Harvesting and Grazing Forages Following a Frost

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

Livestock owners who feed forages need to keep in mind certain dangers of feeding forages after the recent frost events. Several forage species can be extremely toxic soon after a frost because they contain compounds called cyanogenic glucosides that are converted quickly to prussic acid (i.e. hydrogen cyanide) in freeze-damaged plant tissues. Some legumes species have an increased risk of causing bloat when grazed after a frost. In this article I discuss each of these risks and precautions we can take to avoid them.

Species with prussic acid poisoning potential
Agronomic species that can contain prussic acid are listed below in decreasing order of potential 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

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Lice: What They Are and How to Control Them?

Wes Watson, Professor and Extension Specialist (Livestock & Poultry), Entomology & Plant Pathology, North Carolina State University
JM Luginbuhl, Professor Emeritus, Crop & Soil Sciences, North Carolina State University
(Previously published online: NC State Extension, October 1, 2015)

(Image Source: African blue louse: Rabinder Kumar and Jack Lloyd, University of Wyoming)

Lice are a common group of ectoparasitic insects of goats. Generally goat lice are host specific and only attack goats and their close relatives, such as sheep. There are five species of goat louse that fall into two categories based on feeding habits. The sucking lice feed by piercing the skin with tiny needle like mouthparts to take blood directly from the capillaries. The chewing lice (also known as biting lice) have large robust mouthparts designed to scrape and abrade the skin and hair. Chewing lice consume tiny bits of skin, skin secretions and hair for food. The feeding habits and activity of these insects result in discomfort and irritation to the animal. Infested animals often cause structural damage to farm facilities by rubbing and scratching on fences and posts resulting in hair loss, skin damage, wounds and secondary infections. Parasites cause animals to have an unthrifty appearance, poor feed conversion, and reduced weight gains and milk production. Continue reading

Virtual Farm Science Review Highlights for Small Ruminant Producers

Brady Campbell, Program Coordinator, OSU Sheep Team

For the first time in nearly 60 years of it’s existence, the annual Farm Science Review (FSR) hosted by the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University will be held on-line and free to the public. This years event is scheduled for September 22 – 24, 2020. In order to gain access to this years programs, please follow the steps outlined in the video below to register for your on-line account.

Once registered, you may then begin creating your own account portfolio which allows you the opportunity to schedule your day. In doing so, you will be able to select from a wide variety of speakers, educational topics, equipment demonstrations, and much more!

Of the educational topics, several are in relation to small ruminant production. Below is a list of topics that may interest each of you. Continue reading

Noxious Weeds on your Property: What is your Responsibility?

Ellen Essman, Agricultural and Resource Law Program, The Ohio State University

Despite the fact that “pumpkin spice” everything is back in stores, it is still summer, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still dealing with weeds. In fact, we have been receiving many questions about noxious weeds lately. This blog post is meant to be a refresher about what you should do if noxious weeds sprout up on your property.

What are noxious weeds?
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA) is in charge of designating “prohibited noxious weeds.” The list may change from time to time, but currently, noxious weeds include: Continue reading

Poisonous Pasture Weeds

Dwight Lingenfelter,

(Image Source: Poison Hemlock – Hay & Forage Grower)

As we transition into the fall, pastures will become less productive as temperatures decline. Be sure to scout your pasture fields for potentially dangerous weeds that your livestock may consider grazing on as other forages become limited.

Grazing animals will very rarely eat poisonous weeds if there are other options. However, the recent rain has been great for poisonous plant growth and the concern is heightened.

The wet weather has been great for pasture growth but is also good for poisonous plant growth. Grazing animals will very rarely eat poisonous weeds if there are other options. Keeping pastures growing rapidly and knowing which species to be most concerned about will help in minimizing the risk of poisonous pasture plants. Continue reading

How to Shear Sheep – Blow by Blow

In preparation for both fall and winter lambing, shearing the ewe flock is an important management practice that should be considered to improve the efficiency of your operation. Shearing sheep can be made easy when following this technique step by step or, in sheep terms, blow by blow. Ensuring that your sheep is in the correct location at all times will result in a low stress and successful shearing job. For those interested in learning more on how to properly shear your sheep, be on the look out for announcements in regards to our sheep shearing schools in 2021. Happy Shearing!

