Alfalfa fertility needs

By Brooks Warner, Ohio State University Extension Ag and Natural Resources Educator, Scioto County

Alfalfa is known as the queen of forages for its ability to produce incredible amounts of high-protein forage in an array of different environments. Proper management of alfalfa stands can help producers maintain the highest quality and yielding alfalfa for their livestock enterprises. In Ohio, alfalfa thrives in our growing conditions and producers can potentially harvest five times in a growing season. For maximum yield and a healthy alfalfa stand, proper soil fertility is crucial. Soil tests are crucial in understanding which nutrients we are deficient in, and with the price of fertilizer and high-quality alfalfa, it is important to know if we are applying too much or not enough fertilizer.

Soil pH

Highest yielding alfalfa is grown in soil with a pH of 6.7 (Mclean and Brown, 1984). In southeastern Ohio we tend to have low pH soil, so applications of lime are regularly needed.… Continue reading

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Yost weighs in on Prop 12

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recently joined 25 other attorneys general in an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a lower court ruling that allows California to impose its animal-farming regulations on other states.

States are responsible for protecting the health and safety of their residents and for regulating animal farms within their own borders.

“The West Coast can’t seem to understand that this is not the ‘United States of California’ and that farmers in Ohio and other states don’t need to be told how to raise animals,” Yost said. “California imports most, if not all, of its meat, whereas Ohio is known for its agricultural production. It’s best to leave regulation to the experts.”

California’s Proposition 12 bans the confinement “in a cruel manner” of egg-laying chickens, mother pigs and veal calves, and likewise prohibits the sale within California of pork, eggs and veal products from such animals, regardless of the state of origin of the meat.… Continue reading

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U.S. Solicitor General supports Prop 12 challenge

The U.S. Solicitor General, one of the highest ranking officials in the Department of Justice, filed a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of a challenge to California’s Proposition 12. The state law seeks to ban the sale of pork from hogs that don’t meet California’s production standards, even if the pork was raised on farms outside of California. The American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) and National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) filed the challenge, arguing Proposition 12 violates the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause.

In the amicus brief, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argues that AFBF and NPPC have stated a valid claim that Proposition 12 violates the Constitution and will create burdens in interstate commerce. “Other States might well condition in-state sales on even more square feet of space per hog, or on compliance with requirements concerning animals’ feed, veterinary care, or virtually any other aspect of animal husbandry. The combined effect of those regulations would be to effectively force the industry to ‘conform’ to whatever State (with market power) is the greatest outlier.”

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Ohio Poultry Association calls for American Egg Board nominations

The Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) is accepting suggestions for nominations to serve on the 2023-2024 American Egg Board (AEB), which is U.S. egg farmer’s link to consumers in communicating the value of the incredible egg. AEB is seeking an ethnically diverse group of candidates. Appointed members will serve a two-year term.


“Board members serve an important role in assisting AEB’s mission to increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg farmers,” said Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president. “It is a pleasure to work with other professionals on a national level in order to guide the egg community and further our commitment to providing safe and affordable eggs for our Ohioans and the rest of the world.”


To be eligible for nomination, individuals must be producers or representatives of producers and they must own 75,000 or more laying hens. Producers who own less than 75,000 hens are eligible provided they have not applied for exemption and are paying assessments to AEB.… Continue reading

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Cover crop forage as an option on prevented planting acres

By  Stan Smith, Ohio State University Extension PA, Fairfield County

As we sit here in late June, we know a few things for certain:

  • Across Ohio there remain today unplanted acres that were originally intended for corn or soybeans.
  • The “final planting date” that allows planting corn or soybeans without reducing the crop insurance guarantee has passed.
  • Despite the value of producing corn and soybeans for the marketplace, for those with coverage, today the income resulting from Prevented Planting Crop Insurance payments must be considered as an alternative. (see the recent Ohio Ag Manager article Evaluating the Prevent Plant Option)
  • For livestock producers, planting a cover crop that could be utilized as feed late this fall could add value to unplanted corn or soybean acres.

