Anyone who has managed a pasture and who has some observational skills knows that the botanical composition of a pasture changes over time. Often this is at least partly due to the alternating growth of warm season and cool season species, but some of it also results from some plants dying and being replaced by […]
It has been known for centuries that crop rotation is a highly desirable agronomic practice, even if the rotation involves only row crops. Benefits that can result from this practice include: (1) interruption of the life cycles of diseases, harmful insects, and nematodes; (2) more efficient control of weeds as well as reduced weed […]
Virtually all livestock producers know that overgrazing (i.e. grazing a pasture closer than is normally recommended) is detrimental. However, it seems that many people only have a vague (or at least incomplete) understanding of exactly why overgrazing is harmful. Here are some reasons. Reduced Forage Production– Leaves are the food production factory of a plant. […]
Winter forage pastures help farmers across the southern United States stretch their stockpiles of hay by prolonging the grazing season. A winter pasture supplements winter diets with healthy ryegrass or forage oats, allowing cattle to graze until spring. Planting a successful winter forage pasture begins with Prine. Why Prine? Ragan & Massey developed Prine Tetraploid […]
Agronomists, seed company representatives, and others often mention the importance of decisions pertaining to seed selection and purchase. Most forage/livestock producers would say they agree with this line of thinking. However, it is easy to forget about this (or, more likely, not give it as much attention as it deserves) when actually making a seed […]
We normally think of animal output from pasture in terms of pounds of gain (per day or per animal), while output per unit of land area is usually expressed as pounds of gain per acre. A livestock producer needs to have a basic understanding of how stocking rate affects both output per animal and output […]
In most of the eastern United States (east Texas to the Atlantic and from Florida to well north of Kentucky) there are only are a handful of native species that are planted and grown for forage, and even these are not widely planted.
For hunters that have never utilized a food plot, you’re missing out. A food plot is designed to draw deer, turkeys and other game to your property, i.e., your stand. But they are also very beneficial to the local game populations because of the supplemental nutrition they provide. This extra nutrition helps local game populations […]
There are major differences among animal species with regard to how they graze. Cattle graze by hooking their tongues around forage, gripping it between the tongue and lower incisor teeth, and then tearing it from the plants. Sheep, goats, and horses bite off forage much as humans might take a bite out of an apple, […]
Some highly useful forage crops can be toxic in certain situations. The photograph above shows a field of sorghum-sudan hybrid, a fast-growing summer annual grass, which can provide good yields of nutritious forage. However, it is one of the forage crops that can cause prussic acid (also called hydrocyanic or HCN) poisoning. Other species in […]
For decades, forage legumes such as clovers, vetches, alfalfa, and lespedezas have been considered to be special and beneficial pasture plants. In recent years, incentives for livestock producers to grow them, usually as a companion to forage grasses, have further increased. Why are many people more interested than ever in growing legumes? Here are […]
Some terms associated with forage-livestock production are unique. Here are a few that are often used, along with definitions or explanations of each. Knowing what these terms mean can help a person better understand discussions of various aspects of forage-livestock agriculture. Alkaloids- A large group of complex compounds that contain nitrogen and occur as by-products of plant biochemical processes, […]
In recent years, fertilizer prices have increased. Budgets prepared by university agricultural economists indicate that fertilizer cost associated with growing grass is typically 50 to 60 percent of the cost of producing beef cattle. Unfortunately, it appears that the cost of commercial fertilizer is not likely to decline much anytime soon. Producers who feel they have limited funds to spend […]
Grazing management is an extremely important topic that deserves serious consideration by any profit-oriented livestock producer. There are numerous benefits associated with good grazing management, including (but not limited to) the following.
