Frost Seeding – Tips for Success

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Frost seeding in late winter after most of the snow has melted, but while the ground is still frozen, can be an effective method for thickening pastures and hay stands, and for establishing legumes into fall planted small grains. The basic principle is to broadcast seed on the ground and let the freezing and thawing action of early spring work it into the soil. White and red clover, alfalfa, and small seeded grasses are best suited for establishing in this manner. Late February and early March are generally ideal in Ohio and surrounding areas for frost seeding.

frost-seedingGetting the seed to the soil is the most critical aspect of frost seeding. If you cannot see areas of bare ground when walking over the field, seed broadcast on top will probably not make it to the soil. Successful establishment of grasses or legumes can be difficult at best in dense swards of bluegrass, smooth brome or other tight sods and densely seeded small grains intended for grain production due to extreme competition. In situations where there are several inches of pasture or grass hay growth, a light drill can be used to place the seed on the soil surface. Obviously with any method of frost seeding, care should be taken to avoid making ruts or compacting the soil. In summary, successful establishment of clovers, alfalfa and small seeded cool-season grasses can be accomplished by broadcasting or drilling seed on frozen ground in late winter or early spring during periods of freezing and thawing as long as the seed ends up in contact with the soil.

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Profitable “Tall” Grass Grazing

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For several years, we have been urging our grazing clients to let their grass pastures get a little taller before turning in and not graze them shorter than four to six inches. This has a number of benefits to the grass plant that make it more productive. With most plants, root mass mirrors vegetative growth; therefore, taller plants have deeper roots which access more moisture and nutrients. Maintaining a leaf canopy preserves soil moisture and keeps the soil surface cooler. These factors are critical to the productivity of cool season grasses in the summer. It is equally important to remember that grass plants store energy reserves in the lower, leafless part of the stem. As grass plants increase in height, this area also extends, storing greater reserves. Completely defoliating a grass plant (either by overgrazing or mowing too low) reduces its energy reserves, destroys its photosynthesis factory, and causes many deeper roots to die off. This stress together with adverse weather or inadequate fertility result in slow recovery, prolonged dormancy, and possible stand loss. To maximize the yield and longevity of a grass pasture, it is critical to adopt a taller grass management strategy.

Grazing height also influences clover growth. Having a highly productive white clover, like Alice, in a pasture fixes a significant amount of nitrogen for the grass; however, overgrazing a mixed pasture in the summer often leads to an extreme proliferation of the clover, which under certain circumstances can cause bloat. Generally, dairy cattle fed on pasture are considered to have considerably fewer health issues than confined cows, yet the high protein levels in less mature grass can cause health problems related to elevated Blood urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Milk Urea Nitrogen (MUN). While many producers and nutritionists choose to balance the diet of cows on high protein pasture with grain, dry hay, or silage, there is another method – tall grass grazing.

Improved cool season forage grasses that are 10-18 inches tall, but have not headed, have a more ideal protein level (16-20%) together with two to four times the tonnage compared with the same stand grazed at six to ten inches tall. Palatability, digestibility, and energy content can be maintained at high levels with adequate nutrition. To balance a feed ration for animals on high quality pasture without adding grain, hay, or silage, it is necessary to allow the pasture to mature, but not head. So if tall grass grazing is better for the grass and better for the cow, why isn’t everybody doing it? Profitable tall grass grazing requires three things:

  1. Late-maturing, forage genetics that are capable of remaining vegetative for up to 35 days;
  2. Healthy, biologically active soils with balanced fertility that will support “tall” vegetative growth;
  3. Foliar fertilization to maintain optimal growth rate, nutritional quality, and slow down the senescence or hardening-off of mature plants.

In addition, management techniques such as “Mob” grazing (ultra high stocking rate and moving the break wire often) are essential to maximize consumption and minimize trampling loss in a tall grass pasture.

While beginning to adopt these principles will likely benefit every grass farmer, not every farm is ready to support it. We recommend working with your local FSM dealer to develop a systematic plan for building your soil, improving your grass genetics, and fertilizing your forages to maximize high quality production.

