Think Summer Annuals Now

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 12, 2018)

Summer annual grass grazing is a great tool for livestock operations. While it adds flexibility, management decisions are needed to make it worth the time and cost.

Sorghum-sudangrass (sudex), sudangrass, pearl millet, foxtail millet, and teff are the most commonly used grazing summer annuals.

Brad Schick, University of Nebraska-Lincoln extension educator, offered some advice for utilizing summer annuals in a recent UNL BeefWatch newsletter.

If earlier grazing is desired, sorghums and sudangrasses can be used but only if planted when the soil temperature is above 60°F, Continue reading

Hay Moisture Levels

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
Dan Lima, OSU Extension Educator, Belmont County

With the limited opportunities and short windows many have had to make hay so far this year, some hay may have been made at higher moisture levels than we would like. Moisture levels have a direct effect on hay quality. What we have found to be a consistent number in the literature is 20% moisture maximum. To be more specific:

  1. Small squares to be 20% or less,
  2. Large round, 18% or less and
  3. Large squares, 16%

Hay baled at 20% moisture or higher has a high probability of developing mold, which will decrease the quality of hay by decreasing both protein and total nonstructural carbohydrates (TNC). A.K.A. Energy! Continue reading

Pasture Shortages

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Supplementing short pastures.

You could say there was a perfect storm coming into this spring. The combination of wet weather, cool temperatures, and less growing degree days has led to slow pasture growth. Low hay stockpiles have compounded the problem.

Where reduced forage availability isn’t enough to support grazing [livestock], supplementation is required. This prompts the question, “What is the most efficient supplementation approach?” Continue reading

Poor Forage Establishment

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Dealing with crappy new seedings.

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

Every farmer has done “it.”

That “it” is to walk a new forage seeding field that just never developed. There is nothing more disheartening than a newly seeded hayfield or pasture that for one or a variety of reasons was done before “it” ever really started.

During my extension agent days, I walked many of these fields. Sometimes the failure could be blamed on the weather, but there were cases when the reasons for the lack of establishment just couldn’t be fully explained.

Most forage seeds are small and sensitive to their microenvironment. Seeding depth is also critical — too deep or too shallow can Continue reading

Get After Grasses Before Heading

Kassidy Buse, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: June 5, 2018)

Across the U.S., acres of grass are being harvested for hay with a majority destined to be stored as bales for winter forage. This hay must be able to provide the necessary amount of protein and energy to fulfill the nutrient needs of the [animals] that will consume it.

But all hay should not be viewed as equal as it varies in nutrient content due to multiple factors.

While fertilization, weed pressure, and grass variety are what most consider, the most influential factor on nutrient content is stage of maturity at harvest. Continue reading

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

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

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

The Benefits and Challenges of Producing Alternative Forages

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

Sold on sericea hay (and other stuff)

(Image Source: Joan Burke, American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control)

I meet a lot of people at forage meetings during the course of a year. Never has anyone broached the subject of sericea lespedeza . . . that’s until I met Reed Edwards at a Georgia hay conference in 2016.

Edwards is one of those farmers who is not afraid to move outside the box of accepted practices or try whatever the latest extension recommendation might be. Either way, he’s going to forge his own path.

There’s currently a lot going on at Edwards’ 90-acre Fox Pipe Farm. In addition to harvesting sericea lespedeza hay for Continue reading

Plan for Alternative Forages, Even During the Growing Season

Allen Gahler, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Sandusky County

Winter has come and gone, and despite the many scares Mother Nature provided, and the well-in-advance warnings by local weather stations around the state, many of us chose not to rush out and stock up on break and milk. And miraculously, we survived. Hopefully, all of your livestock, with the proper planning and nutrition, survived the cold snaps and snow storms as well.

So now that we are moving into the growing season and will soon be, or maybe already are, grazing in some areas, all of those concerns about what and when to feed livestock are over until next winter approaches. Right? Continue reading

Temporary Fencing – The Future of Grazing

Johnny Rogers, North Carolina State Grazing Program Coordinator
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 15, 2018)

There’s power in polywire

Pasture-based livestock production at first glance is a simple system. Producers use herbivores to harvest forage and create something they can sell (or enjoy).