Using Coyotes to Protect Livestock. Wait. What?

Randy Comeleo, Committee Chair, Benton County, Oregon, Agriculture and Wildlife Protection Program
(Previously published with Oregon State University Extension Service)

(Image Source: USDA National Wildlife Research Center)

Livestock losses are an unfortunate reality of ranching and the use of traps and snares is a common way to attempt to reduce predator-livestock conflict. However, one USDA study (Shivik et al. 2003) noted that for many types of predators, there is a paradoxical relationship between the number of predators removed and the number of livestock killed. Surprisingly, these researchers found that as more predators were removed, more livestock were killed.

Similarly, in a 14-year USDA study at the University of California Hopland Research and Extension Center (Conner et al. 1998), researchers found that trapping of coyotes did not reduce sheep losses. In fact, scientists found that as trappers worked more hours, more lambs were killed by predators. The unexpected results in these studies can be explained by Continue reading

Do Cover Crops Need Fertilizer?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

At A Glance:
The benefits of utilizing cover crops in both grazing and agronomic crop production are numerous. However, each cover crop system is unique. There is no blanket “yes” or “no” answer to the question- Do cover crops need fertilizer?

Incorporating Cover Crops
Each farm is different and therefore the way you use cover crops can differ too. Whether you are a row crop farmer, a fruit and vegetable grower, exclusively in the hay business, a livestock manager, or involved in a combination of pursuits, cover crops can be an added benefit to your system. Continue reading

Increase Lamb Crop by Testing for Pregnancy


Reviewed by: Jay Parsons, University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Bill DeMoss, Mountain Vet supply
(Previously published online with Agriview: September 5, 2019)

(Image Source: U.S. Lamb Resource Center)

Pregnancy detection in the ewe provides the opportunity to adjust nutritional and lambing management to save on feed and labor costs. The old adage that “one open ewe takes the profits of five producing ewes” may be true when all costs are calculated. Early determination of fetal numbers and gestational stage gives the option of sorting for nutritional demands in late pregnancy and early lactation. Without that information, the single-bearing ewe is being fed too much or the twin-bearing ewe too little. Open ewes are robbing the pregnant ewes of necessary nutrition. Grouping according to gestational stage will also save on labor and allow for better utilization of facilities and biosecurity.

The key in any type of business is producing an end product, or more simply put, production. The economic benefit of pregnancy testing in Continue reading

Reproductive Management of the Ewe Flock and the Ram

Mike Neary, Extension Sheep Specialist, Purdue University
(Previously published on the Purdue University Extension web page)

(Image Source: Michigan State University)

The most important factor in determining profitability of a sheep enterprise is production rate. Productivity of the ewe flock is a direct reflection of reproductive efficiency. Regardless of genetic merit, eye appeal, price, or showring placing, if a sheep will not reproduce it is worth no more than current slaughter value.

To a large extent, the goals and objectives we have for our next lamb crop are determined before and during the breeding season. Increasing ewe productivity while decreasing labor, time and facilities requirements during the lambing season can be realistic objectives.

Reproduction in sheep is influenced by numerous factors. These include: Continue reading

Late Season Forage Harvest Management

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2020-28)

The best time to take a last harvest of alfalfa and other legumes is sometime in early September in Ohio, for the least risk to the long-term health of the stand. These forages need a fall period of rest to replenish carbohydrate and protein reserves in the taproots that are used for winter survival and regrowth next spring.

Many forage producers around the state have been cutting this past week and are continuing into this week. It will be ideal if this is indeed the last harvest of the season. But some growers might try to squeeze out another late cutting, and others have fields that are not quite ready for harvest right now. Like most farming decisions, there are trade-offs and risk factors to consider when making a fall harvest of forage legumes after the first week of September. This article reviews best management practices and risk factors affecting fall cutting management. Continue reading