Hay Quality Indicators

Christine Gelley, AgNR Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

The drastic swing in temperatures from one day to the next last week should remind us all that it truly is autumn and that winter is coming. The challenges of the 2019 forage production season continue to add up. With droughty conditions across the state for the past two months, what was too lush for too long, is now crunchy and brown. Some producers are already feeding hay to their livestock, some are hoping that the forage they have stockpiled for late-fall/winter grazing will pay off. Hopefully it will with a little rain.

We ended 2018 with the lowest stock of stored forages since 2012 and the fourth lowest in the past 70 years. I don’t think 2019 has been much help. Quality forage is in short supply and high demand. Which means all forage has increased in monetary value by the ton.

If you are a hay marketer, this sounds positive. The price is up and your input costs stay relatively flat year to year, factoring in land value, equipment, fuel, and labor. But, is it positive? Maybe, if you don’t need to keep any hay for yourself.

Let’s look at an example: Continue reading

Forage Value Based on Nutrients

Clif Little, OSU Extension Guernsey County

A forage nutrient analysis is an underutilized tool. Nutrient content determines forage value. In addition, forage dry matter content influences livestock feed amounts required per day and ability to properly preserve forages for winter feeding. Consider the calculations values below for a second cutting grass hay (harvested in late June), a first cutting grass baleage (harvested in late May), and a first cutting perennial warm season grass hay (harvested in mid-July).

  As Fed
  DM% CP% ADF% Ca% P% $/cwt $/ton
Grass 2nd cut hay 83.0 15.1 35.3 0.56 0.33 $11.33 $188.14
Baleage 1st cut 33.1 12.2 40.1 0.42 0.31 $10.82 $71.62
Per.warm season hay 84.0 11.6 46.1 0.35 0.14 $8.96 $150.50

The value of the forage above was calculated by totaling the sum value of energy, protein, calcium, and phosphorus contained in each forage.  The price per unit for each of these nutrients was obtained from the commodities below and calculated utilizing the Continue reading

Spotted Knapweed Still Lingers

Christine Gelley, AgNR Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

On a drive to Zanesville yesterday I was unhappy, but not surprised to see spotted knapweed continuing to put out fresh, pretty, flowers along the roadsides. To do my civic duty, we will talk about spotted knapweed once more before the growing season ends. Tell your friends in the neighborhood watch program to keep this plant from going to seed. Frost is not far off, maybe some will meet their demise by the dropping temperatures, but I would not bet money on it.

The color of the flower is similar to that of red clover, the growth habit is similar to chicory, and the flower shape is similar to Canada thistle and ironweed. Two other plants that could be confused this time of year are New England Aster and Billy Goat’s Weed.  However, the combination of growth habit, color, and Continue reading

What’s in your hay?

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

I don’t think that anyone would be surprised if I stated that getting hay made this spring was a real struggle.  Spring arrived with beef cows in some of the poorest body conditions that we have seen in years.  It is possible for an animal to starve to death with hay in front of them every day all winter.

My intent in this article is to simply illustrate the importance of getting your hay tested this year and to work with a nutritionist to establish a feeding program. Forages analyzed from this year indicate that quality is going to be an issue again.  Many of the first cutting samples from this year have protein levels in the single digits and total digestible nutrient (TDN) levels, in the 30s and 40s.  To put this into perspective straw has a crude protein level around 4 percent and TDN levels between 25-55.  To make matters worse we have an extremely low supply of forages and straw this year.

The following three tables focus mainly on the energy levels in forages and at three different stages of beef cow production.   In this scenario we have a 1200-pound cow and keeping dry matter intake (DMI) constant at 2 percent.  At each TDN level for forages analyzed it shows how much hay, corn and soybean meal it would take to meet these requirements.  These tables equate to requirements of a beef cow at 9 months gestation (Table 1), at calving (Table 2) and at Continue reading

Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Even alfalfa can accumulate toxic levels under severe drought stress!

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Livestock owners feeding forage need to keep in mind potential for some forage toxicity issues late this season. Nitrate and prussic acid poisoning potential associated with drought stress or frost are the main concerns to be aware of, and these are primarily an issue with annual forages and several weed species, but nitrates can be an issue even in perennial forages when they are drought stressed. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Nitrate Toxicity

Drought stressed forages can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. This can occur in many different forage species, including both annuals and perennials. In particular to Ohio this year, corn, oat and other small grains, sudangrass, and sorghum sudangrass, and many weed species including johnson grass can accumulate toxic levels of nitrates. Even alfalfa can accumulate toxic levels under . . .

