Approaches for Reestablishing Hay Feeding Areas

– Chris Teutsch, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Figure 1. Excessive rainfall and high livestock concentration in and around hay feeding areas has resulted in almost complete disturbance.

Wet conditions this winter have resulted in almost complete disturbance in and around hay feeding areas. Even well-designed hay feeding pads will have significant damage surrounding the pad where animals enter and leave. These highly disturbed areas create perfect growing conditions for summer annual weeds like spiny pigweed and cockle bur. Their growth is stimulated be lack of competition from a healthy and vigorous sod and the high fertility from the concentrated area of dung, urine and rotting hay. The objective of this article is to outline approached for dealing with these areas.

Approach I: Planting cool-season grasses and legumes

The first strategy is to seed cool-season grasses or a mixture of grasses and legumes in the spring. While this commonly done, results are usually less than spectacular in most years. This is due to several reasons. The first is that seedings are normally delayed until late spring or early summer. This does not allow adequate time for the seedlings to develop a large enough root system to sustain them through a hot and often dry summer. The second reason is that 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.

Are Genetics the Key to Dealing with Fescue Toxicosis?

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman, Expo 2020 issue)

One of the sessions that I attended during the American Forage and Grassland Council at the beginning of 2020 explored the possibility of identifying genetic markers in cattle for tolerance of the endophytic fungus that lives within the KY-31 tall fescue forage, which is the most prominent pasture grass in our region. This endophyte provides survival benefits to the plant but causes vascular constriction in the animals that can cause mild to severe symptoms and overall reduced productivity.

For decades forage managers and scientists have been working on ways to mitigate the impacts of this endophyte on livestock production. Most successes have come from the forage management side rather than the livestock side. We suggest dilution with other types of forage, rotational grazing, and conversion to novel- endophyte fescues (those containing an endophyte that benefits the plant, without harming the grazing animal).

From observation and record keeping, we know that Continue reading

Managing Mud Season

Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension, Perry County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

This is not a new topic or an issue that we haven’t seen before.  But this past year has really been a challenge for ruminants.  In a normal year mud season was early fall, then freeze in the winter and then reappear in March.  This year it started after last September’s dry weather, and since then it’s been mud season.  This has made feeding forages and maintaining pastures very difficult.  To further compound the problem last year’s first cutting hay was of very low quality.  I hope that you have taken forage samples and are maintaining body condition scores in preparation for the newborns arriving soon if not already.

Not only is the mud situation bad for our pastures and feeding areas, it also increases the nutrient need for our livestock.  Reports have indicated that cattle in muddy conditions may require 30% more net energy for maintenance.  Shallow depths of mud (4-8”) can reduce feed intake 5-15% and when mud is 12-24” deep, feed intake can be reduced by 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

Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

– Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students and Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animals in livestock production systems that include other small ruminants such as young calves and sheep.

In this latest Ag-note, Animal Sciences students Natassaja Boham, Makenzie Doherty, and Jordan Johnson highlight a unique ruminant species (pseudo ruminant that is) that can be used in any livestock operation as a means of control for predators. As Ohio legislation begins to reassess the status of the coyote in terms of being a fur-bearing animal, as a result producers may be limited in how they may be able to trap these predators, producers may be forced to find alternative means to manage this controversial wildlife livestock interaction.

The llama, not to be mistaken with the alpaca, is a large framed, cloven hoofed pseudo ruminant (3 chambered stomach) that originates from South America. Due to their size and natural ‘flocking’ instinct, llamas have proven to be beneficial as a guard animal in livestock production systems, especially with small ruminants. Due to their size alone, llamas pose as a threat to in-coming predators. Llamas have been shown to be most effective against canine species such as coyotes, red fox, wolves, and of course, the domestic dog.

When thinking of llamas, some may remember . . .

Continue reading Use of Guard Llamas in an Integrated Predator Control System

When to start grazing: Don’t rush it!

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Ag and Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in the Ohio Farmer online)

Stockpiled fescue can be an excellent place to accomplish early turnout, and begin calving.

One goal I have had with livestock grazing over the years is to start as soon as I can. I put spring calving cows on stockpiled grass in early March to calve with the hope of not having to feed any more hay. Many years this works and some years it does not. The best I have been able to do over the years is to do a rapid grazing of paddocks that are starting to grow that were not grazed close last fall or during the winter. I would then hope that by the time I went through the paddocks, the spring flush of growth was well underway.

If the winter continues into spring like the way it began, I suggest we don’t rush things as we have a couple issues that could be going on. First, growth may be slow this spring, and second, many pastures have sustained abnormal damage this winter from the wet conditions.

As mentioned, if you have fields that were not grazed in the late fall or over the winter and are in good shape, you may be able to do a fast rotation through them when growth allows it. However, if fields are not in good shape and growth is just starting, waiting is a better option. Grass starts growing from the roots and needs enough leaf surface to Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Are your grazing animals in balance with your forages?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Are the grazing livestock in balance with the forages present?

This time of year, especially after you have shifted from grazing to fed feed such as hay or balage, you might start wondering why you have the number of livestock that you have. Life is short, some animals just need to grow some wheels. I said it recently, but I’ll quote the late Gearld Fry again, “If you cull the ten percent you should be culling, the herd that’s left is just that much better.”

It’s probably a good thing to question the number of grazing livestock you have, especially when you are feeding them stored and/or bought feed. I was at a meeting recently and was asked a familiar question about how many acres you need to have per cow. That is a question that can’t be answered quickly, at least not accurately.

What does the question on “acres per cow” have to do with winter feeding? It’s important if you care about cow cost and inputs. Winter feed costs usually make up the majority of annual maintenance expenses of keeping a cow. If you have enough forage available, you have potential to Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

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.