Turning the Forage World Upside Down – Condensed Tannins and Small Ruminants

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: March 20, 2018)

Well, someday it will.

(Image Source: Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower)

In the February issue of Hay & Forage Grower, I shared a story about Reed Edwards, a South Carolina farmer who had been growing sericea lespedeza hay for about 10 years.

Edwards sold his hay about as fast as he could make it, mostly to customers with Boar show goats or dairy goats.

Why goats? Continue reading

Spring Seeding of Forages

Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University

(Image Source: Warner Brothers Seed Company)

Late this month (depending on the weather) and on into April provides one of the two preferred times to seed perennial cool-season forages. The other preferred timing for cool-season grasses and legumes is in late summer, primarily the month of August here in Ohio. The relative success of spring versus summer seeding of forages is greatly affected by the prevailing weather conditions, and so growers have success and failures with each option.

Probably the two primary difficulties with spring plantings are Continue reading

8 Tips for a Quality 1st Cutting

Chris Parker
(previously published in Indiana Prairie Farmer: February 23, 2018)

Forage Corner: Here is advice to help you make the best first-cutting hay possible.

Making quality hay can be difficult any time of year. First-cutting hay can provide extra challenges, largely due to weather and other time demands early in the season.

Continue reading

Guard Dogs Deployed as Part of US Wolf-Sheep Study

Keith Ridler, Associated Press
(previously published on Morning Ag Clips: March 11, 2018)

(Image Source: Morning Ag Clips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Flickr/Creative Commons)

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Federal scientists are trying to decide if it’s time to let the big dogs out.

Nearly 120 dogs from three large breeds perfected over centuries in Europe and Asia to be gentle around sheep and children but vicious when confronting wolves recently underwent a study to see how they’d react to their old nemesis on a new continent. Continue reading

Preparation and Considerations for the 2018 Show Season

Tim Barnes, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Marion County

As the winter lambing season comes to an end, many purebred and club lamb producers are opening their barns and offering their latest lamb crop up for sale to compete in the 2018 show season. As many begin to flip through sale ads and Facebook postings, there are somethings that exhibitors need to take into consideration before making their big purchase.

So you want to show a market lamb, but don’t know where to begin?

The experts say selection and show preparation are a science that will aid in predicting the final product of your sheep.  A well-planned feed and Continue reading

How to Receive More for your Wool Clip

David Rowe, General Manager, Mid-States Wool Growers

Food for thought as spring is upon us and the 2018 shearing season begins.

People raise sheep for a variety of reasons. Most people are drawn to a particular breed because they like the way they look, they wish to show this breed, or they know someone who raises this breed. All are valid reasons to raise a specific breed of sheep, but the question on “how to make money” has not even been asked. As we know, the primary reason that most people raise sheep is to produce a successful lamb crop that can be marketed as well as a wool clip that can be sold as an additional product. Continue reading

Think Ahead about Weed Control in Alfalfa

Jeff Stachler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Auglaize County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 22, 2018)

As alfalfa stands age, they become thinner. The thinner alfalfa population allows weeds to encroach the field. Weeds can also be a problem if weeds were not properly managed prior to seeding the alfalfa.

After the establishment year, the weeds that are most frequent in an alfalfa field are winter annual weeds such as common chickweed, henbit, purple deadnettle, shepherd’s-purse, field pennycress, yellow rocket, birdsrape mustard, bushy wallflower, and cressleaf groundsel.

Another group of weeds that can get established are Continue reading

Sheep Records: The Key to Profitability

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, Penn State Extension
(previously published on the Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock page)

As a follow up to one of last weeks articles, Sheep Selection Tools, a good set of production records will serve as help tool in managing a profitable flock as well as assist you in making appropriate management decisions.

A key to profitability of any livestock operation is a good set of records.

Choosing what type of records to keep for your sheep operation initially starts with looking at what influences profitability of the flock. Once you decide what affects the profitability, then you can start collecting the records that help you make better informed decisions. These decisions might include tasks such as how to select the best performing sheep in your flock, how to identify sheep that should be culled, or how to identify expenses that could be decreased. Continue reading

Pasture: Evaluation and Management of Existing Pasture

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist

As we begin to move into spring, we need to start thinking about spring forage growth and how we will be managing our pastures over the course of the new year.

Pasture management is very important for grazing animals; cattle, horse, llama, and sheep owners. By managing pastures more effectively, land managers can increase forage production, lower production costs, improve aesthetics, and promote a healthier environment. The benefits of a well-managed pasture include reducing environmental impacts of your operation, including movement of soil and manure to water bodies; improving property aesthetics, which makes for good neighbor relations, and increases property value; and providing feed and recreation for your horses. Using a rotational grazing system can enhance these benefits.

For optimal health, horses and llamas need to eat 1 to 1.5% and cattle and sheep Continue reading

Sheep Selection Tools

Melanie Barkley, Livestock Extension Educator, PennState Extension

(previously published in Penn State Extension, Animals and Livestock)

Sheep selection should involve more than just visual selection characteristics.

There are a number of tools available for selection, but the key is to combine operation goals with production benchmarks and visual appraisal to select the best sheep for your farm. Plus, producers should take a look at an often overlooked part of the selection process: culling strategies.

Not all sheep are created equal and not all farms are created equal. Before you even walk out to the barn to look at the sheep, the first thing you should do is define your market. Who are you selling to and what does your customer want? You will then be able to define what characteristics are important for your ewe flock to exhibit. Then, step two is Continue reading

What’s Really the Best Management?

Walt Davis
(previously published in Beef Producer: The Grazier’s Gazette, February 27, 2018)

To achieve the best, all parts of the soil-plant-animal-wealth-human complex must be nurtured and none can be degraded.

Humans have a built-in need to make everything (except our desks) neat and orderly. We dislike dealing with things that we cannot categorize into neat little pigeon holes.

Farmers and ranchers are particularly fond of separating their problems and the means of dealing with these problems into tidy individual slots. Weed control here, animal performance there, disease prevention behind, cash flow over here and everybody stay in your place. We often look at these factors as separate and unrelated entities to be addressed one at a time.

The epitome of this fixation would be Continue reading

Mid-States Wool Growers Celebrates 100 Years

Catie Noyes
(previously published in Farm and Dairy: February 28, 2018)

Ohio-based cooperative says good people, good service means loyal farmers.

(Image Source: Catie Noyes – Farm and Dairy)

For 100 years, Mid-States Wool Growers has been working with farmers big and small to help them market their wool. And for most producers marketing their wool through Mid-States Wool Growers Cooperative, it’s about loyalty.

Market prices are not the most ideal these days, but Stanley Strode, wool manager at Mid-States Wool Growers, does his best to make sure growers get a fair price for their wool. Continue reading