Late Planted Corn Silage Yields Value

Garth Ruff, OSU Extension Henry County; Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County; Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Sandusky County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Teff, Italian ryegrass, oats and corn were included with 5 other ‘covers’ in this study

The combination of poor quality hay made in 2018, historic alfalfa winter kill, and excessive rainfall across most of Ohio in the spring of 2019 created a large need for high quality alternative forage sources this past year. Record amounts of prevented plant acreage across the state created an opportunity to grow forages on traditionally row cropped acres. As crop and livestock producers planted a variety of forage and cover crop species to supplement feed stocks, it was recognized that there was also a need to gather forage analysis results from these fields in order for growers to properly value and feed the forage grown. The following data are from cover crop forage samples that were submitted by farmers and from OARDC research stations where annual forages were grown as part of the 2019 Ohio State eFields program available at your local extension office or

A total of 208 forage samples were collected by farmers and county Extension Educators and sent to a lab for wet chemistry feed analysis. With the variety and mixes of species grown, wet chemistry analysis was chosen for increased accuracy of nutrient composition. Near Infra-Red (NIR) analysis often cost less per sample, it is best utilized when evaluating alfalfa or frequently grown monoculture grass hay. Full trial results by location, more quality factors, and samples with less than 3 locations can be found at .

The following results in Table 1 show the Continue reading

Applications for CRP Grasslands Being Accepted

Jason Jones, Ohio Grasslands & Grazing Coordinator, Pheasants Forever, Inc. and Quail Forever

Interested farmers may now submit applications to enroll acres into the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grasslands. The signup period for 2020 will run from March 16 through May 15.

Through CRP Grasslands, a participant can maintain common practices such as grazing, haying, mowing, and harvesting seed from the enrolled acres. Practices must be suitable for maintaining the grass, legume, and forb community. Some restrictions or harvest delays remain in effect for the primary nesting season of grassland nesting birds.

An annual rental payment is calculated for the participant’s offered acres, which is based on a pastureland rate. Rates are 75% of the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2018 pasture cash rent estimate. Landowners may also receive up to 50 percent cost-share for establishing approved conservation practices, in some cases. A CRP Grasslands contract can be either 10 or 15 years. Farm Service Agency (FSA) will rank applications nationally, using several site-specific metrics, including current vegetative cover and overall environmental benefits of the project.

The 2018 Farm Bill has made available to enroll up to 2 million acres for CRP Grasslands nationwide. CRP is one of USDA’s largest and most successful conservation programs. For more information or to enroll in CRP Grasslands, contact your local FSA county office.

Grass Cover Crops; Bargain Feed or Bedding?

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Crawford County, AgNR Educator and Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer on-line)

With somewhere around 1.5 million acres that were not planted last spring to the intended crops of corn or soybeans due to the extraordinary weather, today, Ohio farmers likely have more acres of cereal rye planted for cover than at any time in previous history. At the same time, cattlemen and livestock owners are facing forage shortages that rival the drought of 2012. Adding insult to injury, the inventory of straw bedding is similarly very short, and will likely remain so until at least mid-summer.

With the opportunity for newly harvested forages still 2 or 3 months away, and straw even further out, perhaps it’s time to take a look at the opportunity for realizing either feed or bedding from cereal rye, or maybe even one of our other biennial grass crops.

Winter wheat, barley, triticale, and cereal rye planted in the fall can produce high quality forage in the spring when harvested in the boot stage. These forages are not equal though, in their speed of maturity or quality in the soft dough growth stage. Rye grows and matures faster than Continue reading

Why Does Particle Size Impact the Digestibility of Forages?

For at least the past dozen years we’ve shared how anything that decreases the particle size of forages also increases the surface area for the bacteria to attach, thus speeding up the rate of digestion and allowing the beef animal to receive more total nutrients in a shorter time. In short, processing long stem forages into smaller pieces increase their digestibility.

During the recent Ohio Beef Cow/Calf Workshop, Dr. Francis Fluharty explained exactly why and how the digestibility of long stem forages can be improved by one third or more by simply processing them, or perhaps baling them with a ‘chop cut’ baler. Embedded below, in an 8 minute excerpt from that presentation on January 30, 2020, is Fluharty’s explanation.

Forage Focus: Fungal Growth in Stored Forages

In this edition of Forage focus host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits Harrison County for an interview with Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator for Agriculture and Natural Resources in Jefferson & Harrison Counties. Erika and Christine address concerns about fungal growth in stored forages.

