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

Constructively Thankful

Christine Gelley, OSU Extension Educator ANR, Noble County

In the season of Thanksgiving, we gravitate to each other to express gratitude for blessings of all kinds. It feels good to be thankful and to be with grateful people. I hope that as you prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday that you take the time to meditate on the blessings in your life and on the farm and that it fills you with satisfaction.

When listing our many blessings, we often skip expressing thankfulness toward our learning experiences we gain through less than perfect scenarios. Yet, I think those scenarios are often more worthy of recognition than our obvious successes, because through challenges, we grow.

Along with your lists of blessings, I suggest making a list of things that went less than perfect in your operation this season, recognizing lessons learned in the process, and identifying ways to improve moving forward. It sounds a lot like “constructive criticism”, but I prefer to think of it as “constructive thankfulness”.

Here are some examples: Continue reading

3 Challenges in Ohio Sheep Production Systems

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

Ohio sheep production faces many challenges, however, in my opinion, some of the greatest arise from environmental changes, land mass availability, and predators. To start, we’ll discuss the environmental challenges that producers commonly face. The biggest environmental challenge in my opinion is directly related to excessive rainfall that much of the state has experienced in the recent past. As of late, because of excessive and unpredictable rainfall events, both crop and livestock producers have been unable to harvest and store quality feedstuffs in a timely fashion. Arguably, the spring of 2020 alone presented the greatest challenge as excessive rain events led to delayed planting of crop fields, making of hay, in addition to resuming normal pasture grazing. As a result, crop planting and harvesting was delay, if at all. Excessive moisture in the fall of 2020 was just as challenging during harvest as it was during planting. As a result, issues with mold at harvest became a quick reality. Over the last 5 years, hay of adequate quality has become scarce, mainly due to delayed harvest resulting in the production of poor-quality hay as the result of increased forage maturity. Pastures in general also took a hard hit as excessive rainfall in the spring seemed to have drowned out pasture growth, thus resulting in a lack of  a ‘spring flush’ as we are normally accustomed to. In 2022, the saga continues. Pop up showers with enough moisture to ruin the chances of dry hay production seemed to foil the most well thought out plans. As we have discussed here in the past, prior to making hay you must decide if 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

Q-fever; Its Not a Query Anymore!

Emily Janovyak, DVM, USDA ORISE Fellow

If you keep small ruminants, chances are you’ve heard of Q-fever. But did you know that it can affect many other species, including humans? Q-fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a bacteria that infects the cells of host animals. It was recognized as a human disease in the mid 1930’s, when the ‘Q’ stood for ‘query’ (question) because cause of this disease was not known. Q-fever is present worldwide. In the United States, cases of human infection must be reported to health authorities whereas animal cases are monitored but reporting of cases is not required.  Surveys indicate a high prevalence of infected animals in the USA but, according to the CDC, only 1-2 hundred cases in humans each year.

Coxiella burnetii can infect many species of mammals, birds, and arthropods. But it is most significantly a problem with ruminants. Animals can transmit the disease by direct contact, either 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

Sheep and Goat Housing: Renovate or Build New?

Sarah McNaughton, Editor, Dakota Farmer
(Previously published online with Ohio Farmer: September 29, 2022)

When considering building or renovating housing for sheep or goats, producers should first examine their current level of production and management styles, while keeping future plans for potential growth or management changes in mind.

“We want to consider where we’re at,” said University of Minnesota Extension engineer Erin Cortus, during a recent webinar by University of Minnesota and North Dakota State University. “Where are we in terms of existing space or existing facilities?”

Cortus encourages producers to think about the number of head, a barn’s function, and how much time they have to commit to management, as well as future plans.

“We don’t want our current structures or plans to Continue reading