Seminole Crop E News

Agricultural News for Farmers and Agribusiness in SW Georgia

Posts Tagged ‘forages’

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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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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Alfalfa in the South

Posted by romeethredge on March 9, 2015

The UGA Georgia Forages program will host a workshop entitled “Alfalfa in the South” on Mar. 17 starting at 9 a.m. The workshop will be at the UGA Livestock Instructional Arena (2600 Milledge Ave., Athens, GA).
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The workshop will focus on how to successfully use alfalfa, including how to grow your own N and feed supplement by interseeding alfalfa into bermudagrass. Subjects covered include: site selection, establishment protocol, soil fertility, harvest management, and how to use this high quality and cost-effective crop. We will also have a grower panel to hear how other producers are using alfalfa in bermudagrass across Georgia and the Southeast. We then will go to see two fields where alfalfa was interseeded into bermudagrass (see full agenda).

Cost of the one-day workshop is $25 and includes lunch and refreshments, an ‘Alfalfa in the South’ notebook, and other publications on alfalfa production and use in the South. To register, call Cathy Felton at 706-310-3464 or send us an email. (Note: Cathy is part time and works mornings. If you don’t get her, just leave a message and she’ll get back with you.) If you are interested in attending the workshop virtually, call Cathy Felton at 706-310-3464 or send her an email. Attending the webinar is free and you will receive all of the information via a pdf file.

Posted in Cattle, Forages, Livestock | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Cattle and the Cold Weather

Posted by romeethredge on February 20, 2015

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Timing Critical to Controlling Thistle and Dogfennel

Posted by romeethredge on February 17, 2015

Brock Ward, Miller County Extension Coordinator, wrote this about pasture weed control. To view the full article click on the Spring Creek Extension News Blog.

When it comes to pasture and hayfield management, weeds are pests year round.  With the broad spectrum of weeds here in the Southeast and the climate to sustain them, it is a struggle staying ahead of them.  Over the last few years, I have gotten calls in the spring through early summer about controlling weeds in pastures and more often than not, those weeds include dogfennel and thistles.  These are two of the most common weed problems for producers in Georgia.20150212_083143_resized

Photo by Brock Ward

First we will start with the thistle complex as it is often overlooked during the best time for control.  Starting in mid-January through mid-March, producers should scout for the presence of thistles in the rosette stage of growth.  This is the stage of growth where the plant is low to the ground and grows outward from its taproot as a mass of leaves just above the soil surface.  It is easy to drive by a hayfield or pasture and not even suspect the presence of thistles.  The thistle complex consists of several different species but they are all treated as one complex.

Timing is the most critical element in the management of several of our weeds and thistle is no exception.  When in the rosette stage, chemical control of thistle is much better than if the plants are bolting, or growing taller from the center.  Also it is even harder to kill a thistle once it has begun to flower.  It benefits the producer to attack thistles during the rosette stage as it is susceptible to a broader range of cost effective herbicides.

Click through to Spring creek blog  above for more info.

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