Western KY Summer Forage Tour: “Nurtured Lands Farm…A Regenerative Journey”

Please join us May 25th from 3:00—7:00 pm at the Nurtured Lands Farms in Princeton KY. Cost is $10 per person to cover dinner. Topics include integrating multiple livestock species, building soil fertility through bale grazing, direct to consumer marketing and more! Register online at https://WestKyForageTourMay23.eventbrite.com or contact Kate Adams at Kate@nutruredlands.com. Kate and Justin Adams purchased their Princeton Kentucky farm in 2016. It had been neglected for many years leading to low soil fertility and poor soil health. While neither Kate nor Justin grew up on a farm, they both enjoy hard work and have a passion for regenerative agriculture. Justin always had an interest in livestock and has an undergraduate degree from Murray State University in Animal Health Technology and a Master of Agriculture in Integrated Resource Management from Colorado State University. The first year on the farm they started with a contract grazing partnership with Dogwood Farm. Toby and Debby Dulworth quickly moved from just partners to partners and mentors. Like most farmers starting out they started on a budget. Dogwood paid Kate and Justin with a share of the calves, and this is how they started their herd. In 2020, they added layer chickens in a mobile coop to follow the cattle and help reduce the fly population on the farm. This was also the year they ended the cow/calf production and move to grass finishing steers. In 2021, pastured chickens were added, and the farm started direct to consumer marketing both chicken and beef cuts. A partnership with Magney Legacy Ridge farm started in 2021 for Western Kentucky consumers to order online and have a weekly delivery to their home. In 2022, forest finished hogs we added to the farm. This farm tour will be a walking tour of the 50-acre farm (35 in pasture). Justin and Kate will explain how they used strategic forages, animals, and grazing techniques to bring life back into the soil. They have experimented with many ways of diversifying the forages on the farm and have seen the biggest impacts through frost seeding of clovers and lespedeza. Since Nurtured Lands Farm does not use synthetic fertilizers, having the clovers in the pastures is a main source of nitrogen. The tour will be a friendly discussion of shared practices. More info here

Pub of the Month: Managing Legume-Induced Bloat in Cattle (ID-186)

Incorporating legumes into pastures to reduce the impact of fescue toxicosis, provide nitrogen for forages, and improve pasture quality leading to increased animal performance is still sound management even though legume bloat is a risk to livestock. Individual animal performance is greater on grass/legume pastures compared to performance on similar monoculture grass stands. If one considers the number of cattle grazing
pastures containing legumes worldwide, the fear of bloat leading to low incorporation of legumes into grazed swards will give rise to greater economic losses compared to establishing a mixed sward of grasses and legumes. Find this publication on the UK Forage Extension website under the livestock disorders tab.


In April 2023, we ran a story, Summer Stockpiled Forage Provided the Answer, without properly attributing that to writer Mike Rankin for Hay and Forage Grower.

A Native Crane Fly Species may Be a Potential Pest in Alfalfa Fields of Kentucky

Adult crane flies (Diptera: Tipulidae) are often misidentified as giant mosquitoes, they are actually different in size (0.8 to > 1 in. of body length) and belong to a different family. The larvae of crane flies are known as “leatherjackets” and in this case the larvae are found around 1-2 inches depth in the soil (Figure 1B), displaying tan to dark brownish colors, with a retractile head capsule and spiracles.

Most native crane fly species do not represent a threat to agriculture, but they may become pests when certain conditions are met. For instance, some invasive species are considered pests in golf courses and in some pastures. Here is the first report of a native species, Tipula paterifera that was found feeding on roots and foliage of alfalfa in Kentucky (Figure 2). The damage to alfalfa plants can be severe when high numbers of larvae are present in the soil (Figures 2 and 3). This species was previously found feeding on herbaceous plants in grasslands.

The larva of T. paterifera is mostly found within 5-in. depth in the soil and some of them are collected close to the main root of alfalfa plants (Figure 4A). Pupae are found close or on the ground surface (Figure 4B). Between 1 to 10 crane fly larvae/ft2 were found in soil samples in 2022. The larva’s lengths ranged from 0.5 to 0.9 inches. Under laboratory conditions adult females lay on average 397±121 (SEM) eggs, ranging from 41 to 1,361 eggs within 72 h. Eggs are laid on small clusters containing up to 18 eggs. Under dry conditions, larvae remained in hardened soil clumps (Figure 4C). These individuals barely moved unless poked or if the soil clump was intentionally opened. In contrast, larvae in soaked conditions were able to breathe using their annal breathing tubes or spiracles (Figure 4D).