Drawn from the combined experiences of Kevin Fowler (Fowler Seed Marketing), Gary Campbell (Agri-Energy Resources), and Reggie Destree (Dramm Fish)

Sheep – Summer Grazing, Flushing & Winter Feed

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Every livestock manager utilizing pasture is concerned about drought.  Rather than having to feed expensive hay or sell animals when your cool season pastures slow down, we recommend planning ahead.  After soil temperatures reach at least 65 degrees in late May, we recommend planting FSM Brand Cow Candy II BMR sorghum-sudan alone or with Barenbrug T-Raptor rape or Barkant turnips.

beef-forage1By establishing before soil moisture becomes lacking, Cow Candy II BMR will develop enough root to produce excellent tonnage on about 25% of the moisture needed to grow corn.  Adding turnips, increases the protein content of the forage.  In years when extra summer grazing is not needed, Cow Candy II BMR can be harvested for additional highly digestible, high energy winter feed.  Despite the name, sheep love it too! 

 

Sheep Forage Products:

 

Sheep – Multi-Purpose Pasture Options

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In some years, pastures begin to slow down in early summer and more grazing acres are needed other years, the ewes can’t keep up with all the grass.  One way to manage this situation is to plant a portion of the farm to a forage mixture that can be grazed or made for hay, as needed.  A number of products are adapted to this kind of management including grazing tolerant alfalfa, such as FSM Brand 421-BR, HLR or Snowbelt orchardgrass and Bariane, STF-43 or Baroptima+E34 soft-leafed tall fescue.

sheep-multipurposeAnother option which can be grazed or made for hay is our FSM Brand HQ-O pasture mix, which contains both late maturing orchardgrass and soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescue.  The key to success in this management scheme is to decide before the sward becomes too mature how much to make as hay and then not cutting too close to the ground.  If using orchardgrass with sheep, not allowing the animals to graze too tightly is critical to keeping it in the stand.  Our Agri-Energy Pasture Fertility or Grass Hay Fertility Programs will not only improve the nutritional quality of the harvested forage, but delay grass maturity extending the harvest window and stimulate more rapid recovery after harvest.  Discuss the options with your local FSM dealer for best results.

Sheep Multi-Purpose Pasture Products:

 

Sheep – High Quality Pasture for Late Gestation, Lactation and Breeding

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Many sheep producers have a portion of their farm well-suited to the production of high quality pasture. Generally, soils with good fertility that are not excessively wet or droughty can support high quality pasture grasses with proper management. Soft-leafed tall fescues, like Barenbrug’s endophytefree Bariane or friendly-endophyte Baroptima+E34, provide an excellent balance of palatability, highly digestible yield, durability and stress tolerance. Improved perennial ryegrasses, like Barenbrug BG-34, Barsprinter, Remington or Remington+NEA2, maximize intake and nutritional quality needed during late gestation, lactation and during breeding.

sheep-gestationThe keys to profitably utilizing these high quality grasses for sheep production are: 1) selecting a field with adequate water and nutrient holding capacity; 2) providing adequate and balanced nutrition for the grass; 3) properly managing the grazing height; and 4) managing the flock to maximize lambing, lactating and breeding on grass. On our farm, we use an Agri-Energy Pasture Fertility Program based upon soil testing. By making three to four applications of balanced nutrients and beneficial microbes, we’ve been able to keep our high quality pastures healthy and productive through all but the driest weather. Every day that our ewe flock’s nutritional requirements are met on pasture is a profitable day! For rapid establishment of high quality, long-term pasture use our FSM Brand HQ-F (containing endophyte-free tall fescue) or HQ-R (no fescue) pasture mixes, which are an ideal blend of Barenbrug cool season grasses for maximum productivity.

