Forages and Change

Jim Johnson, soils and crop consultant, Noble Research Institute
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

Changing it up

Full disclosure — I am not an economist. However, my premise is this: For various reasons, many growers would be economically better off growing a different forage than what they have always grown.

Growers, myself included, often dedicate time and energy to selecting the right variety and best management practices for a particular forage. But we seldom seem to stop and think about if that forage is the right one to grow. We often rationalize this action with statements like “This is what we’ve always done” or “We grow (insert your forage) because we grow (insert your forage).” Continue reading

12 Simple Steps of Grazing

Matt Poore, Ruminant Nutrition Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
Johnny Rogers, North Carolina Amazing Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

A 12-step plan to Amazing Grazing

Adaptive grazing is a term describing a management approach that includes many practices such as frequent rotation of cattle and stockpiling for winter grazing. It is not a recipe; it is a very flexible system that producers can modify to fit their needs and skills. In North Carolina, our educational program “Amazing Grazing” strives to teach principles and critical thinking skills, so producers can begin adaptive grazing.

We have found that producers we work with are at varying points on the journey, so laying out our approach in a 12-step plan is helpful to Continue reading

Does Crabgrass Really Hate You?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Forage type crabgrass – ‘Quick-N-Big’

You may have heard the rumor that crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) hates you. Those who profit from the sale of lawn care products may like you to believe that, but despite the claims, it really isn’t true. Each year crabgrass works toward accomplishing the goal of all living things, to reproduce, and if it had a life motto, it might be something like “Life is short, so live it!” Any plant out of place can be considered a weed and in the eye of many, crabgrass fits this description. However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time.

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season grass that reproduces by Continue reading

The 3 P’s of Small Ruminant Production

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Small ruminant producers are very familiar with “the three P’s” – Predators. Pathogens. Parasites. The three P’s account for most livestock losses on-farm. In order to be successful, producers need to tailor their management practices to minimize the impacts of predators, pathogens, and parasites.

That was the main focus of Session #3 of Southeast Ohio Sheep & Goat School on May 10 at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station (EARS). Presenters from OSU Extension and USDA Wildlife Services shared information about the environments of the three P’s, how they thrive, ways to deter them, and how to adjust management strategies when issues arise. Continue reading

Sheep A.I. Day in Licking County

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Have you ever considered using artificial insemination to rapidly increase the genetic diversity of your flock or to produce superior offspring for show and replacement breeding stock, but was unable to do so due to the cost? If so, look no further. All thanks to the Licking County Sheep Improvement Association, Ohio shepherds now have the opportunity to expand the genetics of their flocks in using A.I. techniques with the services being provided by Reproduction Specialty Group – Dr. Tad Thompson, DVM. The event is set for Saturday, August 18, 2018 at the Hartford Fairgrounds. Continue reading

On-farm Biosecurity

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County
(Previously published in: A Guide to Katahdin Hair Sheep)

As we begin yet another season filled with selling and showing livestock, it is important to keep biosecurity in mind. Rory reminds us that most economically important diseases are purchased. All newly purchased animals should be quarantined before introducing them to your flock. Therefore, as you consider purchasing a new stud ram or plan on taking your flock to the county fair, proper biosecurity measures will pay off for you and your flock in the long run.

How easy or difficult would it be to introduce an infectious disease into your flock? Do you know the factors that increase the risk of introducing an infectious disease into your flock? Farm biosecurity is about Continue reading

Animal Performance Losses Associated with Late Harvested Grass Hay

Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay and Forage Grower: May 8, 2018)

It’s true for fescue, too.

Volumes have been written about the importance of cutting alfalfa on time. Truth be told, it may be even more critical for grasses.

Jimmy Henning, extension forage agronomist with the University of Kentucky, points to research from the University of Tennessee that is a compelling example of how harvest timing drives future animal performance. He writes about the research in the most recent UK Forage News newsletter.

The research compared three cutting maturities for tall fescue: Continue reading

Benefits of Wider Swaths in Hay Making

Alan Newport, Beef Producer editor
(Previously published in Beef Producer: May 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Beef Producer)

Hay-makers have realized in recent years that wide swaths raise quality and finish faster.

Laying down hay in the widest possible swath speeds drying, improves quality and probably saves money in the long run.

