Grazing Options for Supplementing Poor Quality Forages

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Morgan County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Many of us will be feeding poor quality hay again this winter, likely similar to last winter. When I mowed down hay over the weekend, the grass was past mature to the point that fescue had already dropped seeds and the tops were brown. Weeds were continuing to overtake the stand and I am not halfway done with first cutting. We have learned of many issues arising from feeding poor quality hay this past winter including lower body conditions, difficulty calving, not re-breeding, and even some cows starving to death with full stomachs. What can we do to avoid problems for this winter? One simple answer will be to add corn to the diet. Quite often, energy is the most limiting factor, maybe protein, maybe both. It is critical to take a forage test on your hay to determine what additional needs will be. Simply a few pounds of corn a day may work. Dr. Francis Fluharty recommended corn cracked into 3-4 pieces will maximize digestibility. When I supplement with corn, often I find a heavy sod and feed whole shell corn on the ground to cattle and they clean it up. If protein is limiting, protein tubs may help. Don’t forget that grinding hay will improve digestibility, but if protein and energy is too low, you still need to supplement.

We are still early enough in the year to consider Continue reading

There’s time to grow more feed!

Stan Smith, OSU Extension, Fairfield County and Allen Gahler, Extension Educator, Sandusky County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman summer issue)

Oats planted soon on available acres have plenty of time to become high quality feed!

It’s not often we talk about forage shortages and above normal precipitation in the same breath. Regardless, that’s exactly where we are now throughout Ohio. Over the past year while abundant rainfall may have allowed us to grow lots of forage, unfortunately, it seems the weather has seldom allowed us to harvest it as high-quality feed.

Since last fall the demand for quality forages has been on the increase. It began with a wet fall that forced us from pasture fields early. Followed by constantly muddy conditions, cattle were requiring more feed and energy than normal. At the same time, even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall of 2018, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were, yet again, expending more energy than normal to remain in their comfort zone. Then, as a cold late January 2019 evolved into February, in many cases mud had matted down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to require even more energy in the cold weather.

Reduced supplies of quality forages coupled with increased demand over the past year have led us to a perfect storm that’s resulted in the lowest inventory of hay in Ohio since the 2012 drought, and the 4th lowest in 70 years. The spring of 2019 weather didn’t Continue reading

Filling the Gap with Forages: Cover crop forage options on Prevented Planting acres

If you’re looking to harvest or graze quality forage from Prevented Planting acres yet this fall, or next spring, this is a “must see” video presentation!

Throughout this fast paced webinar recording, Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator in Wayne County, offers a wide variety of considerations for planting cover crops on Prevented Planting acres that can also double as harvest-able or grazeable forage for livestock.

Grazing Workshop to Focus on Forage Diversity and Grazing Efficiency

– John Kellis, ODA Grazing Management Specialist

Summer grazing paddocks with warm season grasses allow cool-season fescue pastures to be rested for strip grazing in late fall and winter.

Livestock producers are being invited to an important grazing workshop at Millstone Creek Farm near Hillsboro on Tuesday July 16th from 6:00 till 9:00 PM.  Tim and Sandy Shoemaker have been working with grazing specialists and wildlife professionals to develop a more efficient and diversified grazing operation since 2004.

The workshop will highlight the recent transition of the Shoemaker’s CRP filter strips to warm-season grass mixed pastures.  This will complete the final major piece of their Grazing Management Plan.  The Shoemakers established a rotational grazing system soon after they started their grazing operation some 15 years ago.  One goal Tim and Sandy set for their new operation was to be efficient as producers, and they integrated fall stockpiling of their fescue pastures to reduce the need to produce hay as supplemental feed for their Black Angus herd.  Adding the summer grazing paddocks will allow them to Continue reading

Pasture-Raised Livestock and Pasture Consultant Farm Tour

Both cattle and sheep will be observed on pasture, much like these fall lambing ewes that you see here on oats.

You’re invited to a pasture walk and tour at Bob Hendershot’s Windy Hill Farm east of Circleville on July 25. The walk will begin at 5 p.m. and will include a close-up look at his cattle and sheep grazing operation.

Hendershot began his career with the Soil Conservation Service (later changed to the Natural Resources Conservation Service or NRCS) as a soil scientist mapping soils for the soil survey program. He was promoted to a Conservation Agronomist and he and his young family moved to Circleville. He later was promoted to Resource Conservationist and finally State Grassland Conservationist in 1985.

Bob presently lives on the same pasture farm that his family moved Continue reading

Keeping Hay Fields, Hay . . . and Pasture Fields, Pasture

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Saturated soils with little cover create opportunities for weeds and lost production.

I find it hard to believe that it is already July. I was beginning to think we were stuck in April showers. I generally think of the 4th of July as the beginning of the second half of summer, but this year it seems more like the beginning. There is also a limited amount of corn that is knee-high. It’s an odd year, no one will argue with you about that.

There was finally a long enough break between rains for a lot of hay to get laid down in most of the state. That didn’t mean there were not challenges getting it dried. Some soils were so saturated that you would see wet tires cutting hay. When there is that much water on the soil surface and upper horizon, it’s hard to dry hay. Cutting the hay just a bit higher than normal and then tedding it can help. That little bit of extra Continue reading

Forage Focus: Woody Perennials and Invasive Weeds

In this edition of the Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits with Guernsey County ANR Educator Clif Little about pasture weed management. Below they discuss ways of controlling woody perennials such as Autumn Olive, Tree of Heave, Barberries Calie Pear, Crest Leaf and others.

Too much pasture? Clip it, hay it, or stockpile it for summer!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Do you stockpile for summer, clip or hay?

I cannot believe the weather. I have never seen a spring quite like this. After a long discussion recently with an old friend who is 79, he said he hadn’t either and we both agreed that we would rather not see another, but only because the weather didn’t repeat itself. We have gone from soggy wet pastures with forages that were hesitating to grow to runaway forage on wet or saturated soils.

I’m still an advocate for utilizing grazing first as the main means of forage management. The normal recommendation is to continue moving animals through the system until the first pasture or allotment is ready to be grazed again. Then go back to that first field and start over. The fields that are skipped can be used as Continue reading

Wet Pastures and Foot Rot

– Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Emeritus Extension Animal Scientist

Spring rains have filled the ponds and saturated the ground in many pastures. As the temperatures heat up, cattle will start to congregate around or in the ponds or other standing water. One of the challenges that cattle producers may face this summer is the occasional lame cow or yearling. “Foot rot” is a common cause of lameness in beef cattle on pastures. Foot rot is an infection that starts between the toes of the infected animal and usually is a result of the introduction of a bacteria through broken skin. The infection causes pain and the resulting lameness. The lameness can cause decreases in weight gain of young cattle, milk production decline of adult cows and lame bulls will be reluctant to breed.

Treatment of foot rot can be successful when the treatment is started early in the disease process. Most cases require the use of Continue reading

Forage Focus: Invasive Weeds in a Pasture

In this edition of the Forage Focus podcast, host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County, visits with Guernsey County ANR Educator Clif Little about pasture weed management. Below they discuss ways of controlling invasive weeds such as Japanese Stilt Grass, Spotted Knapweed, Canadian Thistle and many more.