Sheep Pasture Products:

 

Sheep – Basic Improvements for Difficult to Manage Permanent Pasture

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Sheep production has traditionally been a way of utilizing farmland least suited to crop production.  Therefore, many long-term pastures tend to have soil moisture extremes, steeper slopes and may be untillable due to rocks or trees.  By default, these areas may also be infested with undesirable or low quality plant species, like multiflora rose or fescue infected with harmful endophytes.

sheep-permanentIn relatively open areas with infected fescue, pastures can be improved by frost seeding Alice white clover and/or Wildcat red clover over tightly grazed or trampled areas.  In some cases with better fertility, our FSM Brand HQ-F or HQ-O pasture mixes can be established in the same way helping to dilute the less palatable infected fescue.  Occasionally, extreme flood, severe drought, mechanical land clearing or reclamation give opportunity to “start fresh”.  For recommendations, its best to review your specific situation with FSM or your local FSM dealer.

Sheep Pasture Products:

 

Sheep – Profitable Everyday Pasture for the Commercial and Purebred Sheep Producer

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Maintaining your ewe flock in good condition for the least cost throughout the year is an important key to profitability.  With the cost of owning or renting land increasing annually in most areas, improving the carrying capacity of your pasture acres can help your bottom line.  Most shepherds don’t want to move their sheep to new pasture more than once per week, some not more than once a month.  It takes a special kind of pasture mix, thoughtful management and well planned fencing to minimize the time and effort invested in the ewe flock.  FSM Brand HQ-F or HQ-O pasture mixes, made with latematuring orchardgrass and soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescue varieties, are designed to produce quality forage over a wide range of moisture and fertility conditions throughout the grazing season.

sheep-commercialEnough sheep should be turned into a pasture to consume nearly all the forage to a height of three to four inches in the time allowed.  The flock should be moved on to another pasture and the grass allowed to regrow to six or eight inches in height before being harvested again.  Grazing lower than three inches, especially during the hot, dry summer months will dramatically slow the rate of regrowth and may encourage a tremendous flush of clover which under certain conditions can lead to bloat and other problems.  We do not recommend grazing periods of longer than two weeks.  A balanced fertility program built from your soil test, like our Agri-Energy Pasture Fertility Program, will help to maximize the ability of these improved grasses to produce quality forage, especially during periods of stress.

Sheep Pasture Products:

 

Horses – Understanding Horse Pasture

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The term ‘horse pasture’ can mean a lot of different things to different people. We categorize ‘horse pasture’ into two categories: exercise lots and standing equine forage. An ‘exercise lot’ is a fenced area with more horses than grass, typically more than 1 horse per acre. ‘Standing equine forage’ is a fenced area with more grass than horses, typically less than 1 horse per acre. These terms say very little about the quality or productivity of the grass in the pasture, but accurately describe its primary function on that particular horse farm.

The function of ‘grass’ in an exercise lot is, if possible, to look green and cover-up the mud despite constant hoof traffic and nibbling. Grass species that may be able to tolerate life in a horse exercise lot include: Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue (especially turf-type), meadow fescue, festulolium and perennial ryegrass. The functions of grass in a ‘standing equine forage’ area are to provide safe, nutritious forage while tolerating periodic traffic and areas of tight grazing. In addition to the species that tolerate ‘exercise lots”, timothy and orchardgrass can be used these type of pastures. Both Barenbrug Horsemaster and FSM Brand HQ-F are mixtures well suited to either application.

Standing equine forage (HQ-F) on the Fowler Family Farm
Standing equine forage (HQ-F) on the Fowler Family Farm

While many of the same species can be used in both types of horse pasture, the expectations for productivity and longevity should be quite different. Both the cutting action of the hooves, especially with shoes, and the propensity of horses to graze practically to the dirt, force the grass plant to try to survive with minimal energy stores in the lower part of its stem in an exercise lot and to a lesser degree in constantly overgrazed or heavy traffic areas within standing forage. Minimal reserves translate to minimal productivity and susceptibility to stand-loss during periods of additional stress. Improved drainage, fertilization, and/or irrigation may be necessary to keep ‘exercise lots’ green and looking good. Where stocking rates are lower and plants have the ability to store greater reserves and maintain greater leaf area, any of the species mentioned will contribute to safe, nutritious equine pasture and should be expected to survive for many years.

