Prepare to Evaluate Forage Stands for Winter Injury

Originally posted on the BEEF Newsletter

By:  Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Wayne County and Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

Forage stands will begin spring greenup in the next few weeks, especially in southern Ohio. While winter injury in forages is very hard to predict, this winter has presented some very tough conditions for forage stands. This is especially true of legumes like alfalfa and red clover. Producers and crop consultants should be prepared to walk forage stands early this spring to assess their condition in time to make decisions and adjustments for the 2019 growing season.

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Colostrum is Key

Mike Metzger, Michigan State University Extension Educator
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Sheep & Goat: February 12,2013)

Colostrum is the key to raising healthy goat kids and lambs.

Ensuring goat kids and lambs get enough colostrum at birth is imperative to getting them off to a good start.

One of the most important functions of colostrum (first milk) is to provide kids and lambs with antibodies (immunoglobulins) that provide passive immunity for the first two months of life. Newborn lambs and kids, like other mammals, are born with no antibodies of their own and rely on those provided by the mother in colostrum for protection.

(Image Source: Premier1Supplies)

Protection provided by colostrum starts during pregnancy. Does and ewes must be adequately vaccinated and receive proper nutrition in order to mount an immune response needed to manufacture antibodies for colostrum and remain healthy themselves. Minerals such as selenium, copper, and zinc are vital components of immune function. Newborns are very dependent on copper acquired during the prenatal period since copper levels in milk are poor. Therefore, proper copper nutrition, especially in goats, in gestating females is critical to body stores in newborns. Pregnant animals must be on the farm for at least fourteen days to produce the correct antibodies for their specific kidding/lambing environment to pass on to their offspring.

The antibodies found in colostrum are absorbed whole by the kids and lambs through the lining of the stomach. However, the efficiency with which a newborn can absorb these antibodies declines within just one hour after birth. The ability to absorb antibodies drastically decreases after 12 hours and is essentially gone by 24 hours of age. Therefore, if a newborn doesn’t get colostrum within the first 24 hours of birth, its chances of survival are very slim.

The single most important component to successful transfer of antibodies from mother to offspring is the consumption of sufficient amounts of colostrum. Kids and lambs must consume enough colostrum to provide the immunoglobulins needed for passive immunity. A good rule of thumb would be 8% – 10% of the body weight of the kid/lamb, however it is best to feed according to appetite.

For example if the birth weight was 5 lbs., that would mean that you would need roughly 1/2 lb. of colostrum (5 lbs. x 10%). This translates into about a half of a pint (one pint roughly equals one pound). This is normally not a problem as long as animals accept their offspring and have enough colostrum and teats to feed the litter. However, occasionally you will run into the problem of an animal rejecting her kids/lambs or producing a larger litter than she is capable of nursing effectively. In these cases you will be forced to bottle or tube feed colostrum or risk losing the kids or lambs.

Planning ahead in these situations is critical. Freeze extra colostrum from several healthy older animals (colostrum quality is better in older animals than first timers) to have it on hand. It is important to thaw only the amount of colostrum needed (once thawed you cannot refreeze), thus it is best to freeze colostrum in small quantities. Do not thaw frozen colostrum in the microwave as this will have an adverse effect on the antibodies. Use a warm water bath to thaw frozen colostrum quickly.

Antibodies in colostrum provide kids and lambs with passive immunity for the first few months of their lives. Therefore, it is vitally important that newborns receive adequate amounts of colostrum as soon after birth as possible to ensure survival. The quality of the colostrum will be dependent on how the doe or ewe is managed during pregnancy, especially during the last few weeks.

Avoid Forage Toxicities After Frosts

Originally posted on the BEEF Newsletter– Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist

As cold weather approaches this week, livestock owners need to keep in mind the few forage species that can be extremely toxic soon after a frost. Several species contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. A few legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. Each of these risks is discussed in this article along with precautions to avoid them.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential

Forage species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of risk of toxicity after a frost event:

  • Grain sorghum = high to very high toxic potential
  • Indiangrass = high toxic potential
  • Sorghum-sudangrass hybrids and forage sorghums = intermediate to high potential
  • Sudangrass hybrids = intermediate potential
  • Sudangrass varieties = low to intermediate in cyanide poisoning potential
  • Piper sudangrass = low prussic acid poisoning potential
  • Pearl millet and foxtail millet = rarely cause toxicity

Species not usually planted for agronomic use can also develop toxic levels of prussic acid, including the following:

  • Johnsongrass
  • Shattercane
  • Chokecherry
  • Black cherry
  • Elderberry

It is always a good idea to check areas where wild cherry trees grow after a storm and pick up and discard any fallen limbs to prevent animals from grazing on the leaves and twigs.

Fertility can affect poisoning risk. Plants growing under high nitrogen levels or in soils deficient in phosphorus or potassium will be more likely to have high prussic acid poisoning potential.

