Anne Bays Wins Second in National Contest

Picture2Anne Bays, co-owner and operator of Moonlight farms in Corbin KY, won second place in the National Forage Spokesperson Contest at the recent meeting of the American Forage and Grassland Council. Anne was selected to represent KY at the Oct. Grazing Conference, co-hosted by the KFGC and University of Kentucky. As the Kentucky winner, Anne went on to the national AFGC competition in St. Louis Missouri on January 7, 2019. At the national contest, Anne placed second in a highly competitive field of six speakers from across the central and eastern US.

Anne and her husband, John, own and operate Moonlight Farm, a family farm that focuses on producing grass fed/grass finished beef, pastured pork, and free range chicken. Their beef comes from Scottish Highland Cattle, and is USDA Certified Grass Fed. They also raise and sell meat from Red Wattle Hogs and free-range chickens. They market their meat through local farmers markets, as a CSA farm. They have recently purchased a meat processing operation and storefront to market their products. For more info go to:

~ Jimmy Henning

Kentucky has raised many forage leaders now working around the country. Other KY resident and KY natives recognized at the AFGC Conference include:

Krista Lea—Early Career Award

Don Ball—Allen Illumination Award

Scott Flynn—Merit Award

Jennifer Tucker—Merit Award


Looks Like I need that Hay after all

picture3The cold and wet weather this winter is a reminder that stored feed is important to livestock operations. Plan to attend the 38th annual Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference February 21 in Lexington. The program will focus on the practical considerations for the production of high quality hay and baleage. UK Ag Economist Dr. Greg Halich will address the economics of hay and stored feed and David Knopf (USDA Ag Statistics) will be updating the group on state and national hay prices and trends.

The infrastructure of hay making will also be highlighted. Dr. Josh Jackson (UK) will provide an update on hay making equipment and technology and Dr. Morgan Hayes will address barn considerations for cash hay operations. Josh and Morgan are UK Extension Specialists in Ag Engineering and produce hay on their own farms. These are new faculty at UK that are bringing fresh information to producers and you won’t want to miss them.

Producer speakers will play a significant role in this year’s conference. Ron Tombaugh will walk us through the evolution of mechanization and transportation in his hay operation. Ron and Sandy Tombaugh own and operate Dart Hay Service (Streator, IL). Ron grows and harvests several hundred acres of alfalfa and alfalfa-grass hay annually and delivers hay using his own long haul trucks over the eastern half of the US, including KY.

Finally, a panel of producers will present how baleage works on their farm. Todd Clark (Lexington), Tom Wright (Shelbyville) and Jody Watson (Jackson, TN) will lead a panel discussion of how baleage works on their farm. Actual farm data on the quality of Kentucky baleage will be shared including moisture content, pH and fermentation profiles of the volatile fatty acids that preserve the baleage.

The 38th Annual Alfalfa and Stored Forages Conference will be held at the Fayette County Extension Office, 1140 Harry Sykes Way in Lexington. Register online.  Registration is $35 per person, with a $10 discount if done before February 15. Attendees can also get a $10 discount on the KFGC membership. Register now!

~ Dr. Jimmy Henning, excerpt from Farmer’s Pride.


Forage Timely Tips: February

  • Continue grazing stockpiled tall fescue if available.
  • If pasture stands are thin, frost seed 6-8 lb/acre red clover and 1-2 lb/A white clover after close grazing.
  • On low fertility pastures, consider adding 10-15 lb/A annual lespedeza to the above recommendation.
  • Apply low rates of nitrogen in late February on some pastures to promote early growth.
  • Service and calibrate no-till drills
  • Apply lime and fertilizer according to soil test if not done in the fall.

My Permanent Pastures Aren’t

Mud is the price of feeding cattle outside over winter, especially the winter of 2018/2019. So what can be done to renovate or rehabilitate damaged grass pastures?

First, there is no easy or quick fix. The damaged pastures are going to need time out of production and some inputs. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to help rehabilitate your pasture grass base.

Rest. I would have to put this at the top of any list. Without time off, the pasture will never be much more than mud and weeds. Ideally, this rest would extend beyond the rehabilitation period to future management. If these pastures have to go back into rotation, make it a priority to implement rotational grazing with extended rest periods. Longer rest periods allow the roots to recover as well as the tops.

