Grass Awns Can Cause Significant Medical Problems to Animals

Tim McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Because foxtail awn are shaped similar to a lawn dart, they can become lodged somewhere in a grazing animal and medical or surgical care may be required in order to remove it safely.

It seems like foxtail grass has taken over every pasture and hay field in Ohio in 2019. My good friend and Extension colleague, Clif Martin, wrote an excellent article detailing “How to Fight Foxtail in Forages” in the October 3rd, 2019 All About Grazing column in Farm and Dairy. I highly recommend you review this article to learn strategies to manage this weed. If his article is not enough to get you motivated, then hopefully this article will.

Foxtail is not only a weed competitor and invader of your hay and pasture fields, but it also can cause some significant medical problems for grazing livestock, horses and companion animals. Take a close look at the picture of a foxtail awn. It is very tiny as you can see in comparison to the dime placed for reference. Note that its shape is similar to a lawn dart, which means that it can only travel in one direction, point first. Depending on what species variety of foxtail grass present, this places the seed heads with grass awns very close to the feet, mouth, ears, eyes and nostrils of grazing animals, livestock guard dogs, and horses as they move through fields either walking, running or grazing. That puts these species of animals at risk for Continue reading

Forages and Foxtail

– Clif Martin, OSU Extension Muskingum County (This article first appeared in Farm and Dairy)

Foxtail can easily invade bare spots in pasture and hay fields. Photo: Ohio State

Cool nights and pleasant warm days leave me thinking I can accomplish just about anything.  I may get so overconfident I think I can eliminate foxtail.

There are a handful of weeds out there that are regular offenders in hay and pastures and foxtail is one of them.  In the world of Extension topics, I can count on foxtail questions every fall and through winter into spring as animals begin to reject hay.  It comes in three forms: giant, green and yellow. Foxtails readily grow and are opportunistic colonizers of bare spaces.  They will creep into your pastures, your hayfields, soybean fields, lawns and field edges where there is an opportunity.  They are summer annuals and thrive by the ‘live fast and die hard’ model which means they produce a lot of seed, spread rapidly, die in the fall and return next year.  The foxtails are infamous for seeds that get caught in the gums of livestock which leads to animals rejecting feed and possibly getting infections in the mouth.

As a grass, they are easily overlooked before they enter the reproductive phase and set a seed head.  The vegetation itself is fine, but it is the seed head that causes all the trouble.  In the case of giant foxtail, I learned to easily recognize it as the plant I could walk out into a field and shake hands with.  That sets it apart from most other grasses in shape and form.  The seed head is Continue reading

A Diversified Grazing Plan Works Best When Mother Nature Isn’t Cooperating

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Fall planted oats and brassicas can provide be excellent feed

I’ve heard several people mentioning lately that they are glad that this season is about over. This is especially true with corn and soybean producers. It certainly has been a very unusual year.

None of us need a reminder of the spring, but most areas of Indiana started out and remained wet for a very extended period which delayed or prevented row crop planting and created lots of challenges for pasture and hay.

Some areas just kept wet enough to keep you out of the fields while others remained saturated from excessive amounts of rain. I’ve now exceeded my 2018 rainfall of 61 inches and the year is not over yet.

Surprisingly, even with all the rain, there was still a Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Reducing Pasture Damage During Winter Feeding

– Jessica A. Williamson, Ph.D., Penn State Extension Forage Specialist

Sacrifice pastures allow livestock to be confined to one area of the farm during winter feeding to help to reduce pasture damage to all other pastures on the operation. (Credit: Jessica Williamson)

There is not a “one size fits all” answer to reducing pasture damage during winter feeding. Each individual producer should analyze his or her operation and determine if there are small steps that they can take to reduce the damage incurred annually while feeding in the winter.

1. Create a sacrifice pasture or lot.

By designating one area on a farm that has the purpose of being utilized during undesirable weather conditions, this saves the other pastures from getting damaged. Feed your stored feedstuffs only in the designated sacrifice areas during the late fall, winter and early spring – or until your pastures have acquired enough growth in the spring to be grazed.

