Addressing Feed & Forage Shortages

August may be the perfect time to re-establish forage fields damaged beyond repair in recent years!

Seldom do we talk about forage shortages and above normal precipitation in the same breath. Regardless, that’s where we found ourselves throughout Ohio and much of the Midwest in the summer of 2019. For much of the year prior to that abundant rainfall had allowed us to grow lots of forage. Unfortunately, the weather seldom allowed us to harvest it as high quality feed.

Since the fall of 2018 demand for quality forages and bedding had been on the increase. It began with a wet fall that forced us from pasture fields early. Followed by constantly muddy conditions, cattle were requiring more feed and energy than normal. At the same time, even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall of 2018, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were, yet again, expending more energy than normal to remain in their comfort zone. Then, as a cold late January 2019 evolved into February, in many cases mud had matted down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to require even more energy in the cold weather.

Reduced supplies of quality forages coupled with increased demand over the previous year had led us to a perfect storm that resulted in the lowest inventory of hay in Ohio since the 2012 drought, and the 4th lowest in 70 years. The spring of 2019 weather didn’t provide the opportunity to improve that situation. By summer cattlemen throughout the Midwest bordered on having a forage and feed crisis.

Below you will find a compilation of the forage, feed and cattle management strategy articles and videos we’ve published that will aid you in addressing feed shortage situations regardless the cause.

Print Articles previously published in the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter, the C.O.R.N. newsletter, and Buckeye Dairy News

Annual Forage Agronomic Guidelines and Characteristics – Mark Sulc

Breeding Beef Cows Back After a Tough Winter – Dean Kreager

Dealing with Winter Injured Forage Stands – Mark Sulc

Emergency Forages to Plant Yet This Year For Grazing – Mark Sulc

Emergency Forages to Plant Yet This Year for Mechanical Harvest – Mark Sulc

FAQs: Forages, Cover Crops and More – Stan Smith

FAQs that address current agronomy, livestock feed, and cover crop concerns – OSU Agronomy Team

Forages Continue to Mature – Mark Sulc, Rory Lewandowski and Jeff Stachler

Forage Focus: Storing, Testing and Feeding Baled Forages – Christine Gelley and Dan Lima

Forage Options for “Prevented Planting” Corn and Soybean Acres – Stan Smith

Forage Production Options for Ohio (or printable version in PDF) – Mark Sulc, Bill Weiss, Dianne Shoemaker and Sarah Noggle

Forage Shortage: Considering Early Weaning – Garth Ruff

Forage Shortage and Prevented Planting Acres . . . think OATS! – Al Gahler and Stan Smith

Grazing Options for Supplementing Poor Quality Forages – Chris Penrose

Hay Quality 2019; It’s Deja vu All Over Again! – Stan Smith

Hay inventory severely low across Midwest – Alayna DeMartini

Healing the Mess: Early Season Pasture Management – Chris Penrose

“Increase the feed, or reduce the need” – Stan Smith

Making High Quality Baleage – Jason Hartschuh

Making High Quality Baleage (PODCAST) – Rory Lewandowski

My first cutting is just ‘cow hay’ – now what? – Jimmy Henning, UK

Oats ’07: seeded into wheat stubble in Fairfield County, Ohio – Stan Smith

Planning for Winter 2020 Cow Herd Feeding – Francis Fluharty

Rain Damage to Hay – Rory Lewandowski

Speeding Up Hay Drying – Mark Sulc

Stockpiling Fescue and Orchardgrass – Clif Little

There’s time to grow more feed! – Stan Smith and Al Gahler

Too much pasture? Clip it, hay it, or stockpile it for summer! – Victor Shelton

Using corn as a Cover Crop – Peter Thomison, Ben Brown, Sam Custer, Greg LaBarge, Sarah Noggle, Mark Sulc, Eric Richer, and Harold Watters

What are your Bedding Options, is Keeping a Thin Wheat Stand Worth It? – Jason Hartschuh


Videos via the OSU Beef Team YouTube channel

  • Filling the gap with forages: Cover crop forage options on Prevented Planting acres by Rory Lewandowski

  • Considerations for Harvesting High Quality Hay and maintaining that quality all the way to storage and consumption. With John Grimes and Duane Rigsby.

  •  Forage Focus: Collecting Good Hay Samples and Utilizing the Results, with Christine Gelley and Dan Lima

  • Late Season Oats: A Cost-effective Alternative to “Traditional” Forages, with Stan Smith

  • Improving Mud Damaged Pastures, with Rory Lewandowski and John Grimes.

  • Proper Hay Storage Techniques, with John Grimes.

  • Forage Focus – Pasture Fertility, Soil Testing and Grazing Management, with Christine Gelley and Marcus McCartney

  • Nutritional requirements of the beef female for optimal performance from the last trimester through breeding season. Speaker: Dr. Steve Boyles, OSU Extension Beef Specialist, OSU Department of Animal Sciences during the 2019 Ohio Beef School webinar.

  • Impacts of nutrition on heifer development and conception rates of heifers. Impacts of nutrition on days to return to estrus and conception rates of lactating females. Speaker: Dr. Alvaro Garcia Guerra, Assistant Professor, OSU Department of Animal Sciences during the 2019 Ohio Beef School webinar.

  • Managing calf health born into stressful situations: Weak calves, importance of amount and timing of colostrum intake, colostrum replacers or supplements, suggested newborn treatments and vaccinations, etc. Speaker: Justin Kieffer, Clinical Veterinarian, Professional Practice, Assistant Professor, OSU Department of Animal Sciences during the 2019 Ohio Beef School webinar.