Today, insured corn and soybean growers throughout Ohio find themselves at the crossroads of a decision that pits the overwhelming desire to want to plant and grow a crop for historically high prices against the reality that financially and agronomically it might be a sound alternative to accept a Prevented Planting insurance payment.… Continue reading

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Grazing around solar panels

Currently, Ohio is slated to have approximately 85,000 acres of land put into photovoltaic (solar) energy production over the next decade. As our society continues to investigate alternative energy solutions, the face of agriculture will need to evolve accordingly. Although some see this opportunity as a loss of land, sheep producers have seen a potential silver lining as it relates to increased animal and forage production.

An informative, educational video outlining some basics, and the potential for grazing around solar, particularly with sheep, is available at:

For those that are interested in pursuing opportunities related to solar grazing and power generation, please reach out to your team at The Ohio State University as we are currently working in this field of work at… Continue reading

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ASF webinar update

African swine fever is a deadly, highly contagious viral disease that affects both domestic and wild pigs. People can unknowingly spread the disease on their clothing, farming equipment, or by transporting uncooked pork products. African swine fever has never been detected in the U.S. but has recently been confirmed in countries as close as the Dominican Republic and Haiti. APHIS has vowed to support commercial pork producers, veterinarians, and pig owners with information and resources to help safeguard America’s swine population and the pork industry.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal Plant Health and Inspection Service (APHIS) is working to help prevent the introduction and spread of African swine fever in the U.S., a deadly disease that could have a devastating impact on America’s swine population and the pork industry.

African Swine Fever: What You Need to Know. USDA will moderate a panel of experts representing veterinarians, the pork industry and pig owners for a virtual event on thesigns and symptoms of African swine fever, protective measures to prevent the spread of the disease, and answers to audience questions about the disease.… Continue reading

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Heat stress and grazing

By Jeff Lehmkuhler, University of Kentucky, Department of Animal & Food Sciences

Forage availability is a key driver of stocker calf performance followed by forage quality. As we move through the spring months and begin to see temperatures increase, forage growth slows. Previous research demonstrates that the photosynthesis of plants is negatively impacted by increasing temperatures. Photosynthetic rates of tall fescue can be reduced when temperatures reach 86/77 degrees Fahrenheit, day/night. These warmer temperatures slow forage growth of our perennial cool-season forages.

More importantly, research has demonstrated that soil surface temperatures can have a larger effect on photosynthesis than air temperature. Close grazing or mowing exposes more soil to direct sunlight increasing soil surface temperature. Chris Teutsch’s research with tall fescue at the Princeton Extension and Research Center demonstrated that clipping forage weekly to 1-inch versus 4.5 inches in height weekly increased plant crown sensor daily maximum temperature by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.… Continue reading

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Problem pasture weeds

By Christine Gelley, Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator, Noble County Ohio State University Extension

Problem weeds are showing up in pastures and hayfields around Ohio and getting early season control and/or identification of them can help keep grazing livestock safe and healthy. In some cases, the extended cool, wet conditions this spring minimized control opportunities and have provided an advantage for problem weeds in 2022.


Cressleaf groundsel

Fields of yellow flowers are abundant this year across the state as many annual crop farmers faced planting delays. Some pasture fields are covered in blankets of yellow too. The scenes are deceptively beautiful with their sunny appearance but may actually pose a deadly threat to livestock if the plant happens to be cressleaf groundsel, which is also known as butterweed. Cressleaf groundsel is known to cause livestock poisonings in harvested or grazed forages.

Cressleaf groundsel is a member of the aster family and displays yellow daisy like blooms in the springtime on upright hollow stems that have a purple hue.… Continue reading

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Billion dollar beef

U.S. beef exports maintained a remarkable pace in April, topping $1billion for the third time this year, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). April pork exports were well below the large totals posted a year ago, while lamb exports continued to trend higher. 


Record exports to Taiwan highlight huge month for beef exports

Beef exports totaled 124,408 metric tons (mt) in April, up 3% from a year ago and the fifth largest on record, while export value soared 33% to $1.05 billion — second only to the record $1.07 billion posted in March. April exports to Taiwan and the Philippines were record-large and exports increased to Japan, China/Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Middle East and the Caribbean. For January through April, beef exports increased 5% from a year ago to 478,260 mt, valued at $4.05 billion (up 38%). For South Korea, the leading value destination for U.S.

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Plan now for the OCA Replacement Female Sale

The 2022 date for the Ohio Cattlemen’s Association (OCA) tenth annual Replacement Female Sale will be Friday evening, November 25. The sale will be held at the Muskingum Livestock Auction Co. in Zanesville, Ohio and will begin at 6:00 p.m.