In fact, forming a wide swath at cutting is the single most important factor in maximizing initial drying rate and preserving starches and sugars, says Dan Undersander, University of Wisconsin extension agronomist. Continue reading

When Should Pastures be Mowed?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
(Previously published in Ohio Farmer: May 14, 2018)

The spring of 2018 was the latest I can remember feeding hay to my cattle, and many producers were searching at the last minute to find some extra hay. Pastures were very slow growing this spring until it finally warmed up in early May. On my farm, common orchardgrass typically starts heading out in late April, and it was two weeks later this year. The late-arriving spring brought many challenges around farms, and the rush to get crops in the ground and to make hay has put mowing pastures on the backburner. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures.

Our perennial grasses go through two stages during the growing season: the reproductive stage and the vegetative stage. When grass starts growing in the spring, its main objective is Continue reading

The Basics of Tall Fescue

Dr. Jimmy Henning, Livestock Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky
(Previously published in Farmers Pride: January 18, 2018)

Tall fescue and its endophyte – implications for your farm.

The story of Kentucky 31 tall fescue reads like a soap opera. Found on a Menifee County Kentucky hill side in 1931, it quickly became a rival to Kentucky bluegrass as the most important grass in Kentucky. Its yield and persistence made it look unbeatable, but its animal performance numbers were sometimes poor or worse. The decision by the University of Kentucky to go forward with the release of Kentucky 31 was filled with about as much drama as you will ever find in an academic setting.

We now know the poor animal performance AND Continue reading

Start Planning for Drought Now

Gary Bates, Beef and Forage Center Director, University of Tennessee
(Previously published on Hay and Forage Grower: March 15, 2018)

This time of the year most of us are waiting for winter to end, looking forward to warmer temperatures and greener pastures. Very few people woke up this morning thinking about drought.

That topic won’t enter our minds for another few months. By that time, however, drought might become one of the dominant topics on everyone’s mind. The problem is that if we wait until June or July to start thinking about how to deal with a drought, we have missed out on several management tools to reduce its impact. Continue reading

The Effects of Finishing Diet and Weight on Lamb Performance, Carcass Characteristics, and Flavor

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

The beauty of the small ruminant industry is that producers are able to capitalize on niche markets that surround religious holidays. Unfortunately, it is clear that the price of lambs at the sale barn has dropped as seen in recent market reports, with the conclusion of Christian and Orthodox Easter’s as well as Passover. Checking the calendar, it appears that we are approaching both Ramadan (month of fasting beginning May 6) and Eid al-Fitr (June 5-7). The occurrence of these religious holidays may allow for the lamb market to see an increase in market prices, but many fall and winter born lambs in the eastern US will also be entering the market as they approach finishing weights and in turn may flood the market. Therefore, as a producer, it is important to have a marketing plan in mind when making breeding decisions for proper lambing dates.

Aside from religious holidays, lamb Continue reading

Is it Time to Start Grazing?

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County

For the spring we are having, and each producer’s situation, this is a difficult question. However, for most of us, the answer is yes! The recent warm weather has allowed the pasture and hay fields to really start growing at a fast clip.

There are several different thoughts on when to start grazing and I admittedly take a very aggressive approach to start grazing in the spring. I will even confess that it probably started thirty years ago when I was running out of hay. I start grazing as soon as I can. I use two approaches to early grazing. The first one is to use a “stockpiled” hay field (I made two cuttings of hay last summer, then let the field grow from August to March) and put my animals in the field on March 3rd. March 2nd was the last day I planned on Continue reading

Connecting with Ewe

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

Since its re-launch in August of 2017, the OSU Sheep Team has generated interested from shepherds all over the state of Ohio as well as around the world. Our team strives to provide both timely and timeless small ruminant production information to producers that can be easily be applied on-farm.

On a weekly basis, our team works on generating and providing quality information that we feel is important for shepherds to know. However, we would like to try something different and turn a part of this process over to you as a viewer. For those that follow our updates on a weekly basis, we are interested in hearing from you! Continue reading

Hauling Pen-pack Manure

Glen Arnold, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Manure Nutrient Management

(Image Source: North Dakota State University Extension)

When spring arrives, both large and small livestock owners with pen-pack manure are looking to apply the manure as soon as field conditions allow. Across the state I have seen stockpiles of pen-pack manure outside of sheep, horse, cattle, and dairy buildings. The nutrients and organic matter in pen-pack manure are an excellent addition to farm fields.

We always want to keep water quality in mind when handing manure. The goal is to make good use of the manure nutrients and keep those manure nutrients out of streams and ditches.

Pen-pack manure contains Continue reading