Therefore, when selecting and preparing an area to establish a horse pasture, attention should be given to drainage and soil fertility as well as the nature of horses. Horses generally like to run, so if possible, paddocks should be designed with adequate length for exercising. They also tend to over-eat some areas of a pasture while leaving other areas almost untouched. Rotating animals through a series of paddocks at a rate that gives several weeks rest between each grazing helps reduce stress on the pasture; however, clipping or mixed grazing with sheep or cattle may be necessary to keep pastures vegetative and looking good. Contact your local FSM dealer to discuss the best seed, fencing, plant nutrition and management options to establish and keep great looking, productive pasture for your horses!

 

Horse Pasture Products:

 

Horses – Producing Hay for Horses

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The standing joke is that if a hay grower asked 5 different horse owners to describe ideal hay for their horse, he would get at least 6 different answers!  A situation that is funny to the uninitiated; frustrating to the hay grower; and somewhat rooted in both fact and myth in the mind of the horse owner.  So how does one figure out how to produce hay for horses?

The kind of hay a knowledgeable horseman is looking for will likely depend on the nutrient requirements of their animals as well as the condition of the hay.  Generally, moldy, dusty or coarse hay is considered unacceptable for horses.  Timely harvest and thorough curing along with dry, ventilated storage will minimize or eliminate condition problems.  Very active horses, like race horses, performance horses, work horses and active show animals, require higher levels of both protein and energy than less active horses.  Similarly, breeding mares have less digestive volume, but higher requirements during gestation and through lactation.  Young, growing animals also have higher protein requirements than more mature animals.  These animals are typically fed well-made alfalfa or alfalfa-grass mixed hay.  Legumes, such as alfalfa, clover and trefoil, have high-levels of protein when harvested prior to bloom.  Grasses, such as timothy, orchardgrass and tall fescue, harvested prior to heading supply highly digestible energy and necessary fiber to the diet.  Buyers responsible for obtaining hay for these types of horses tend to be both discriminating and loyal to growers who can consistently provide the top quality hay they require.

horses-hayA second group of moderately active horses can be well provided for with well-made grass hay with minimal legume content.  Animals that are ridden or trained for less than half a day at a time as well as mature breeding stock, except as noted above, and even more active animals thrive on the energy available in timely harvested and carefully stored grass hay.  Hay producers with aging yet productive stands of leafy grasses in which the legume component has faded out can continue to market a very acceptable hay product suited to a broader group of horse operations than high-end legume hay.

Perhaps the largest and most varied hay market supplies the owners of ‘backyard’, pleasure horses.  Whether these animals are boarded or kept at home, these animals are often minimally active and therefore have lower dietary requirements.  If given the opportunity, these animals often eat from boredom, not just need.  More mature grass or mixed hay that can be obtained at the lowest possible price is typically adequate nutritionally for these horses.  The X-factors in this group are the ailments and allergies (whether real or perceived) of individual animals and the preconceptions and preferences of their owners.  In our experience, pleasure horse hay buyers tend to fall into two categories:  1) those who are discriminating about the product and service provided by the grower and less concerned about the price as long as it is a reasonable value; 2) those who are most concerned about the price and give minimal consideration to the condition or nutritional value of the hay.

So how does one produce hay for the equine market?  Establish and grow the best possible hay.  Learn to harvest timely and properly store dry bales to maintain quality and condition.  Work to establish contacts and loyal buyer relationships with individuals in each segment of the horse industry so that regardless of the quality of hay produced in a given year as good a price as possible can be obtained for what you produce.  Visit with your local FSM dealer for recommendations about selecting the best grasses and legumes for your farm as well as plant nutrition recommendations and marketing ideas.

Manure Management Solutions

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Livestock manure can be either a valuable asset or a stinky liability! Too often the nutrients found in manure are lost into the air or water creating a bad name for the farming community and inviting restrictive legislation rather than being properly stabilized and recycled for the next crop. In addition, undigested manure is difficult to handle either in a pit or a barn pack. The idea of composting animal and plant waste has been around for centuries; however, many farmers find it time and space prohibitive. Is there a way to digest manure more quickly to minimize the loss of valuable nutrients and offensive odors?