The tenth edition of OCA Replacement Female Sale will provide an opportunity for both buyers and sellers to meet the need for quality replacements in the state. Consignments may include cow-calf pairs, bred cows and bred heifers. Females must be under the age of five as of January 1, 2023 and may be of registered or commercial background. Bred females must be bred to a bull with known EPD’s and calves at side of cows must be sired by a bull with known EPD’s. Pregnancy status must be verified by an accredited veterinarian through traditional palpation, ultrasound or by blood testing through a professional laboratory. Analysis must be performed within 60 days of sale.… Continue reading

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June Dairy Month: Bridgewater Dairy

By Dusty Sonnenberg

Now in its fourth decade producing milk in Northwest Ohio, Bridgewater Dairy has seen its share of good times and challenges. Managed by Leon and Chris Weaver, Bridgewater Dairy was built and started milking cows in 1990. The Williams County farm started milking 2,000 cows and a decade and a half later expanded to milk around 3,000 cows. In 2011, the partnership that owns Bridgewater Dairy also purchased Oakshade Dairy in Fulton County and milks around 1,500 cows at that location. All the heifers and dry cows from both farms are raised at Bridgewater. The Bridgewater Dairy produces all its own feed on 5,000 acres of ground. The feed for Oakshade Dairy is purchased from local farmers.

The dairy industry has seen its share of challenges over time.

“For the first 20+ years, there were ups and downs in the dairy industry as we were getting the farms going,” said Chris Weaver.… Continue reading

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McDonald’s shareholders reject animal rights activist

Recently, McDonald’s shareholders rejected Carl Icahn’s bid to get two animal-rights activists on the fast-food restaurant’s board. The billionaire investor wants to force the company to stop buying pork from hog farmers who use individual pens for sows.

Several other food firms, including Wendy’s, Papa John’s, and Dine Brands Global, which owns Applebee’s and IHOP, recently have rebuffed similar moves. The National Pork Producers Council, which has worked with the restaurant industry to address concerns it has with pork production practices, supports the right of producers to use sow housing systems that are best for their animals and operations. It has pointed out that the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians both recognize individual and group housing as appropriate for providing for the well-being of sows during pregnancy.… Continue reading

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Hay barn fires are a real hazard

By Jason Hartschuh, CCA, Allen Gahler, Mark Sulc, Ohio State University Extension

Mother Nature has been at it again, hardly giving us enough days to make dry hay with a risk of pop-up showers every afternoon. These conditions are very dangerous for hay producers. Since wet hay does just rot it may also burn. Hay fires are caused when bacteria in wet hay create so much heat that the hay spontaneously combusts in the presence of oxygen. At over 20% moisture, mesophilic bacteria release heat-causing temperature to rise between 130 degrees F to 140 degrees F with the temperature staying high for up to 40 days. As temperatures rise thermophilic bacteria can take off in your hay and raise the temperature into the fire danger zone of over 175 degrees F.

Assessing risk

If the hay was baled between 15% and 20% moisture and acid preservatives were used, there is still potential for a hay fire but not as great as on non-treated hay.Continue reading

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Tenth anniversary of OSU’s Dairy Palooza

By Bonnie Ayars, Dairy Program Specialist, Department of Animal Sciences, The Ohio State University

Although it was a long time coming, the 10th anniversary of Dairy Palooza took place at the Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 30. It was a “leap of faith” as the committee began making plans back in the winter. However, not one soul was willing to dismiss the idea of planning the big goals needed to undertake the project. Evidently, our sponsors believed too, as their response was equally as strong in their commitment. 

Although our surroundings are somewhat rustic and possibly lack some technology, we delivered on our promise of “making the best better” for this special anniversary. Our purple color reflected that of champions in all our publicity and the fact that complimentary halters and souvenir t-shirts were also coordinated in that shade. We even gave digital thermometers for each attendee, but they were unavailable in purple.… Continue reading

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Meat industry investigator bill passes out of House Ag Committee

In May, the House Agriculture Committee approved H.R. 7606, the Meat and Poultry Special Investigator Act of 2022. The bill would increase enforcement of competition laws and boost resources to investigate abusive market practices by creating a new office and position in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

The new position would be created to oversee agricultural markets with authority to investigate, subpoena and prosecute meat packers and live poultry dealers accused of wrongdoing. The committee hearing showed some division, but the bill ultimately passed with a 27-21 vote.

