Spring Forage Establishment

Kyle Verhoff, Allen Gahler, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, OSU Extension

Planting window runs to late April for southern Ohio and to early May in Northern Ohio.

As soil temperatures rise and the chances of a morning frost decline, the window to spring-establish forages is open. In the spring, the combination of weather and plenty to do make planting opportunities scarce. To take advantage of those short planting windows, the following are items to consider to improve chances for a successful forage establishment this spring.

  1. Soil Fertility and pH: Set up your forages with the best starting conditions you can by providing sufficient available nutrients and a soil pH that allows for those nutrients to be taken up. Follow the Tri-state Soil Fertility Recommendations (https://forages.osu.edu/forage-management/soil-fertility-forages). Phosphorus levels for grass are optimal in the . . .

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Forage Weeds: Fall Forgotten and Spring Startups

Alyssa Essman, Christine Gelley, and Kyle Verhoff, OSU Extension

Common cocklebur is a growing problem in Ohio forages.

Spring means rapid forage growth, but it also means rapid weed growth. Due to the variability of spring weather, there are often only a few opportunities to control emerging summer annual weeds, winter annuals missed in the fall, and biennials that are small enough to effectively control. To manage weeds before they become a problem in forages, it is important to scout and plan accordingly. Forage is a broad category, and the spring weed control plan can look very different between species and operations. The problem weeds and whether control is necessary are going to be different between permanent pasture systems and alfalfa fields, and highly dependent on the consequences of specific weeds.

In established alfalfa, the decision for weed control of some winter annuals like henbit and field pennycress will depend on . . .

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What to watch for with Asian longhorned ticks and Theileria in Ohio in 2024

Tim McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Visit go.osu.edu/BITE, your guide to ticks, mosquitoes, and other biting pests. Photo: Anna Pasternak, UK entomology graduate student

One of the worrisome things about ticks in Ohio has been the increasing numbers of ticks of medical importance to humans, companion animals, and livestock as we have gone from one tick of medical importance twenty years ago to five now, including two new ticks in the past few years. While ticks have always been a problem in cattle, the invasive Asian longhorned (ALHT) tick that was first discovered in Ohio in 2020 has demonstrated the ability to not only vector, or transmit disease to cattle, but to cause mortality in cattle through high numbers of ticks feeding upon the animals. I first wrote about ALHT  in All About Grazing in July of 2020 with the article “The Threat of Asian longhorned tick continues” and then followed up with a March 2nd, 2023 article “Managing Asian longhorned ticks on pasture” so I want to provide an update on where we are in the state of Ohio with ALHT right now.

Where are we seeing ALHT in Ohio right now? As of the end of 2023, we had positively identified ALHT in 11 counties in Ohio including Franklin, Delaware, Ross, Gallia, Vinton, Jackson, Athens, Morgan, Monroe, Belmont, and Guernsey county. We anticipate finding more positive counties in Continue reading

Beware of Reducing Feed at Calving!

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

Reducing the feed at calving causes problems!

I presented at a Master Cattlemen session recently and, after the meeting, got asked a common question about body condition and feeding cows at calving. His question was he had heard that he should reduce feed to his cows before calving to keep birthweights lower to reduce calving problems. He indicated that the BCS of his cows as they begin to calve was only 4. This is a frustrating question because it comes up often and nothing could be further from the truth.

Several researchers have addressed this issue over the last 20-30 years. Each of these experiments had cows that were fed to maintain weight, decrease weight, or increase weight right before calving began. The result of underfeeding cows before calving results in the exact problem the producer is trying to avoid. The research demonstrated that poor nutrition and low BCS precalving:

• Increased calving problems
• Decreased calf health (low colostrum consumption and poor-quality colostrum)
• Increased calf death loss
• Increased the number of days for females to resume estrous cycles.

One of the most extreme Continue reading

Second Quarter Weakening Continues

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

Some feeder cattle and calf markets have softened following the futures selloff triggered apparently by the news of HPAI infections in cattle. Still, many regional markets have remained firm through the same period.  The sharpest drops are in some of the smaller and most volatile cash markets for the smallest animals.  Likewise, live cattle futures have retreated substantially in the same window while fed cattle cash market prices are only off modestly.  The disease news has slowed and modestly reversed the likely and anticipated cash market strengthening.

However, from a margin perspective, some of the price adjustments could have been anticipated.  Beef packer margins are as poor as they have been for over a year.  The first quarter typically has the poorest margins and that is Continue reading

Managing hay fields and pastures after storm damage

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock

Something as seemingly harmless as insulation can be problematic.

