Register now for the Heart of America Grazing Conference

Register now for the Heart of America Grazing Conference

HOAJoin us for the 2019 Heart of America Conference — Kicking the Hay Habit: Optimizing Profitability.  The keynote speaker, Jim Gerrish, is an independent grazing lands consultant providing services to farmers and ranchers on both private and public lands across five continents. Event includes trade fair and silent auction.

7:30 Registration Opens

8:30 Kicking the Hay Habit – Jim Gerrish, American GrazingLands Services, LLC

9:30 Livestock Genetics for Extended Grazing Systems

Gordon Jones, Red Hill Farms

10:30 How Many Days to Graze? – Greg Halich, UK

11:15 Innovations in Livestock Fencing – Mark Harris / Sarah Adams, Gallagher

1:00 Hay Storage and Feeding: Avoiding Train Wrecks

Jeff Lehmkuhler, UK

1:45 Summer Stockpiling: Thinking Outside of the Box – Chris Teutsch, UK

2:15 Extending Grazing on My Farm – Producer Speaker

2:45 Forage Research Updates: Converting High Quality Forage into Baleage – Jimmy Henning, UK; Applying KY Dairy Forage Research for Beef Producers – Ray Smith, UK

3:15 Practical Considerations for Extended Grazing systems – Jim Gerrish

The event will be held October 29-30 in Burlington, KY at the Boone County Extension Office.  Register here before Oct. 15 for discounted price of $50.


Forage Timely Tips: October

  • Feed hay to allow cool-season pastures to accumulate forage growth for winter grazing.
  • Do NOT harvest or graze alfalfa fields.
  • Inventory and test each hay lot for nutritive value and consult a nutritionist to design a supplementation program as needed.
  • Remove ruminants from pastures that contain sorghum species (forage sorghums, sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, sudangrass, and especially johnsongrass) when frost is expected. Even small patches of johnsongrass that have been frosted can cause prussic acid poisoning.
  • Begin strip grazing early planted small grain and brassicas (turnips and rape) mixes by the end of this month if you’ve had rain.


Publication of the Month: Cyanide Poisoning Ruminants (ID-220)

As fall begins, livestock producers should remember that the increasing chance of frost raises the risk some forages have of causing cyanide poisoning in ruminants. Specialists with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture warn that warm-season annual forages, such as sudangrass, johnsongrass, sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids, have the potential to cause cyanide poisoning, especially when grazed by ruminants at an early growth stage or immediately after a non-killing frost. The greatest risk is frosted Johnsongrass. A non-killing frost can occur when temperatures are around 40 degrees and usually affects valleys and low-lying areas first. Wait until plants have died down after frost before grazing.

“These summer annual forages are high-yielding and high-quality forages, said Ray Smith, UK extension forage specialist. “The potential for toxicity problems is low when these forages are properly managed.”  poisoning should not be confused with nitrate poisoning. Drought and heat can cause nitrate levels in forages to rise, especially in the lower third of the plant. In a year like we are experiencing, being knowledgeable of this disorder will help us not make a bad situation worse. Download the full publication here.


Quote of the Month: My Farm Ain’t Overstocked, It’s Just Under-Rained!

Many forage-livestock producers can relate to the idea of a far sometimes being “under-

quotes book

rained.” Lack of adequate soil moisture is one of the major, and most frustrating, factors affecting forage growth, consequently, reducing forage for grazing animals. However, good grazing management can help mitigate effects of limited soil moisture. It is well documented that overgrazing drastically reduces root growth of forage plants. If plants have a shallow and poorly developed root system, drought conditions will reduce growth much more quickly than in plants with root systems that access a larger volume of soil. An extensive root system also allows plants to recover more quickly once it rains. Order your copy of Forage-Livestock Quote and Concepts, vol. 2, today at

Harvesting Drought Stressed Soybeans for Hay

With much of the country affected by drought conditions this summer, many grain producers are facing the problem of low grain yields while many livestock producers are experiencing hay shortages and may be seeking alternatives for winter feed. One possible option is to harvest drought damaged crops or crop residues that are not usually used as forage for hay or silage.

In Kentucky, drought-stressed soybean crops with low producing grain yields may produce a substantial yield of high quality forage. If harvested in a leafy stage before the leaves start to yellow, soybean hay averages 12-15% protein and 55-60% TDN. Many factors should be taken into consideration before deciding to harvest drought-stressed soybeans for forage. It is important to consider the value of the soybean grain yield versus the forage yield. Understand the feeding quality and nutritive value along with current livestock needs. Pesticides that have been applied to the crop can negatively affect animals. Certain pesticides have no restrictions while others have recommended waiting periods after the last application for safe feeding, and others make the crop unsafe for forage use after any application. Be sure to read pesticide labels before deciding to harvest soybeans crops for forage. Last, soybeans may cause bloat. Mixing rations with grass hay or stockpiled pastures will reduce this risk. Talk to your county agent about the option of harvesting drought-stressed crops for forage.

Harvesting soybean forage for silage is preferred over baling it as dry hay because ensiling retains more dry matter during harvest and storage. However, it is possible to make high quality hay from soybeans in the R3 to R5 growth stages. There are lots of leaves at these stages and the pods are less likely to shatter during mowing and raking operations. Use a roller-type mower conditioner set to lay the hay in a wide swath and leave about 4 inches of stubble. When dry, slowly and gently rake the swath into a windrow in the morning when humidity levels are higher to avoid leaf loss. Invert the windrows after several hours of good drying conditions and bale in the early evening to avoid further leaf loss. Make sure to contact your crop insurance adjuster before cutting any drought damaged soybeans.