Tips on Using Lesser-quality Forages

Curt Arens, Editor, Nebraska Farmer
(Previously published online with Farm Progress: January 27, 2023)

Testing the forages is the key, along with diluting them and allowing livestock to be selective.

Hay and forages after last summer’s extreme [weather conditions] come at a premium price and are of great value, especially with winter storms that piled snow on top of potential winter grazing resources.

After a snowy winter in parts of the Great Plains, producers might be digging into their feed piles and notice spoilage or mold. Molds can occur any time of the year, and the risk of problems can show up early or late in the year as well.

“In hay, excess dust can be a sign of mold spores, and can actually cause respiratory issues in humans and livestock,” says Continue reading

Winter Forage Management Means Business Strategy

Rebecca Kern-Lunbery, Animal Scientist, Ward Laboratories Inc.
(Previously published online: Progressive Forage – December 7, 2022)

While we all get anxious during the winter months and feel as if there must be something we can do out in our fields, preparing a good strategy for the upcoming growing season may just be the most proactive thing to do.

Winter management for forage producers looks quite different from the rest of the year. Many might feel as if there must be something they can do to get a jump on next season. Fertilizer application is ill advised during winter months due to frozen ground and the risk of runoff. Use of heavy equipment for overseeding or perhaps removing an alfalfa stand is also not advisable during these months. If the ground is frozen, you won’t be successful. With any snow precipitation and muddy fields, you risk destroying established sod or causing issues with compaction. So, should we just sit back and relax until spring?

No. Now is the time for strategic planning on your operation. While it may seem dull to Continue reading

All About Grazing – Pasture Improvements by Osmosis

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

(Don’t miss the 2023 OFGC conference on Feb. 17th. Click the ‘continue reading’ tab below for more details and registration information.)

The New Year evokes a spirit of willingness to change for the better. Resolutions to make healthier, cleaner, more economical, more environmentally friendly, and/or more spiritually fulfilling decisions are prevalent right now. Something about flipping the calendar gives us hope that now is a good time for change. Regardless of what day on the calendar it is, if you want to change something for the better, today is the perfect day to start.

Personally, I am a fan of the kind of resolutions that create less work for myself rather than those that create more. My day and my mind are already divided between too many things, to add another or three makes me exhausted just thinking about it. What I need is change by osmosis.

Osmosis, what does that word really mean?

It means Continue reading

Clean Up the Cost of Wasted Hay

Amber Friedrichsen, Hay and Forage Grower 2021 and 2022 editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: December 27, 2022)

Feeding livestock hay in the winter may be an inevitable expense to an operation, but paying for wasted hay doesn’t have to be. Choosing an appropriate feeding practice and adhering to a strict feeding schedule can help keep hay waste to a minimum this season.

Charlie Ellis with the University of Missouri Extension says feeding practices will vary with climate, labor availability, and ultimately, producer preference. Therefore, the field specialist in agricultural engineering shares some advantages and disadvantages of the following strategies.

Cone and ring feeders
According to Ellis, cone feeders are the most efficient at minimizing hay waste. Sheeted ring feeders allow more waste than cone feeders, and open ring feeder are the least efficient design of the three. Nonetheless, placing any type of feeder on an elevated surface in a well-drained area will reduce hay waste in general.

In addition

Continue reading

Increase the nitrogen in your pastures for increased quality and production

Kelli Boylen, Freelance Writer, Progressive Forage
(Previously published online: Progressive Forage – December 7, 2022)

Balancing nitrogen for the benefit of both [livestock] and the pasture can yield higher-performing pastures with the right management steps.

Nitrogen is necessary for high production, but what if you are looking to increase the production of pasture? Steve Norberg, Ph.D., regional forage specialist at Washington State University, has some guidance.

To best understand how to manage nitrogen, you must first understand what affects nitrogen. Nitrogen circulates in nature in several different forms known as the nitrogen cycle. Nitrogen changes into different forms through microbial transformations. The steps of the cycle, which are not necessarily sequential, include nitrogen fixation, nitrogen assimilation, ammonification, nitrification and denitrification.

Nitrogen fixation by Continue reading

Be Picky about Purchased Hay

Amber Friedrichsen, Hay and Forage Grower 2021 and 2022 editorial intern
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: December 6, 2021)

Some farmers may have lower hay supplies this winter following a dry growing season. Buying hay might seem like a simple solution to fill feed gaps, but the decision to do so can be complex.

While sale price tends to be hay buyers’ biggest concern, Ben Beckman with University of Nebraska Extension says there are other factors that could incur additional costs down the road. The extension educator encourages farmers to consider forage quality, potential pests, toxicity issues, and current hay inventories before buying bales.

