Frost Seeding Tips

– Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, retired, Monroe County

Round bales had been fed here and the area was very rough from unusually wet conditions. Paddock before being lightly disc and drug one morning when the overnight temperature was 24°F.

Last week we discussed how this year many producers have more than normal amounts of pasture that has been moderately to heavily tracked-up by livestock due to the extensive wet soil conditions. Many of these pastures can use a little help in recovering by adding grass and or clover seed to these fields. Spending a few minutes to calibrate your seeder will help you get the desired amount of seed on the pasture. This will be particularly helpful if you have large areas needing seeded.

Calibrating a hand held seeder or broadcast seeder mounted on an ATV is not too hard to do. You will need a scale to weigh the seed, a few plastic bags, a measuring wheel or tape measure and maybe a Continue reading

The Role of Soil Health in Water-Logged Fields

Erika Lyon, OSU Extension Educator, Jefferson & Harrison Counties (originally published in the Expo 2019 issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

Healthy soils = productive pasture. And, water-logged soils that resulted in mud is just one component that might have led to decline in soil health in 2018!

It was just a little while ago when we wanted the rain to stop and the temperatures to drop below freezing to end the accumulation of mud in our fields. We got our wish later in January, but what will be the long-term implications of these muddy fields?

First, we need to understand what created these water-logged conditions in the first place. While excessive rainfall certainly has a role to play, the health of the soil affected will determine how long mud persists and whether forages will be able to recover in the following spring.

Before going into what soil health is, let’s explore what soil is. Soil is not just made up of “dirt.” It consists of mineral material derived from the bedrock below, pore space filled with air and water, and organic matter generated by microbes and macro-invertebrates. Healthy soils will have all of the aforementioned components and function as a living ecosystem – if a component is missing or one occurs in excess, we will begin to see Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Mud Damaged Pastures: We Gotta Play the Hand We’re Dealt

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Agriculture Educator, Monroe County

Few Ohio cattlemen are without areas like this that must be addressed after soil conditions permit this spring.

Winter always creates challenges for livestock producers. Keeping ice out of water buckets and off our water troughs can be a challenge, especially with sub-zero temperatures like we had a few weeks ago. Of course that did provide solid ground for a few days, something we have not seen much of this fall or winter. Pastures and feeding areas have really taken a “hit” this year causing mud to sprout and grow everywhere it seems. Every livestock owner I have talked to the last few weeks has the same situation, more mud and more tracked-up fields than they can ever recall before.

Mud increases stress for the livestock and the farm manager. The way you manage, or don’t manage, muddy conditions affects your livestock’s performance and may have a big impact on damaging forage plants in your pastures. Multiple research studies have shown that, when Continue reading

Grass Tetany –Start Preventive Measures Now

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL); Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Beef Cattle Specialist, University of Kentucky; Dr. Cynthia Gaskill, Veterinary Toxicologist, University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

What is “Grass Tetany” and when are cattle most likely to have it? Grass tetany, also known as spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, winter tetany or lactation tetany, is a condition due to a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the blood. The disorder in adult cattle begins with muscle spasms and quickly progresses to convulsions, respiratory difficulty, and death. The amount of magnesium in the blood is completely dependent on the amount obtained from the daily diet. Deficiencies occur most often in beef cows when they are nursing a calf and grazing young, green grass in early spring. Fast-growing spring pastures are high in potassium (K+) and nitrogen (N+) and low in magnesium (Mg++) and sodium (Na+). Affected cattle often have low blood calcium concurrently. Fall calving cows may also experience grass tetany during the winter months.

Will Feeding Plain White Salt to Cows Prevent Grass Tetany? This claim is shared every spring and, indeed, there are producers who do not have grass tetany that only feed salt. How can that be? Simply put, for those few lucky producers, the minerals available in their soils and forages are enough to meet the needs of their cows. A number of complex factors contribute to Continue reading

Gearing Up for Spotted Knapweed Control

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

It is never too early to think about weed control in Ohio pastures. While it may only be February, there are steps you can take to get prepared for combatting weeds in 2019.

