for Summer Grazing…Have you lost your mind???

– Chris Teutsch, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Crabgrass is a summer annual grass that often shows up in pastures, especially in thin stands that have been damaged by hay feeding or overgrazing. To flourish in a pasture, crabgrass needs a six-inch opening. This means if you have a strong and vigorous sod, crabgrass will be difficult to establish and maintain.

When cool-season pastures are grazed closely and often during the summer months, the composition of these stands tend to shift toward crabgrass. Unfortunately, these volunteer stand of crabgrass are often not managed to their full potential. The objective of this article is to give you a few pointers that will help you get the most out of volunteer crabgrass stands.

Not all crabgrass is created equal. We tend to lump all crabgrass into one category, but there are several species and even improved varieties. Some crabgrass species and even local ecotypes are more productive than others and respond better to improved management. If you want to ensure that you have the most productive crabgrass species, then consider overseeding your volunteer stands with an improved variety of crabgrass (Table 1). More data on crabgrass varieties can be found by Continue reading

10 Tips for Managing High Feed Prices

– Dr. Katie VanValin, Assistant Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

We have all heard the phrase, “it’s the little things”. The saying applies to the beef industry as well. There is no single management practice, feed ration, or genetic trait that drives profitability. Profitability is really a summation of lots of little things coming together to create a profitable system. Whenever profitability is challenged whether from greater input prices like we are seeing now, or lower calf prices, I start to get questions about decreasing feed costs. This should come as no surprise, as feed costs are one of the biggest expenses facing beef cattle operations. Below is a list of some of those little things, that can really add up!

1) Preg checking: Our cows should be working for the operation. Thus, an open cow is one that is not pulling her weight on a cow-calf operation. Today producers have more options than ever before for preg checking their herds. New chute side blood tests can be completed right on the farm in about 10 minutes, there are also commercial labs that will run blood tests giving you results in just a couple of days, and of course there is always ultrasound which gives you a real time answer but does depend on scheduling and availability. Culling open cows not only decreases purchased feed costs but can also make our available forage resources go farther as well.

2) Buy in bulk: The ability to buy purchased feeds in bulk can allow producers to take advantage of bulk discounts offered by many feed retailers. Also having the ability to Continue reading

Will China meet their growing beef demand by raising it themselves?

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

As China has completely changed their pork production and commercialized it, will they also attempt to revolutionize beef production in their country to meet growing beef demand?

As many readers are already aware, China pork production has shifted from back-yard production to a “hog hotel” style of production where hogs are produced in multistory buildings that rely heavily on feed grains. It has become evident that Chinese consumers have a strong taste for beef. Thus, this question was asked with the thought that China may attempt to ramp up domestic beef production.

There is certainly the possibility of the Chinese attempting this endeavor, but cattle production as we know it requires significantly more land resources. However, the Chinese have been known to be “innovative,” which means they could house animals and bring in more feed. The likelihood of this is relatively small at this point, but such a move would result in the need for more feed resources, which would drive corn prices higher.

Slow Planting Progress Contributing to Increased Corn Price Expectations

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

Higher feed prices are a concern for cattle producers in 2022-2023 and recent increases in corn prices continue to add fuel to that concern. U.S. corn planting is underway and estimates of corn production are impacting market price expectations.

The combination of acres planted and expected yield are the major drivers of corn production expectations. In early April, Kenny discussed the Prospective Plantings Report which estimated U.S. corn acreage in 2022 would be Continue reading

Scout Like Joe

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

If knapweed is ignored in year two, you can experience a population explosion in year three!

Recently one of my regular Extension clients passed away. His name was Joe. Joe farmed on the border of Noble and Monroe Counties and regularly attended programs that may benefit his farm and family. He was an admirable man and leaves behind a respectable legacy. Though his life’s impact goes far beyond scouting for spotted knapweed, it is one of the things I will coin with his name in my programs for years to come.

Joe attended our first public spotted knapweed information program in Summerfield, Ohio and went home and started to watch for this damaging and aggressive weed. It didn’t take long for him to find some nearby and Continue reading

Forage Quality Targets Based on Animal Class

Mark Sulc and Bill Weiss, OSU Extension

Timing is everything!

The optimal time for making a first cutting of forages is fast approaching. But what is the optimal timing to take the first cutting (or any cutting for that matter)? Many will answer by saying it is when you have time and there is a good weather window to get the forage cut and put up! Yes indeed, that is a valid answer. Both of those factors are important and can’t be ignored. However, we know that forage quality declines as the crop moves into flowering stages. The first cutting is usually the highest yielding cutting, so we should try to aim for good quality for as much of it as possible!

But what is “good quality” forage? The correct answer is that it depends on what you feed it to. The concentration of neutral detergent fiber (NDF) is a measure of most of the fiber in forages. The concentration of forage fiber increases with maturity and is negatively correlated with feed intake by animals and the energy concentration of the diet. With hay crop forages, digestibility of the fiber and NDF concentrations have a strong negative correlation so one can assume forages with greater NDF concentrations have fiber that is less digestible.

Below are good forage NDF targets to aim for when feeding different classes of livestock (Table 1). These are general guidelines, but . . .

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Grass Tetany – A Complicated Disorder with An Easy Prevention

– Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Professor University of Kentucky and Dr. Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Classic “grass tetany” is a rapidly progressing and potentially fatal disorder caused by low magnesium level in the blood, also known as “hypomagnesemia”. It is usually seen in older, lactating beef cows when grazing young, succulent grass in early spring, particularly during cool and rainy weather. Other common names for this disorder, including spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, and lactation tetany, reflect the season of the year, symptoms seen, types of forage, or physiology of the animals most often involved.

Magnesium is an essential mineral as its presence is vital for many enzymes of major metabolic pathways, in normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction, and in bone mineral formation. Approximately 60-70% of total magnesium in the body is bound up in the bones. Grass tetany occurs when the magnesium (Mg) level in blood decreases rapidly, resulting in less than adequate Mg reaching the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Without Mg present in spinal fluid, there is uncontrolled activation of the nerves supplying muscles throughout the body. This causes constant overstimulation and Continue reading

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Measuring Forage Moisture Content Using an Air Fryer

– John Jennings, Professor – Forages, Animal Sciences, University of Arkansas
(Previously published online with the Division of Agriculture Research and Extension, University of Arkansas)

Measuring moisture content of forage cut for hay or silage is an essential step to ensure storage stability and product quality. Hay baled with too much moisture can mold or be subject to spontaneous heating. Silage baled or chopped at moisture contents outside a recommended range may not ferment properly, reducing storage life and animal acceptance. A relatively new method of measuring forage moisture content is through use of an air fryer. this household appliance is basically a small convection oven. it can be used at the farm shop or can be . . .

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