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Archive for the ‘Forages’ Category

How Much Hay?

Posted by romeethredge on November 24, 2015

Calculating Winter Hay Needs
By Sam Ingram Effingham County CEA
“It was my understanding that there would be no MATH!”
To begin the process of calculating the hay inventory  needed for the winter, a producer does not need to do math! The first step is simple, send a forage sample in to a  certified lab to determine the forage quality. The cost of  this analysis is minimal and the lab does the math for you!  The quality of the forage will determine the amount needed  during the winter feeding period.
Once the producer receives and understands the forage quality analysis, they then can determine how much hay they will need to supplement. A simple example below shows how a producer can determine their hay needs.

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A producer has 50 mature brood cows at 1,200 lbs., 2 bulls at 2,000 lbs and 10 weaned replacement heifers at 500 lbs.

If we assume these animals must consume 2.5% of their bodyweight per day, we can say that:
 Brood Cows will require 1500 lbs./day (= 1200 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 50 brood cows) 
 Bulls will require 100 lbs./day (= 2000 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 2 Bulls)  
 Yearling Heifers will require 125 lbs./day (= 500 lbs X 2.5 lbs of DM/100lb of b.w. X 10 Heifers) 
So, daily hay required would be 1725 lbs. of dry hay (that is at 0% moisture or on a dry matter basis).
The calculation of 1725 lbs. of forage is on a dry matter basis. This means that if we bale the hay or receive hay at 85% Dry Matter (DM), 15 % is water and we do not account for that during feeding. So, a 1,000 lb. bale at 85% DM, would be 850 lbs. on a dry matter basis.
To continue on the calculation we need to estimate our feeding period. For this example we will say a producer needs to feed 120 days.  So, if we multiply this number by our daily requirement we get an estimation of 120 days X 1725 lbs. = 207,000 lbs. of DM.  If we assume the producer has 85% DM hay, then the as fed total would be approximately 244,000 lbs.
To account for storage loss and feeding loss (assuming barn stored and fed with a hay ring), we can conservatively add another 15% to the “as fed” total and get a total of 280,600 lbs.  In this situation, for this moderate size herd, we need roughly 280 – 1,000 lb. round rolls of hay.  
Now, depending on where the producer’s brood cows are in their calving season during the winter feeding period will determine if further supplementation is needed. A great option to decrease the need for stored forage or hay is to grow some high quality winter annual grasses.  A cow is much more cost-effective at harvesting forages than we are with machinery and these annual grasses can save time producing and feeding hay.
In the end a producer needs to be thinking about his or her current hay inventory and start calculating for this coming winter. With current grain prices, a concentrate supplement may work out to stretch hay more cost-effectively. Either way, a producer needs to start planning their winter feeding program now, to avoid overpaying for any forage or supplement when supplies get tight.

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Moldy Hay

Posted by romeethredge on November 24, 2015

 

Minimize Your Risks from Moldy Hay

By Dr. Dennis Hancock, Associate Professor and Forage Extension Specialist


Because of the wet fall, many producers have faced extremely difficult field curing conditions for their hay. Additionally, hay that was bone dry in the field has, in many cases, developed mold problems in the barn. This later issue has been problematic for us in 2015, resulting in a large number of square and round bales covered with black sooty mold. It is arguably more problematic because this is often a barn design issue (e.g., open sides, poor air drainage, lack of ventilation, inability to close off ventilation, etc.). Under the high levels of humidity that we’ve had (because of periods of nearly continuous rain and cool weather) the last 2 months, dry hay will draw moisture from the moist air. For example, hay that is 12-15% moisture (the appropriate moisture for hay storage) may have a 6-12” layer along any exposed surface that may equilibrate at about 30%+ moisture if the surrounding environment is cool (< 70 F) and moist (relative humidity stays > 60%). Any moisture level greater than 20% on the surface could result in significant mold growth/discoloration, and levels greater than 30% moisture can result in the entire stack’s exposed surface being covered in black sooty mold.

As a result, our County Extension Agents and I have had an extraordinary number of emails and calls about feeding moldy hay, especially to horses. First, let me clearly state: moldy or dusty hay should NOT be fed to horses. Moldy and dusty hay can lead to respiratory issues in the horse, and can also pose health risks to the men and women who feed the hay to the livestock (e.g., farmer’s lung, etc.). Here’s a link to an excellent Extension article on the subject. Soaking the hay in a water trough before feeding will reduce the “dust” (which is usually mostly mold), but it will also leach out soluble sugars and lower forage quality. This may not reduce the risk of mycotoxins (and yes, hay can have mycotoxins in it just like moldy grain, peanuts, or oilseeds can have in them). For a discussion of mycotoxins, see this article I wrote on the subject. Several companies now sell hay “steamers,” which is a chamber or box wherein hay bales are placed and steam is pumped into the chamber. In addition to the expense, the downside of these steamers is that they will lower the forage nutritive value of the hay and they are unlikely to change the mycotoxin levels appreciably.

