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. […]
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 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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
As we learn more about a subject, we usually begin to realize that even highly knowledgeable people don’t always agree about everything pertaining to it. People are dealing with the same facts and principles sometimes have differing philosophies or want to take different approaches. In forage production, an area of differing philosophy is what might be called, “the […]
Broomsedge, which is actually a native grass and not a sedge, has become more prevalent in many pastures in the eastern United States in recent years. This is undesirable, because this plant provides relatively little nutritional value to livestock. Even worse, it competes with desirable plants for nutrients, water, sunlight, and space. Reasons for Encroachment […]
If there was an “All Star List” for forage crops, ryegrass would have to be on it. Ryegrass can be grown in many areas, it has the potential to produce a good forage yield, it is easy to establish, and it provides excellent nutrition for forage-consuming animals. Given these attributes, it is not surprising that […]
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 […]
Millions of dollars worth of hay are sold in the United States each year. Successful hay transactions result mostly from application of “common sense,” but discussion of some points that should be considered is provided in this article.
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 […]
Hay is the most commonly used stored feed on livestock farms in the USA, with a total annual value of billions of dollars. Most hay (especially hay intended for use with beef cattle herds) is packaged in large round bales and stored for several months before it is fed. Round balers are popular because they […]
Winter annual forages such as the small grains (rye, wheat, and oats), annual ryegrass, and several Brassica species (including turnips, rape, and kale) benefit many livestock farms. These species are widely adapted, easy to grow, and produce highly nutritious forage. In addition, they make most of their growth during the cooler months of the year […]
Flooding of pastures or hayfields occurs with regularity in some or many areas in most years, especially in fields located near creeks or rivers. Obviously, there are limits to the amount of flooding a forage stand can tolerate. Therefore, it is common for questions regarding this topic to arise. In particular, this often occurs when […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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.
Every year a few hay producers have part or even all of their hay destroyed by fire. There is no way to totally eliminate the possibility of a hay fire, but several precautions can be taken that are helpful in reducing the likelihood of such an event.
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 […]
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 […]
Each year, many cattlemen and other livestock producers purchase cool-season forage seed they intend to use in autumn plantings. For various reasons, some of this seed doesn’t get planted (the most common reason being dry weather at planting time, which happens fairly regularly in autumn in the Southeast). So when you have holdover seed, what […]
In recent years, increases in the cost of fertilizer nutrients have caused cattlemen and other livestock producers to create and discover economical ways to provide nutrients for production of forage. Since it appears that fertilizer costs are not likely to decrease significantly in the foreseeable future, these methods are more important than ever when it […]
With “Variety Not Stated” seed, there is no guarantee being made regarding the specific genetic constitution of the seed.
What, if anything, can be learned from simple examination of hay?
Wild animals have always felt free to visit pastures, hayfields (and various other farm crops) anytime they want. In fact, some wild animals even alter their range in order to access certain crops more easily or more frequently. Farmers, including livestock and hay producers, regularly have the experience of seeing birds and animals of many […]
As compared to some forage crops, winter annuals (including annual ryegrass, small grains, annual clovers, and Brassicas) are relatively easy to establish and are generally dependable, but failures do occur.
Here are nine common reasons for stand failures or poor production in annual winter forage.
Wildlife management has evolved greatly in recent years. Twenty-five years ago, the amount of acreage of wildlife food plots planted in the Southeast was much smaller than it is today. When such plantings were made, they usually consisted of cool-season annuals (often a small grain and/or annual ryegrass). These species are easy to establish and […]
Most plant species used in wildlife plantings are forage crops. Not everyone who owns property is interested in enhancing wildlife, but the extent to which food plots have been planted for wildlife has increased dramatically during the past 20 years. What is the objective that wildlife enthusiasts have in mind by making such plantings? Not […]
When discussing the characteristics of a forage crop, whether with a scientist at a professional meeting or a cattleman at the local coffee shop, a phrase that often gets dropped is “and it’s a good reseeder.” This is often added as an afterthought, much like a car salesman might state, “and the tires are good” […]
Most cattlemen know that livestock can spread seeds by eating them, then depositing them in feces wherever they wander. This can be a problem! Cattle often place unwanted bahiagrass in Bermudagrass hayfields, introduce toxic endophyte-infected fescue into nontoxic fescue, and spread seed of many types of weeds into pastures of various types. However, livestock sometimes […]
Drag harrows (often referred to as chain harrows, spike harrows or spring-toothed harrows) were once widely used in connection with the planting of many different crops. Today, they are rarely used in connection with growing row crops or horticultural crops, but still have a place on many livestock farms. On small farms, drag harrows are […]
Drought is an annual problem on many livestock farms, typically occurring in summer or early autumn. Obviously, when drought occurs, pasture forage growth slows or stops and livestock may not have enough to eat. This can lead to significant problems as the animals seek alternatives. Numerous plant species are poisonous or can become poisonous under […]
In most situations, the most cost-efficient way to feed grazing animals is to provide them with access to pastures throughout as much of the year as possible. More than 60 forage species can be grown in the eastern portion of the U.S., and deciding which to plant in various areas on a farm is an […]
Most people, including cattlemen, don’t spend much time thinking about sunlight. They notice whether it’s a cloudy or sunny day, but thoughts about sunlight usually relate mainly to practical matters such as how warm the day will likely be, whether it’s likely to rain, or whether one needs to try to find his or her […]
How many times have you heard a cattleman make a statement like, “Well, I think I’ll go check the cows,” or “I try to check my cows at least once a day,” or something similar? Or maybe they begin a statement with the phrase, “When I was checking the cows. . . . ” It […]