Tipula paterifera larva (as many crane fly species) is physiologically adapted to survive both dry and moist conditions during larval stages. It caused economic damage to alfalfa only when high larvae populations appear (i.e., 2019 and 2021). However, there is no known economic threshold thus far. The outbreaks of T. paterifera in alfalfa fields could be attributed to certain climatic and ecological conditions not yet understood. The low populations of this species detected in 2022 could be explained in part by the extreme drought conditions across the north central U.S. ~ Armando Falcon-Brindis, Raul T. Villanueva and Julian Dupuis

Frothy Bloat Spikes with Spring Cereal Grazing

Concerns and documented cases of wheat pasture bloat are starting to swell as fields of wheat and small grains green up in the Southern Plains. This disease, also known as frothy bloat, causes excessive bloating in cattle that can quickly lead to animal death. In a webinar from Oklahoma State University Extension, Paul Beck explained that frothy bloat results from a buildup of ruminal gasses that are produced faster than they are expelled. The beef cattle nutrition specialist noted the disease is most common in early spring when wheat and small grains are growing rapidly. This forage tends to be high in protein yet low in fiber.

Without enough fiber to regulate rumen function, the soluble protein creates a slime layer in animals’ stomachs. “The gasses that are released naturally from rumen fermentation percolate through the slime layer and can block the esophageal orifice, trapping the gas,” Beck said.Cattle can die within 15 to 20 minutes after the initial signs of frothy bloat. The swelling of the rumen can impede on animals’ pulmonary systems, preventing them from breathing and ultimately causing suffocation. Some additional factors that influence the incidence and severity of frothy bloat are soil fertility and weather patterns. For example, forage growing on more fertile soil may be higher in protein, which heightens the risk of the disease.

Warmer temperatures and greater rainfall in the spring accelerate forage growth and exacerbate frothy bloat. Conversely, a late season frost might rupture plant cell walls and intensify the issue as well.

In an article from Oklahoma State University Extension published last month, Beck notes death losses from frothy bloat can be as high as 15% to 20% of a cow herd. Even so, this economic loss may be less threatening than not taking advantage of the available forage at all. “Cattle grazing small grain pasture can gain in excess of 2.5 to 3 pounds per day,” Beck writes “Avoiding these pastures based on a fear of bloat is unreasonable, especially when there are affordable and user-friendly methods for control.” Adding low- to moderate-quality hay to animal diets can improve fiber intake and slow the passage rate of grazed forage. Beck stated this may benefit rumen retention time and digestion of wheat and small grains; however, it is not a sure-fire defense against frothy bloat on its own.

Feeding cattle monensin is another approach. Research shows this supplement can reduce the incidence of frothy bloat by about 20%, as well as boost animals’ average daily gain. While monensin cannot cure frothy bloat, it can lessen the severity of the condition. “If we are decreasing the severity, it allows us time to see those animals before bloat death occurs and gives us time to provide alternative cures,” Beck said in the webinar. One such alternative is poloxalene, a surfactant that disrupts the slime layer in the rumen and releases trapped gas. Beck suggested providing poloxalene to cattle is a more surefire strategy to prevent frothy bloat if animals consume it daily. It can be found in the form of feed additives, top dresses, mineral supplements, feed blocks, and liquid feed.

Beck recommended using a product that is 6.6% poloxalene into animal diets at a rate of 0.8 ounces per 100 pounds of body weight per day. This equates to about 4 ounces of the product per 500-pound animal per day, or 8 ounces of the product per 1,000-pound animal per day. ~ Amber Friedrichsen, March 2023, Hay and Forage Grower (HayAndForageGrower.com). Read the full article here.

Farmer Scholarships to attend the International Grassland Congress

We want to remind you that the International Grassland Congress will be held in Covington Kentucky, May 14-19, 2023. This is the first time this international conference will be hosted in the US since 1981. Funding is available to help cover your expenses to attend this conference. The registration cost is $600 for the entire time or $200 for one day. The National Cattleman’s Beef Association is offering scholarships to producers through the Rancher Resiliency Grant program. You can apply and should be approved to receive up to $1,622 to cover/reimburse your expenses related to attending the event. Here is the link with details to the grant information: https:// http://www.ncba.org/producers/rancher-resilience-grant.

Here is the link to the International Grassland Congress https://www.internationalgrasslands.org/ We encourage you to consider attending this international conference! In addition, there are still spots available on the 8 day Central Grasslands Pre-Congress tour through Texas and Oklahoma.

Forage Timely Tips: April

  • Make sure hay equipment is ready for high quality May harvests.
  • Graze cover crops using temporary fencing.
  • As pasture growth begins, rotate through pastures quickly to keep up with the fast growth of spring.
  • Creep-graze calves and lambs, allowing them access to highest-quality pasture.
  • Finish re-seeding winter feeding sites where soil disturbance and sod damage occurred.
  • As pasture growth exceeds the needs of the livestock, remove some fields from the rotation and allow growth to accumulate for hay or haylage.
  • Determine need for supplemental warm season forages such as pearl millet or sudangrass.
  • Flash graze pastures newly seeded with clovers to manage competition.