Ruminant animals aren’t as sensitive to mold problems as horses, but they still can be negatively impacted if care is not taken to prevent health challenges. Feeding slightly to moderately moldy hay (mold spore counts up to 1 million cfu/gram) is relatively safe if feeding cattle or small ruminants, as long as the animals are fed outside or in a very well-ventilated feeding area. Keep in mind that palatability is likely to be a challenge. Hay that emits a substantial cloud of “dust” or continues to emit dust after the disturbance ceases should be assumed to be > 1 million cfu/gram. A test can confirm mold levels. Hay that is obviously moldy (moldy or “mousey” smell or sending off visible “dust” or mold spores when disturbed) should be tested for mycotoxins before being fed. UGA’s Feed and Environmental Water Laboratory (our forage lab) is not equipped to conduct the mold spore count test or the mycotoxin screen. (To my knowledge, Waters Agricultural Labs in Camilla, GA is also not equipped for these tests, but you can contact them to confirm.) You can, however, work through the UGA lab to arrange for these tests to occur. Alternatively, you can submit samples directly to labs that do conduct these tests (e.g, Cumberland Valley Analytical ServicesDairy One).

Bales that are covered with black sooty mold on the exterior can be removed and discarded, and usually the interior bales are not affected. Bale stack design can help minimize the surface area exposed and, thereby, minimize the damage. Barn design issues can also be corrected to prevent this problem in the future. Barns that can be open to allow moisture to escape during the initial 2-4 weeks of storage and then shut during prolonged periods of high humidity and cool temperatures will offer flexibility in this regard.

For more information on forage management issues, visit our website at www.georgiaforages.com. If you have additional forage management questions, visit or contact your local University of Georgia Cooperative Extension office by dialing 1-800-ASK-UGA1.

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Caterpillars in Grazing

Posted by romeethredge on October 29, 2015

We are finding some caterpillars in grazing this week. I looked at several fields yesterday and about half of them had enough caterpillar feeding to be concerned about. We need all the forage to get to the cattle.

The first thing you notice is feeding on the leaves. On the very young forage you have to look close. Often the caterpillar will have done a little feeding maybe just windowpaneing on the leaves. Then look in the leaf whorl, where it’s twisted up and often a tiny fall armyworm will be hiding there.

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Here below is some young forage with a tiny caterpillar.

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Is Grazing Ready for Cattle?

Posted by romeethredge on October 29, 2015

A hard question to answer is when is grazing ready for cattle. Yesterday these cattle seemed to be telling me, ” We’re tired of eating this hay and old grass, when can we get some of that good grazing across the fence?”

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Here’s Decatur County agent Kyle Brown, as he and I were checking out this field of oats mixed with rye. We were measuring the height of the growth here to try to give the farmer some advice concerning when to let the cattle in to eat.

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Here are some good thoughts from UGA Extension forage scientist, Dr. Dennis Handcock. Deciding when to let the cattle in is really where the “art” of grazing comes in. In general, the earlier one starts grazing, the more damage will be done to the pasture’s growth potential. It is a function of the growth curve. In that early stage (lag phase), when growth is slow or just beginning to get going good, grazing can essentially stop growth or slow it to a crawl. It is like a bank account with some principal in it. The more principal one has, the more growth in the account one will get. The growth rate is like compounding interest. Grass grows grass. Take away principal (grass), and the amount of growth will decrease.

So, that’s enough professor talk… Practically speaking, one really shouldn’t start grazing until there is at least 1800-2500 lbs of DM/acre, though I would wait a little later on oats as they’ll slow growing in December (particularly if it becomes very cold). For rye, that would be about 5-6 inches. For ryegrass, I’d wait until it is at least 6 inches. For oats, I’d wait until it is about 6-8 inches. The ideal would be to only graze it a little… removing just what it’s average growth rate is and maintaining at least 1500-1800 lbs DM/acre. This is why I am a BIG fan of timed (limit) grazing.

Remember… don’t be too quick to graze. Grazing too early can cost one more in the long run.

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Forage Soybeans

Posted by romeethredge on September 18, 2015

I was surprised this week when asked to look at some soybeans , I got to the field and the grower, Brad Trawick, said he was growing them for forage.

 I said, “You mean for cow feed?”

