Pasture Risk Management Decisions for Dry Weather

Clifton Martin, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Muskingum County

We just passed through a May and June that looked more like a July and August if we consider rainfall. Usually, July and August are more likely to put managers under pressure with hot temperatures and limited precipitation that force choices that might often be classified as “which wrong choice is the most right?” as we work to make the best of less-than-ideal conditions.

Timely rainfall is easing the current drought pressure that had been developing locally, but we still have a way to go for summer heat. As we navigate these choices, here are some points to remember.

A goal of managing grazing systems is to keep forage plants healthy and growing so that they meet the nutritional needs of grazing livestock. Two easy principles to follow on that journey are first, the “take half/leave half” concept and, second, provide a rest period so plants can recover.

These principles allow for pastures to Continue reading

A Pain in the Ash Kind of Year

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor (Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 27, 2023)

Dry weather — to varying degrees — has beset a large swath of the U.S. during the beginning of the 2023 haymaking season. In the Midwest, I have never seen so much first-cutting hay get baled instead of chopped. Further, the hay was baled in a timely manner with quality limited only by the ability to retain leaves.

An extreme lack of rainy days poses a double-edged sword. On the one hand, haymaking is undeterred by weather; on the other, regrowth is restricted by the lack of moisture. Another less obvious downside to dry soil conditions is . . . well . . . dry soil conditions or dust, which more easily finds its way into harvested forage.

It’s well known that the growing environment can impact the quality of forage. Cool temperatures generally are Continue reading

How to Manage Pastures in Dry Conditions

Chris Zoller, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Tuscarawas County
Garth Ruff, Beef Cattle Field Specialist, OSU Extension

Most of Ohio is abnormally dry and more than half of the state has been designated as being in moderate drought. The U.S. Drought Monitor maps compare drought conditions from May 30 and June 6 (the two latest maps available at the time of writing this article). Notice how the map changed (more areas of yellow) in Ohio in just one week.

If these dry conditions continue, pasture quality will decline rapidly. On May 28, roughly 75% of Ohio pastures were rated Good to Excellent, with the majority as Good, according to USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service. It would be reasonable to expect that across most of Ohio Poor and Very Poor pasture conditions could be a new reality without significant rainfall.

Management suggestions:
While we can’t control when, where, or the amount of rainfall, there are management practices you can take to minimize damage to pastures, while maintaining livestock health and growth. Please consider the suggestions provided below: Continue reading

Alternative Forages for Sheep and Goats in Drought Years

Don’t let the original title fool you. In general, alternative forages that can be used to alleviate feed issues associated with drought stress are for the most part universal. Look in at this quick clip from our colleagues at the University of Idaho Extension for some ideas on what you can do to improve your feed inventory this summer.

West Central Ohio Hay Day 2023 – July 6, 2023

Grant Davis, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Champaign County

Please join Ohio State University Extension and Channel Equipment on July 6th for the West Central Ohio Hay Day, sponsored by the Champaign and Clark County Farm Bureau’s, and Americas Trusted Insurance Group. The event will take place on the Southeast corner of South St. Rt. 68 and W. Dallas Rd. Or, go to Channel Equipment at 338 W Dallas Rd, Urbana, OH 43078 and follow the signs.

The day will begin at 10 a.m. with talks from Extension personnel on various aspects of growing, making, storing, and feeding quality hay. Insurance representatives will also be speaking on some new offerings available to hay and forage producers.

Lunch will be provided by Fresh Harvest food truck and will be free for those registered by July 1 thanks to the support of our sponsors.

The afternoon will be filled with equipment demonstrations from Krone and H&S company representatives. There will also be door prizes provided by generous donations from area vendors for those that register by July 1st. To register go to, or contact Grant Davis at or call 937-772-6022.

Southeastern Ohio Hay Day returns on July 14, 2023

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

Looking forward, if the big tasks on your to-do list include shopping for new farm equipment, buying fertilizer, taking hay samples, planning a new pasture seeding, designing a weed management program, figuring out the best way to make haylage, and/or setting aside pastures to stockpile grass for this fall, mark your calendars to take a day off from your farm tasks and come to the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Caldwell, Ohio on Friday, July 14. OSU Extension and a team of sponsors will be offering a day full of inspiration and socialization for anyone in the pasture management and haymaking businesses with the return of Southeastern Ohio Hay Day.

Registration will open and the tradeshow will begin at 9:00 a.m. at 16870 Bond Ridge Road, Caldwell, OH 43724. Southeastern Ohio Hay Day will highlight the latest in hay making equipment with displays and hay making demonstrations from several manufacturers and dealers across the region. There will be ample opportunities for attendees to visit with dealer representatives and their peers during the event. Multiple educational talks will be conducted throughout the day by OSU Extension professionals. The event is free and open to all. More details about Hay Day can be found online at:

While RSVPs are appreciated for the event, they are not required. If you just need a break from the farm and some inspiration for the tasks ahead, come join us without reservation! We look forward to having you.

AUTHOR’s NOTE: Exhibitor space is still available. Contact Christine Gelley at if you are interested in attending in this capacity.

Be Wary of Surface Water Quality

Amber Friedrichsen, Associate Editor, Hay and Forage Grower
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 13, 2023)

Water quantity may be top of mind as drought conditions persist across a large part of the country, but water quality issues deserve attention as well. Grazing livestock that drink from surface water sources may be at risk of toxicity this summer as temperatures rise and water levels fall.

In a news release from North Dakota State University Extension, Miranda Meehan writes that water quality is one of the limiting factors for many grazing operations. The livestock environmental stewardship specialist notes yearlings and calves can have improved gains of up to 0.24 and 0.33 pounds per day, respectively, when they have access to good-quality water.

With that said, surface water sources like creeks and ponds naturally contain salts comprised of dissolved solids and minerals. These components become much more concentrated when it is hot and dry because they do not evaporate with water.

Elevated concentrations of total dissolved solids (TDS) and sulfates can be toxic to livestock. Symptoms of toxicity include Continue reading

U.S. Sheep Experiment Station’s Important Role for Entire Industry

This weeks update will be kept short as we are out in Dubois, Idaho visiting the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station. Each year, sheep and small ruminant specialist’s from across the nation meet to discuss current research projects and investigate opportunities for collaboration. Enjoy this short clip as it describes the importance of this facility and the data that it provides to U.S. shepherds.