Feeding somewhere else. Getting to state the obvious is a perk of old age, and feeding somewhere else is the pinnacle of obvious. However, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is a symptom of insanity by some. Other options?

Nitrogen. The strongest stimulant for grass growth is nitrogen. While legumes do supply nitrogen, for this problem we need to pull out the big guns and use fertilizer N for quickest results. Spring N will stimulate grass plants that are still vigorous and growing and will produce more yield per pound of N than at any other time, generally.

Assessment. Determine whether you have enough grass to warrant the N. Weeds are also stimulated by spring N, and we don’t need more of those. Fall applied N will stimulate cool season grasses to initiate new tillers that will emerge next spring. The timing window for N application to stimulate tillering is wider and later than the optimum window for stockpiling fescue. October and November applications will be effective.

Planting something. Once the cattle have been removed, you have the opportunity to smooth up the area if needed and seed. The options include red and white clover, a summer annual or even an aggressive establishing cool season grass if done early. Clover will easily germinate and grow when broadcast onto bare soil given just a little rain or packing. The taproots can help loosen the soil as well.

My choice of the ryegrasses would be perennial ryegrass and not annual. Perennial is still a temporary fix but has a chance of lasting well into the season and maybe more. Annual ryegrass will often go to seed and die by mid-summer, unless an Italian type is used.

Summer annuals. Species such as crabgrass, sorghum-sudan, sudangrass and pearl millet can provide high yields and make good use of the residual N, P and K from the cattle. Plant these when the soils are warmer and the chance of frost has passed.

All the options above (clover, ryegrass or warm season annuals) are just temporary solutions, of course. Their purpose is to provide some pasture while bridging to the fall seeding window when seeding of more permanent cool season grasses are more successful.

There are as many ways to rehabilitate our permanent pastures as there are farms. Adding heavy use areas, unrolling hay across more area, and even bale grazing can help. But rest, nitrogen, feeding elsewhere and replanting are some of your most powerful tools for the job of bringing back the permanence in your pastures.

~ Dr. Jimmy Henning, excerpt of article in Farmers PridePicture1


Publication of the Month: Renovating Hay and Pasture Fields (AGR-26)

Renovate means to renew and improve. This publication discusses managing a pasture or hay field that has become less productive and renovating or “renewing” it so that it will become more productive. In Kentucky, this usually means adding lime and fertilizer, controlling weeds, and planting an adapted legume such as red clover and/or ladino white clover. The primary benefits of renovation come as a result of getting legumes established in grass-dominated fields. See the full publication here.

Quote of the Month: Establishment: Planning and Precision are Paramount

The importance of the establishment period for forage crops can hardquotes bookly be overemphasized. In most cases, the steps involved in establishment are not particularly difficult to accomplish, but success usually involves planning, attention to detail and timeliness. Many things can go wrong. Cutting corners or skipping a step is likely to be costly in the long run. If a producer is going to make a mistake that will limit forage production throughout the life of a forage stand, the chances are good that it will be made between the time the decision to plant the crop was made and when the planter was pulled out of the field.  Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts, vol. 2 is available online.


Converting to Novel Endophyte Tall Fescue

I have the strong opinion that nearly all progressive livestock growers with Kentucky-31 tall fescue pastures should convert at least some of their ground to novel endophyte fescue. While I am still a big fan of KY-31 for winter grazing, hay production, etc., having novel endophyte tall fescue for young and growing animals, and other high-value livestock, will prove to be a major production advantage. The novel endophyte tall fescues are easy to establish, but it is important to use a system that completely removes the toxic plants in the pastures being converted. It is also critical to provide careful management during  establishment years to ensure a good initial stand.DSC_0094

To help farmers seriously interested in renovating some of their pastures with novel endophyte tall fescue, we have recently been working with a group formed in Missouri called the Alliance for Grassland Renewal and now comprised of representatives from multiple universities and seed companies. The goal of the group is to develop a self-imposed system of regulating seed quality, to develop educational programs to support producers in conversion projects, and to promote the concept of novel endophyte tall fescue. The alliance has been doing educational workshops across the southeast for five years and the next one in KY is in Princeton, March 20. For more information and to sign up, see the UK Forage Website.   ~ Matt Poore, excerpt from article in Progressive Forage Grower, Dec. 2018, found here.