Fresh forage is more risky. After frost damage, cyanide levels will likely be higher in fresh forage as compared with silage or hay. This is because cyanide is a gas and dissipates as the forage is wilted and dried for making silage or dry hay.

Plant age affects toxicity. Young, rapidly growing plants of species that contain cyanogenic glucosides will have the highest levels of prussic acid. After a frost, cyanide is more concentrated in young leaves and tillers than in older leaves or stems. New growth of sorghum species following a non-killing frost is dangerously high in cyanide. Pure stands of indiangrass can have lethal levels of cyanide if they are grazed when the plants are less than 8 inches tall.

Toxicity Symptoms

Animals can die within minutes if they consume forage with high concentrations of prussic acid. Prussic acid interferes with oxygen transfer in the blood stream of the animal, causing it to die of asphyxiation. Before death, symptoms include excess salivation, difficult breathing, staggering, convulsions, and collapse.

Ruminants are more susceptible to prussic acid poisoning than horses or swine because cud chewing and rumen bacteria help release the cyanide from plant tissue.

Grazing Precautions

The following guidelines will help you avoid danger to your livestock this fall when feeding species with prussic acid poisoning potential:

  • Do not graze on nights when frost is likely. High levels of toxic compounds are produced within hours after a frost, even if it was a light frost.
  • Do not graze after a killing frost until plants are dry, which usually takes 5 to 7 days.
  • After a non-killing frost, do not allow animals to graze for two weeks because the plants usually contain high concentrations of toxic compounds.
  • New growth may appear at the base of the plant after a non-killing frost. If this occurs, wait for a killing freeze, then wait another 10 to 14 days before grazing the new growth.
  • Don’t allow hungry or stressed animals to graze young growth of species with prussic acid potential. To reduce the risk, feed ground cereal grains to animals before turning them out to graze.
  • Use heavy stocking rates (4-6 head of cattle/acre) and rotational grazing to reduce the risk of animals selectively grazing leaves that can contain high levels of prussic acid.
  • Never graze immature growth or short regrowth following a harvest or grazing (at any time of the year). Graze or greenchop sudangrass only after it is 15 to 18 inches tall. Sorghum-sudangrass should be 24 to 30 inches tall before grazing.
  • Do not graze wilted plants or plants with young tillers.

Greenchop

Green-chopping frost-damaged plants will lower the risk compared with grazing directly, because animals are less likely to selectively graze damaged tissue. Stems in the forage dilute the high prussic acid content that can occur in leaves. However, the forage can still be toxic, so feed greenchop with great caution after a frost. Always feed greenchopped forage of species containing cyanogenic glucosides within a few hours, and don’t leave greenchopped forage in wagons or feedbunks overnight.

Hay and silage are safer

Prussic acid content in the plant decreases dramatically during the hay drying process and the forage should be safe once baled as dry hay. The forage can be mowed anytime after a frost if you are making hay. It is rare for dry hay to contain toxic levels of prussic acid. However, if the hay was not properly cured and dried before baling, it should be tested for prussic acid content before feeding to livestock.

Forage with prussic acid potential that is stored as silage is generally safe to feed. To be extra cautious, wait 5 to 7 days after a frost before chopping for silage. If the plants appear to be drying down quickly after a killing frost, it is safe to ensile sooner.

Delay feeding silage for 8 weeks after ensiling. If the forage likely contained high levels of cyanide at the time of chopping, hazardous levels of cyanide might remain and the silage should be analyzed before feeding.

Nitrate accumulation in frost forages

Freezing damage also slows down metabolism in all plants that might result in nitrate accumulation in plants that are still growing, especially grasses like oats and other small grains, millet, and sudangrass. This build-up usually isn’t hazardous to grazing animals, but green chop or hay cut right after a freeze can be more dangerous. When in doubt, send a forage sample to a forage testing lab for nitrate testing before grazing or feeding it.

Species That Can Cause Bloat

Forage legumes such as alfalfa and clovers have an increased risk of bloat when grazed one or two days after a hard frost. The bloat risk is highest when grazing pure legume stands and least when grazing stands having mostly grass.

The safest management is to wait a few days after a killing frost before grazing pure legume stands – wait until the forage begins to dry from the frost damage. It is also a good idea to make sure animals have some dry hay before being introduced to lush fall pastures that contain significant amounts of legumes. You can also swath your legume-rich pasture ahead of grazing and let animals graze dry hay in the swath. Bloat protectants like poloxalene can be fed as blocks or mixed with grain. While this an expensive supplement, it does work well when animals eat a uniform amount each day.

Frost and Equine Problems (source: Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska)

Minnesota specialists report that fall pasture, especially frost damaged pasture, can have high concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates, like sugars. This can lead to various health problems for horses, such as founder and colic. They recommend pulling horses off of pasture for about one week following the first killing frost.

