Winter Grazing: Annual Forages Improve Lamb Growth and Health Parameters

Dr. Brady Campbell, Assistant Professor, State Small Ruminant Extension Specialist

Fall is for harvest. Whether directly involved in production agriculture or a consumer of its products, most associate this time of year with combines harvesting soybeans and corn in the field or farm stands filled with pumpkins and apple cider. However, for livestock producers and especially those raising ruminants, harvest looks a bit different. This time period is the final push for grazing corn fodder/stubble, stockpiled forages, or annuals planted in the late summer before environmental conditions force producers off of pasture and into the barn or drylot to feed grain and hay. For those that planned ahead, well done! Each of these options provide high quality feedstuffs that are self harvested by the animal, resulting in a cheaper feed source. For those that weren’t able to sacrifice the land or weren’t prepared for planting, no worries, there is always next year.

Some of you may be thinking, what forages would provide enough nutritional quality to get me through the year? For those that were able

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Continue to “Stage” Pasture into Fall

Victor Shelton, NRCS State Agronomist/Grazing Specialist

My wife has been splitting open persimmon seeds. For those who don’t know what this is supposed to mean – it is an old wives’ tale method of predicting the upcoming winter weather. For clarity, I’m not saying my wife is old, but she does like to read persimmon seeds! Traditionally, you split the persimmon seed open to reveal the whitish sprout inside. It may require a bit of imagination, but they are supposed to resemble a spoon, a fork or a knife. The spoon is said to predict lots of heavy, wet snow. A fork means you should expect a mild winter. A knife indicates an icy, windy, and bitter cold winter. Surprisingly or luckily, it is often correct. She split open several seeds this year – all were spoons.

Now, I would not bank on that information, but it is a reminder that we need to be prepared ahead of time for whatever the weather decides to throw at us.

Each year is a little different, so Continue reading

Preparing for Shearing

As summer comes to a close, the fall is full of management tasks in all areas of livestock production that need to be accomplished prior to the new year. For the small ruminant industry, shearing is one of those important tasks. In this episode of Forage Focus, OSU faculty and staff emphasize the importance of pasture management when preparing for the shearing of fleeced livestock. The presence of pasture weeds and time spent grazing prior to shearing can negatively impact the value and quality of your wool clip. For more tips on how to appropriately preparing for shearing day, be sure to take a listen to this short clip. We would also like to thank the Dave Cable Farm and 2021 Statewide Sheep Shearing School participants for their help in creating this film. For those interested in participating in any of our up-coming sheep shearing courses, please watch this page for event announcements.

Autumn Forage Harvest and Armyworm Management

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

Authors Note: Since preparing this article last week, a severe fall armyworm outbreak has developed across Ohio. Here are some comments about managing hayfields in view of this fall armyworm outbreak:

If the hayfield is close to having enough growth for harvest, cut it as soon as possible. If there are large numbers of fall armyworms present (more than 2 to 3 per square foot) and they are ¾-inch or larger, they will “cut” the entire field for you while you sleep another night or two. So be aware of what is in your hayfield! Be sure to read the accompanying article in this issue on the fall armyworm and how to scout for it and manage it.

If your hayfield is not quite ready for harvest, scout it now and continue to scout it every couple of days for fall armyworm presence until you do cut it. Be prepared to make a rescue treatment.

If an established hayfield has already been damaged by fall armyworm, Continue reading

Steps to Speed Up Field Curing of Hay Crops

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

As the hay making season comes to a close, shorter days potentially mean less heat and sunlight needed to dry our final hay crops for 2021. For those planning on getting one more cut over the next month, the tips and tricks needed to speed up field curing time may be of great benefit to both you and your livestock. Enjoy!

The rainy weather in many regions of Ohio and surrounding states is making it difficult to harvest hay crops. We usually wait for a clear forecast before cutting hay, and with good reason because hay does not dry in the rain! Cutting 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.

As we keep waiting for perfect haymaking weather, we will reach the point where the drop in quality becomes so great that the hay has little feeding value left. In such cases, it may be better to gamble more on the weather just to get the old crop off and a new one started. Some rain damage is not going to reduce the value much in that very mature forage. Continue reading

Cover Crop or Forage Crop – You Decide

Daren Redfearn, Nebraska Extension Forage and Crop Residue Systems Specialist
(Previously published online with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln: November, 2015)

With the explosion of interest in cover crops for soil health benefits, many questions are being asked where no real information exists to substantiate the possible answers. The anticipated changes in soil health resulting from cover crop management can take several years or decades to happen.

There are many questions about using cover crops as a grazed or mechanically harvested forage since this is the quickest way to recover some production costs associated with establishment.

