Sacrificing Clovers for the Greater Good

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County (originally published in The Ohio Farmer on-line)

While we may all agree having clover in the pasture mix is good, occasionally they may need to be sacrificed for the greater good of the pasture!

As our world becomes increasingly connected, weed pressures and populations continue to expand. The diversity of a typical mid-west pasture creates difficulties when it comes to dealing with weed populations. These pastures usually contain a mixture of grasses, legumes, and forbs, some of which are beneficial and some of which are weeds. Eliminating the weeds while preserving the beneficials is a challenge and sometimes a sacrifice needs to be made for the greater good of the pasture and in turn, your livestock.

The list of weeds you may find in your pasture is nearly endless. Some of the most ominous weeds in Ohio pastures are Palmer amaranth, thistles, marestail, and coming soon to a pasture near you- spotted knapweed. Due to Continue reading

Monitor for Ticks When Working Pasture

Timothy McDermott DVM, OSU Extension Educator, Franklin County

Despite an increase in tick-vectored diseases throughout Ohio, it’s common to believe that ticks such as this deer tick are only present during spring or summer.

There has been an increase in tick-vectored diseases in Ohio to livestock, companion animals and humans over the last several years. This has occurred as the different tick species that inhabit Ohio have increased their habitat range and gradual spread from the south and east towards the north. The increase in awareness of tick-vectored diseases is now only starting to catch up as a public and livestock health awareness priority. Ticks have been found to vector not only bacterial diseases, but new-vectored viral diseases as well as allergic reactions have increased in frequency and severity. As the producer gets ready for spring production work, they have multiple potential chances to interact with ticks. This might include inspecting fence for post-winter repair, checking on spring calving, walking pasture to evaluate forage stands or moving cattle to different paddocks to take advantage of lush spring growth. Understanding tick habitat preferences, knowing what life cycle stages are present and making a personal protective biosecurity plan will allow the producer to Continue reading

Making Forage Improvements

John F. Grimes, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator (originally published in The Ohio Cattleman)

We are currently at a very important point in the annual beef and forage production calendar. We are concluding the winter hay feeding season and transitioning to the spring grazing season. Most producers are welcoming this change as we have just experienced a difficult winter with extreme conditions ranging from bitter sub-zero temperatures to excessive mud. I know that I am ready for warmer temperatures and greener grass!

Now is a good time to evaluate the forage portion of your farming operation and how it is influencing your beef production unit. Forage management decisions can focus on pastures as well as hay production, storage, and feeding. These decisions will have a huge impact on the overall profitability of your beef enterprise. Keep in mind that the largest expense in any cow-calf budget that you can find will be feed costs. Grazed and harvested forages obviously will comprise the largest portion of the feed expense line of the budget.

Most Ohio beef operations will typically have a forage base that combines a variety of cool-season grasses with legumes. A few producers will also Continue reading

Crabgrass Can Be Friendly

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension AgNR Educator, Noble County (previously published in Progressive Forage)

Crabgrass is a hated weed in the world of turfgrass management and often seen as a plague in lawns and on sports fields. Despite it’s bad reputation as a weed, crabgrass was originally introduced to the United States for livestock and can be a friendly forage.

Dispelling a Bad Rep: Crabgrass possesses traits that allow it to excel as a weed, but those same traits implemented in the right place at the right time can be used to your advantage as a livestock forage. It is fast growing and fairly easy to establish. It is tolerant of foot traffic and close harvest heights. It provides excellent nutritive value and is Continue reading

Good Management Helps Reduce Grass Tetany

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator, AgNR, Monroe County (published originally in Farm and Dairy on-line)

Spring is here according to the calendar, but cold temperatures and many water-saturated soils have not made rotational grazing very favorable yet. However, the ground has firmed considerably the last few days in our area and predicted warmer temperatures should promote grass growth so that pasture rotations may be starting soon. As the number of daylight hours increase, temperatures warm, and pastures grow, farm managers should take steps to prevent hypomagnesemia or “grass tetany.”