In the past, it has been typical to use a continuous grazing system where livestock will remain on the same pasture for an extended period, but this can lead to poor forage utilization. Livestock will roam large pastures as they seek out their preferred plant species and leave others to become degraded, mature, and unpalatable.

Many producers do not appreciate the value of grass until Continue reading

How Often Should You Cut Alfalfa?

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

Most dairy producers are fairly aggressive with alfalfa cutting schedules. Their goal is to achieve high-quality forage.

But cutting too frequently usually shortens the life of alfalfa and often gives lower yields, even when more cuttings are taken per growing season.

Recent results from a two-year study at the Western Agricultural Research Center of The Ohio State University demonstrate the yield and quality trade-off. Continue reading

To Hay or Not to Hay

Walt Davis
(Previously published in BeefProducer, December 19, 2017)

I had a conversation recently in which some common mindsets that interfere with profitability in livestock operations were brought out.

An acquaintance asked me if we had started feeding. When I told him that we had not, he said that he had been feeding hay for over a month and followed up with, “I start feeding every year on the fourth of November.”

Knowing that he had an unusually wet summer, I asked if he did not have grass left when his normal time to start feeding came around. He replied that Continue reading

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

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

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

Frost-Seeding Season is on the Move

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

(Image Source: University of Georgia Extension)

I know that you all may be thinking, “how many times are we going to read about frost seeding this year?” However, I have always been taught that repetition is the key to learning. In addition, I found this piece interesting as it highlights some alternative frost-seeding methods from our very own Mr. Wayne Shriver, farm manager of the Eastern Agricultural Research Station in Caldwell, Ohio. I encourage you all to take a look and see what information Wayne and the others have to offer.

When pitchers and catchers are called to Florida and Arizona, it brings the annual rebirth of America’s pastime. It also marks a time when pasture managers need to start frost seeding or begin giving it serious thought. Continue reading

This Winter, Start Planning for Next Year – Soil Health

R.P. “Doc” Cooke
(previously published in BeefProducer: February 13, 2018)

Eight things to remember about soil and livestock health and improvement.

I don’t know about ya’ll but I spend a right smart amount of time planning to do better. I am so well organized that it is often a relief when my flip phone rings so I can find it.

One thing we need to do in the winter is rest up a little and think and plan and visit with other successful grazing beef producers. Most of us could use and profit from soil that is actually growing in organic matter, mineralization, color and depth. Continue reading

Control Winter Weeds for Better Pastures

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: February 13, 2018)

Gone are the days when warm-season weeds seemingly had a corner on the warm-season pasture market. Producers who typically focus their control efforts on warm-season broadleaf and grass weeds, such as ragweed, broomweed, sandbur, or johnsongrass, may want to broaden their efforts.

Soils and crops consultant of the Noble Research Institute, Eddie Funderburg, explains that cool-season weeds, or those that emerge in the fall and grow throughout the winter and spring, are finding their way into warm-season pastures. Funderburg explains this growing problem and highlighted some of the main culprits in a recent Noble Research Institute News and Views newsletter. Continue reading

Graze on Cool-Season Annuals – Thoughts for your 2018 Grazing Year

Curt Arens, Farm Progress field editor
(previously published in Nebraska Farmer: February 7, 2018)

Oats, barley, triticale, and spring wheat all make for good grazing and hay crops when they are spring-seeded.

For a seed cost of between $25 and $31 per acre, livestock producers can gain valuable grazing days or hay by planting cool-season annuals in the spring or fall. All kinds of annuals can be planted in the spring, according to Nebraska Extension educator emeritus, Dennis Bauer.

Speaking at a Beef Profit Tips meeting in Center, Neb., recently, Bauer said oats, spring triticale, spring beardless barley, Italian or annual ryegrass, field peas, and other legumes all make good grazing or hay options.