The overall goals and primary objective for growing and managing a cover crop make it entirely different from a forage crop. The first questions to ask are: Continue reading

Using Nutrient Removal Rates to Improve Forage Productivity

James Morris, OSU Extension Educator, Brown County
Greg LaBarge, OSU Extension Field Specialist, Agronomic Systems

(Figure 1. Yellow unthrifty grass stand spring 2021)

As the calendar flips over to August and temperatures continue to rise, our cool season forages are in the heart of what we call the “summer slump” and vegetative growth begins to decline. Numerous resources are available that provide excellent strategies for reducing the negative effects of this slump. Forage growers can utilize summer annuals to boost yields during this time of the year, but it’s also important to ensure our forage stands are healthy prior to be exposed to heat and other environmental stressors. So, while “summer slump” seems to get all of the attention right now, what if our forages had “spring fever”? Continue reading

Why Test Forage Quality?

Justin Brackenrich, Field and Forage Crops Extension Educator, Penn State University
Andrew Sandeen, Extension Educator, Penn State University
(previously published with Penn State Extension: June 30, 2021)

Forage testing is an inexpensive way to be sure animals are being fed properly. Are you testing your forage quality?

For nearly four decades scientists have been refining their ability to test forage quality. This has been done in an effort to improve animal nutrition and, consequently, animal production. Analytical procedures that previously required a week, or more, to complete can now be done in less than 10 minutes and with more accuracy than before. As the ability to analyze forages has improved, the understanding of how to use the test results to improve animal efficiency and performance has also improved. Unfortunately, though, forage quality testing is a valuable management tool that many livestock producers still do not utilize. For a more in-depth explanation of the forage sampling and analysis process, look at the Penn State article on Forage Quality and Testing.

Greater net profit is the bottom line for why livestock producers need to know the quality of the forages they are feeding. If forages are not tested, animals may

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Double-Crop Forages to Maximize Summer Forage Potential

Jason Hartschuh, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Crawford County

Many producers use summer annual forages for grazing and stored forage to either fill the summer slump or keep livestock feed through the winter. With wheat harvest finalized across most of the state and straw baling completed for many now our attention turns to creating a second or third profit center off those wheat acres.

Wheat acres provide an excellent opportunity for double-cropping with forages that when harvested at the proper growth stage can either make high quality late gestation early lactation forage, grazing opportunities, or gut fill to mix lower the quality of other forages or concentrates.

Many species of summer annuals can be utilized for forage. Some of them such as radish and turnip can be easily grazed but do not make good stored forage as baleage or dry hay. For dry hay we have found the best two species to be teff and oats. Most other species can be harvested as silage or baleage. Be cautious making Continue reading

The Skills and Principles of Managed Grazing on Improved Pastures

Sponsored by the American Sheep Industry Association, Dr. Woody Lane discusses the importance of a well managed pasture system. For those that are interested in maximizing each grazing event in your respective operation, giving a listen to Dr. Lane’s webinar presentation will be time well spent.

Patience in Prairie Modeled Pasture

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

(Image Source: Dr. Jean-Marie Luginbuhl – North Carolina State University)

If I were to make a playlist for establishing native warm-season pastures, these songs would be on it:

  • “Patience” by Guns N’ Roses
  • “No Rush” by Josh Turner
  • “Fools Rush In” by Elvis Presley
  • “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes
  • “I’m in a Hurry” by Alabama

Yes, patience is the theme of the playlist and patience is a virtue when establishing pastures that mimic native prairie ecosystems. The benefits of establishing a native warm-season grass stand come hand in hand with the challenges. The greatest of these challenges is simply being patient for the seed to germinate and the plants to grow. A common cause of seeding failures is the land manager’s anxiety and in inclination to change courses in the first few years after seeding a prairie mix.

The expected wait time for a native warm-season grass stand to reach the state considered “fully established” is Continue reading

So Lush, So Green, and Oh So Poisonous

Keith Johnson, Extension Forage Specialist, Purdue University

(Image Source: Over-Boer’D Farm – Japanese Yew removed from a goat at necropsy)

For those that follow agricultural education, Extension, and livestock pages on social media, I am sure that within the last month you have saw a post shared from Over-Boer’D Farm who suddenly lost 39 goats due to Japanese Yew poisoning. With summer in full swing and outdoor household chores on the to-do lists, landscaping is sure to be one of those tasks. As a rule of thumb to avoid health issues with livestock, lawn and flowerbed waste should be composted or thrown out rather than be fed to livestock. This weeks short article comes to us from Keith Johnson, Extension Forage Specialist at Purdue University as he further shares the importance of when in doubt, throw it out. Enjoy!

It’s that time of year when the yew (pronounced like the letter “U”) is likely in need of a trim to look best as a landscaping plant. Yews have been used as a common landscaping shrub or small tree for decades. They have closely Continue reading