Pasture Management; It’s All About Maximizing the Grazing Season!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

They might make good pies, but blackberries in a pasture can reduce grazeable acres.

Winter is setting in. The impact of the dry spell in late summer and early fall is now more evident as stockpiled forages that normally would have lasted a bit longer start running short. I’ve walked most of my pastures to do a quick assessment. Hay will come early this year.

That “walkabout” helped me assess a few areas that could use a little attention besides estimating any remaining forage. A couple blackberry patches in one field certainly got my attention. Long, wet springs seem to be to their liking. I will certainly have to put a bit more pressure on them this coming year and probably clip or spray early to get them under control. Small patches where they were denser created too much competition for sunlight and water for the underlying forages and they were set back. When the canopy of perennial or annual weeds start exceeding more than thirty percent, you will have reduced forage growth and I also believe reduced nutritional value to some degree.

When it comes to briars, grazing intake is also going to be Continue reading

Upcoming Beef and Forage Programming Moves On-line This Winter

Cow/Calf School launches on January 18th

This winter the OSU Beef Team is offering a variety of educational programs online, beginning with Making Hay for Beef Cattle on January 18. In total, nine programs are presently scheduled focusing on everything from feed and forage management to managing the breeding season. These sessions are each being offered free of charge, but pre-registration is required. Find all the details linked here: https://u.osu.edu/beefteam/2021-beef-school/

Also, the OSU Extension Forage Team is offering a ‘virtual’ edition of Pastures for Profit. This program launches next week on the 13th and will feature one live webinar offered monthly in January, February and March along with “work at your own pace” videos and exercises that accompany each webinar. Find details including registration information here: https://u.osu.edu/beef/2020/12/23/pasture-for-profit-school-goes-virtual-this-winter/

Find a comprehensive listing of currently planned beef and forage related meetings and programs posted on the OSU Extension Beef Team Events/Programs page.

Management Considerations for Warm-Season Perennials

Christine Gelley, Noble County OSU Extension Educator (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

During my graduate program at The University of Tennessee there was a defined interest in utilizing warm-season perennial grasses as grazing pasture for beef cattle. One of the greatest influences for this interest is persistence during high heat and drought tolerance. The same could be applied for Ohio.

Although our number of growing degree days are fewer than producers have in the South, we are still capable of incorporating warm-season perennials into our grazing systems. We also experience periods of high heat and drought. Our typical sources of grazing pastures are cool-season grasses (ex: tall fescue, orchardgrass, ryegrass, timothy) and legumes (ex: white clover, red clover, alfalfa), which are much less hardy than the grasses discussed here. Part of the reason is the way the plants photosynthesize (a.k.a. turn light into food), how they utilize water in the process, and differences in structural growth. Warm-season grasses are more efficient photosynthesizers, however the forage they produce in the process is of lesser nutritive value than cool-season grasses.

The tradeoff can be worthwhile in times of stress, on marginal sites, remediation, and for wildlife enthusiasts. Forage of less than ideal nutritive value that is available is more valuable to grazing livestock than no forage at all. The greatest advantages of including warm-season perennials in a grazing system are the ability to Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

“Pastures for Profit” School Goes Virtual this Winter

Register today!

This coming year between January and March, 2021, the Pastures for Profit curriculum will be offered as a virtual course. One live webinar will be offered per month along with “work at your own pace” videos and exercises that accompany each webinar. The Pastures for Profit program is a collaboration between Ohio State University Extension, Central State University, USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, Ohio Department of Agriculture, and the Ohio Forage and Grasslands Council.

Each webinar will be offered live on Zoom beginning at 7 P.M. and feature three presentations 0ver a 90-minute span. Attendees will be able to interact with the speakers and ask questions in real time. Once registered, attendees will be granted access to the online course including the webinars and complementary resources. Participants that attend all three webinars will have the opportunity to earn a certificate of completion. Registered participants will also receive their choice of a curriculum binder or USB drive of the traditional course delivered via mail.

The webinar schedule and topics are as follows: Continue reading

Grazing Concepts that Benefit the Bird and the Herd

Application deadline for the Northern Bobwhite n Grasslands EQIP project in 30 Ohio counties is January 15, 2021

If you think livestock and quail don’t mix, a type of managed grazing may change your mind. USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is accepting applications for a program that focuses on establishing productive warm season forages to improve livestock production and provide large areas of prime habitat for ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

Ohio’s Northern Bobwhite in Grasslands project is part of a national Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership, a collaborative approach to conserving habitat for declining species on farms and working forests. NRCS works with partners and private landowners to focus voluntary conservation efforts on working landscapes.

The Northern Bobwhite in Grasslands project is designed to help bring back the quail that were once an integral part of Ohio’s farming way of life. Leading researchers have documented the Continue reading

Getting the Most out of Stockpiled Grass

– Chris Teutsch, Associate Extension Professor, UK Grain and Forage Center of Excellence

Figure 1. Strip grazing stockpiled grass can extending grazing by as much as 40%.

Stockpiled tall fescue is in the most economical way feed cows during the winter months. Once stockpiled growth has accumulated, how you choose to utilize it can dramatically impact how may grazing days you get per acre. Research in Missouri showed that giving cows access to only enough forage for 3-days versus 14-days resulted in a 40% increase in grazing days per acre. The following tips will help to get the most of your stockpile.

Graze pastures that contain warm-season grasses first. Although we often like to think of pastures as monocultures, they are often complex mixtures of cool and warm-season grasses, legumes and weedy forbs. If pastures contain warm-season grasses, use these first since their quality will decline rapidly in late fall and early winter.

Graze pastures containing clover next. We are always happy to see clover in pastures. However, in a stockpiling scenario it does not Continue reading

The Goal: Feed Less, Graze More

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Winter; time to catch up on reading and sharpening the pencil and mind.

I often talk about upcoming grazing conferences this time of year. Right now, meetings in person are scarce and perhaps rightly so. I still encourage you to continue learning whether it’s from watching YouTube videos, reading books or articles, or attending a virtual meeting or conference.

It is also the time of year when I start thinking more about finding a comfortable chair, a warm blanket and some good reading material — especially when the snow flurries start. Winter is a great time for me to catch up on reading after checking on livestock in the cold, as long as I don’t get too warm and nod off. But, that said, winter chores still must be done! I’m never mentally prepared for winter, but that won’t stop it from happening. What’s a perfect winter to me? It includes stockpiled forages lasting for as long as possible, dry or frozen ground and as little hay needed to be fed.

You certainly can’t control the weather. You need to instead learn how to Continue reading

Fall Grazing Thoughts

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Morgan County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Would placing water in strategic locations improve your pasture management?

Well, the growing season may be over but the grazing season may not. My whole career I have heard many talking about how long the grazing rotation should be: maybe 14 days in the spring or 60 in late summer during dry weather. I have also heard the discussion over which is more of a management challenge. Over 30 years ago I heard someone say that the greatest challenge is the 150 plus day rotation during the winter months. That one took me a while to process but once I did, it made a lot of sense. Few have accomplished it and many have made it a long way. I really don’t think of it as whether you succeed at it but if you can get better at it. The greatest cost of keeping grazing livestock is stored feed, and if we can reduce how many days we feed, we will be better off. You may not make the rotation last 150 days, but can you make it last longer, say 90 days? Every day I am not feeding hay means a day I am not Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Cover Crops, They’re Feed Too!

In this short video made in early November, Jason Hartschuh and Amanda Douridas share the fall growth on August seeded cover crops at Farm Science Review, and discuss the benefits of using cover crops on your farm.