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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Cressleaf Groundsel in Hay

Source: Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Ted Wiseman, OSU Extension

Cressleaf Groundsel is in full flower currently in forage and unplanted fields across the state. While this is not a new weed prevalence has been increasing, causing concern for many livestock producers.

 

Toxicity

Cressleaf Groundsel is toxic to both cattle and horses. Cattle are 30-40 times more susceptible to poisoning than sheep or goats. Calves and younger cattle are more susceptible than older cattle, but it can be fatal at high enough doses to all age groups. Pyrrolizidine alkaloids are the principle toxin in these plants. It is known to cause liver disease in cattle, producing symptoms such as listlessness, decreased appetite, depression, anorexia, diarrhea, and photosensitization in extreme cases. It also appears that this species has been responsible for abortions in cattle, making control of butterweed a necessity. Cattle that consumed 4 to 8% of their body weight in the green plant over a few days developed acute liver necrosis and died within 1 to 2 days. Cattle that ingested 0.15% of their body weight (fresh weight) of a species in the same genus as butterweed for a minimum of 20 days resulted in 100% mortality. This comparative ratio equates to a 20-day cumulative dose of 2% of an animal’s body weight of dry plants (Knight and Walter 2001). Most beef cattle will consume 2-2.5% of their body weight in dry matter per day. Since these toxins are cumulative when hay is over 5% Cressleaf Groundsel dry matter weight, enough can be consumed within 20 days to cause mortality.

Cressleaf Groundsel

While toxicity decreases in some plants as they dry, that is not the case with Cressleaf Groundsel. These toxins are not decreased if the plants are dried and baled. Ensilaging will decrease the concentration of toxin but not eliminate them. Producers with high concentrations of Cressleaf Groundsel maybe forced to bale first cutting and throw it away so that livestock are not poisoned. Areas of sparse concentration may be baled and fed cautiously, ideally alongside hay that is free from poisonous weeds. Cattle may sort the weeds out. A new bale should be fed before the only thing left in the feeder is weeds. In grazing situations, cattle will usually not eat poisonous plants as long as they have access to other quality forages. Be cautious anytime drought conditions decrease forage stands.

Biology and Identification

Cressleaf groundsel reproduces only from seeds and emerges as a rosette in the fall, then bolts, flowers, and goes to seed in the spring.  Bolting stems are hairless, hollow, grooved, and can reach heights of three feet with inflorescences that have six to twelve yellow ray flowers.  The flowers are like other species in the Aster family, with ray (outside) and disk (center) petals.  The outer ray will normally consist of 5 to 15 petals that are bright yellow, and the inner disk will be a more golden yellow in color.  Plants will eventually produce seeds that resemble those of dandelions.  The seeds are small with a reddish to brown tint and have a feathery pappus that makes them easily carried by the wind.

Control

Cressleaf groundsel normally does not regrow after the first cutting of hay; however, our goal should be to prevent it from becoming established in the field. Take note of fields with Cressleaf Groundsel in them or nearby for increased scouting and control measures next year.  Effective chemical control is when the plants are still in the rosette growth stage in late fall or early spring.  Herbicides such as 2,4-D provide good control when applied at the correct growth stage.  Larger plants may require additional herbicides such as dicamba.  Products that can be used to control this weed and others can be found in the 2020 Weed Control Guide for Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  One caution using these broadleaf herbicides is that they also damage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers in pastures and hayfields.  For additional information on identifying weeds go to https://cpb-us-w2.wpmucdn.com/u.osu.edu/dist/7/3461/files/2014/04/Cressleaf_groundsel_article_-_p-zna9t9.pdf

Grass Tetany Could be Looming for Cattle and Sheep

Are your pastures ready for spring and your livestock ready for pasture?

As fast as this year seems to be going, pastures will be greening up and it will be time to start grazing again. Although we haven’t had much of a winter so far, and I hope I am not jinxing us by mentioning it here.

Spring arrives soon
Soon it will be time to start preparing our livestock for lush green pastures. Last year was a tough year for getting stored forages harvested, especially first cutting hay.

Supplement energy
Some hay analysis I have seen this past year would suggest that many need to supplement energy to maintain body conditions during this last trimester prior to the spring calving and lambing season. Continue reading

Is Fescue Toxicosis a Problem in Hay?

Gary Bates, Extension Forage Specialist and Director of the UT Beef and Forage Center, University of Tennessee
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 25, 2019)

Tall fescue is the dominant forage species used in the eastern United States. Being a cool-season grass, it provides grazing during the spring and fall for many livestock producers around the nation.

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Multi-species Grazing can Improve Utilization of Pastures

Jodie Pennington, Small Ruminant Educator, Lincoln University, Newton County Extension Center
(Previously published on Extension – Goats, August 14, 2019)

Multi-species grazing is the practice of using two or more livestock species together or separately on the same pasture-land in a specific growing season. With an understanding of the different grazing behaviors of each species, various combinations of animals can be used to more efficiently utilize the forages in a pasture. Different species of livestock prefer different forages and graze them to different heights. Cattle tend to be intermediate grazers. They graze grasses and legumes and bite with their mouth and tongue. Sheep and horses graze closer to the ground than cattle.

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Control Pasture Weeds Now

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

With the combination of sunny warm days and more than adequate rainfall received so far in May, grasses and legumes in our hayfields are beginning to flower. Which means, according to our knowledge of grass maturity and forage quality, it’s already time to make hay. If the weather will cooperate, that is.

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