KY Beginning Grazing School April 25-26-Princeton

The 2023 KY Beginning Grazing School helps livestock producers improve profitability with hands-on and classroom learning and will be held at the UK Research Station and the KY Soybean Board office.

“While this school targets beginning grazers, the topics and discussion benefits producers along all segments of their grazing journey,” said Chris Teutsch, UK forage specialist and grazing school organizer. “We’ve updated this year’s school to put greater emphasis on soils, the foundation of sustainable grazing systems.”

The school will begin each morning with refreshments at 7:30 a.m. CDT. Topics for April 25 include an introduction to soils, rotational grazing, meeting nutritional needs on pasture, grazing math concepts, travel to a local grazing operation, portable/seasonal water systems, methods to access pasture production and determine stocking rate and hands-on small paddock set-up demonstrations. After lunch at the farm, more topics include electric fencing to control grazing, offsets, soil and hay sampling, forage plant growth and grazing management and choosing forage species for a comprehensive grazing system.

April 26 topics include fence types and costs, electric fencing for serious grazers, a grazing system design case study and exercise and a discussion on how to reinvigorate a rundown farm. Students will also learn to calibrate a grain drill and try a GPS unit designed for frost seeding pastures. A local producer will discuss how they made grazing work on their farm. The day culminates with a trip back to the research farm to observe and discuss the previous day’s hands-on grazing exercise. The school will adjourn at 5 p.m. CDT.

Register here. Cost is only $60. Registration limited and will end April 10. To register by mail, send a check to Christi Forsythe, UK Research and Education Center, 348 University Drive, Princeton, KY 42445.

Sponsors include the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the KY Forage and Grassland Council, KY Beef Network and the KY Agric. Development Fund.

Registration Still Open Fencing School

      Spaces are still available for the 2023 Fencing School April 11th in Allen County. This day long workshop include classroom instruction on fencing types and costs, electric fence basics and fencing law in Kentucky as well as hands-on fence building with post driving, H-brace construction, knot tying and high tensile fence installation. Lunch is included, but spaces are limited so register soon. For more information on this event, click here.  

2022-2023 Hay Crop—Summary of Cost and Returns

As we transition to spring in the coming months, we will naturally shift gears and begin thinking about and preparing for 2023 hay production. It is difficult to overstate how important it is for us to have improved forage and hay production in the Southeast. We hope it will be different than last year. In 2022, most Southern states experienced some degree of drought. Input prices for agricultural chemicals, fuel, supplemental feed, and labor were all at their highest in recent memory. As a result, hay production declined by 16%, 13%, and 20% in Arkansas, Mississippi, and Kentucky, respectively.

Part of planning for this year’s hay crop is re-examining costs and breakeven prices. This article uses results from the 2022 Arkansas Hay Verification Program to examine hay production costs in Arkansas. The Arkansas Hay Verification Program (AHVP) is a collaborative effort between Arkansas forage producers, county Extension agents, and state Extension Specialists. Eight hay fields from seven farms participated in the 2022 AHVP and were all located in the Ozark district. The total acreage participating in 2022 AHVP was 252.5 acres or 36.1 acres per field. Hay production from the 2022 AHVP totaled 826.2 tons or 3.27 tons per acre. The estimated value of production from the 2022 AHVP totaled $127,239.42.

Operating costs averaged $375.14/acre with a range of $192.96/acre – $577.50/acre. Among all items, fertilizer represented the largest proportion of operating costs. Farms in the 2022 AHVP averaged $244.43/acre on fertilizer (including poultry litter), with a range of $92.00/acre – $428.15/acre. Higher fertilizer expenses were positively correlated with higher per-acre hay yields. A negative correlation was observed between fertilizer expenses and breakeven hay prices. Realized yield gains offset the higher costs from applying fertilizer.
Breakeven prices are calculated by dividing total specified costs by production per acre (tons/acre). Note breakeven refers to the hay price where revenue equals costs. The average breakeven price of hay among farms in the 2022 AHVP was $111.88/ton. Breakeven prices ranged from $82.72/ton to $160.99/ton. It is recommended that farms get accurate estimates for bale weights and price hay on a per-ton basis. Bales are not a standard unit of measurement and do not accurately reflect the value of production when priced on that basis.

Note: These estimates reflect summary data from eight farms in Arkansas that will not necessarily reflect any one farm’s situation.  James Mitchell (University of Arkansas) and Brian Mills (MS State). Read the full article here.