Prine. It’s Ragan & Massey’s proprietary seed blend that offers the best in commercially available ryegrass varieties from the outstanding University of Florida ryegrass breeding program. Our high-yield, rust- and disease-resistant tetraploid varieties deliver proven results for nutritious winter forage. Farmers and ranchers from across the country have long used Prine for pastures that can take the pressure of grazing long into the winter. We get a lot […]
After World War II, commercial fertilizer came into widespread use in agriculture, including on pastures and hayfields. While no one enjoyed paying fertilizer bills, for a long time it was relatively inexpensive (or at least affordable), in addition to being quite convenient to use to stimulate forage growth. Things have changed. Commercial fertilizer is much […]
Benefits of legumes or legume/grass mixtures can include biological nitrogen fixation, higher forage yield, more favorable distribution of forage growth, and higher forage quality that results in better animal performance. In pasture situations, clovers are by far the most commonly used type of forage legume. Depending on climatic conditions, soils, and sites, a livestock producer […]
Farmers across the southern United States depend on winter grazing to provide a healthy diet for livestock until spring. Why? Winter pastures help stretch stockpiles of hay, saving farmers money and time by allowing cattle, sheep, horses and goats to graze far beyond the normal growing season. So now that you’re on board with putting in a winter pasture, how do you ensure your […]
Ragan & Massey’s PlotSpike is a high-quality product that attracts both deer and turkey all year long. We also have several varieties, like our Forage Oats, that are PlotSpike exclusives developed just for our customers that work with no fillers or unnecessary coatings. With so many quality varieties, how do you know which type is best for your food plot? Are you looking to get your food plot started fast? Try PLOTSPIKE® FORAGE […]
Grazing pressure refers to the extent to which pasture forage is being utilized at a given time. This is a function of stocking rate; i.e. the number of grazing animals that have access to a pasture. For example, if 30 cows have access to 60 acres of pasture, the stocking rate during that period of […]
It is getting close to the time of year that’s more precious to hunters than any other – hunting season. For most experienced hunters a food plot is a must. Food plots not only draw game and wildlife to your hunting ground, they help herds stay healthy and control population numbers. Even though hunting season doesn’t start until […]
Drought often limits pasture forage availability and sharply reduces hay yields on many farms, which increases the amount of hay or other stored feed needed during the cooler months of the year. However, stockpiling (which simply refers to allowing forage to accumulate in a pasture to provide grazing at a later time) can be quite […]
There are several good reasons for growing forage legumes when feasible. These include biological nitrogen fixation, possible extension of the grazing season, increased forage yield (especially compared to grasses receiving little or no nitrogen fertilizer), and improved forage quality. Factors to consider in selecting a legume to plant can include producer objectives, soil types, sites, and grass species present. No one legume is right for every […]
Weeds rank as one of the major factors that limit productivity of forage crops. Perhaps the best definition of a weed is simply “a plant out of place.” Most hayfields, and especially most pastures, contain many plant species that are out of place and are unwanted. Weeds compete with desirable plants for nutrients, moisture, sunlight, […]
Buying grass seed can be confusing. There are numerous blends for sun or shade and the varieties of seed types seem endless. You want your lawn to be healthy, green and luxuriously thick but you don’t want to waste your money buying the wrong seed. We think our Mayberry Grass Seed is the best you can […]
Year after year meteorologists and farmers predict the upcoming winter will be worse than the last – and it turns out to be accurate most of the time! But no matter if the winter or extremely harsh or mild, it always poses a risk to your livestock. The best way to prepare for the worst […]
A winter pasture, full of annual forages such as small grains and annual ryegrass, benefits small farms with easy-to-grow, highly-nutritious forage while saving money, time and effort. It is no wonder that more and more farmers across the United States are adopting winter grazing habits for cattle, sheep, horses and goats. Planting a winter pasture […]
When it comes to winter forage in the Southeast, it’s hard to argue with annual ryegrass. It is a quick-growing, non-spreading bunch grass that is a reliable, versatile performer almost anywhere in the United States, but especially the southern U.S.
