Are You Still Grazing?

Chris Penrose, Professor and Ag & Natural Resource Educator, Morgan County

I still am but I am not sure how much longer. My goal is to make it well into December then stop feeding most of the cows hay in early March. I started to stockpile some of my fields in August and everything was going great and growing through September. I even tried a technique that has been used on the east coast to lightly graze well stockpiled fields while there is still time for regrowth. The principle behind that is to stimulate new growth on the stockpiled grass that has slowed down. I took the cattle off the field around the first of October assuming another month of growth but guess what? Grass does not grow much when you get no rain. I actually had one of the best forage growing seasons I can recall until October, so I do have plenty of hay. The way things are going, I will likely start feeding hay by the end of November. When you farm, things rarely go as planned.

I do have a nice, stockpiled field on fairly level ground (for Morgan County, Ohio) that I will save until early March and place my spring calving cows there. My goal is to feed no more hay and have a nice, thick sod for the cows to calve on.

At this point, what can we do to help get us through the Continue reading

Carefully Manage Each of the Forages You Have

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Grazing stalks allows needed deferment of pastures and is decent feed.

Whether we like it or not, weather has a significant impact on forages and forage-based systems and most life. I won’t revisit this year’s weather, except to just say that rainfall does quite often balance itself out. That doesn’t mean it would be the way we prefer it, but wet spells are usually eventually balanced out with dry spells and that is what happened in my neck of the woods this year. While the extremely dry autumn created one of the most perfect harvesting seasons we’ve seen in a while, it wasn’t as perfect for fall forage growth.

Dry weather kind of has a way of sneaking up on you. I was enjoying the ability to get some things done without interruptions of rain and realized at one point – hey, it’s getting pretty dry! October is normally still a decent forage growth month though the rate is certainly slower. When it is exceptionally dry new growth pretty much comes to a screeching halt and Continue reading

Consider Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage Insurance as a Risk Management Tool

– Dr. Kenny Burdine, Extension Professor, Livestock Marketing, University of Kentucky

The most recent drought monitor, released on October 27th, shows the majority of the United States dealing with drought or abnormally dry conditions. While I hope some of those regions received some much needed rain recently, I do think this presents an opportunity to discuss Pasture, Rangeland, and Forage (PRF) Insurance. PRF insurance provides an opportunity for producers to purchase rainfall coverage for perennial forages used for pasture and / or hay production. James provided an introduction to PRF insurance in the April 11 and May 2 newsletters. Since James went through PRF insurance in detail back in the spring, I am just going to focus on three reminders for producers as they consider PRF insurance for the upcoming year.

PRF is a Single-Peril Index Insurance Product
Producers first need to understand that indemnities from PRF are not based on rainfall at their farm, but rather on actual and historical rainfall for a 0.25 degree latitude by 0.25 degree longitude grid, where their farm is located. Daily rainfall for each grid is collected through NOAA weather stations and Continue reading

Practice Patience With Your Stockpile

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

The best stockpiled forage is late summer to fall regrowth – just don’t start grazing it too early.

When a lot of things that occupy your time or influence your pocketbook are impacted by the weather it is hard to not talk about it some! I felt it was a very odd growing season, at least in my neck of the woods. My reasons were certainly different than in other areas, even not that far away. The weather constantly reminds me that we need to always have a plan B and be prepared to act on it. It also reminds me that we need to build in as much resilience into the grazing system as possible.

I’ve been asked twice recently about what I consider “stockpiled” forage. Stockpiled forage is technically defined as standing forage that is allowed to accumulate for grazing at a later period, usually for fall and winter grazing after dormancy. Stockpiling usually is initiated anywhere from early August to the first of September. I like to see at least 60 days of forage accumulation prior to the first frost – that means it needs to be started by mid-August most years. This time frame allows enough time, with adequate rainfall, to Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Feeding Frosted Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Sudex is one of the forages that can be toxic when frosted.

I am beginning to get questions about toxicities that can develop after forages are frosted. 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 test before grazing or feeding a 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 labs provide prussic acid testing of forages (see a partial list at the end of this article). Sampling and shipping guidelines should be carefully followed because . . .