Continue reading

Frost Seeding – Making Mother Nature Work for You

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Morgan County
Gary Wilson, Retired OSU Extension Educator ANR, Hancock County

(Image Source: On Pasture – Frost Seeding Red Clover in Hay Fields and Pastures)

This is the time of year when farmers will want to think about re-seeding their pasture and hay fields. This method of seeding is called “frost seeding” which is where you apply seed to the ground and the freezing and thawing of the soil in February and early march will provide seed to soil contact allowing germination of the seed. There is a little more risk of the seed not germinating than with a “traditional” seeding, but the cost and time is a lot less.

The secret is to have exposed soil. If you have exposed soil, even in your yard, simply sprinkle seed on the soil and let the frosts work it in. If the ground is thawed, you can Continue reading

Moving Forward with Clovers

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: January 23, 2018)

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

In the various humid regions across the United States, clover species bring a commonality to the miles of separation. Their adaptability to a variety of soils and growing conditions makes them a foundational component in many forage systems. Yet, most forage experts would say that they remain vastly unappreciated and underutilized.

But are they? Continue reading

Five Pasture Improvements to Begin in January

Dean Kreager, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Licking County
(previously published in Farm and Dairy, January 4, 2018)

New Year’s Day has come and gone, as have some of our New Year’s resolutions: eat less junk food, go to the gym more often, lose weight, and the list goes on.

I hope our pasture management goals for the year last longer. As I contemplate the projects I have completed and those that are still on the list for another year, I think about how I can get more production from my pasture or how I can feed more animals on the same amount of land.

Today, I will stick with the “5 Things” theme in this issue and will touch on five areas of pasture management you can Continue reading

Should I Add More Legumes to My Pasture?

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

At a glance:

Including legumes in grass pastures has the potential to increase the overall nutritive value of the pasture and decrease the need for supplemental nitrogen fertilizer. Read on to find out if you should add more legumes to your pasture.

What is so special about legumes?

There is something special about legumes that sets them apart from our other forages. They have the ability to foster mutually beneficial relationships with soil bacteria that convert organic nitrogen, which is an unavailable form for plants to utilize, into inorganic nitrogen, making it available for plant uptake. The bacteria Continue reading

Hay Testing for Efficient Winter Feeding

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator, Noble County

As the new year begins, most Ohio graziers are probably feeding a good portion of hay as a part of their animals’ daily ration. Even if there is a supply of stockpiled forage available, we tend to make hay available just in case they need a little extra. It is likely that grain is also part of that daily ration. Well, how do you know how much hay, grain, and pasture they need? No one wants to leave their animals hungry. In addition, we do not want to waste time or money with unnecessary feeding. Figuring out the balance can seem like a guessing game, but the place to start is with a hay test.

Testing the hay you are feeding is well worth the price of sample analysis. Collecting a sample is not complicated and typically, results are available Continue reading

Best Bets for Frost Seeding

Hay and Forage Grower
(previously published in Hay and Forage Grower, January 2, 2018)

(Image Source: Hay and Forage Grower)

Broadcast seeding in late winter, or frost seeding, is a
widely used strategy to bolster pasture productivity or add new species to the forage mix.

Though not as reliable as seeding with a drill, frost seeding has still been proven as effective and budget friendly. Its success is contingent upon freeze-thaw cycles that enhance seed-soil contact.

“Species for successful frost seeding into pastures need to have Continue reading

Let Forages Guide Grazing Management

Dan Lima
(Previously published in Farm and Dairy, December 21, 2017)

Pasture fields, unlike many annual crop fields, are typically comprised of multiple species of grasses, legumes, and forbs.

Some might even consider the word “forbs” and “weeds” to be interchangeable. Either way, pasture growth will usually translate to livestock gain when properly managed.

Chemical analysis for weedy forbs like redroot pigweed, lambsquarter, ragweed, dandelion, white cockle, and even immature Jerusalem artichoke have a comparative nutritional value to Continue reading

Even with Forages, the End of the Year is the Time to Plan!