2. Split your sacrifice area into 2 or more sections.

This further allows for control over where your livestock can be during Continue reading

Winter Annual Grazing Plots

Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

Food plot with purple top turnips that are suitable for wildlife, or livestock! Photo by Clif Little, Ohio State University Extension.

Some people take great pride in providing superior forage for grazing animals in the late fall utilizing combinations of annual, biennial, and perennial forages. In areas like ours, it seems like the most popular animal this smorgasbord of delightful feed is planted for is the white tailed deer. It makes sense to do this if deer are your passion.

In late fall-early winter the selection of leafy green forbs, legumes, and grasses dwindles and they will be seeking ways to add protein and carbohydrates to their diets. Deer are browsers. They consume between 30-50 percent of their diet as “browse”, which is material from shrubs and trees. Legumes and broadleaf weeds make up 30-50 percent of their intake. The remaining 10-30 percent consumed is Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Forage Focus: Nitrate concerns in late-season harvested forages and supplemental feed options

FORAGE FOCUS – Host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County will be joined by Clif Little, OSU Extension- ANR Educator for Guernsey County, for a segment on nitrate concerns in late-season harvested forages and supplemental feed options for cattle, sheep, and goats.

Pastures for Profit, Noble County Grazing School

Register early, space is limited!

Noble SWCD and OSU Extension have teamed up to bring local producers practical steps for improving their grazing systems, and upgrade their pasture profitability through the program Pasture for Profit. Topics during these workshops will include: Starting Management Intensive Grazing, Pasture Fertility, Mineral Supplementation, Weed Control, along with a guided Pasture Walk.

These workshops will be held at the Eastern Agriculture Research Station from 6-9 p.m. on November 5, 12, and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov.16. Thanks to the support of our sponsors, we are able to offer this class for free for the first 20 participants who Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Forage Management; It’s Not Too Late!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Stockpile forages now to provide needed rest and forage for later this winter.

Fall is here even if it doesn’t feel like autumn weather. I like warm weather and am always sad to have to see it go. Several people have commented to me about dry conditions. For me, after almost a year with no completely dry periods, it has been nice for a change, especially to not have to get the baler out after mowing the lawn.

But the dryness is a concern and has caused a lot of stress on plants. After continuous wet conditions all spring and into summer, plants got lazy. They didn’t have to grow deep roots to find water earlier in the year and when the rains stopped after prolonged wet periods, shallow-rooted plants were not prepared for it.

Soils that were compacted by use under wet conditions further reduced the ability for those plants to grow downward. Overgrazing forages and not maintaining good stop grazing heights does not support Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Spotted Knapweed Still Lingers

Christine Gelley, AgNR Educator, Noble County, OSU Extension

On a drive to Zanesville yesterday I was unhappy, but not surprised to see spotted knapweed continuing to put out fresh, pretty, flowers along the roadsides. To do my civic duty, we will talk about spotted knapweed once more before the growing season ends. Tell your friends in the neighborhood watch program to keep this plant from going to seed. Frost is not far off, maybe some will meet their demise by the dropping temperatures, but I would not bet money on it.

The color of the flower is similar to that of red clover, the growth habit is similar to chicory, and the flower shape is similar to Canada thistle and ironweed. Two other plants that could be confused this time of year are New England Aster and Billy Goat’s Weed.  However, the combination of growth habit, color, and Continue reading

Should we plan for another long, wet, muddy winter?

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Whether winter predictions are correct or not, it’s time to start preparing!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac has released their forecast for this winter. “Mild, with soakers” is how Indiana is labeled. I don’t put a lot of weight on these forecasts, but they often line up with other forecasts and occasionally are completely correct. If this forecast holds true, I think we all need to prepare for a winter similar to last year.

This past winter, I kept hoping for some free concrete—frozen ground. I only had about a dozen days and that’s not enough. To add true misery for both me and the livestock, it seemed to rain every two or three days, picking up momentum as we got closer to spring.

I don’t like to see pastures or crop fields torn up. Grazing under wet conditions is bad enough during the growing season, but it’s an Continue reading

Posted in Pasture