Jack Frost Will Bite Soon – Precautions for Feeding Frosted Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

One of these days soon we will have a frost. There is potential for some forage toxicities and other problems that can develop after a frost. Prussic acid poisoning and high nitrates are the main concern with a few specific annual forages and several weed species, but there is also an increased risk of bloat when grazing legumes after a frost.

Nitrate accumulation in frosted forages. Freezing damage slows down metabolism in all plants, and this might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass.  This build-up usually is not hazardous to grazing animals, but greenchop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send in a sample to a forage testing lab and request a nitrate before grazing or feeding the forage after a frost.

Prussic Acid Toxicity

Several forage and weed species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues, or under drought conditions. Some . . .

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Grazing Management Minute: Grazing on Reclaimed Ground

In this latest edition of Grazing Management Minute, join ODA’s Jarrod Hittle and Perry County farmer Treg Ulmer to learn more about the challenges and opportunities grazing on reclaimed ground.

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Recognizing the Risks of Broadleaf Weeds in Pasture

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

Spotted knapweed may possess as many as 200 pink to purple blooms per plant. Photo: by author

It is often said that, “Any plant in the wrong place is a weed.”

Well, in a pasture situation, there tend to be quite a few plants that weren’t intentionally planted there but thrive there regardless. It can be challenging to determine if these weeds are threatening or adding beneficial diversity to our pasture sward. Broadleaf weeds tend to be easier to identify and control than grassy weeds in a pasture setting, but can still be puzzling depending on lifecycle, growth stage, flower arrangement, and growth habit.

One that commonly confuses land managers in Southeast Ohio is spotted knapweed. Spotted knapweed is a detrimental weed that shares similarities to many less threatening pasture plants. 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. However, the combination of growth habit, color, and flower shape is unique to spotted knapweed. Spotted knapweed may possess as many as 200 pink to purple blooms per plant. The mature seed heads resemble Continue reading

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Continue to “Stage” Pasture into Fall

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

What kind of winter do you persimmon seeds predict?

My wife has been splitting open persimmon seeds. For those who don’t know what this is supposed to mean – it is an old wives’ tale method of predicting the upcoming winter weather. For clarity, I’m not saying my wife is old, but she does like to read persimmon seeds! Traditionally, you split the persimmon seed open to reveal the whitish sprout inside. It may require a bit of imagination, but they are supposed to resemble a spoon, a fork or a knife. The spoon is said to predict lots of heavy, wet snow. A fork means you should expect a mild winter. A knife indicates an icy, windy and bitter cold winter. Surprisingly or luckily, it is often correct. She split open several seeds this year – all were spoons.

Now, I would not bank on that information, but it is a reminder that we need to be prepared ahead of time for whatever the weather decides to throw at us.

Each year is a little different, so strategy and planning must be adjusted as needed as the season progresses. It is also important to have a game plan on how to deal with unplanned circumstances.

I like to try and think ahead of the next livestock move – often calling it staging. Early in the season, the term staging is easier to understand. It is Continue reading

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Scout Now For Cressleaf Groundsel And Other Winter Weeds In Hayfields And Pastures

Mark Loux, OSU Extension Weed Specialist

Fall is a perfect time to scout for AND control cressleaf groundsel and most other biennial weeds of concern.

The next month and a half or so is an ideal time to control a number of weeds that cause problems in hayfields and pastures, and also certain weeds in fencerows and other areas adjacent to fields.  We discussed scouting and fall control of cressleaf groundsel in a C.O.R.N. article last fall, to avoid problems with the toxicity of this weed in hay next year.  Many of these weeds are most problematic in new hay and forage seedings, since the crop may not yet be dense enough to suppress them without the help of herbicides.  A number of winter annuals fit into this category – mustards, marestail, pennycress, chickweed.  For biennials such as wild carrot, poision hemlock, burdock, and teasel, the low growing plant after the first year of growth, which is present now, is more susceptible to control with herbicides compared with plants with elongated stems in spring.  And it’s certainly a good time to go after dandelion, Canada thistle, and curly dock.

Fall herbicide options for grass hay and pastures, and non-crop areas, are considerably greater in number and often also effectiveness than those labeled for use in a first-year legume or legume/grass stand.  For example . . .

Continue reading Scout Now For Cressleaf Groundsel And Other Winter Weeds In Hayfields And Pastures

Water is Everything

Chris Penrose, Agriculture and Natural Resources, OSU Extension, Morgan County

Originally constructed in the ’60’s, this spring tank was recently rebuilt.

