Need More Hay or Silage Storage? Consider a USDA Farm Storage Facility Loan

Eric Richer, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Fulton County

For many farmers and ranchers, on-farm storage is a key part of a comprehensive commodity marketing plan and improved feed storage. University research and practical experience has shown that forage feed quality is significantly better and storage losses are much lower when stored inside out of the weather (see Hay Storage Considerations, OSU 21-96 Fact Sheet). A unique farm program administered through the Farm Service Agency (FSA) is the Farm Storage Facility Loan (FSFL) program.  FSA is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) which uses this program to provide low-interest financing for producers to store, handle, and/or transport eligible commodities they produce. Many livestock and/or forage producers do not realize that flat storage and bunker-type storage structures are eligible as well as the associated trucks and handling equipment. Overall, the list of eligible commodities, facilities, equipment, and upgrades is quite impressive. Generally, they include the following: Continue reading

Respiratory Disease in Sheep

Dr. G.F. Kennedy, Pipestone Veterinary Services
(Previously published online with Ask a Vet – Sheep: January 13, 2018)

I posted a short article about Raspy Lambs and added a tag, pneumonia, and that tag has been constantly viewed so we decided we should broaden the scope. Respiratory disease is probably the most important disease in sheep and it can range from the insignificant such as OPP or the widely used term “barn cough”. It affects all ages and breeds and all differently. The OPP zealots would say its all OPP and guys like me would say its all Pasteurella. The Pasteurella, that doesn’t exist anymore, its now Mannheimia. Basically with respiratory disease in sheep we are working with gram negative bacteria that respond to drugs like Nuflor, Oxytetracycline, Draxxin and others. Penicillin doesn’t help. My method of administration is Continue reading

Heat Stress in Small Ruminants

Kelly Froehlich, Assistant Professor and South Dakota State University Extension Sheep Specialist
(Previously published with South Dakota State University Extension: November 18, 2021)

The Upper Midwest provides periods of extreme heat during summer and shorter periods of heat stress potential during spring and fall. Are your sheep and goats cool enough in their environment? Heat stress affects sheep and goat performance by decreasing dry matter intake, while increasing the need for water. This, in return, has a direct impact on weight gain and milk production. Although sheep and goats are more heat-tolerant than other ruminants (e.g. cows), it is important to understand and identify when they may be experiencing stress.

Understanding Heat Stress
Several factors contribute to whether a sheep or goat will experience heat stress, including breed, relative humidity, temperature, wind speed, and solar radiation. The comfort zone of a fully fleeced sheep is about 10 to 90°F; this is where heat produced is the same as heat lost. Temperature comfort zone is less defined in goats, but it is generally accepted that they are better adapted to hot conditions. However, temperature is only part of the equation, with humidity having a huge impact on whether an animal will feel cool or heat stressed. Therefore, temperature humidity index (THI) is the best measure of livestock environmental stress (Table 1). Specifically for sheep and goats, heat stress is experienced when Continue reading

The Great Pasture-clipping Debate

Amber Friedrichsen, Hay and Forage Grower 2021 editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 15, 2021)

As the saying goes, the grass is always greener on the other side. But is the grass always mowed on the other side? Deciding whether or not to mow or clip pastures can leave farmers stuck on the fence.

Possible reasons for mowing are site-specific. Producers sometimes wish to eliminate seedheads, promote even grazing, and provide weed control. However, the costs of mowing can outweigh these benefits, wasting farmers’ time and money.

Vegetation restoration
As forages mature, their palatability and nutrient availability decline. Mowing pastures is one way to Continue reading

Eastern Ohio Grazing Council Pasture Walks

Beth Kruprzak, District Conservationist, United States Department of Agriculture

The Eastern Ohio Grazing Council will host a Grazing Workshop on Thursday, May 26, 2022 at 6:00 pm at Cottage Hill Farms located at 35525 Cadiz-Piedmont Road, Cadiz, Ohio 43907.

Found in 1816 by Robert Moore, Cottage Hill Farm is currently operated by 3 generations of the Moore family. Rick Moore, along with his father, Stanley, and son, Steven, raise sheep for meat production and sell high-quality wool from their Merino sheep bloodlines.

Alternative Parasite Management Practices – Dr. Braden Campbell, OSU
Predator Management – Stuart Heavilin, Harrison SWCD
Adding Small Ruminants to Your Operation – Clint Finney, NRCS

Registration is required. Please contact Carroll SWCD at 330-627-9852 to register.

Upcoming events: 
Pasture Walk – Columbiana County – 6/23/2022 at 6:00 pm
Pasture Walk – Tuscarawas County – 7/28/2022 at 6:00 pm Continue reading

Forage Harvest Management to Speed Drying and Store High Quality Forage

Dr. Mark Sulc, OSU Extension Forage Specialist, The Ohio State University
Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension ANR Educator, Crawford County
Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County
(Previously published in the C.O.R.N. Newsletter 2022-14)

First cutting should be taken very soon to achieve high quality forage, as seen by some of the estimated NDF levels in standing alfalfa crops around the state. Keep in mind that for quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% NDF and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

So, it is time to be thinking about that first cutting and looking for weather windows of opportunity, especially along I-70 and south. Cutting forage for haylage or dry hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures and the fiber becomes less digestible.

Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment. Compaction damage has long-lasting effects on forage crops. We’ve seen many fields where stand loss in wheel tracks led to lower forage yields, weed invasion, and frustrating attempts to “fill in” the stand later.

Before cutting also keep in mind any Continue reading

4 Reasons to Introduce Wool into your Garden

American Wool
(Previously published online: American Wool: May 12, 2021)

If you’re looking to reap the full benefits of your garden, then you’re tending to your plot, planting your crop, or planning for next year’s bloom, gardening is truly a year-round activity. Whether you have a garden in a window planter, a small terrace, raised beds, or even in a large portion of your yard — you can benefit from using wool to help your plants thrive.

The pandemic has driven many cultural and behavioral shifts; primarily, that families are spending more time at their homes and have started new hobbies or picked up old ones. USA today found that gardening as a hobby is booming! So, we talked with Albert Wilde, owner of Wild Valley Farms, and 6th generation sheep rancher in Croydon, Utah about how wool comes into play in the flourishing field of gardening.

“Typically, when you shear a sheep you have what’s called ‘waste wool’” Wilde starts off, “this is wool that’s from the belly or hindside of the sheep and it’s often discolored, thin, and generally not considered valuable.” With waste wool making up to 20% of 

Continue reading

Focus on Optimizing the First Cut

Amber Friedrichsen, Hay and Forage Grower 2021 editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: May 10, 2022)

First cutting is just around the corner, and this initial harvest is an opportunity to target high forage quality and yield. However, making the wrong move may create consequences that can affect stands for the rest of the season.

Joe Lawrence, dairy forage systems specialist with Cornell University, says greater inclusion rates of high-quality forage in livestock diets can lower feed costs. He encourages farmers to prioritize first cutting over other operations and aim to cut forage at its peak fiber digestibility.

“Success culminates with putting planning into action when the crop tells you it is time to harvest,” Lawrence states. “It is critical to be prepared to harvest at the optimum timing, even when that means parking the corn planter or putting other tasks on the back burner for a few days.”

Start to finish
Before getting in the field, acknowledge Continue reading