Kentucky Spring Fencing School

The 2019 Spring Fencing School will be held in three locations on three separate dates: April 9 at the Pirri Equine Teaching Pavilion in Lexington, KY; April 11 at the Cumberland County Extension Office in Burkesville, KY; and May 30 at the Logan County Extension Office in Russellville KY.  Hosted by the Master Grazer program, the school begins at 7:30am and ends at 4:30pm local time.  Presenters will offer the newest fencing methods and sound fencing construction with classroom and hands-on learning.

The first half of the day is spent in a classroom reviewing fence construction basics, Kentucky fencing laws, and electric fencing basics.  After a catered lunch, participants will venture to a local farm and install two types of fences: fixed knot high tensile woven wire fencing and electrified smooth high tensile fencing.  Sponsors include the Gallagher North American, Stay-Tuff Fencing, UK Master Grazer Program, Kentucky Agricultural Development Fund, and the Kentucky Beef Network.

Preregistration is necessary, and enrollment is limited to the first 30 participants.  Registration is $30 and includes all materials, fencing manual, breaks and lunch.  You can find all three events here. Register online or mail your registration to Rehanon Pampell, 1205 Hopkinsville Street, Princeton, KY 42445.DSC_4335


Quote of the Month: Bull Can be Compared to Forage Varieties

quotes bookEvery forage-livestock producer should keep in mind that genetics are important. Cattlemen and other livestock producers are usually quite aware of the importance of animal genetics. In fact, choosing a bull determines half of the genetics of all of the animals he sires. However, selection of a forage variety determines all of the genetics of that forage crop in the acre(s) in which it is grown. Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts, vol. 2 is available online.


The Sun will Come Out…

…at least I hope so. Our Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council board met recently, and they challenged all of us in forage leadership to get as specific as possible about what producers should do about mud. What follows is a synthesis of thoughts about the path forward after what amounts to two years of incredibly wet winter weather.

Henry Ford said ‘Obstacles are those frightful things we see when we take our eyes off the goal. With that in mind, I am going to challenge us all to think beyond the short term problem of a pugged up field to the ultimate goal to be accomplished. We need to get a thick stand of grazing and traffic tolerant grass on these areas before going into the next winter feeding period.

So instead of thinking now about the next 60 days, let’s start with ways to get a thick stand of grass by fall of 2019. To do that, we need to have the damaged field in shape to seed to permanent cover by mid-August. I said ready to seed. Lord only knows what the summer will bring, assuming we get one. In terms of the type of grass to seed, I think the only hope for holding these feeding area fields together is tall fescue. The choice between a novel tall fescue variety or ordinary KY 31 is perplexing, even for me. The novel fescues are clearly tough, and this is clearly an opportunity to upgrade a field.

No-till seeding will help preserve the soil structure that you build with interim forages (or weeds unfortunately) next summer. You will want to use seeding rates on the high side of the range (25 lb per acre or more) and you will want to drill in two directions with a half rate each time. Realistically, this strategy will only provide about 6 to 8 inches of growth going into fall, but it is permanent cover.

What you do just prior to the fall seeding window is flexible, much of it driven by when you can get animals off the damaged field, your need for forage from that field and how much smoothing that field needs. I am sure that you are thinking, “I’d get them off of there tomorrow if I had any other options.” That said, let’s say the best case scenario is you get access to the field on April 1. We routinely spring seed red clover in April and get 2 tons of dry matter and more. You are going to have to smooth up the field in order to get good seed-soil contact.

Red clover will not provide any hoof support but it is easily managed so fall seedings of grass are possible. We are putting out some demonstrations using a mix of crabgrass and red clover as well. Based on our goal of permanent grass cover, manage the vegetation present so the grass seeding has the advantage; that means you may want to use a non-selective herbicide to prepare for a  fall seeding.

Summer annuals (sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass, pearl millet) give us more time to get the ground smoothed, as they are usually seeded beginning in May depending on soil temperature. These grasses have the advantage of providing high yields as well as utilizing the nutrients provided from the manure and urine in hay feeding areas. Indications are that seed supplies of these products will be tight because of poor harvest conditions last year. So if that is your plan, book your seed early. Consult AGR-229, Warm Season Annual Grasses in Kentucky (Google AGR-229 UKY) to see which one is right for you.

Finally, it is still conceivable that ryegrass (planted right away) can provide some quick cover, and spring oats can actually yield 2 tons plus if planted my mid-March. The likelihood of getting a seeding window in the next two weeks is dwindling, but the option is there. Summarizing all of this, our goal is a good stand of permanent cover on our winter feeding areas. Everything we do has to work towards that goal. Happy foraging.

~ Jimmy Henning, published in Farmers Pride


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.