Continue reading Be Aware of Late-Season Potential Forage Toxicities

Valuing Standing Oat or Spring Triticale Cover Crops for Feed

Mark Sulc, Extension Forage Agronomist, Dianne Shoemaker, Extension Field Specialist, Dairy, Bill Weiss, Extension Dairy Nutritionist, Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Ben Brown, Agriculture Risk Management

Oats planted in late summer and originally intended as a cover crop are also high quality and valuable feed.

Considering the current shortage of quality forages, and the abundance of cover crops that were planted in Ohio this summer, the question has been asked, “How do I set a price to buy a oat/spring triticale forage crop still growing in the field?”

In response we’ve assembled a spreadsheet based tool to help determine an appropriate value for standing oat and spring triticale cover crops that could be harvested as feed.

At best, how to value a standing oat/triticale summer seeded forage crop is challenging. Assigning an appropriate value includes the buyer and seller agreeing on the market value for the forage and then adjusting for Continue reading

Spring Forage; Looking Beyond Cereal Rye

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford Country, AgNR Educator

Winter wheat, barley, triticale, and cereal rye planted in the fall can produce high quality forage in the spring when harvest is in the boot stage. These forages are not equal though in there speed of maturity or quality in the soft dough growth stage. Rye grows and matures faster than the other cereals making it the ideal choice for double cropping with corn silage but is also the hardest to manage harvest timing on so that it is not over mature. After this past spring is it time to diversify our spring forage options to spread out harvest timing and risk?

Each of these crops has slightly different management strategies but many are the same. Planting date has been critical for maximizing tonnage with highest yields being achieved with planting dates 10 days sooner than the hessian fly free date but be cautious of hessian fly infestation and barley yellow dwarf virus. Timely planting leads to plants absorbing more nitrogen from last year’s crop improving tillering. Variety selection can also be an important factor in yield and rate of maturity. Most of the cereal rye planted is Continue reading

Posted in Forages

Heart of America Grazing Conference, October 29-30

Make plans now to attend the 2019 Heart of America Grazing Conference — Kicking the Hay Habit: Optimizing Profitability. The keynote speaker, Jim Gerrish, is an independent grazing lands consultant providing services to farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands across five continents. With a BS in Agronomy from the University of Illinois and MS in Crop Ecology from University of Kentucky, he served 22 years of beef-forage systems research and outreach while on the faculty of the University of Missouri-Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC). His research encompassed many aspects of plant-soil-animal interactions and provided the foundation for many of the basic principles of Management-intensive Grazing. He was also a co-founder of the very popular 3-day grazing management workshop at FSRC. Aside from his monthly column in The Stockman Grass-Farmer magazine for over 12 years, Gerrish has authored two books on grazing and ranch management – “Management-intensive Grazing: The Grassroots of Grass Farming” published in 2004 and “Kick the Hay Habit: A Practical Guide to Year-Round Grazing” published in 2010. Today, he is an instructor in the University of Idaho’s Lost River Grazing Academy held twice annually near Salmon, ID. He typically speaks at 40 to 50 producer-oriented workshops, seminars, and field days around the US and Canada each year.

To find the complete agenda, or to register online, go here: https://2019hoa.eventbrite.com

Harvesting Options for Summer Annuals

Mike Estadt, AgNR Educator, OSU Extension, Pickaway County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman early fall issue)

Summer annuals such as sudangrass or sudangrass X sorghum hybrids are likely near ready for harvest.

This month I drove across I-70 interstate to Kansas City, Missouri. Along the way I observed at least a dozen semi-trailers headed east with loads of high-quality hay. Some of this hay may have been delivered to Ohio where very little good hay has made this year. I also saw several fields planted with summer annuals where corn should have been.

Beef producers in Ohio who have planted summer annuals such as sudangrass or sudangrass X sorghum hybrids and pearl millet as a substitute for high-quality cool season grass hay should prepare for the immediate harvest beginning this month.

Most smaller beef operations are not set up for feeding silage so there are two options available. Green chopping and hay/baleage.

Green chopping may be an option for producers especially if Continue reading

Posted in Forages

Pricing Standing Forage in the Field

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Valuing a standing forage crop can be a challenge, especially when a variety of ‘cover crop’ species could be on the market this fall.

How to value a standing hay crop is challenging. Assigning an appropriate value includes the buyer and seller agreeing on the market value for the hay and then adjusting for harvest costs and other factors that contribute to the price of hay sold in the open market, some of which are challenging to quantify.

A new factsheet and Excel worksheet are available to help you arrive at a fair price. These resources consider just a single crop of forage that is ready to harvest as hay or haylage. The grower’s base price equals the price they could receive for the crop from the hay market less harvesting/storage/marketing costs. Hopefully, this covers production costs and generates a profit. During price negotiations, it must be recognized that Continue reading