Make Plans for How to Adapt for Changes in Weather

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Quality looking fall forage waiting to go dormant. Once dormant it can be grazed with less harm to energy reserves.

I mentioned last month that there are still plenty of good growing days left this fall and they need to be taken advantage of. One of the first things to do to make sure you obtain as much plant growth as possible, especially with perennial forages, is to stop grazing forages that will continue to grow for a while, especially forages that will stockpile like tall fescue. Now, I don’t think anyone would’ve predicted it would be almost 70 degrees the day before Halloween. I remember quite well going Trick-or-Treating as a kid with snow on the ground a few times. It’s not the same weather pattern these days, that’s for sure.

Whether you believe in global warming or not is a deeper subject than I really want to get into in one of these articles, but it’s not hard to see though that we are in a warmer trend than four or five decades ago. I read an article recently that showed photos of cycling races over several decades. Clips from the 1980’s showed trees with bare to pretty much leaf-less limbs. Most recent photos showed trees covered with leaves and spring flowers. Pictures don’t lie.

You want to plan for how Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Now is a Great Time to Manage Fescue

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

If fescue is a problem on your farm, now is a great time to get it under control. I think it is good to start off talking about why it is a problem, how did it get to be a problem, are there some redeeming qualities, and finally, how to get it under control if it is a problem.

Why it is a problem?

If you have “infected” fescue, animals may develop health problems and result in reduced performance. This is caused by a microscopic fungus (endophyte) in the plant that produces alkaloids and problems for animals. Horses can have prolonged pregnancies, little milk production, abortions, and other problems. Ruminants can have hoof loss, increases body temperatures, rough hair coats or fleeces, and other internal issues.

How did it get to be a problem?

Tall fescue (especially Kentucky 31) was quickly recognized in the 1940’s for its conservation qualities of establishing on poor soils and holding the soil. In addition, it was recognized for the year-round grazing value. By 1946, Kentucky growers were harvesting 4,000,000 pounds of seed per year, so a lot was planted.

If you do not want fescue on your farm, the problem of having it happens for a couple reasons. First, infected fescue is Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Be Careful Grazing the Green This Fall

– Sean Kelly, South Dakota State University Extension

With fall grazing upon us, some areas of the Midwest and Central Plains have been blessed with plenty of precipitation this year and other areas are still experiencing drought conditions. Regardless of where your ranch is located, a rancher must be very careful when grazing the fall green up of cool season grasses.

Figure 1. Warm season and cool season growth curves. Source: South Dakota Grassland Coalition Healthy Grasslands.

Cool season grasses have two growing seasons (Figure 1). They grow in the spring and early summer and then get another growth spurt in the fall. Warm season grasses grow later in the season during the summer and late summer and do not get another green up in the fall of the year.

Extreme diligence must be taken not to overgraze during the fall green up of cool season grasses. During the fall green up, cool season grasses are Continue reading

Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. 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.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost Continue reading

Despite a Hay Making Season to Forget, Options Remain!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

I know I’ve shared this story before, but considering the weather most of Ohio experienced, it’s appropriate to tell it again. Dad was a mechanic for a local farm implement dealer. Once while out on a service call in mid-summer he asked the farmer if he’d gotten his first cutting hay made. The response – in a deep German accent – was, “Yes, it got made . . . but it rained so much I never got it baled.”

Despite that being the case in many parts again this year, we still have an abundance of feedstuffs available that will maintain beef cows efficiently when managed properly. With Ohio farmers harvesting more than 3 million acres of corn this year, a brood cow’s feed supply could easily be extended by utilizing crop residue. Corn residue is practical for feeding dry, gestating beef cows in mid gestation providing they have average or better body condition. Plus, it’s also the perfect crop to utilize during the time Continue reading

Do You Have 100 Days of Grazing Still Ahead?

Mark Landefeld, OSU Agriculture Educator, Monroe County (originally published in Farm & Dairy)

As we move into the fall season here in September, how much longer will your livestock be able to graze forage from your hay and pasture fields? Have you prepared stockpiled forages? Are you able to utilize your livestock to take that last growth of forage off your hay fields rather than using equipment?  Not using equipment to make a last cutting of hay, not having the livestock in pasture fields right now and not feeding hay for a while yet seems to be a winning combination all the way around.

Everyone’s situation is different and many producers are not able to get livestock to every hay field. Nevertheless, where you can use livestock to harvest forage from hay fields, production costs can be reduced. Producers who have not been doing this should try using their livestock, not the equipment to make later cuttings of hay and this last cutting everyone wants to get off in late September and  October. This allows pasture fields and stockpiling areas to grow the maximum amount of forage before killing frosts arrive. I believe this is one of the best opportunities livestock producers have to reduce costs and make more profit year after year. There are some limitations and guidelines producers should consider when doing this and Continue reading

It’s time to grow forage, take inventory, and use it efficiently

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Allocating out forages and strip grazing them can greatly improve the efficiency of the forage.

Fall is here and it means that our perennial forages are starting to think about taking a siesta. You will want to do three things this time of year: grow as much forage as you can prior to plants going dormant, be as efficient as you can with what you have to graze, and take inventory on how much winter feed you have on hand.

There are still plenty of good growing days left this fall and they need to be taken advantage of. One of the first things to do to make sure you obtain as much growth as possible, especially with perennial forages, is to stop grazing forages that can and will Continue reading

Beef and ‘Bobs’ – Maximize Cattle Production and Help Bobwhites on Your Land

– Nick Schell, Wildlife Biologist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Bobwhites seek brushy habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures, and old fields.

You’re probably familiar with the northern bobwhite and its decline. The bobwhite, or what many of us call quail, has seen its population dip by more than 80 percent across large sections of its range during the past 60 years.

Farmers can greatly help the species with a few tweaks to their cattle operations.

Why Are Bobwhites in Decline?

Bobwhites are an “edge” species, meaning they seek brushy habitat where crop fields intersect with woodlands, pastures, and old fields. But this type of habitat is Continue reading

Spotted Knapweed; a weed quickly becoming a growing concern!

This month on Forage Focus host Christine Gelley, an extension Educator with Ohio State University Extension Ag & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits with guest Clifton Martin, ANR Educator for Muskingum County, and talks about Spotted Knapweed, an invasive perennial weed that is quickly gaining ground in Southeast Ohio. It’s important for landscape preservation that residents learn how to identify Spotted Knapweed and begin taking steps to control it.

Posted in Pasture

Biennial and Perennial Weed Control is Best in the Fall

– Dwight Lingenfelter, Extension Associate, Weed Science, Penn State and William S. Curran,Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Weed Science, Penn State

Problem weeds in a pasture setting. (Source: Penn State Extension)

Fall is an excellent time to manage biennial and perennial weeds. In particular, biennials such as common burdock, wild carrot, and bull, musk, and plumeless thistles are much easier to kill while they are in the rosette stage of growth, prior to surviving a winter. Once biennials start growth in the spring they rapidly develop with the goal of reproducing and it becomes more difficult to control them.

As you have heard many times before, late summer and fall is the best time to control most perennials with a systemic herbicide they move into root systems allowing better control. In general, the application window runs from early September through October depending on your location and what weeds you are targeting. Applications to perennial species like horsenettle, smooth groundcherry, and woody species like multiflora rose should be on the Continue reading

Posted in Pasture