Moldy hay is a common problem associated with the moisture content of hay at baling and in storage. It is also an issue in stored grains. Erika introduces us to the biology of fungi and symptoms that indicate a problem with fungal ingestion in ruminant livestock. Some important points and the Continue reading

Can annuals on cropland extend the grazing season?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Can annuals on cropland extend the grazing season?

We got a bit too far into numbers and math last issue, but understanding grazing math is important and powerful information and can certainly impact your bottom line. You certainly don’t want to wait until this time of year to find that you don’t have enough winter feed so we must constantly be looking ahead.

There is more than one way to reduce the amount of hay or winter feed needed and we probably need to take advantage of them. We’ve discussed some of these before, such as the use of crop residue, cover crops, annuals of all kinds and stockpile, of course. I can’t stress enough that this does require thinking ahead.

The biggest advantage, which can produce nice dividends, is getting livestock off pastures in late summer and keeping them off as long as possible. You are able to do this IF you have somewhere else you can go with the livestock. This doesn’t mean letting them “accidently” roam over onto your neighbor’s farm, but honestly that could be a viable option . . . with Continue reading

Mid-Ohio Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seeds for Success scheduled for March 14

Includes 4 sessions focused on forages, fencing, grazing and livestock!

Do own a few acres that you want to be productive but you’re not sure what to do with it?

Do you have a passion for farming and turning your piece of this wonderful earth into a food producing oasis?

Do you own land or forest that you’re not quite sure how to manage?

Do you want livestock but have questions about fencing and forage?

Do you raise or produce products that you would like to market and sell off your farm but you’re not sure how to make it successful?

If you’re asking yourself these questions you should think about attending the 2020 Small Farm Conference – Sowing Seed for Success. Four of the sessions will focus on forages, fencing, grazing and livestock.

The conference is being held on March 14th from 8:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Mansfield OSU Campus in Ovalwood Hall. The campus is just minutes from I-71 and US Rt 30.

Please see this brochure or visit for class and registration details, or call Carrie Jagger at OSU Extension Morrow County (419-947-1070).

10 Common Questions Producers Have When Starting Grazing Livestock

During this issue of Forage Focus with Christine Gelley, Noble County Extension Educator, and Will Hamman, Pike County Extension Educator, the discussion will revolve around the ten most common questions that producers have when starting with grazing livestock.

Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council Conference

“Foraging for Profit” is the theme of the 2020 OFGC annual conference!

The Ohio Forages and Grasslands Council Annual Conference will be held February 21, 2020 from 8:30 am to 3:00 pm at the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg, Ohio. The program theme is “Foraging For Profit”.  The Keynote speaker will be Jimmy Henning, Forage Professor, University of KY, who will discuss “Making Good Round Bale Silage” based on extensive research and experience in Kentucky.  Dr. Henning will also be speaking on a second topic, “The Clover Dilemma-Do I have enough to withhold N Fertility.”

Another featured speaker to address new fencing technologies is Dr. Tony Parker, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Animal Science, speaking on: “Current and Future Technologies For Grazing Animal Management.”

Several producer talks will also be presented which includes Continue reading

Choosing a Supplement for the Cowherd

– Jeff Lehmkuhler, PhD, PAS, Beef Extension Specialist, University of Kentucky

The spring of 2019 delayed hay harvest in many parts of the state. This delay resulted in much of the hay being harvested at mature stages. Fescue was in full flower to soft-dough stage or even more mature in some cases. Mature forages have greater cell wall and lower digestibility.

I tried to demonstrate the impact of late cutting on feed value by clipping non-fertilized fescue plants the 3rd week in June. These plants were over three feet tall when I cut them. I proceeded to separate the bottom leaves, stem and seed head for yield and quality. The stem and seed head represented approximately 50% of the biomass. The stem had already matured to the point that it was tan in color. The leaves comprised the remaining 50% of the biomass and contained 10% crude protein and a calculated TDN of 54%. The stem itself was only 3.1% crude protein with a TDN of 45%.

Let me give you a reference to better relate the fescue stem quality (about half the biomass). As we all know, wheat straw is the aftermath from harvesting the grain. Wheat harvest often occurs in late June through July. Did you catch that? The book values for crude protein and TDN of wheat straw are 3.6% and 43%, respectively. Yes, that stem fraction on the hay cut in late June is similar in quality to straw! I know we can’t Continue reading