Frost Seeding Clover: A Recipe for Success

– Chris D. Teutsch, S. Ray Smith, and Jimmy Henning, University of Kentucky

Figure 1. Clover and other legumes are an important part of sustainable grassland ecosystems. They form a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria in which nitrogen from the air into a plant available form, improve nutritive value, and help to alleviate tall fescue toxicosis. (Photo by Chris Teutsch)

Legumes are an essential part of a strong and healthy grassland ecosystems (Figure 1). They form a symbiotic relationship with Rhizobium bacteria in which the bacteria fix nitrogen from the air into a plant available form and share it with the legume. Clover also increases forage quality and quantity and helps to manage tall fescue toxicosis. In the past, the positive impact of clover on tall fescue toxicosis has always been thought to simply be a dilution effect, but new research from the USDA’s Forage Animal Production Unit in Lexington shows that compounds found in red clover can reverse vasoconstriction that is caused by the ergot alkaloids in toxic tall fescue. The primary compound found in red clover is a vasodilator called Biochanin A.

Clover stands in pastures thin overtime due to various factors and require reseeding every three to four years. There are several techniques for reintroducing clover into pastures including no-till seeding, minimum tillage, and frost seeding. Of these techniques, frost seeding requires the least amount of equipment and is the simplest to implement. Frost seeding is accomplished by broadcasting clover seed onto existing pastures or hayfields in late winter and allowing the Continue reading

U.S. Hay Production Declined 9 Percent in 2022

– James Mitchell, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Arkansas

Last week USDA-NASS published the 2022 Crop Production Summary. The report includes information about U.S. hay production, acreage, and yield. The report also includes data for December 1 hay stocks. The report splits the data into two categories, alfalfa and other hay. For producers in the southeast, other hay is the relevant production.

The hay marketing year starts in May and ends the following April. For example, the 2022-2023 hay marketing year began in May 2022 and will end in April 2023. May 1 hay stocks were tight, totaling 16.77 million tons or 7% lower year over year. May 1 stocks, combined with lower 2022 hay production, put hay supplies at the lowest level on record since the data began in 1974. The previous record low in hay supplies was Continue reading

Three things I am watching in 2023

Clifton Martin, OSU Extension Muskingum County

The Asian longhorned tick is a growing threat for livestock operations . Photo: Anna Pasternak, UK entomology grad student.

As we kickoff 2023 it has me thinking of what has been accomplished and what goals lie ahead. It’s a new year and a great time to think forward into what we might expect in the new year. Here are three things I am watching for in pastures and hayfields in 2023:

Asian Longhorned Tick

The Asian Longhorened Tick (ALHT) has been making slow but steady progress across pastures and fields from the Eastern Mid-Atlantic through the Appalachian regions and into Ohio. It has the potential to become a productivity-limiting factor in many operations if left ignored and the time to plan for it in your fields is now. This tick population is increasing and spreading around the eastern half of the United States and management of ticks is developing into a predominant limiting factor in more operations.  It could present a few management conundrums in your pasture. If you have sheep, goats, cattle, chickens, dogs, cats and if deer and raccoons roam about your property this is a tick that you should be watchful for and take Continue reading

Carefully Manage Each of the Forages You Have

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Grazing stalks allows needed deferment of pastures and is decent feed.

Whether we like it or not, weather has a significant impact on forages and forage-based systems and most life. I won’t revisit this year’s weather, except to just say that rainfall does quite often balance itself out. That doesn’t mean it would be the way we prefer it, but wet spells are usually eventually balanced out with dry spells and that is what happened in my neck of the woods this year. While the extremely dry autumn created one of the most perfect harvesting seasons we’ve seen in a while, it wasn’t as perfect for fall forage growth.

Dry weather kind of has a way of sneaking up on you. I was enjoying the ability to get some things done without interruptions of rain and realized at one point – hey, it’s getting pretty dry! October is normally still a decent forage growth month though the rate is certainly slower. When it is exceptionally dry new growth pretty much comes to a screeching halt and Continue reading

Consider Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance as a Risk Management Tool

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

The most recent drought monitor, released on October 27th, shows the majority of the United States dealing with drought or abnormally dry conditions. While I hope some of those regions received some much needed rain recently, I do think this presents an opportunity to discuss Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) Insurance. PRF insurance provides an opportunity for producers to purchase rainfall coverage for perennial forages used for pasture and / or hay production. James provided an introduction to PRF insurance in the April 11 and May 2 newsletters. Since James went through PRF insurance in detail back in the spring, I am just going to focus on three reminders for producers as they consider PRF insurance for the upcoming year.

PRF is a Single-Peril Index Insurance Product
Producers first need to understand that indemnities from PRF are not based on rainfall at their farm, but rather on actual and historical rainfall for a 0.25 degree latitude by 0.25 degree longitude grid, where their farm is located. Daily rainfall for each grid is collected through NOAA weather stations and Continue reading

Hay Quality 2022 . . . challenging!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Digestibility of low quality, long stem forage can be increased 25 to 30% by processing it before feeding.

In a year like this when, according to the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) estimates, barely half of Ohio’s first cutting hay harvest was completed by mid-June, it is apparent that Ohio cattlemen will again be faced with finding ways to make “feed” from forages that were harvested way past their prime.

