Autumn Forage Harvest Management

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

In light of the present armyworm concerns, if a hayfield is close to having enough growth for harvest, cut it as soon as possible!

Authors Note: Since preparing this article last week, a severe fall armyworm outbreak has developed across Ohio. Here are some comments about managing hayfields in view of this fall armyworm outbreak:

If the hayfield is close to having enough growth for harvest, cut it as soon as possible. If there are large numbers of fall armyworms present (more than 2 to 3 per square foot) and they are ¾-inch or larger, they will “cut” the entire field for you while you sleep another night or two. So be aware of what is in your hayfield! Be sure to read the accompanying article in this issue on the fall armyworm and how to scout for it and manage it.

If your hayfield is not quite ready for harvest, scout it now and continue to scout it every couple of days for fall armyworm presence until you do cut it. Be prepared to make a rescue treatment.

If an established hayfield has already been damaged by fall armyworm, cut it down and salvage what you can or . . .

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The Steer-Bull Price Differential: A Historical Perspective

– Kenny Burdine, Livestock Marketing Specialist, University of Kentucky

I decided to shift gears a bit this week and dive into a topic that often comes up when I visit with producers in extension settings. I am often asked whether I think it pays for a cow-calf operator to castrate bulls and sell steers. Castration is not without cost as it requires time and facilities and does stress calves for a period of time. Like so many management decisions, there are an infinite number of ways to examine this topic and there is more to consider than economics alone. But, it is a good question and one for which a livestock economist should be able to provide some perspective.


When examining historical prices, it is difficult to argue that there is not a price advantage to selling steers. Sure, there will be times when a group of bulls will outsell a group of steers, but I view those times as the exceptions, rather than the norm. Sometimes those exceptions may be due to quality or lot size differences. Other times it may be as simple as a buyer needing to fill out a load of bulls and bidding the price of a group up beyond what would have been expected. But, going back to January of 2010, there has not been a single month when the average price of 550 lb bulls exceeded that of Continue reading

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

Beef Heifer Development series posted on-line

Heifers retained this year will impact the economic performance of the herd for at least the next decade!

A six part presentation series discussing management strategies surrounding Beef Heifer Development has been posted on-line in the OSU Extension Beef Team Resource Library page.

Most beef producers replace 10-20% of their mature cows each year with heifers. The unique challenge that each cow/calf producer is faced with is that they are anticipating the future biological and economic performance of their herd for perhaps the next decade when replacement heifers are selected. Thus, each management decision made during the development phase of a beef replacement heifer will impact profitability for years to come.

In the six video presentations housed on the Beef Heifer Development page, OSU Extension Beef Specialist Steve Boyles details management strategies and considerations as replacement heifers are bred for, selected, developed, bred themselves, and ultimately re-bred for the first time.

The series of video presentations as well as the written PDF versions can be reached at your leisure directly through the Beef Heifer Development page.

Weaning Diet Options

– Justin Sexten, Ph.D., Director, CAB Supply Development

Spring calving herds, depending on rainfall and temperatures, may be weeks or months away from weaning. For many operations, that will bring the challenge of feeding weaned calves for a short transition period. That’s when nutrition is critical to end-product quality, because it influences both marbling development and calf health, which in turn also affects later quality grade. You may find local forages in short supply if your herd has had to deal with hot, dry weather this summer. One of the few “opportunities” that presents is evaluating alternative forage feeding strategies that may otherwise go untried.

You have to weigh the possible benefits as well as cost for any forage. Although many consider forage relatively inexpensive on a per-pound basis, it’s virtually always the most expensive per Continue reading