Chris Penrose, OSU Extension Educator, Morgan County
(Previously published in the Winter issue of The Ohio Cattleman)

The month of December is a great time to plan. We still have the opportunity to make changes to the 2017 year and plan for 2018. When I think of 2017, especially as it relates to forages, two things come to mind for me. First, what worked and what went wrong? Next, is there anything that can be done to improve the operation for this and next year?

What worked and what went wrong?
Continue reading

We’re Pricing Hay all Wrong

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower managing editor
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: December 12, 2017)

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

“We need to think about alfalfa as a package of nutrients,” said Bill Weiss, Ohio State University Extension dairy nutritionist. “As such, the value of that alfalfa (or any forage) should reflect the value of the nutrients provided.”

Perhaps most buyers and sellers of hay already think this is being done, but Weiss takes it to another level. He shared his thoughts on valuing hay at the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium’s Hay Quality Workshop held in Reno, Nev. Continue reading

New Study: Don’t Graze Fescue to the Ground

Lauren Peterson, Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern
(Previously featured in Hay & Forage Grower: December 5, 2017)

The verdict is in. Grazing toxic fescue to the ground is dangerous to pastured livestock. Findings released by the University of Missouri indicate that the highest levels of toxic alkaloids are held in the bottom 2 inches of infected grass.

Sarah Kenyon, an MU extension agronomist based in West Plains, Mo., documented these findings in her Ph.D. dissertation.

Kentucky 31 fescue, the most-used grass in Continue reading

How to get More out of your Pastures and Improve Water Quality

Bob Hendershot, Retired State Grassland Conservationist

Improving your pasture management skills will grow more forage that will have higher quality that will better feed your livestock and make you more money. A better pasture should just keep getting better year after year including; improving the environment; improving the soil, water, air, plants, and animals as well as reducing your energy requirements. Healthy soils can grow healthy plants that can allow animals to grow quicker, stronger and healthier, which will reduce the cost of production. We will discuss ways to improve Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

Although this information has been posted in the past, as harvest has come and gone, this opportunity may serve as a viable option for those looking for a cheap feed source to graze the mature ewe flock on. This strategy allows farmers to optimize on losses associated with harvest as well as serve as a means to save on winter feedings.

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

NRCS can Help Develop Water Systems in Pasture Management

Clif Little, OSU Extension Educator, Guernsey County
(Originally published in Ohio Farmer – October 23, 2017)

(Image Source: Underwood Conservation District, White Salmon, Washington)

Planned paddocks, good fencing, improved forages, grazing management, pasture fertility, and livestock genetics are all important elements when maximizing a grazing system. Water distribution, however, is arguably one of the most important elements of pasture-based livestock systems.

In southern and eastern Ohio, spring systems are the most often developed water sources. Springs can provide adequate, low-cost, low-maintenance water systems. Water quality and quantity are major considerations when developing a spring. The first question to answer concerning spring development: Continue reading

Don’t Guess, Forage Test!

Al Gahler, OSU Extension Educator, Sandusky County
(originally published in the Ohio Cattleman, late fall 2017 issue)

Regardless of livestock species, it is important to test your forages. When in doubt, test them out!

Across most of Ohio, 2017 has been a challenging crop year, especially for those in the hay production business. In 2016, while most producers did not have significant yields, quality was tremendous due to the dry weather which allowed for highly manageable cutting intervals and easy dry down. Since the end of June, however, 2017 has been just the opposite, with mother nature forcing many bales to be made at higher than optimal moisture levels, and cutting intervals measured in months rather than days.

With adequate moisture throughout most of the state for much of the summer, this equates to substantial yields, which in turn for the beef producer, means hay is readily available at reasonable prices. However, for the astute cattleman that either makes his/her own hay or knows the nature of the business, this also means high quality hay may just be the proverbial needle in the haystack, and for the most part, as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for.

