Evaluating Herbicide Treatments to Control Autumn Olive

– Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR, Tuscarawas County

Herbicide applied to Autumn olive August 31, 2023. Photo taken 12 days post-treatment

Autumn olive is a non-native invasive plant that is found in many areas of Ohio, predominately in eastern and southern counties. Originally introduced as an ornamental plant, it has been used for erosion control, windbreaks, and mine reclamation sites. Spread by birds, the plant has disturbed habitats and invaded pastures across Ohio resulting in reduced land for livestock grazing.

A team of OSU Extension professionals is conducting a research trial at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS) in Caldwell, OH. The EARS facility encompasses roughly 2,000 acres of pasture and woodlands.  Much of the property, 1,325 acres, includes former and active coal mining. The purpose of the research trial is to evaluate various herbicide treatments in the control of Autumn olive.

Winter (Dormant) Herbicide Applications & Results
Our team made six treatments of 30 randomly selected plants on February 15, 2023. The table below summarizes the herbicide application method and Continue reading

Fastballs, Curveballs and Lessons Learned

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

Corn residue interseeded with a cereal grain can provide lots of feed for dry cows.

Having grown up in the 50’s and 60’s, the social distancing and self-quarantine we experienced in recent years weren’t really too much of a struggle for me. Afterall, if you grew up on a farm in rural Ohio in those days, the only time you saw anyone but your closest neighbor was at the feed mill, church, or baseball practice. Speaking of baseball, another lesson from those days that’s served me well is when in a close game, you don’t want to be sitting on a fastball if the pitcher you’re facing can consistently throw a curve for a strike. Suffice to say, Mother Nature continues to prove she can throw any pitch she wants, at any time, and throw it for a strike.

Considering the extremes in weather we’ve experienced in recent years, to suggest we need to remain flexible with our forage and feed management plans would be an understatement. However, as we consider past experience when setting course for the future, let’s reflect on our recent past and a few of those lessons learned.

Too wet, and then too dry, and too wet again does not average out to just right

After experiencing several Ohio winter and early springs of near record precipitation, followed by dry summers, this year most of us enjoyed a dry – perhaps too dry – late spring and early summer. Regardless, for many it allowed us to make Continue reading

There’s Potential for Poisoning During Fall Grazing

Jordan Penrose, Ohio State University Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Gallia County (previously published in Farm & Dairy)

Buckeyes possess the toxin aesculin and possibly alkaloids.

With fall fast approaching, it may be time to assess potential problems that could arise when livestock are grazing, such as trees and grasses. A good practice of walking or driving through your pastures will help you know what is growing in or around them.

Buckeye Poisoning

A potential problem that may be overlooked in the fall is Buckeye Poisoning. Buckeye poisoning occurs from the nuts that fall from the buckeye trees. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Recourses (ODNR), Buckeye trees prefer moist, well-drained soils. Back in 2017, we dealt with buckeye poisoning on the family farm with cattle. The cows and calves that were poisoned had no balance like they were drunk and seemed weak on the legs, especially the back ones. When lying down, they went on their side with their head on the ground pulled back and legs straight out with some muscle twitching. According to A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America (2001), the principal toxins are the glycosides aesculin and fraxin, and possibly a narcotic alkaloid. Animals develop signs of poisoning 16 hours after consuming toxic quantities. As little as 0.5% body weight of the animal can produce severe poisoning. Laxatives may be given to remove the ingested plant parts as fast as possible, and if the animal is down for an extended period, keeping the cow hydrated is important.

Cyanide Poisoning

Another problem to watch out for this fall is Continue reading

Grazing Cattle; To offer shade, or not?

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Reference: Livestock Weather Hazard Guide; Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.

I’m writing this during the last part of August and during an absolute dog day of summer. Dog days of summer signifies very hot, sultry days. I’m really not sure that it has anything to do with dogs except they do tend to be less active and seek the coolest place they can find on such a day – I probably should have done more of the same.

On such dog days, shade does become a lot more valuable. If the shady area is big enough, it is almost always at least ten degrees cooler with shade than without.

Humidity is what really makes it miserable. Now, don’t get me wrong, hot is hot, but humid hot, well, it’s just downright miserable and sometimes barely Continue reading

Forage Management and Heavy Rain Events

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Regrowth is highly influenced by rest, recovery, and soil cover.

Moisture, or rather the lack of sufficient amount of moisture, is still an issue for quite a bit of the Midwest. Some areas have certainly been blessed with more rain than others, but I must remind you and myself that we’re only about two weeks away from a drought from about any time period. We should always strive to take advantage of and conserve any moisture we receive.

I’ve been repairing some fence lines along wooded areas that seem to be testing my patience. Windstorms with dying or dead ash trees don’t make a good combination.  That has caused me to dig and replace a few fence posts that were in the line of spoilage. On a somewhat positive point, it allowed me the opportunity to evaluate the soil moisture in the depth of the post hole. Even though I’ve had rain, soil moisture was a little less than normal as I dug deeper – but it could have been a lot drier.

You can’t change the amount of rain you get, but you can influence the impact of that rain to a degree. Ideally, you want to Continue reading

Fescue, At Your Service?

– Jason Duggin, UGA Department of Animal and Dairy Science

Fescue can serve as a main forage supply, but there are some things to consider.