Photo Credit: Marion Barnes. One of the challenges faced by a cattleman or other producer of grazing animals is assessing the productivity of pastures. The reason is that grazing animals “eat the evidence” (i.e. they eat the pasture forage). But a forage-livestock producer at least knows the size of the pasture area and how many […]
Ragan and Massey’s Prine seed offers the best in commercially available ryegrass varieties from the outstanding University of Florida ryegrass breeding program. These high-yield, rust- and disease-resistant tetraploid varieties deliver proven results. You shouldn’t have to second-guess when you need to plant a winter pasture. We believe Prine offer the best combination of quality and […]
University budgets reveal that fertilizer usually accounts for 40 percent or more of the cost of producing forage, and N alone can account for 20 to 40 percent of the cost of producing grass forages. The extent to which a livestock producer is able to minimize fertilizer expenses may mean the difference between profit and […]
Livestock producers spend a lot of time taking care of their animals, but the idea of giving the animals a job to do usually doesn’t come to mind. I am referring to the “trampling” or “walk in” approach to establishing clover. I first observed this technique during a trip to New Zealand in 1988, in […]
Forage programs vary greatly, even on adjacent farms. Reasons include that soils and other resources vary, the objectives and inclinations of producers may not be the same, and the species, classes, and breeds of livestock differ from one farm to another. However, despite diversity regarding the details, forage producers who have the most profitable forage […]
Most of the cost of raising livestock is associated with feeding them. Pasture forage is generally the least expensive source of nutrition, which provides an incentive for producers to seek options to extend grazing to the extent possible. Using warm-season and cool-season forages, using annuals to provide grazing when perennials are not productive, and stockpiling […]
At Ragan and Massey, we get a lot of questions about how to fertilize for food plots: how much, how often, when to start, what to use. In an ideal world, you would have plenty of time to test your soil before planting, but this is rarely the case for most people, who often don’t […]
Annual ryegrass is often planted on the dormant pastures of warm-season forages, especially bahiagrass and bermudagrass. However, other warm-season forage crops including dallisgrass, crabgrass, broadleaf signalgrass, and sericea lespedeza can also be overseeded. The dependability and value of this practice has been thoroughly verified by university research, and thousands of livestock producers have benefitted from […]
Another hunting draws near and with it hot coffee, a ready truck, and the long wait for sunrise. Those of us longtime hunters have learned a lesson or two from the blind and tree stand. Here are seven we thought of this morning.
Fields selected for overseeding should not be excessively wet or subject to flooding. A soil test should be taken from each field, and any needed lime should be applied several months before planting. Most winter annuals are best suited to a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5. Any legume seed planted should be inoculated with […]
Harvest season is a grueling time of year for farmers and their families. Here’s how to reap the benefits while giving stress the shaft.
Interest in growing clovers as companion species to forage grasses has increased in recent years. Reasons include that in many situations they can extend the growing season and/or increase total forage yield of pastures.
It’s the time of year when we start fielding a lot of questions surrounding the best ways to establish and maintain a food plot. Most of our customers are surprised at how easy it can be to prep, plant, fertilize, and grow.
During a recent review of forage crop planting recommendations, it occurred to me that such guidelines have a lot in common with driving directions. If we decide to take a trip to a place we have never (or rarely) been before and don’t have a map or GPS unit, we will need some help.
Any successful Southern cattleman knows that their real business isn’t cattle; it’s growing grass and then converting that grass into beef. Knowing that better forages make better profits for beef producers, all of us at Ragan and Massey go to great lengths to bring the best forage seeds to fields and pastures. In addition to this, it’s also important to know and understand […]
Whether you are entrenched in the agricultural industry or simply like its ability to put food on your table, droughts can have a significant impact on your everyday life.
One of the best rewards in the fall is being able to trade early mornings in the tractor for early mornings in the treestand. We know we’re not alone as we gladly switch our work jeans for camo and blaze orange; harvest-turned-hunting season is one of our favorite times of the year.
In some situations, striving for uniformity is highly desirable, but development of a forge program for a livestock farm generally doesn’t fall into this category. In fact, planting and growing a diverse crops on such a farm, and in many cases in the same field, offers some distinct advantages to your forage.
It turns out there is a lot to love about mulch. Aside from clearly defining a beautiful and functional yard, mulching can help conserve and nourish surrounding soil, preserve moisture, and protect plants and trees from mower, trimmer, and insect damage.
Poultry and beef are in competition in the grocery store, but on individual farms they are often quite compatible enterprises. One reason for this pertains to the litter generated in broiler production houses. Broiler litter (normally a combination of sawdust, wood shavings, or peanut hulls, plus poultry manure, feathers, and wasted feed), builds upon the […]
There’s something about a Sunday drive that seems to be genetically programmed into farmers. We take the long way home from church, from family breakfasts, or from a ball game just to see how our piece of the world is doing. My grandfather did it. My father did it. And now I find myself doing […]
Most livestock producers understand the desirability of having forage legumes such as clovers and vetches present in pastures. As compared to grasses and non-leguminous forbs, biological nitrogen fixation and improved forage quality provided by legumes are major attributes. In addition, in some cases legumes can extend the growing season and increase forage yield. These are […]