Continue reading Feeding Frosted Forages


Mark Sulc and Alyssa Essman, OSU Extension

Cressleaf groundsel can be toxic to livestock

Scout Forage Stands for Winter Annuals NOW. Last week Mark Loux reminded us to control cressleaf groundsel and other winter annual weeds now. If you haven’t read that article, go read it right now, Our Annual Article to Nag about Fall Herbicides and Cressleaf Groundsel, and read the other articles linked in that one.

Scouting hayfields and pastures and applying controls this month, especially in NEW FORAGE STANDS seeded this summer and early autumn, is absolutely critical to AVOID A NIGHTMARE NEXT SPRING.

JUST DO IT! We really don’t want to say next spring, “WE TOLD YOU SO LAST FALL” —that would bring us no joy at all and your regret will be painful if you don’t listen to . . .

Continue reading AVOID A NIGHTMARE NEXT SPRING!!!!!!!!

Johnsongrass; Feed or Weed?

Jordan Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Gallia County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman, Fall 2022)

Recently Christine Gelley wrote an article “Johnsongrass: Friend or Foe?”, it was an excellent article, and if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend that you do so. But, I bet that many of you like me have noticed johnsongrass showing up in pasture and hay fields a lot more over the past few years and especially this year. Let me start by giving some history on johnsongrass.

Johnsongrass (Sorghum halepense) is a competitive perennial warm-season grass that is native to the Mediterranean region. Johnsongrass seed was exported around the world to be primarily used to control erosion. It got its common name here in the United States from an Alabama plantation owner by the name of William Johnson, who used the seed in the 1840’s to plant on his river-bottom farm as a forage alternative and to help control water erosion.

Today, johnsongrass to many is now considered a weed and in many states is considered a noxious weed. In an article by Oklahoma State University “Johnsongrass in Pastures: Weed or Forage?” johnsongrass is known as the weed that we love to hate and hate to love. The reason it is a weed to many is that it reduces the yield and quality for crops that it grows in. But it also has some upsides to it as a forage because Continue reading

Fall Grazing Guidance

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

“Pasture walks” are an opportunity to explore what others are successfully doing.

Recently the East Central Grazing Alliance visited Randy Depuy’s farm in Caldwell for a pasture walk and it was a wonderful event of social and educational enrichment. It was one of my first in-person events since returning from maternity leave and it was refreshing to be with a captive audience to talk about forages and grazing.

For those that were unable to attend, here are some of the key points from my presentation on fall grazing tips. They are they divided into recommendations for established forages and new seedings.

Established Perennial Forages:

Cool-Season Forage Mixes – If stockpiling pasture for fall/winter grazing, stop Continue reading

Posted in Pasture

Winterize Your Forage Plans

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Manage the forage you have; consider fall planted annuals and stockpiled forages and prepare for winter!

Some people try to make pasture management a lot more difficult than needed. I think sometimes it is more about how it is perceived in the eyes of the beholder. Some might think that a pasture that is grazed evenly to the ground, all the time, means that no forage was lost – no.  Some might think that mowing it frequently and making it look like a prime horse pasture behind a fancy fence is ideal – maybe. It is really about the management of the forage to achieve the goals of production, forage quality and numerous added benefits that benefit erosion, soil biology, and usually also wildlife.

Anytime you can keep something simple it is usually best.  I’ve been to several events this summer and had similar questions asked to me that can be summed up as, “What are the basic rules of good pasture management?”

I find myself repeating some things. That repetition is perhaps needed from time to time, but I don’t want to be redundant either. I am reminded occasionally to just Continue reading

Controlling Cocklebur in Pasture Can Be A Challenge

Chris Penrose and Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension Educators, Morgan and Perry Counties

Cocklebur, a growing problem in Ohio pastures!

Over the past 20 years, we have seen more and more cocklebur becoming established on our farms and many farmers in the area have noted that as well. On Chris’ farm, I think it started when I fed whole shelled corn to my cattle out in the pastures to extend hay supplies in the winter. You would think this summer annual would be easy to control but it is more of a challenge. We and several of our colleagues recently finished a five year trial on timed mowing of pastures in the summer and one year after concluding the study, we went out to the site in September, it had not been mowed yet, and it was completely engulfed with cocklebur. No matter when or how often we mowed, after doing the same thing for five years, there was no difference.

One would think that if we went out and mowed a summer annual when the stem is elongating with immature seeds and cut below the seeds, we would kill the plant, and that still may be the case. However, how about the 10% that were too short to mow or still immature? During the trial, we noticed many Continue reading