Managing Forage Risk: Specie Diversification and PRF Insurance

– Andrew P. Griffith, University Of Tennessee

First question, who remembers the drought periods of summer and fall 2016, summer 2015, summer 2012, winter 2011, fall 2010, summer and fall 2008, and pretty much all of 2007? It is pretty easy to make the point that cattle producers have faced several challenging times as it relates to precipitation and forage production. Next question, knowing that drought periods have been fairly frequent and intense, what management decisions have been made to reduce the negative impacts of such events?

Managing forage risk is probably not at the top of most producers’ minds as hay feeding will soon dominate cattle diets. However, now is a prime time to Continue reading

How Early is Too Early to Wean?

– Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Can I wean 90-day-old calves that weigh 300 pounds?

The answer is yes. Dry weather has made this – and variations – the question of the day.

In an ideal world, mother and calf should enjoy green pastures from birth until weaning at about 7 months of age. The typical weaning age is 192 days for producers in the Cow Herd Appraisal Performance System (CHAPS) program. However, some calves are weighed along with the administration of preweaning vaccinations prior to the actual weaning day, so the average age at weaning could be a few days older.

The CHAPS profile shows steers weigh 566 pounds, heifers 535 pounds and Continue reading

Late Autumn Hay Harvesting and Grazing

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

The drought this year has left most livestock producers with very short forage supplies, so many are cutting hay fields this autumn regardless of the calendar or weather forecast. Hay harvesting across Ohio the past few weeks has led to questions about management guidelines and the impact of late cutting or grazing on forage grass and legume stands. The biggest management concern is Continue reading

Rebuilding the Cowherd: Survival of the Fittest and Alternatives for Forages!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

The U.S. beef cow numbers are at their lowest level in more than 50 years. Beef prices are at historical highs, and yet demand remains strong having continued to increase over the past three years. It sounds like the recipe for sustained profitability in the beef cattle industry for years to come.

That is, until we consider the recent drought and related factors’ impact on Continue reading

Corn Stalks Can Stretch Forage Supplies

Rory Lewandowski, Extension Educator, Wayne County and Crossroads EERA

Corn harvest is underway around Ohio and the cornstalks and grain residue that remains after the combine has finished its work can provide the means to stretch forage supplies. There are approximately 3.4 million acres of corn planted in Ohio each year. Those acres harvested for corn grain represent a potential forage source that is often overlooked and Continue reading

Feeding Cover Crops? – Consider Nitrate Potential

Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

If you have planted cover crops and plan to graze, ensile, or make hay out of them to feed to livestock, you should consider the potential for nitrate toxicity in the forage this year. This could be especially of concern for cover crops planted after corn silage that was stunted by drought and Continue reading

Jack Frost and Forage Toxicity

Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

Fall is in the air and Jack Frost will strike sooner or later. When he does, questions always arise concerning the dangers of feeding frosted forages. A very few forage species can be extremely toxic soon after a frost.

The warm-season annual grasses in the sorghum family and other closely related species are capable of becoming toxic Continue reading

Testing for Prussic Acid Content in Forages

Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

An accompanying article describes the species that can develop prussic acid poisoning potential and management practices to follow to prevent poisoning of livestock with those species after a frost. If doubt remains regarding the safety of the forage, the forage can be tested for prussic acid (HCN) content. But keep in mind Continue reading

Alfatoxin in the 2012 Corn Crop and the Potential Impact on Its Use for Livestock

Maurice Eastridge, Pierce Paul, Ohio State University Extension

Sampling and Testing in Grain: A Recap – Reports of aflatoxin contamination of corn continue to come in from some parts of the state, especially those areas most severely affected by drought conditions. There have also been reports of a few loads of grain being docked at some elevators due to aflatoxin levels above thresholds. Producers in affected areas are encouraged to continue sampling and testing grain for aflatoxin in order to determine whether or not the grain is contaminated Continue reading

Concerns about Aflatoxin in Ohio Corn

Pierce Paul, Plant Pathologist, OSU Extension

There have been a few reports of Aspergillus ear rot in corn in some parts of Ohio, causing producers to be concerned about possible grain contamination with aflatoxins. As I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks ago (, ear rot development does not automatically mean that grain is contaminated with aflatoxins, but provides a good indication that the risk of contamination is high Continue reading