While there are many options to manage the situation, including Continue reading

Dangers of Harvesting and Grazing Certain Forages Following a Frost

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

As cold weather approaches, livestock owners who feed forages need to keep in mind certain dangers of feeding forages after 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. Continue reading

Fall and Winter Grazing Strategies

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Southeast Regional Director

In Ohio it is possible to graze year round. Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Why? Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate quality, grazable forage for most of the winter. Depending on the class of livestock and their stage of production it is possible to need to feed for weeks in winter as opposed to months.

The cheapest option for fall grazing is Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management and Plant Health

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Grazing management during the months of September and October directly impacts the vigor and growth of pasture in the spring. For the perennial grass plant the fall season is a time of laying the foundation for next year’s growth. Although seed production is one way that a perennial plant can survive from year to year, in pastures the more important way that plants survive is through re-growth from buds located at the crown of the plant. It is during Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

After clipping pastures throughout the growing season and managing pasture rotations to insure that plants are not overgrazed and that there is enough rest period between grazing passes, it can be tempting in the fall to let grazing management slide. There is fall crop harvest and a number of other fall tasks to get done before winter. However, from a plant health standpoint, overgrazing during the fall is Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management and Plant Health

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Wayne County

Grazing management during the months of September and October directly impacts the vigor and growth of pasture in the spring. For the perennial grass plant, the fall season is a time of laying the foundation for next year’s growth. Although seed production is one way that a perennial plant can survive from year to year, in pastures the more important way that plants survive is through re-growth from buds located at the crown of the plant. It is during the short day, long night periods in the fall of the year that flower buds are formed/initiated on the crown of the plant. The plant leaf Continue reading

Pasture, Parasites, and Risk Management

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

May through early June is generally a time of good pasture growth and corresponding livestock production. However, if you are grazing sheep and goats this is the time of year that needs careful consideration in regards to internal parasites, in particular Haemonchus contortus, the barber pole worm. One way to approach this grazing season is to think in terms of risk management.

What can be done to reduce or minimize the risk of a heavy parasite infection while sheep and goats graze pastures? Continue reading

Establishing a New Forage Seeding

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

Early spring provides us with a window of opportunity to get a new forage stand established. The actual success in getting that new seeding established depends upon several factors including: soil fertility, species selection, weed control, timing of planting, planting depth, post planting management. Let’s look at each factor in a little more detail.

There are certain minimum, sometimes termed critical, Continue reading

Dodder (Cuscuta spp.) Rears its Ugly Head in Western Ohio in 2009

Joy Aufderhaar, OSU Extension Agriculture Program Assistant, Shelby County
Roger Bender, OSU Extension Educator, Shelby County

As you looked across your pasture and hay fields this past September you may have noticed not only were the surrounding trees turning fall colors, but your red clover and alfalfa were also showing colors of fall? But this is not a color of fall we like to see especially in our red clover and alfalfa.

(Image source: UMass Extension Landscape, Nursery & Urban Forestry Program)

Yellow or orange threadlike stems were reported  in red clover and alfalfa fields in several western Ohio counties in September. The stems are stringlike, twining, smooth and branching to form dense masses in some fields.

Purdue’s Glen Nice says that dodder is a parasitic plant without any leaves or any chlorophyll to produce its own food. It lives by attaching to a host with small appendages (called “haustoria”) and extracting the host plant’s carbohydrates. Continue reading

Grazing Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

Fall is one of the most crucial time periods for our cool season pastures. The most important activity a livestock producer should be doing to help the pastures survive winter and remain productive next year is to avoid over-grazing.

Why is fall a critical time for our cool season perennial forages? Continue reading

Options for Fall and Winter Grazing

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

In Ohio it is possible to graze year round. Of course grazing in winter does take planning. Summer is the best time to plan for fall and winter grazing. Why? Because many of our options have tasks associated with them in summer. By planning ahead it is possible in Ohio to have adequate Continue reading

Oats, Planted Late, Continue to be Our Most Dependable Forage?!?!

