Proper Summer Pasture Management Pays Dividends, Especially in Dry Conditions

Stan Smith, PA, Fairfield County OSU Extension

The U.S. Drought Monitor may not show it, but parts of Ohio are very dry!

Today, the U.S. Drought Monitor suggests little of Ohio is in moderate drought, or even abnormally dry. Despite what their map might show, in much of Fairfield County, especially in the northwest third, we have experienced barely 2 inches of rain over the past 7 and a half weeks, and only 0.3 inch over the past nearly 3 weeks. It appears many parts of Ohio are experiencing similar rain patterns. Knowing this, its apparent pasture across much of the state is, or very soon will be, showing the negative impact of dry soils and high soil surface temperatures.

Regardless, it is never too soon to employ summer pasture management strategies in order that forage growth can quickly begin again once adequate precipitation returns. Most importantly, cool season pasture grasses should not be grazed to less than 4 inches in height and should be Continue reading

Considerations for Corn Silage Harvest

Moisture, maturity and the potential for high nitrates must be considered as corn silage harvest begins.

Corn silage harvest has begun in parts of Ohio, and is still weeks away in other places where corn planting was delayed by the spring weather. At the same time, according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, all of Ohio remains rated as Abnormally Dry causing concern for the potential for nitrate problems.

In this week’s C.O.R.N. newsletter, Laura Lindsey, Mark Sulc, Peter Thomison and Bill Weiss have contributed to following articles regarding corn silage harvest considering the present crop and weather conditions.

Making Corn Silage in Dry ConditionsBill Weiss

Corn Silage Harvest TimingMark Sulc, Peter Thomison, Bill Weiss

Potential for Nitrate Problems in Drought Stressed Corn – Peter Thomison, Laura Lindsey

The “D” word is back, and it’s Déjà vu, all over again!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Adding to marketing complications resulting from COVID-19, and on the heals of one of the wettest springs in history, drought has now returned to Ohio!

After experiencing one of the wettest years ever through mid-May, over half of Ohio suddenly finds itself listed as either Abnormally Dry or in a Moderate Drought condition by the U.S. Drought Monitor. At a time when last year’s depleted inventory of quality forage has yet to be restored, the various aspects of managing feed resources will remain a primary concern for Ohio cattlemen in the coming weeks and months.

As we navigate the path of inadequate forage feed resources which it seems is becoming an annual ritual, we’ve now added challenges that result from a pandemic. COVID-19 related supply chain disruptions in April and May created a backlog of fed cattle that is likely to continue through the summer. This translates into heavier harvest weights and a lack of feedyard capacity that could easily Continue reading

Supplementing to Stretch Pastures

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS Associate Extension Professor, University of Kentucky

Drought continues to impact the high plains area stretching down to the pan handle of Texas. The dry conditions will continue to impact pastures potentially lowering beef cattle numbers at year’s end. The recent high temperatures and limited rain will dry out pastures and limit forage regrowth on recently cut hay fields here in the Commonwealth. As forage growth slows, supplementation may be needed to provide beef cattle adequate levels of nutrients to support target production levels and limit condition loss of lactating cows.

Fibrous coproduct feedstuffs that are low in starch but high digestible fiber work well for supplementingcattle on a high forage diet. Soybean hulls, corn gluten feed, beet pulp, distillers grains, wheat midds, and rice bran are a few commonly available feedstuffs that would be lower in starch and high digestible fiber. These feedstuffs would be higher in available energy than most pasture forages that are going or already dormant. Depending on the maturity and digestibility of the forages, supplements could provide twice as much energy on a dry weight basis. Therefore, supplementation would need to be limited and not offered free-choice to avoid over conditioning as well as to avoid digestive upsets.

Cottonseed hulls are lower in digestible energy than the supplements listed above and most cool-season forages. Cottonseed hulls would be deemed as more of a forage replacement than a supplement. The crude protein value is Continue reading

Pasture Management in a Drought

Dr. David Barker, Ohio State University

Dry weather in recent weeks throughout Ohio has raised several questions about how pastures should be managed during drought. Although the experts don’t all agree if this period of dry weather meets the definition of a drought (yet), there is no doubt that pasture growth will slow to zero. How should we be grazing our pastures in mid-summer?? Continue reading

Emergency Forages to Plant Mid-Summer

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Warm-season annual grasses should be planted by July 15-18.

First and second cutting hay yields are being reported as lower than usual in many areas of Ohio this year. Forages took a hit from the late freezes and cold weather this spring, followed by dry weather after first cutting. Fortunately, hay quality is much better than usual.

If forage inventories are going to be short, emergency forages that can still be planted this summer include the warm-season annual grasses planted by mid-July as well as oat, spring triticale, and Italian ryegrass planted during the last week of July into early August. All those forages will be best harvested as silage/haylage or grazed. Brassica crops (turnip, turnip hybrids, rape) can be planted in early August for grazing in late autumn.

Soil moisture is the big concern for any forage planting now. Much of the state is . . .

Continue reading Emergency Forages to Plant Mid-Summer

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