High concentrations of nonstructural carbohydrates are most likely in leafy regrowth of cool-season grasses such as brome, timothy, and bluegrass but native warm-season grasses also may occasionally have similar risks.

Another unexpected risk can come from dead maple leaves that fall or are blown into horse pastures. Red blood cells can be damaged in horses that eat 1.5 to 3 pounds of dried maple leaves per one thousand pounds of bodyweight. This problem apparently does not occur with fresh green leaves or with any other animal type. Fortunately, the toxicity does not appear to remain in the leaves the following spring.

PEM or “Polio” in Small Ruminants

Richard Ehrhardt, Small Ruminant Extension Specialist, Michigan State University
(Previously published on the Michigan State University Sheep and Goat Extension Page)

 

Understanding how to prevent and treat Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) in sheep and goats.

Polioencephalomalacia (PEM) is also known as cerebrocortical necrosis (CCN) and is a relatively common nutritional disorder in sheep and goats. A common name for this disease in sheep and goats is “polio”; however, it has absolutely no relationship with the infectious viral disease found in humans (poliomyelitis). Cases of PEM can be successfully treated if detected early in the disease course, making recognition of early symptoms a critical issue for sheep and goat producers.

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Ag-note: Niche Marketing – An Agriculture Alternative

By: Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, Eric Moore, OSU Animal Science Undergraduate Students
Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

 

This weeks Ag-note comes from OSU students Murphy Deutsch, Emily Starlin, Breanna Sharp, and Eric Moore as they discuss a topic that is unique to the small ruminant industry, niche marketing. One of the greatest benefits that small ruminants producers have here in the state of Ohio is the endless opportunity to marketing their livestock products to several different consumers. Whether you are producing breeding stock, show lambs, wool and fiber, or meat products, you will certainly be able to find your niche.

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Pneumonia in Sheep and Goats

Dave Van Metre, DVM, DACVIM Professor / Extension Veterinarian, Colorado State University, Originally posted in the Sheep Newsletter, August 14, 2018

Pneumonia is an infection of the lungtissue with multiple causes. It is an important medical problem of sheep and goats of all ages. In younger animals, various bacteria, viruses, and parasites of the upper and lower respiratory tract are often involved in the development of pneumonia. In adults, these same diseases – causing agents can create pneumonia.

 

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Ohio Noxious Weed Identification – Week 21 Palmer Amaranth

Palmer Amaranth

FamilyPigweed, Amaranthaceae.

Habitat: Crop fields, pastures, and roadsides.

Life cycle: Summer annual.

Growth habit: Erect up to 6 ft. high.

Leaves: Prominent white veins on the undersurface unlike redroot pigweed, not pubescent, alternate, without hairs (glabrous), and lance or egg-shaped.  Leaves are 2 to 8 inches long and 1/2 to 2 1/2 inches wide with prominent white veins on the undersurface.  Leaves occur on relatively long petioles.

Flower: Small, green, inconspicuous flowers are produced in dense, compact, terminal panicles that are from 1/2 to 1 1/2 feet long. Smaller lateral flowers also occur between the stem and the leaf petioles (leaf axils).  Male and female flowers occur on separate plants. Each terminal panicle contains many densely packed branched spikes that have bracts that are 3 to 6 mm long; can produce 500 thousand to 1 million seeds per plant.

Roots: Taproot that is often, but not always, reddish in color

Stem: One central stem occurs from which several lateral branches arise.

Similar Plants: Loosely resembles many other pigweed species. Palmer’s petioles are as long or longer than the actual leaf. This plant is hairless and has elongated seed heads. Leaves are typically more diamond shaped than other pigweed species, and occasionally has one hair at the tip of the leaf.

The Problem is……..Palmer amaranth is one of the most difficult weeds to control in agricultural crops.  It developed a major glyphosate resistance problem in the southern US from 2006-2010, and has been spreading in the midwestern US since, causing crop loss and increases in weed management costs. Characteristics that make it a successful annual weed include: rapid growth rate; wide window of emergence (early May through late summer); prolific seed production (upwards of 500,000 seeds/plant); tendency to develop herbicide resistance; and tolerance to many post-emergence herbicides when more than 3 inches tall.

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Ohio Noxious Weed Identification – Week 20 Marestail

Marestail

FamilyComposite, Asteraceae.

Habitat: Thin turf, agronomic crops, pastures, orchards, fallow fields, waste areas, and roadsides.

Life cycle: Summer or winter annual.

Growth habit: Seedlings develop a basal rosette and mature plants erect are reaching 6 1/2 ft in height.

Leaves: The mature plant has leaves that are entirely without petioles (sessile). Leaves are 4 inches long, 10 mm wide, alternate, linear, entire or more often toothed, crowded along the stem, and hairy. Leaves become progressively smaller up the stem.

Stem: Erect, solid, hairy, reaching 6 1/2 ft in height.

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