Grazing tips for dry pastures

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, many areas are experiencing abnormally dry to moderate drought conditions — and the impact on crops is obvious.

One farmer last week told me he had to drive around a lot in his fields to make round bales. All crops are showing signs of stress, including pasture grasses and forages, but the weeds seem to be growing well through these dry conditions.

What can a manager do given the current situation?

Basic pasture management principles are as important, if not more so, during periods of dry weather. Maintaining good fertility and soil pH can help grazing plants survive drought conditions. Soils that have adequate fertility and are at the ideal pH will go a long way in helping plants maintain a healthy root system, which is important for capturing nutrients, minimizing soil loss, and photosynthesis.

If you decide to apply nitrogen fertilizer, use a form that will not volatilize if rainfall doesn’t occur shortly following application.… Continue reading

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Dairy producers talk phosphorous, manure legislation at summer meeting

It wasn’t long ago that Grand Lake St. Marys was the center of controversy due to Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs). A lot has happened since that time and phosphorus reduction was one of several important topics at the Ohio Dairy Producers Association (ODPA) Summer Meeting held Wednesday on the banks of the lake in Celina.

“Ohio’s dairy farmers all realize the importance of partnering with the consuming public and with our state agencies and all the businesses that need to help solve the water problem in our state,” said Scott Higgins of the ODPA. “Two bills in the past year have been acted upon — Senate Bill 150, Senate Bill 1 — and dairy farmers know what the obligations are. The challenge we have is knowing how to get there. We brought folks together to help us with the technical nature of it and how can we get there quickly.”

Speakers for the day included Karl Gebhardt of the Ohio EPA, soil scientist Libby Dayton with Ohio State, Karen Scanlon with the Innovation Center for U.S.… Continue reading

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Seeking help for low prices on the dairy farm

America’s dairy farmers are struggling through a round of low milk prices across the country as dairy prices have fallen from recent record highs in 2014.

“Dairy farmers all around the world are suffering and various governments are looking at what they can do, including the U.S. government,” said Chris Galen, Senior Vice President of Communications for the National Milk Producers Federation. “We’re supportive of some efforts that have been initiated here by some key members of Congress to ask USDA if there is anything else that can be done to help farmers during this difficult time.”

It’s a worldwide phenomenon, as lower milk prices around the world can have a direct effect on milk prices across America. Lower international demand is one key factor driving the lower prices.

“China, which was a major buyer a few years ago, suddenly turned the welcome mat upside down and decided they didn’t need as much,” Galen said.… Continue reading

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Tri State Small Ruminant Summit

The Kentucky Sheep and Goat Development Office, Indiana Sheep Association, and Ohio Sheep Improvement Association are proud to present the 2016 KIO Tri State Small Ruminant Summit – Let’s Grow Together conference, aimed at herd improvement for sheep and goat producers.

The Summit is an event that brings together producers and experts from different states all with similar goals and obstacles.  The topics, spoken on by experienced university professors, veterinarians and Extension specialists, specifically target how to integrate health, genetics and nutrition to enhanced efficiency and productivity. There will also be hands on workshops and live demonstrations. “This provides a great opportunity to create connections between small ruminant producers and the academic types,” said Robert Van Saun of Penn State University who is speaking at the conference.  “It is a chance to learn new, reliable scientific information as these industries begin to grow.”

The Summit aims to expand and improve the industry for consumers as well.… Continue reading

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Some like it hot…some not

As we move into August, we continue to experience a fairly typical seasonal weather pattern for most of Ohio. Yes, it’s hot and humid!  We have been experiencing these conditions for the past couple of weeks and it appears that the trend will continue at least for the remainder of this week. Maybe Mother Nature will improve her sense of humor and provide us some relief in the coming weeks.

Every cow-calf producer makes management decisions about their operations based on a wide variety of factors. Some of these factors include access to land, feed resources, marketing goals, labor availability, etc. In this article, I want to discuss another factor that significantly impacts management decisions for the cow-calf producer. That factor is the weather.

The weather has a direct impact on nearly every management decision made by the cow-calf producer. There are predictable seasonal trends that we can expect as we move from winter to spring to summer to fall.… Continue reading

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No waste left behind at the North American Manure Expo

Farmers can get a good grip on manure using cover crops, says an expert with Ohio State University Extension.

“Cover crops are an excellent practice to utilize nutrients from manure for growing grain crops,” said Alan Sundermeier, an educator in OSU Extension’s Wood County office. “Capturing the manure nutrients with a growing plant will keep the nutrients on the field and out of waterways.”


Sundermeier, who’s also the director of that office, gave tips on getting cover crops off the ground  — and then eventually back into it — as part of the North American Manure Expo earlier this month. The event was in London, about 25 miles west of Columbus.

