Forage Focus: Options for Fall/Winter Grazing of Winter Annual Forage Crops

Host Christine Gelley, an Extension Educator with The Ohio State University Agriculture & Natural Resources in Noble County is joined by Brady Campbell, a PhD Student in the Department of Animal Sciences and the coordinator of the OSU Sheep Team, for a segment reviewing options for fall/winter grazing of winter annual forage crops. While the focus here is on sheep, the concepts translate nicely over to cattle.

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Think Hard About the Year Left Behind, Develop a Plan for the Year Ahead

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Unseasonable weather yielded a New Year’s Eve blossom.

I’m glad the days are starting to be a fraction longer, even though it’s not much more yet. While I wait for some daylight, I can usually be found reading early in the morning. I’m certainly a morning person, just ask my wife. There is no other good reason to be up at 4 A.M. this time of year, especially if I don’t have to be. I am though, trying to catch up on reading while it’s a bit easier to stay inside.

There is always something to be learned, reviewed, or perhaps occasionally unlearned. I like to take a second look at old ways of doing things and reading very old agriculture books. You would be surprised to learn that things that most would think are new ideas are sometimes over a century old.

As new ideas or innovations come to light, there is always somewhat of an Continue reading

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Was this the year you expected or hoped for?

Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Morgan Co. (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

I now have been writing articles in this column for around 25 years and I am always trying to come up with something different and beneficial for beef producers around the state. As I thought about a topic, with age and experience, we also gain perspective. For those of us that have been in the beef business for more years than we care to admit, was this the year you expected or hoped for? Many times what we expect and what we hope for are not the same, are they? Maybe we can close the gap between the two. For example, I expected to have more problems this past summer with invasive weeds like Spotted Knapweed, but I hoped I would not and I did not. Why? Because in 2018, I was very aggressive on controlling every plant I could find. I did the same this past summer. I hoped to have had put up more square bales of hay this summer but the help was not there or it was about to rain, so I made more round bales. I expected that might be the case, so I tried to save as many square bales as I could last winter and I have extra two year old hay carried over for this winter to fill in a potential void. I now hope and expect to have enough to get me through the winter, even if it is a bad one.

I hoped I would get hay up sooner this past summer, but I expected that would not happen, so I Continue reading

Another Wet Fall? Careful Grazing Management a Must!

Fall planted cereal rye and turnips are great feed, if we can graze them . . .

I walked across some pastures on the last day of November and shook my head as water splashed up from my gum boots and splattered my pants. I was honestly hoping that this winter wouldn’t be anything like last year, but so far it is. Ugh, I’m afraid that mud is coming.

Fall forage growth was delayed due to dry weather in most of Indiana. That dry spell didn’t last too long, but long enough to reduce fall regrowth and stockpiled forage. So, quite a bit of the area started the fall out with a little less forage than average. I estimate that my six-week dry spell cost me at least one third of my stockpile yield.

Now, with slightly less forage present and grazing of stockpiled forages already in motion, it’s going to be even more important to Continue reading

Do Cover Crops Grown for Feed Need Fertilizer?

Christine Gelley, Ohio State University Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator, Noble County

The benefits of utilizing cover crops in both grazing and agronomic crop production are numerous. However, each cover crop system is unique. There is no blanket “yes” or “no” answer to the question- Do cover crops need fertilizer?

Incorporating Cover Crops

Each farm is different and therefore the way you use cover crops can differ too. Whether you are a row crop farmer, a fruit and vegetable grower, exclusively in the hay business, a livestock manager, or involved in a combination of pursuits, cover crops can be an added benefit to your system.

Although the economic benefit of cover crops is difficult to quantify, the environmental principals associated with their growth are influential. Cover crops are selected for use based on their growing seasons, ability to reduce soil erosion and build soil organic matter, scavenge excess nutrients from the previous crop, relieve soil compaction, and for their nutritional value as feed for animals. The way we incorporate cover crops into our systems should complement our current crops, fit our soil types, and allow for termination of the stand when their useful period ends.

It just so happens that many cover crops are excellent forage crops for livestock and wildlife too. Most are ideal as grazed forage rather than harvested forage, although Continue reading

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

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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

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