Over the years as I have worked with producers developing a grazing system, you would expect fencing to be the major issue. As the paddocks are set up, water almost always becomes the major issue. If you are fortunate enough to have reliable ground water or public water, this issue is minimized. I recall the droughts back in 2012 and 1988 and feed for livestock was not the issue, it was water. As creeks, springs and ponds dried up, options were limited and expensive, many had to haul water. On our family farm, I rely exclusively on creeks and springs and have developed most springs on the farm for the cattle. The first springs that were developed back in the 1960’s that had an estimated lifespan of 20 years lasted much longer and have been rebuilt except one that is still going strong. Since the drought of 88, I have developed the remaining springs to try to minimize issues in dry weather and provide multiple water sources in each paddock.

An important consideration, if an option, is will the livestock go to the water or will you take the water to the livestock? When possible, it is almost always the best option to take the water to the livestock because water is generally the most powerful force determining where livestock will spend their time. A three year study at the Forage System Research Center in Missouri showed Continue reading

Managing risk by utilizing multiple winter annual small grain forages

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Crawford County (originally published in Progressive Forage Grower)

Photo 1: Timeliness is impossible if it rains when harvest should happen!

Winter annual forages have become a mainstay for many dairy and beef rations across in the country. Winter annuals have increased farm profitability by serving not only as double crop forage with corn silage, soybeans, or corn grain but also a cover crop that helps to trap nitrogen and protect soils from heavy winter and spring rainfall. The greatest challenge for many of my local producers is managing harvest timing to maximize quality with spring rain fall events that not only delay custom harvesters but also cause your perfectly timed harvest to come to a halt. Such as in 2020 when our plots in Photo 1 spent a week in standing water when we should have been harvesting triticale and wheat for the highest quality. To harvest at least some of your summer annuals at the highest quality possible two strategies of diversification can be applied either planting on multiple dates or using Continue reading

Learn about Environmental Assessment of Pasture at FSR

Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist

Inadequate cover and erosion. Photo courtesy of ARS

The environmental benefits of well-managed pasture include:

  • reduced soil erosion,
  • improved air and water quality,
  • better plant diversity, vigor, and production,
  • improved fish and wildlife habitat.

Improving grazing management will result in more grass cover and improved soil structure that will allow a higher percentage of the rainfall to infiltrate the soil, where it can be used for plant growth, rather than running off resulting in soil erosion and sedimentation problems. The ecological processes, including decomposition of manure and increase in a highly managed pasture. Nutrients can then be recycled several times during the growing season. The overall soil quality improves with improved grazing management.

Water Quality Improves with Pasture Quality

Water quality improves as the pasture vegetation becomes denser and the soil conditions improve. A university study showed that pastures are the best “crop” for Continue reading

Managing Forage Stands Damaged by Fall Armyworm

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Two worms per square foot is the threshhold for fall armyworm Infestation. Photo Courtesy of Mark Badertscher

A severe and fall armyworm outbreak developed across Ohio and neighboring states. It has caused serious destruction in many forage fields. For more complete details on this pest, including how to scout for this pest and options for control, see the articles posted at https://forages.osu.edu/forage-management/pests-diseases.

This article addresses how to manage forage stands damaged by the fall armyworm.

Fields with minor to no damage seen.

If the hayfield or pasture shows any feeding damage at all and is reasonably close to having enough growth for harvest, cut or graze it as soon as possible. This is perfect timing to take the . . .

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Tips for Stockpiling Tall Fescue for Winter Grazing

– Dr. Chris Teutsch, Forage Specialist, UK Research and Education Center at Princeton

Grazing stockpiled cool-season grasses in late fall and winter can reduce feed costs by more than 50% per day per cow.

Feeding hay during the winter months is the single highest expense for cow-calf producers in transition zone states like Kentucky. In many cases it can make up more than 60% of the total cow-calf budget. While dry hay is the cornerstone of most winter-feeding programs, grazing stockpiled cool-season grasses in late fall and winter can reduce feed costs by more than 50% per day per cow. The following tips will help to optimize your stockpiling program.

Choose a strong tall fescue sod in a field that is well drained. To get the maximum yield response to nitrogen applications you will need a healthy stand of tall fescue. Choosing a field that is well-drained will help to ensure that the stockpile can be grazed with minimal pugging damage during the wet winter months.

Clip or graze pastures that will be stockpiled to 3-4 inches prior to applying nitrogen. Clipping pastures removes Continue reading

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