His talk, called “Establishing Cover Crops,” was one of four during the expo’s Cover Crops track. It was one of about 40 talks in 13 tracks during the event’s two days overall.

The expo’s theme was “Returning nutrients to their roots.”… Continue reading

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Prepare for activists at the county fair

Summer is here that means county fairs and livestock shows are in full swing. For many producers and youth involved in agriculture, fair season means putting in extra hours of practice and preparation in order to show off a year of hard work in the show ring along with making friendships and memories to last a lifetime.

Unfortunately, animal rights extremist organizations see fairs and events as something entirely different — an opportunity to disrupt and protest, ultimately bringing attention to their cause of eliminating animal agriculture and promoting animal rights. Individuals representing activist organizations have disrupted everything from Independence Day hot dog eating contests to the Pennsylvania Farm Show this year. As another example, an organization called the Alliance for Animals and the Environment is campaigning to end the hug-a-pig event at Wisconsin fairs.

Those involved in a fair or expo this summer and fall, need to prepare for activist protests and disruptions.… Continue reading

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Production area does not affect phosphorus digestibility in soybean meal fed to pigs

Research at the University of Illinois is helping to determine the effect of growing conditions on the nutritional value of soybean meal.

“The digestibility of phosphorus is the same in soybean meal grown in various regions in the United States,” said Hans Stein, professor of animal sciences at Illinois.

“The chemical composition of soybean meal is somewhat dependent on the area in which soybeans are grown, but it was not known if there are differences in the concentration of phytate among soybeans grown in different areas,” Stein said.

He and Kelly Sotak-Peper, then a doctoral candidate, set out to determine whether any differences existed.

They sourced soybean meal from crushing plants in three different areas within the United States: the northern growing area (comprising Michigan, Minnesota, and South Dakota), eastern growing area (Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio), and western growing area (Iowa, Missouri, and Nebraska).

They measured no statistically significant differences in concentrations of phosphorus, or in the percentage of phosphorus bound to phytate, among soybean meal from the different regions.… Continue reading

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Late summer seeding of perennial forages

Although it may be a dim memory at this point, we started the 2016 growing season on the wet side. Some planned spring forage seedings did not happen due to wet conditions and a compressed spring planting season. Add to this the fact that some alfalfa stands are not holding up as planned because of harvest injury during the wet and rainy conditions of 2015 and now the dry summer conditions of 2016 and there are potentially a lot of acres of alfalfa or another perennial forage that need to be planted as we look ahead to 2017. August gives us another window of opportunity to establish a perennial forage stand and it fits nicely into rotations after wheat grain harvest.

Typically the main risk with an August planting is a question of sufficient moisture for seed germination and plant growth and it looks like this year will not be an exception, as the weather outlook for August is for rainfall to be below normal.… Continue reading

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New process adds weeks to milk shelf life

A rapid heating and cooling of milk significantly reduces the amount of harmful bacteria present, extending by several weeks the shelf life of one of the most common refrigerator staples in the world, according to a Purdue University study.

Bruce Applegate, Purdue associate professor in the Department of Food Science, and collaborators from Purdue and the University of Tennessee published their findings in the journal SpringerPlus, where they show that increasing the temperature of milk by 10 degrees for less than a second eliminates more than 99% of the bacteria left behind after pasteurization.

“It’s an add-on to pasteurization, but it can add shelf life of up to five, six or seven weeks to cold milk,” Applegate said.

Pasteurization, which removes significant amounts of harmful pathogens that can cause illness and eventually spoil dairy products, is considered a high-temperature, short-time method. Developed by Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, the treatment gives milk a shelf life of about two to three weeks.… Continue reading

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Swine summer camp brings “All-Stars” to Ohio

Young people from across the country involved in the show pig world converged on Columbus in mid-July to take part in a unique learning sure to make an impression for years to come.

“The All-Stars was a camp that we started a couple of years ago. The first two years we were in Romney, West Virginia,” said Kevin Wendt, auctioneer and CEO of the Wendt Group. “We were on a campus of a local high school that had an awesome animal department and we could do some really cool things obviously being in Appalachia to tie in the service part of it, but we decided this year to come to the Ohio State University, do some things here on campus, do some things in town, and still tie in to showing pigs and teaching them about leadership and those kinds of things.”

While the focus of the event may seem to be on showing hogs, Wendt says the goals of the program excel far beyond the show ring.… Continue reading

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Biosecurity recommendations for youth exhibitors

As county fairs continue across Ohio and the great Ohio State Fair is about to begin, biosecurity does not take a rest. Pork Checkoff director of swine health information and research, Dr. Lisa Becton, said that message is very important for youth exhibitors during the summer show season.

“As kids are actively in the fair season, showing animals and moving them around, it’s very important to know that diseases can transmit easily,” Becton said. “So it is important to do things like cleaning equipment or trailers between shows, making sure animals have proper vaccinations for things like influenza or other diseases just to make sure their not transferring anything or getting anything.”