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) condemned the unfunded bill, calling it “duplicative.” 
“Cattle producers strongly support effective oversight of the meatpacking sector, but the special investigator bill does nothing to accomplish that goal. Rather than focusing on adequate staffing and funding for the woefully under-resourced Packers and Stockyards Division at USDA, this hasty proposal was rushed through the legislative process without consideration of the confusing bureaucratic mess it would create.… Continue reading

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Forages in modern small ruminant production systems

By Brady Campbell, Ohio State University Extension small ruminant specialist

Because of their versatility, forages play an important role in modern small ruminant production systems as they can be grazed or harvested and stored as fermented or dry feeds for later use. Forages are unique as they contain structural carbohydrates, in the form of cellulose, that can only be digested by rumen bacteria. When compared with grain-based diets, one disadvantage that is associated with forage-based diets is the number of bacteria that are used to digest forages is much lesser than those used to digest grains (3 billion bacteria per milliliter of rumen fluid in forage-based diets vs. 8 billion bacteria per milliliter of rumen fluid in grain-based diets). Rumen bacteria provide ruminants with a large proportion of daily crude protein intake, therefore, diets that are greater in forages may result in less protein available on a per pound basis when compared with grain-based diets and thus require additional supplementation.… Continue reading

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Forage harvest management to speed drying and store high quality forage

By Mark SulcJason Hartschuh, CCAAllen Gahler, Ohio State University Extension

It is forage management season in Ohio.

For dairy quality hay, alfalfa should be stored near 40% neutral detergent fiber (NDF) and grass hay crops should have less than 55% NDF, which happens in the boot stage, or before the first flowering heads begin to emerge. Keep in mind also that the cutting, drying, and storing process results in raising NDF levels at least 3 NDF units above what it was in the standing crop at the time of cutting, and that assumes quick drying and ideal harvesting procedures.

Cutting forage for haylage or dry hay is certainly a gamble but waiting for the perfect stretch of weather can end up costing us through large reductions in forage quality as the crop matures and the fiber becomes less digestible. Before cutting though, keep in mind that the soil should be firm enough to support equipment.… Continue reading

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Adjusting feed as costs rise

By Matt Reese

Skyrocketing feed costs have livestock producers pushing pencils, adjusting and re-adjusting their nutrition plans to manage expenses. 

Nathan Eckel farms around 2,000 acres in Wood County and feeds out Holstein cattle with his brother. Eckel considers it a “good” year when crop prices are high because of some restructuring they have done to meet the nutritional needs for the cattle on the feedlot. 

“My brother and I usually have around 700 head of cattle on feed here all the time in conjunction with our row crop ground we farm in northwest Ohio,” Eckel said. “Pre-pandemic, we saw cattle prices dwindling down. We were looking for a way to mitigate our losses and do more with what we have here on the farm rather than having to rely on other producers to produce the products we feed our livestock. We changed our feeding operation to try to capitalize on our livestock operation as feed prices were ticking up and fat cattle prices were heading down. … Continue reading

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Grass tetany: A complex disorder with easy prevention

By Jeff Lehmkuhler, Extension Professor University of Kentucky and Michelle Arnold, UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory

Classic “grass tetany” is a rapidly progressing and potentially fatal disorder caused by low magnesium level in the blood, also known as “hypomagnesemia”. It is usually seen in older, lactating beef cows when grazing young, succulent grass in early spring, particularly during cool and rainy weather. Other common names for this disorder, including spring tetany, grass staggers, wheat pasture poisoning, and lactation tetany, reflect the season of the year, symptoms seen, types of forage, or physiology of the animals most often involved.

Magnesium is an essential mineral as its presence is vital for many enzymes of major metabolic pathways, in normal nerve conduction and muscle contraction, and in bone mineral formation. Approximately 60-70% of total magnesium in the body is bound up in the bones. Grass tetany occurs when the magnesium (Mg) level in blood decreases rapidly, resulting in less than adequate Mg reaching the cerebrospinal fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord.… Continue reading

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