1. Take a look at test results
Hay quality might be listed in advertisements, but these values may be mere estimates. Beckman notes quality can be influenced by plant species, growing conditions, and maturity at harvest, as well as curing tactics and storage methods. Request to see hay test results to ensure the product will meet animals’ requirements. Continue reading

Transform a Poor Pasture into a Good One

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 29, 2022)

It’s not an unusual situation for people to suddenly find themselves as the not-so-proud owner or long-term renter of a previously abused or neglected pasture. In such situations, questions often arise as to what the best plan of action is to bring an abused pasture back to full productivity.

According to Chris Teutsch, a forage extension specialist at the University of Kentucky, there are a number of reasons why formerly good pastures can turn bad. These include too much or too little water; poor fertility or low soil pH; poor grazing or, in the case of a hayfield, mowing management; a poor choice of forage species; and an influx of weeds likely caused by one of the previously mentioned factors. Often, a poor pasture is the result of a combination of several negative stresses.

“Pasture renovation does not always mean having to reseed,” Teutsch said at last fall’s Kentucky Grazing School. “In fact, spraying out an old pasture and then reseeding should be considered a last-resort option. We can often renovate a pasture without reseeding it.” Continue reading

Known Bale Weights are Critical this Year

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: November 15, 2022)

(Image Source: Hay & Forage Grower)

As a hay industry, there are still a number of hay sales that occur “by the bale.” Yes, it’s easier, but if the sale is made without factoring in bale weight and moisture, there’s a good chance the buyer is paying either too much or not enough.

You’ve probably heard this issue reiterated many times over the years, but it’s a safe bet that you’ve never heard it when the price of hay is as high as current values.

For a large swath of the western U.S., drought was the dominating factor during the past growing season. Many livestock producers know they will be short on winter hay or will cut it pretty close. Accurate inventories will no doubt mean the difference between having enough hay or having hungry, low-performing [livestock].

My point is that known, accurate bale weights have Continue reading

The Many Faces of Forage Testing

Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower Managing Editor
(Previously published in Hay & Forage Grower: September 6, 2022)

If you grow or harvest forage, develop forage products, sell stuff to people who grow forage, educate people who grow forage, do research for people who grow forage, or just buy forage, then consider yourself a card-carrying member of the forage industry.

Wherever you fit into this unique band of brothers and sisters often helps form your opinions on a variety of forage topics and issues. Sometimes, those opinions differ. I could pick any number of topics to demonstrate this, but let’s focus on forage testing and analysis. First, some full disclosure on my part.

My past has long been grounded in forage crops, but specifically as they are produced and utilized in the Midwest dairy industry. That is probably still my measuring stick, although in my current journalistic endeavors I have had the opportunity to interact with many other types of forage and livestock producers from across the United States.

Forage testing, or more specifically fiber analysis, Continue reading

Challenging Hay Quality in 2022

Stan Smith, OSU Extension PA, Fairfield County

From the Beef page, Mr. Stan Smith highlights the challenges that many producers have experienced during 2022 when it came to making quality hay. As you read through this piece, you will see several references to cattle and wonder why I chose to share this piece on our page. The current state of hay quality in the state of Ohio and across the nation is of concern and the reality is that if the hay available to producers now does not meet the standards for beef cattle, it certainly won’t make the mark for our small ruminants. Whether you are making your own hay or purchasing it, a simple hay test this year will be worth its weight in gold. For those interested in haying their hays tested or need assistance with interpreting your results, please don’t hesitate to connect.

In a year like this when, according to the National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) estimates, barely half of Ohio’s first cutting hay harvest was completed by mid-June, it is apparent that Ohio cattlemen will again be faced with finding ways to make “feed” from forages that were harvested way past their prime.

As an example of the hay quality we are seeing Continue reading

Fall Forage Management for Hay and Pasture

Doo-Hong Min, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, MSU Extension
Richard Lee, Department of Crop and Soil Sciences, MSU Extension
(Previously published on MSU Extension, Crop Advisory Team Alerts: September 18, 2008)

(Image Source: Texas A&M University)

Among the four seasons, fall is one of the most important seasons in terms of preparing for winter survival and spring regrowth by storing carbohydrate and protein reserves in the crowns and roots. Fall is also the season for regeneration and the formation of the shoots or growing points. Since plants become dormant in the fall as air temperature is getting lower and day length is shorter, nutrient uptake becomes accordingly slower. The following are points to consider for fall forage management for hay and pasture:

1.) Soil fertility and liming:
Since the price of fertilizer is so high these days, it’s important to use phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) efficiently. One of the best ways to save fertilizer costs is to Continue reading