The Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association annual conference will be held Jan. 17-18 at the Owensboro Convention Center. Friday includes the annual “Forages at KCA, 2:00-4:30 in the West Ballrooms A-C and will focus on the economics of grazing and grazing cover crops. Speakers include Dr. Ray Smith and Dr. Greg Halich from UK, Ed Ballard from Illinois, and John Genho from Virginia. You don’t have to register for the conference to attend our section, but we suggest you support KCA by registering for the event. Click here for more information and to register.
Moisture is the enemy of hay, so anything a producer can do to reduce the amount of moisture reaching hay will likely reduce losses. Protecting bales from rain that can penetrate hay is obviously desirable (bale wrappers help in this regard). What is less obvious is that with most types of forage crops, the greatest losses to round bales stored outside result from moisture moving into the hay from the ground. Avoiding hay-soil contact is a highly desirable first step in reducing hay storage losses. For example, simply placing bales on old tires, pallets or a layer of coarse gravel will reduce loss. Forage-Livestock Quotes and Concepts, vol. 2 is available here.
Here are a few suggestions to start the move to healthier pastures.
- Soil Test. Forages are crops, and they need nutrients. Knowing soil fertility levels helps you target your fertilizer dollar to the most needed fields. Thankfully pasture fertility levels don’t change as much as hay fields, since most are returned in the manure and urine.
- Find ways to remove dense canopies of dead grass such as close mowing or brief periods of mob grazing. This allows sunlight to reach the crowns of cool season grass and initiate new tillers (which emerge next spring).
- Nitrogen is an important tool to rejuvenate grass pasture. Consider applying nitrogen in the spring to a damaged pasture and harvest it as hay.
- Upgrade your fencing and water plan for better utilization in 2019. Having water points centrally located in a pasture so livestock are always within 600 to 800 feet of water will result in more uniform grazing. UK will be offering Fencing Schools and Grazing Schools this spring that focus on pasture layout.
- Address the production slump of mid and late summer that happens with cool season grasses. Consider summer annuals, a deep rooted legume like red clover or alfalfa and even native warm season grasses. All these options have payoffs that offset up front costs and management requirements.
- Target some fields for complete renovation. Reseed these fields to cool season grass in late summer. One or two burn down sprays with glyphosate will help insure successful re-establishment.
Happy Foraging. ~ Jimmy Henning, Farmer’s Pride, Dec.
All 12 Forage Variety Trial reports are now available here!
With so many winter meetings, we’d thought we’d break down the who, where, when for each meeting all in one spot. Click on the meeting title to link to more info or registration:
- AFGC Annual Conference will be held in St. Louis Jan. 6-8th and focuses on “Forages Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow”. This is the 75th anniversary of AFGC.
- Forages at KCA will be at the Owensboro Convention Center on January 18th and will focus on “The Dollars and Sense of Grazing”. See our full highlight above.
- Heart of America Grazing Conference will be hosted by the Indiana Forage Council in Ferdinand, IN Jan. 22-23. This is a regional event, attracting speakers, producers and industry representatives from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri.
- Pastures Please!! is an all equine program focused on pasture management for the coming season. This is a free event, located at the Mercer County Fairgrounds Jan. 28th.
- 38th Kentucky Alfalfa and Stored Forage Conference will be in Lexington on February 21 and will focus on the Practical Considerations for the Production of High Quality Hay and Baleage. This is a state wide event and registration is just $25.
- Small Ruminant Grazing Conference is all things goats, sheep, and other small ruminants. Join us for this day long program and optional FAMACHA training in Morehead, KY on Feb. 23.
- Novel Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop is a day long training focused exclusively on understanding, establishing, and managing novel tall fescues in pastures. In partnership with the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, join us in Princeton, KY on March 20th and register online, spaces are limited.
Ration balancing options are available to beef producers who have a hay test by using a computer program. The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool is a simple web-based tool to estimate forage intake and supplementation rates.
The UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool gives quick feeding solutions for available hay choices. Access the program here.
To use the tool, producers need to know the quality of the hay to be fed (dry matter, protein, NDF and TDN) and the desired stage of production of the cows. They can choose from among several supplement options and the program calculates the amount to be fed.
The program was developed by beef specialists in the UK Department of Animal and Food Sciences and is designed to provide quick and simple feeding solutions for Kentucky producers. Remember that many variables such as weather conditions, body condition, animal health, and palatability of feedstuffs can affect actual intake and animal response to a feeding program. Actual feed/forage intake and body condition should be monitored throughout the feeding program. Cattle should also have access to a complete mineral supplement and clean drinking water at all times.
The wintering cost is the largest single expense for beef cows. Manage this cost by making sound feeding decisions with your 2018 hay by using the UK Beef Cow Forage Supplement Tool. ~ Dr. Jimmy Henning, Farmers Pride
This year’s theme is “Practical considerations for the Production of High Quality Hay and Baleage”. Presentations include Economics of hay production, Hay prices and trends, Update on hay making equipment and technology, Barn considerations for cash hay operations, Evolution of mechanization and transport in my hay operation, and How good is our Kentucky haylage? The event will begin at 8 am at the Fayette County extension office in Lexington and runs until 3 pm. Preregister here.