TV informercials can be convincing. That new gadget promises to save you time and money for only $19.99, plus shipping and handling. It’s exactly what you need, but the new gadget doesn’t really fulfill all its lofty promises. In the Southeast, one of our main forages looks promising – but doesn’t deliver as expected.

Fescue can serve as a main forage supply, but there are some things that need to be considered to mitigate the toxic endophytes. As a blessing, a pasture full of growing grass looks just like the cure for supplying nutrition through the spring and early fall. As a curse, cattle with an abundant amount of grass are a body condition score thinner than ideal, conception rates are poor, and late-spring hair coats look like shag carpet sopped in mud. Summers are spent in the shade, ponds, and mud holes. Most folks understand tall fescue is bad stuff, but they either don’t know the whole impact or feel helpless to do anything about it. If you ever wondered why producers have fall-calving herds, this is one of the reasons. Breeding seasons in May and June can have very disappointing conception rates when toxic endophyte fescue is the main forage. Although fall calving helps, the growing calves and replacement heifers will be victims come . . .

Continue reading Fescue, At Your Service?

Summer Pasture Weed Control

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator Agriculture and Natural Resources, Licking County (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

Fall’s a great time to control next year’s crop of poison hemlock.

As we move into mid-summer, now is a good time to evaluate weed issues in your pastures. Weeds can have a major impact on the productivity of forage and the performance of cattle being raised on the pasture. The most obvious case is with weeds that have toxic effects. Ingestion of plants like poison hemlock, cressleaf groundsel, white snakeroot, nightshade, and many others can result in illness and even death. Even if your weed issues are nontoxic, the weeds may not be palatable or may have very little nutritional value. In both cases the weeds are taking up space and using nutrients that would be better utilized by desired plants.

Different weeds have different growth characteristics which also means there are different methods that can be used for control. I am going to talk about five common pasture weed issues which have control methods that can be used from now through the fall.

Poison Hemlock

This very toxic weed is popping up all over Ohio. At maturity it looks like Continue reading

Longer recovery for grazed forages may be needed this year!

– Victor Shelton, Retired NRCS Agronomist/Grazing Specialist (Please send comments or questions to grazingbites@gmail.com)

A lone big bluestem plant outstanding in the field – imagine a whole field.

I really can’t complain about the temperatures so far this year even though I know the next few days are expected to be a bit warmer.  While some crops would probably prefer slightly warmer conditions, the slightly milder temperatures are better for forage crops under droughty conditions.  I’m thankful things are not worse than they are.  Thankfully, as I finish writing this at the end of June, several areas are getting needed rain!

I’ve been asked how I would compare this year to past droughts or droughty periods.  I really don’t have a good comparison for this year.  I think we are seeing conditions unlike any that I’ve ever seen.  The droughts of 1988 and 2012 are always good reference points for me.  For the most part, both started out somewhat normal and then became drier and drier due to the lack of sufficient rain for long periods of time.  Both were also aggravated by high temperatures that just added fuel to the fire.

This year started out a little earlier than normal with somewhat wet conditions.  Early lush green growth was struck not once, but with multiple Continue reading

Woodlands Make Poor Pastures

Kathy Smith, Extension Program Director–Forestry, School of Environment and Natural Resources, The Ohio State University

Livestock grazing along a wooded stream compacts the soil, eliminates regeneration, and destroys the streambank, causing soil to be eroded into the stream. Photo by Kathy Smith, The Ohio State University.

Ever since the early settlement of the United States, woodlands have been used as pasture and range land. Even with low forage values, eastern forests were grazed until early farmers could clear enough land to plant crops for their livestock.

Forested pastures make the job of locating livestock and protecting them against predatory animals much more difficult than does an open pasture. Open pastures supply livestock an increased quantity and quality of forage compared to that of forested pasture. In addition to supplying poor forage, Ohio woodlands can contain plants that are harmful or poisonous to livestock. Plants such as white snakeroot, black cherry, buckthorn, and Kentucky coffee tree all are poisonous to livestock in some manner, whether it comes from eating the fruit, leaves, or bark. However, despite the obvious advantages of grazing open pastures and the disadvantages of grazing woodlands, presently, thousands of Ohio’s woodland acres are still being grazed. This woodland grazing negatively impacts not only the forest ecosystem but also . . .

Continue reading Woodlands Make Poor Pastures

Considerations for Pasture Risk Management Decisions

Clifton Martin, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Muskingum County

Despite the return of timely precipitation, proper grazing management remains important.

We just passed through a May and June that looked more like a July and August if we consider rainfall. Usually, July and August are more likely to put managers under pressure with hot temperatures and limited precipitation that force choices that might often be classified as “which wrong choice is the most right?” as we work to make the best of less-than-ideal conditions.

Timely rainfall is easing the current drought pressure that had been developing locally, but we still have a way to go for summer heat. As we navigate these choices, here are some points to remember.

A goal of managing grazing systems is to keep forage plants healthy and growing so that they meet the nutritional needs of grazing livestock. Two easy principles to follow on that journey are first, the “take half/leave half” concept and, second, provide a rest period so plants can recover.

These principles allow for pastures to sustain over a Continue reading