Grass tetany is associated with cool weather in spring and fall because the metabolism of the plant is slower and its mineral uptake from the soil is reduced. This leads to lower amounts of magnesium (Mg) in the forages livestock graze. Grass tetany is more common on cool-season grass pastures than legume pastures because legumes such as clover and alfalfa tend to have higher magnesium levels in their leaves.

Turning cows out into new lush grass pastures can cause Continue reading

Dewormers – Are They An Extremely Valuable Non-Renewable Resources?

– Michelle Arnold, DVM (Ruminant Extension Veterinarian, UKVDL), University of Kentucky

A “non-renewable” resource is a resource with economic value that cannot be readily replaced on a level equal to its consumption. Petroleum and coal are two familiar examples of valuable non-renewable products used daily but known to exist in limited supply, and formation of new product takes billions of years. Dewormers, on the other hand, are products that can be purchased from almost any farm or veterinary supply store and online. There are many different kinds, fairly inexpensive, and seemingly effective at killing parasites in the digestive tract of cattle and certain types also control flies, ticks and lice. They come in many forms and can be delivered to cattle by mouth as a liquid, paste or in block form, by injection, or simply by pouring it down the topline. Given this situation, how could dewormers ever be classified as “extremely valuable non-renewable resources”? In a recent veterinary continuing education meeting at the UKVDL, Dr. Ray Kaplan, an internationally-known veterinary parasitologist from the University of Georgia, used that Continue reading

Bread, Milk, and Forages!

Allen M. Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, AgNR, Sandusky County (originally published in Ohio Farmer on-line)

Well, winter has come and gone, and despite the many scares that mother nature provided, and the warnings well ahead of time that the local weather reports around the state gave with each storm that approached, many of us chose not to rush out to the store to get bread and milk prior to the storm. And miraculously, we survived! Hopefully, all of your livestock survived all the cold snaps and snow storms as well. And if they did, you likely have yourself to thank for proper planning and nutrition that was provided for them.

So now that we are moving into the growing season and will soon be, or maybe already are, grazing in some areas, all of those concerns about what to feed our livestock and when are over until next winter approaches, right?!

Progressive beef, dairy, goat, and sheep producers are constantly searching for the most Continue reading

Mud Control is Grazing Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

An unseasonably warm February led to mud management issues for many pasture-based livestock operations. Spring typically leads to our April showers and the “traditional” time of managing around mud. We just arrived in mud season a little earlier.

All this mud is an undesirable condition, from an animal performance, resource management and environmental perspective.

Graziers need to have a mud control plan as part of a comprehensive grazing management system.

Within a grazing system, mud does not just happen. Wet soils combined with livestock create mud.

How quickly mud is created depends upon the Continue reading

It’s Better to Feed More Hay, than Graze Too Soon!

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

Nobody is short of moisture. I look forward to just having firm footing again. When you can’t walk across the yard without splashing water up on you, it’s wet.

A little bit of residual left from last year is a good thing!

The livestock are also getting tired of the wet conditions and continuous showers. I’ve had several calls from people looking for hay. This is a really bad time to be running out. The latest call was someone who had just fed their last bales and did not want to turn out on pasture yet until they had enough forage growth. That is exactly what I like to hear. If you turn out too early, the grass never gets much of a chance to get good leaf cover. Grazing too early in the spring does nothing but remove that solar panel the plants need to start building sugar and growing new roots. The forages really need to be able to canopy and get a good start before animals begin removing the top growth otherwise production will be reduced.

It is still better to find and feed poor hay and supplement it to meet nutritional needs than to Continue reading

Improving Mud Damaged Winter Pastures

As spring is upon us, pastures and paddocks that served as cattle feeding areas this winter are a sea of trampled and pugged up mud throughout Ohio. As much of the state has been experiencing even more precipitation over the past week, OSU Extension Beef Coordinator John Grimes visited with Wayne County’s OSU Extension Educator Rory Lewandowski about the considerations for restoring these damaged areas to productive forage as soon as soil conditions permit. You’ll find the recording of that timely conversation below.