Forage Maturity Across Ohio

Jason Hartschuh, Dairy Management and Precision Livestock, Field Specialist

Warm weather this spring especially over the last couple of weeks has rapidly progressed forage maturity. Harvesting forages at the proper time for the livestock you are feeding is critical to farm profitability. Poor quality forages must be supplemented to maintain livestock. In the southern part of the state, many forage grasses are in head while in the northern part of the state, some varieties of Orchard grass and barnyard grass are in head but most are still in the vegetative stage but will be in head within a week.

 

 

 

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Forage Weeds: Fall Forgotten and Spring Startups

Alyssa Essman, OSU Extension State Specialist, Weed Science, Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County, Kyle Verhoff, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Defiance County

Spring means rapid forage growth, but it also means rapid weed growth. Due to the variability of spring weather, there are often only a few opportunities to control emerging summer annual weeds, winter annuals missed in the fall, and biennials that are small enough to effectively control. To manage weeds before they become a problem in forages, it is important to scout and plan accordingly. Forage is a broad category, and the spring weed control plan can look very different between species and operations. The problem weeds and whether control is necessary are going to be different between permanent pasture systems and alfalfa fields, and highly dependent on the consequences of specific weeds.

In established alfalfa, the decision for weed control of some winter annuals like henbit and field pennycress will depend on the severity of the weed presence, the age of the stand, and the end purpose of the forage. If the weed pressure is high, the stand is young, or the lower forage quality of the weeds interferes with the goal of producing dairy-quality hay, the weed control treatment may be worth the associated cost. In a grazing system, it may be more pertinent to control weeds in the spring to ensure weeds that aren’t grazed don’t go to seed. Numerous weeds can be a problem in forage systems. Reference the 2024 Weed Control Guide for specific recommendations following this general overview.

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Bale Grazing – Could It Work For You?

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

Some of the original bale grazing research happened at EOARDC in Noble County.

Extending the grazing season is one of the best ways to save money on feed and reduce labor on the farm. In order to add grazing days to the calendar, farm managers must approach grazing with a plan and the willingness to be flexible. Rotationally grazing, utilizing multiple forage species and growing seasons, being thoughtful about stocking rates, adding fertility when needed, and having plentiful fence and water will increase chances for success.

Whether you have the ability to graze for a couple extra weeks or a couple extra months, the benefits of preparation will show up in the money you save on harvesting or purchasing supplemental feed. Regardless of how diligent you are about your grazing plans, it is difficult to provide sufficient grazing for livestock 365 days a year in Ohio and eventually you’ll be relying on stored feeds to meet the needs of your livestock. There are still benefits to utilizing your pasture rotations even while feeding hay. Bale grazing may be a practice to consider.

 

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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)

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.

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It’s Time to Start Thinking about Frost-Seeding Legumes

Victor Shelton, Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist
(Previously published in On Pasture: January 18, 20120)

Frost seeding is one of the least expensive ways to enhance the stand of legumes in your pastures. It is basically the process of broadcasting the legume seed onto the soil surface during the winter dormant months and letting nature do the rest of the work.

 

 

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The Goal: Feed Less, Graze More

– Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

I often talk about upcoming grazing conferences this time of year. Right now, meetings in person are scarce and perhaps rightly so. I still encourage you to continue learning whether it’s from watching YouTube videos, reading books or articles, or attending a virtual meeting or conference.

It is also the time of year when I start thinking more about finding a comfortable chair, a warm blanket and some good reading material — especially when the snow flurries start. Winter is a great time for me to catch up on reading after checking on livestock in the cold, as long as I don’t get too warm and nod off. But, that said, winter chores still must be done! I’m never mentally prepared for winter, but that won’t stop it from happening. What’s a perfect winter to me? It includes stockpiled forages lasting for as long as possible, dry or frozen ground and as little hay needed to be fed.

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Fall Grazing Thoughts

– Chris Penrose, Extension Educator, Morgan County (originally published in Farm and Dairy)

Well, the growing season may be over but the grazing season may not. My whole career I have heard many talking about how long the grazing rotation should be: maybe 14 days in the spring or 60 in late summer during dry weather. I have also heard the discussion over which is more of a management challenge. Over 30 years ago I heard someone say that the greatest challenge is the 150 plus day rotation during the winter months. That one took me a while to process but once I did, it made a lot of sense. Few have accomplished it and many have made it a long way.

Would placing water in strategic locations improve your pasture management?

 

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Prevent Parasites Through Grazing Management

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension (previously published with Penn State Extension: May 31, 2017)

Grazing management and genetic selection can help your flock minimize the impact of parasites.

Parasites continue to plague many sheep and goat producers throughout the grazing season. Internal parasites decrease growth rates and in high levels can even cause death. However, sheep and goat producers can follow several practices to minimize the impacts to their flock or herd. These practices center on grazing management, but can also include genetic selection principles.

 

 

 

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