As an example of the hay quality we are seeing, a recent forage analysis on some Fairfield County mixed grass hay that was mowed in mid-June and baled shortly after shows less than 7% crude protein and less than 40% TDN (total digestible nutrients) on a dry matter basis. I could tell you that’s not good feed, but perhaps a better way is to compare it to wheat straw. Book values I found for the feed nutrient content of wheat straw show a TDN of 43% and crude protein of 4.2% . . . not a lot different than the hay we tested. With so much of Ohio’s first cutting hay being made in late June and even into July this year, it creates a challenging feed quality situation we have experienced far too often in recent years!

Feed of the quality referenced in the forage sample analysis above and fed to cows as long stem hay, even when offered in unlimited amounts, simply will not satisfy the nutritional requirements of a cow in the third trimester of gestation or lactation. Without amendment, feeding this quality of forage results in cows with lesser body condition, poor quality colostrum, delayed return to estrus, lower conception rates, and Continue reading

Hay vs. Haylage: Is there a difference?

– Darren D. Henry, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Animal and Dairy Science Department – Tifton, GA

The question many are asking: hay or haylage?

Very often there is a gap that exists between an optimal weaning time and availability of cool season forages for grazing in the southeastern US. As summer is coming into full swing, it is important that producers are preparing for the winter months ahead. Whether a producer buys or makes conserved forage (hay, haylage, etc.), it is imperative that proactive actions are taken to ensure a sufficient supply of protein and energy for their cows during the winter. A question that many producers are asking themselves is, ‘hay or haylage?’

Feeding hay has been a staple throughout the winter for many producers who either do not plant cool season forages or for those that do plant cool season forages, but still need to supplement their cattle with extra forage. In the Southeast, with the unpredictable weather that we are up against, it can be a daunting task to decide when to cut hay, attempting to choose a week that our hay will not get rained on. When trying to bale hay at 10-15% moisture, a shower from the West can add a few days of drying and nutrient loss to an otherwise successful cutting of hay. With this in mind, many producers are considering rapping their cut forage with about 60% moisture and allowing that forage to ferment creating haylage.

After considering these possibilities, we designed an experiment to evaluate the difference between forage conserved as hay or haylage on organic matter intake and the total tract digestibility of nutrients in . . .

Continue reading Hay vs. Haylage: Is there a difference?

Feeding Frosted Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Sudex is one of the forages that can be toxic when frosted.

I am beginning to get questions about toxicities that can develop after forages are frosted. There is potential for some forage toxicities and other problems that can develop after a frost. Prussic acid poisoning and high nitrates are the main concern with a few specific annual forages and several weed species, but there is also an increased risk of bloat when grazing legumes after a frost.

Nitrate accumulation in frosted forages. Freezing damage slows down metabolism in all plants, and this might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually is not hazardous to grazing animals, but greenchop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send in a sample to a forage testing lab and request a nitrate test before grazing or feeding a forage after a frost.

Prussic Acid Toxicity

Several forage and weed species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues, or under drought conditions. Some labs provide prussic acid testing of forages (see a partial list at the end of this article). Sampling and shipping guidelines should be carefully followed because . . .

Continue reading Feeding Frosted Forages


Mark Sulc and Alyssa Essman, OSU Extension

Cressleaf groundsel can be toxic to livestock

Scout Forage Stands for Winter Annuals NOW. Last week Mark Loux reminded us to control cressleaf groundsel and other winter annual weeds now. If you haven’t read that article, go read it right now, Our Annual Article to Nag about Fall Herbicides and Cressleaf Groundsel, and read the other articles linked in that one.

Scouting hayfields and pastures and applying controls this month, especially in NEW FORAGE STANDS seeded this summer and early autumn, is absolutely critical to AVOID A NIGHTMARE NEXT SPRING.

JUST DO IT! We really don’t want to say next spring, “WE TOLD YOU SO LAST FALL” —that would bring us no joy at all and your regret will be painful if you don’t listen to . . .

Continue reading AVOID A NIGHTMARE NEXT SPRING!!!!!!!!

Johnsongrass; Feed or Weed?

Jordan Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Gallia County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman, Fall 2022)

Recently Christine Gelley wrote an article “Johnsongrass: Friend or Foe?”, it was an excellent article, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do so. But, I bet that many of you like me have noticed johnsongrass showing up in pasture and hay fields a lot more over the past few years and especially this year. Let me start by giving some history on johnsongrass.

Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is a competitive perennial warm-season grass that is native to the Mediterranean region. Johnsongrass seed was exported around the world to be primarily used to control erosion. It got its common name here in the United States from an Alabama plantation owner by the name of William Johnson, who used the seed in the 1840’s to plant on his river-bottom farm as a forage alternative and to help control water erosion.

Today, johnsongrass to many is now considered a weed and in many states is considered a noxious weed. In an article by Oklahoma State University “Johnsongrass in Pastures: Weed or Forage?” johnsongrass is known as the weed that we love to hate and hate to love. The reason it is a weed to many is that it reduces the yield and quality for crops that it grows in. But it also has some upsides to it as a forage because Continue reading