Extension Educators across Ohio are actively training new and experienced private and commercial pesticide applicators on integrated pest management, safe handling of pesticides, responsible record keeping, and new rules and regulations. To learn more about training and recertification opportunities for pesticide applicators, visit

Those of us on the Eastern side of Ohio are gearing up to address a new aggressive weed in our pastures, CRP land, and roadsides. Spotted knapweed has been creeping its way into our landscapes over the past few summers. Along with traditional education about pasture management and weed control, additional help is available for landowners who spot spotted knapweed on their property.

The Spotted Knapweed Treatment for Ohio Producers (STOP) Project is funded through the Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), which is administered by the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). Landowners of Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Frost Seeding Now Can Improve Pasture and Hay Stands

Garth Ruff and Chris Penrose, OSU Extension AgNR Educators

With all of the rain we have had, hay fields, and pastures may need re-seeded in areas that have been torn up. There is a method called “frost seeding” where you apply seed to the ground and the freezing and thawing of the soil in February and early March will provide seed to soil contact allowing germination of the seed. There is a little more risk of the seed not germinating than a traditional seeding, but the cost and time is a lot less.

Pasture and hay fields that have thin stands and exposed soil, especially fields that have been damaged from the wet weather are good candidates for frost seeding. The seed that works best is clover. Medium red clover is the cheapest seed and works well. Other clovers will also work, and even some grass seeds.

Simply apply 3-10#/acre of seed and let Mother Nature take her course. Some steps to improve germination include Continue reading

Forage Varieties Matter

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension (originally published in Progressive Forage magazine)

At A Glance:

When you are in the market for forage seed, get prepared before you drive to the co-op to shop. Variety is an influential factor in the success or failure of your forage stand.

Species vs. Variety vs. Cultivar

If you are not familiar with binomial nomenclature (the international language for naming plants), lets clarify the differences between species, variety, and cultivar, which are all terms you will encounter during seed selection.


L. H. Bailey, the author of the Manual of Cultivated Plants, defines species as “a kind of plant or animal distinctly different from other kinds in marked or essential features that has good characters of identification, and may be assumed to represent in nature a continuing succession of individuals from generation to generation.”

So essentially, the main traits of plants within the same species group will Continue reading

The Winter of 2019; A case for stockpiled forages and feeding pads!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I wasn’t going to talk about the weather in this issue. I will say though, that I believe most livestock producers are really appreciating any rock pads that they have built. It’s one thing to have snow on top of ice, but in much of the state, that was over the top of mud. I also was a bit envious of the northern portion of the state that I’ve referred to before as being in semi permafrost, until the polar vortex hit.

Heavy forage cover helps to reduce negative impact on soils, but even that has met its challenges this winter. (Photo: Chris Hollen)

I really don’t mind mud occasionally, it’s certainly expected in the livestock business, but not for weeks or months on end. Most producers are done grazing for the winter or their pasture wishes they were done. The impact of a bunch of cows on water saturated soils can be quite disturbing, no pun intended.

Areas with heavy vegetation from stockpiled forage are also barely able to hold up, even moving animals every day. If there is not much vegetation left, then the chance of it being “plowed” is Continue reading

Forage Focus: Soil Health Concerns After a Year of Waterlogged Pastures and Hay Fields

In this month’s Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, talks with Jefferson/Harrison County ANR Educator Erika Lyon about soil health, especially as it relates to the damage down to Ohio’s forage fields during a year of constantly waterlogged and trampled soils.

Winter Grazing Stockpiled Forages, and Frost Seeding

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Extreme frost-heaving of the soil. (Photo: NRCS Victor Shelton)

It is 45 degrees outside today as I write this article. I normally appreciate mild winter weather, but when it rains, and temperatures remain above freezing, except for a frivolous teasing of heavy frosts, a pasture can get pretty ugly. I for one wouldn’t mind a little free concrete right now, you know, frozen ground. For many of us, 2018 was an extremely wet year. Some parts of Indiana, including where I live ended up with over 60 inches of rain. That makes me think of a Clint Eastwood quote, “If you think it’s going to rain, it will.”

Strip grazing stockpiled forage is usually a delight. Of course, it is best accomplished under dry or frozen conditions. If the pasture of stockpile is heavy (at least 3,000 pounds of dry matter per acre), then it can often be grazed even under fairly wet conditions without too much long-term damage but, you will need to have a watchful eye.

Under wet conditions make sure you are providing sufficient Continue reading