Many times the importance of making sure a show animal is isolated from other animals on the farm after a show is overlooked.

“Even though an animal may look healthy, it may be carrying a virus or bacteria,” Becton said.… Continue reading

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ORVTLA 19th Annual Texas Longhorn Show

The Ohio River Valley Texas Longhorn Association’s 19th annual Texas Longhorn show was staged at the Wayne County Fairgrounds at Wooster on July 16. The show was organized by president Andrew Morris of Malhonding and past president Tim Mills of Perrysville. The ORVTLA is an affiliate of the International Texas Longhorn Association.

Registered Texas Longhorn cattle sparred for championship awards with 56 International Texas Longhorn Association approved classes offered. Contestants came mostly from Ohio, but several were from Indiana, Colorado, Texas and Pennsylvania.

The ITLA approved judge for the show was Stacy Workman of Gettysburg, Penn. Stacy and her husband Dan have raised Texas Longhorn cattle for 11 years and are serious competitors in the NETLA circuit. She is a home-school mother of three.

Unique classes included early starters “Pee Wee” classes, Youth Halter, Open Halter and Non Halter. Unlike other breeds, ITLA shows are popular for the Non Halter classes where cow/calf pairs, exhibition steers and all ages of registered cattle show freely in the show arena.… Continue reading

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Does crabgrass really hate you?

You may have heard the rumor that crabgrass (Digitaria sanguinalis) hates you. Those who profit from the sale of lawn care products may like you to believe that, but despite the claims, it really isn’t true. Each year crabgrass works toward accomplishing the goal of all living things, to reproduce, and if it had a life motto it might be something like: “Life is short, so live it!” Any plant out of place can be considered a weed and in the eye of many, crabgrass fits this description. However in a forage system, crabgrass can be the right plant, in the right place, at the right time.

Crabgrass is an annual warm-season grass that reproduces by seed and completes it’s lifecycle in a timeframe offset from that of commonly used cool-season grasses like tall fescue, orchardgrass, and ryegrass. It begins germinating when soil temperatures reach 58 degrees F and can thrive while other species lay dormant in the summer heat.… Continue reading

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Ohio hosts shepherds from around the country through Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School

The 2016 Howard Wyman Sheep Industry Leadership School was held July 10 to 14 in Columbus. The program moves around the country and shepherds from around the nation flocked to Ohio for the event this year.

This year’s schedule included the popular Ohio State University Lamb 509 program plus an Ohio sheep industry tour through parts of northeast Ohio. A class of nearly 30 students was selected by the National Lamb Feeders Association to take part in this unique combination of presentations, tours, and hands-on activities to increase understanding of meat quality and marketing and enable participants to improve the profitability and competitiveness of lamb.

Tour stops included trips to Stitzlein Club Lambs, the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Mt. Hope Auction, the farm of Amish shepherd Leroy Kuhns, and Don Hawk’s confined lamb feedlot in Knox County.

“It was a great learning experience. It was like-minded folks trying to learn from each other.… Continue reading

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Manure composting makes better use of valuable nutrients for cattle operation

After years of hauling liquid manure from their Fairfield County beef operation, Robert and Andy Wolfinger decided they needed to do something different to spread their nutrients over more ground.

“We talked to our agronomist and he had a friend who had started composting. We went to see him and see what we had to do to get in the business. We had the manure and we had trouble getting enough places to haul it every year close enough to home,” Robert Wolfinger said. “We started composting and we can scatter it out over more acres. We went from putting it on 100 acres to 500 or 600 acres and it takes some relief off of finding a place for our manure.”

The pen pack manure with corn stalks and wheat straw for bedding is hauled out in the spring and piled in windrows on a heavy use pad designed by and funded through the local Natural Resource Conservation Service Soil and Water Conservation District.… Continue reading

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Technology, equipment, education and more at the 2016 Manure Expo

The North American Manure Expo will be held on Aug. 3 and 4 near London at the Farm Science Review site. This unique national demonstration and educational event is the place to learn about the latest equipment, technologies and bests practices focused on returning manure nutrients to their roots to benefit crops and soils while protecting water quality. The show features tours, field demonstrations, and educational seminars, plus a huge trade show with more than 80 exhibitors.


Three tours will be offered on the morning of Aug. 3. Tour 1 focuses on composting and nutrient management. Participants will visit Price Farms Organics for an up close look at composting manure, including strategies for surface water runoff management, and Beck’s for an edge of field study site to learn what research tells us about reducing nutrient runoff from cropland. Tour 2 includes a visit to the Ohio Heifer Center, a 4,000-cow operation that recycles its bedding and has a gasifier for biochar production, and to Trupointe/Sunrise Cooperative for the latest in precision ag technology.… Continue reading

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