As the number of straight-line wind and tornado events seems to be increasing so does the number of times that parts of nearby buildings end up spread out across our pastures and hay fields.  This debris can cause significant health risks to grazing livestock, as well as animals fed harvested forages from these fields. Debris that is blown into pastures and hayfields quickly becomes hard to see as forages take off and grows in the spring. In pastures or stored hay, livestock often eat foreign materials that are present in the field either mixed in with the forage or just from curiosity. There is also a risk of livestock being injured from foreign materials entering the animal’s hooves or being tangled in the debris in a pasture. Each type of debris can cause slightly different challenges.

Large debris such as roofing, boards, and other debris scattered by the storm are the easiest to see and clean up. Once the large debris is no longer visible it is easy to move on to the next cleanup project, but the small stuff needs cleanup just as badly.  Fiberglass insulation can be especially challenging as it can lead to blockages, bloat, and irritation of the digestive tract. Small amounts of fiberglass may create small cuts in the esophagus causing irritation when the animal eats even after the bite that contained fiberglass. It can also cause Continue reading

Be Patient: Management of regrowth impacts overall production

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

“Before and after the hooves, the grasses must survive, patience, we hold, initial grazing to thrive.”

As I write this, the sun is trying to shine and provide more growing degree days for plant growth.  Forage growth might seem a bit early this year, and it is, but not much earlier than last year at this time.  Southern Indiana is about a week to ten days earlier than last year. Some northern sites are about two weeks ahead of last year, but certainly still behind southern portions.

Do not get me wrong, I am glad to see new green growth on perennial forages, but I haven’t forgotten last year yet.  Last April we had a couple fairly hard freezes in late April.  Nice, new, tender forage growth does not appreciate freezing temperatures.  Last year’s cold spell set forages back, stressed plants and initiated early seedhead production which reduced yields.  If it wasn’t grazed or clipped quickly to get it back in a more vegetative stage, production was really impacted.  I tried both ways and wish Continue reading

Assessing Forage Stands and Winter Damage

Kyle Verhoff, Allen Gahler, Jason Hartschuh, CCA, OSU Extension

Heaving is a common form of winter damage.

Spring is here and now is a great time to walk fields and note how the forages faired. Winter damage is difficult to predict and the variability of temperatures this past winter across the state can present some difficult conditions for forages. Depending on the location and what type of forage field, winter damage may be a major concern, particularly for forages with taproots like alfalfa. Stands should be assessed carefully during spring green-up for concerns, such as heaving and crown and root diseases. A thorough and timely assessment will allow for planning any necessary adjustments for the 2024 season.


When making a stand assessment, it is important to not only make above ground observations by way of a stem count but to also . . .

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Avian Influenza Detected in Dairy Cattle

– Buckeye Dairy Network, CFAES, The Ohio State University


On Monday, March 25 th the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Center for Disease Control (CDC) issued a statement confirming the identification of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in dairy cattle located in Texas and Kansas. They have suspected that HPAI may be a contributing factor in the unclassified illness affecting older, mid to late lactation dairy cattle in several herds in New Mexico, Texas, and Kansas over the past two months. It is not yet clear if all reports of the unclassified illness are caused by HPAI. The full press release from USDA can be found here.

The following are answers to common questions producers and the general public may . . .

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EDITOR’s NOTE: Yesterday, April 2, the Ohio Department of Agriculture confirmed a dairy herd in Ohio tested has positive for highly pathogenic avian influenza. Learn more in this article from Farm and Dairy.

Posted in Health

Prospective Plantings, Feed Prices and Implications for Feeder Cattle Markets

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

Input prices have been a major topic of discussion over the last couple of years. As I write this, we are enjoying some extremely high cattle prices. But those high prices have been at least somewhat offset by increases in production costs. This has been true of feed, fertilizer, fuel, machinery, labor and many other inputs. On the heels of USDA’s Prospective Plantings report, it seemed to be a good time to discuss recent trends in feed prices and the impact this tends to have on feeder cattle values.

For some recent perspective, the US average corn price per bushel is tracked in the figure above from January 2020 through February 2024. One can quickly see the low-price levels during COVID, price levels exceeding $7 per bushel during 2022, and the significant price decreases seen through the 2023 season. Corn tends to be the market leader and trends in corn price are typically representative of other feedstuffs. Clearly, the Continue reading