They look real good. We have some photos here.

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Forage soybeans are typically harvested for hay or silage; however, they can be used for late summer temporary grazing. Since they do not regrow once defoliated, strip-grazing (or frontal grazing) is the most efficient use. Soybean forage is fairly digestible (up to 60 percent) and moderately high in CP (17 to 19 percent). Stem size can be reduced, thus increasing digestibility, if seeding rates of 90 to 120 lbs. of seed per acre are used.

Planting late-maturing varieties (maturity groups 6, 7 or 8) from early May to early June will result in forage soybean production best suited for high yields. Shorter periods of growth, such as part of a double- or triple-crop system, can be accommodated with early-maturing varieties. However, productivity is expected to be substantially less.

Dr. John Bernard,UGA Scientist, has the following advice.  Forage soybean can work as silage and the leaf loss is significantly reduced, but the sugar content is limited making it harder to get a good fermentation.  Certainly would benefit from using an inoculate when ensiled.

Soybeans has been one of those crops that gets some attention and then seems to fade away.  Some have had good yields but others have not been satisfied with the yield compared with millet or sorghum.

It’s good to get a forage analysis (CP, NDF, NDF digestibility, fat, and minerals minimum)

If used for hay it make a good hay that’s high in protein.  It’s  a challenge to let it dry enough so that it doesn’t go through a heat and even catch fire, but you need some moisture in it or you will loose the leaves and not get them into the bale. If it’s baled too quickly after cutting then it can heat up and the proteins can be bound and it won’t be as good a feed.  A hay preservative such as Potassium Sorbate may be used to help with this problem. Using a mower that crimps the stalk will help, too. The stalk is often the hardest thing to get dry.

Perhaps mixing an annual grass with the soybeans when planting to help get the leaves into the baler without loosing them on the ground may help.

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UGA Grazing School In Carrolton

Posted by romeethredge on September 4, 2015

Here is info on the Grazing School coming up . For more info … (Click here to view the agenda register online.

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Pasture Caterpillar Problems

Posted by romeethredge on August 14, 2015

First you see a lot of birds feasting on something and having a good time. Then you notice your hay or grazing dissappearing.IMG_8197

In this case it was a lot of Fall Armyworms eating this bermudagrass pasture. A chemical treatment was made so that the cattle can eat the grass instead of the caterpillars getting it.

The birds were enjoying them and were doing good biological control but not quite good enough to save the grass. The cattleman said they saw one cattle egret eat 4 caterpillars without moving, so that’s a pretty hefty population.

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Bermudagrass Stem Maggot

Posted by romeethredge on July 20, 2015

We have been seeing and getting reports of bermudagrass stem maggot damage all across the southern 2/3 of Georgia. Most folks have cut their second cutting and many have started on their third cut. I took the photo below of damage last week.

Dr Dennis Hancock, UGA Extension forage scientist, gives this report, “I’ve had a fairly sizeable number of Agents reporting that they have producers who have gotten 3-8 inches of regrowth on their third cut’s regrowth, only to have it stunted by the BSM. This is often enough regrowth (>6 inches) to shade the base of the bermudagrass such that it won’t try to grow through the damage. As such, this is the worst case scenario, and the only thing for it is to clip the bermudagrass back and use an insecticide to suppress the BSM population long enough for the bermudagrass to grow up.

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Following the recommendations found here (http://bit.ly/BSM2015), many producers have successfully used a pyrethroid to suppress the BSM fly populations. But, timing is CRITICAL! Producers spraying 7-10 days after the previous crop was mowed have found that this one application will protect the crop at least until it is 3-4 weeks old.

Meaning: the second spray is not likely to be needed. By the time it gets 3-4 weeks old, the damage done to the top 2-3 leaves at that point would not be enough to justify the cost of the spray and the damage done by the spray rig driving across the field. If it is 3-4 weeks old and starting to show signs of damage, it would be better to harvest the crop and protect the regrowth.

Also, keep in mind that the more susceptible varieties  are common, Alicia, Coastal, Russell, and Tifton 44.”

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Perennial Peanut Field Day 6-6-15

Posted by romeethredge on May 11, 2015

There is a good Perennial Peanut Field day coming up in Marianna, Florida. For the details go to the Panhandle Ag News.

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Grow More Hay

Posted by romeethredge on March 23, 2015

I’ve had a couple of growers lately say that hay is a profitable part of their farm and they would like to grow more of it per acre. Here’s a great meeting to go to to get some good hay and forage growing information.  Go to Georgia Forages.com and click on upcoming events. It’s on April fool’s day but it’s no joke.

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