Curt Stivison, Fairfield SWCD Engineering Technician
Stan Smith, OSU Extension Program Assistant, Fairfield County

Most know that for the past seven years, we’ve spent much time in Fairfield County investigating the virtues of oats as an annual forage when they are planted during mid to late summer, or even into early fall. While we’ve harvested from 2 to 5 tons, and consistently realized average yields of 3+ tons of dry matter from oats planted in July and August after a harvested wheat crop, it’s also apparent that yield and quality can vary greatly as planting date, nitrogen fertilization, and perhaps even oat varieties differ from each field planted.

For those looking to grow a cost-effective alternative forage crop Continue reading

Pasture Measurement

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator Athens County

Pasture measurement allows a grazier to determine an estimate of how much forage dry matter (DM) is available in a pasture paddock. Once forage DM is estimated, then the grazier can figure out how many animals can be grazed in that paddock for a given period of time. This is something that experienced graziers gain an eye for over time with practice. For beginning graziers, pasture measurement Continue reading

Spring Pasture Management

Mark Landefeld, OSU Extension Educator, Monroe County

The time of year is quickly approaching when keeping pasture plants in a vegetative state is probably the hardest for forage producers. Managing pasture growth early in the growing season is important to maintain high quality and high quantity forage production throughout the spring, summer and fall. A “spring flush” occurs Continue reading

Fall Grazing Management and Plant Health

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

The experienced grazier knows that how grass pastures are managed in the fall of the year determines what they have to manage in the spring of the year. While we tend to think of fall as bringing an end to pasture growth, it turns out that this is a critical time for the grass plant.

In fact, for our perennial grass plants, fall is not so much an end as it is a beginning, or at least laying a foundation for a beginning. Although seed production is one way Continue reading

More Tips for a Successful Fall Grazing Plan

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

Fall is an excellent time to complete several pasture related tasks. There are activities a livestock producer should be doing to help the pastures survive winter and remain productive next year.

The first and most important activity is good grazing management. Specifically, keep animals from overgrazing. Overgrazing in the fall could ruin next years forage production. It is more critical now than any other time of the year. Overgrazing is not caused by having too many animals in a field. It occurs Continue reading

Grazing Wind Damaged Corn Residue

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Morrow County

To survive the current feed economy livestock producers need to graze their livestock as long as they can.  Every day livestock are meeting their nutritional needs through grazing they are being fed as economically as possible.  Typically cattle producers utilize corn residue as a feed source but, in Ohio, sheep producers need to consider grazing Continue reading

Pasture Lambing

Bob Hendershot, State Grassland Conservationist

What is lambing like, for your sheep flock, hours per lamb or lambs per hour? The shepherd’s labor and the size of the lambing barn are the two things that limit the size of most Ohio sheep flocks. Pasture-lambing avoids both of these concerns.

Pasture-lambing is the lambing of ewes on pasture where the ewes and newborn lambs bond without being penned or housed. Pasture-lambing works the best in concert with the peak pasture growth. Spring and fall pasture growth can provide the quantity and quality of feed that the ewe will need during the last part of gestation and early lactation. This greatly reduces the feed cost compared Continue reading

One Activity in May that can Improve Your Pasture Yield

Dr. Jeff McCutcheon, OSU Extension Educator, Knox County

After the dry growing season last year many sheep producers are asking what they could do to improve pasture yields. Other than improving soil fertility there is one thing you can do during the month of May that will improve yields. In fact most experienced graziers I know get pretty fanatical about this task. The task is simple; remove Continue reading

Sudangrass, Could it Work for You?

Rory Lewandowski, OSU Extension Educator, Athens County

Raising sheep within a pasture based production system presents the manager with two challenges; internal parasite control and summer slump production of cool season pastures.  The use of a warm season annual like sudangrass may offer the pasture based sheep producer a parasite control option while at the same time filling in the forage production slump demonstrated by cool season pastures during the hot summer months.  In this article, I’ll draw on some of the results and lessons learned using sudangrass during the summer of 2007 on the Curt Cline farm in Athens County. Continue reading