Introducing PT911 from Agri-Energy Resources! PT911 is a microbial product designed to aid in the breakdown of plant and animal waste material while stabilizing volatile (unpleasant smelling) nutrients. It works similarly to the way yogurt is made from milk—by establishing a beneficial microbial culture.

pitIn a manure pit or lagoon, molasses, Brewer’s yeast and hydrogen peroxide are used to prepare the environment for the microbes in PT911 to establish a culture. Once the culture is established, it digests it way through the pit breaking down difficult to handle solids, stabilizing free nitrogen compounds, reducing odors and creating a more uniform solution that can be pumped out more easily and completely. In a barn pack, a solution of molasses, yeast and PT911 should be sprayed periodically before additional bedding is spread. The moisture content and temperature of the pack will influence the rate at which digestion occurs. Without adequate moisture or air the microbes go dormant, therefore, it may be necessary to add water (or pile outside) and mechanically turn the material periodically to adjust the air and moisture content of the pile or pack. If done correctly, the process that naturally takes 9 to twelve weeks and is often incomplete can be accomplished in 6 to 9 weeks producing a more uniform, low-odor, coffee-ground like compost.

Make your neighbors happy and save money by recycling valuable nutrients! Call your local FSM Dealer today and ask about treating your pit or pack with PT911!

 

Hay – 10 Tips for Successful Hay Establishment

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  1. Prepare a firm seed bed – soil left too loose, especially in late spring and summer, combined with minimal rainfall allows the seed to germinate, but also to dry out quickly killing the seedling before it has enough root to survive.
  2. Plant grass seed no deeper than 1/2 inch – beware of drilling seed too deep, particularly when field moisture conditions vary or fields are uneven. A drill set correctly in the drier part of the field may go too deep in wetter parts of the field.
  3. Ensure good seed to soil contact – getting the seed in firm contact with the soil is essential for successful establishment. Broadcasting into too much cover, live or dead, can prevent the seed from reaching the ground. Cultipack broadcast seedings to press the seed into the soil.
  4. hay-10-tipsAvoid too much competition – interseeding into an existing crop, sod or small grain seeding will fail if the grass seedlings cannot get enough sunlight, moisture, or nutrients. Generally, killing, tilling, or otherwise severely repressing an existing dense sod is necessary to achieve satisfactory results.
  5. Attempt no-till or broadcast seedings only on mellow soils – tightly compacted soils with little organic matter are difficult for seedling roots to penetrate, delaying growth and increasing chance of weather damage.
  6. Avoid grass herbicide carryover – some row crop herbicides are a concern, especially if planting the same year the herbicide was applied and if the growing season was dry and/or cool. Working the ground may dilute their effect.
  7. Pick the right seeding window – seed clovers and alfalfa from February through August and grasses from February through September, depending on the weather in a given year.
  8. Plant the recommended amounts of seed – an inadequate seeding rate leaves room for weeds and exposes the soil, allowing it to dry out.
  9. Encourage early seedling growth – insects, slugs and soil-borne pathogens can attack and eliminate the seed or seedlings. Applying Myco-Seed Treat to the seed inoculates the roots with beneficial fungi that stimulate nutrient uptake throughout the growing season.
  10. Use common sense! – Do your best to avoid seeding just before any weather extreme, including: heavy rain, unseasonable heat or cold, or prolonged drought.

 

Hay – Grasses for Mechanical Harvest

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Over the past few years, a mixed hay sample, containing STF-43 soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescue, has been entered in the World Dairy Expo hay contest. These samples had RFQ values over 200 and were consistently in the top 10% compared with over 200 straight alfalfa samples! To harvest high quality grass forage like this, remember the following points: 1) harvest timing is critical when it comes to maximizing yield and quality; 2) select grass varieties that mature in your normal harvest window and with your alfalfa to give you the best opportunity to harvest high quality forage; 3) choose grass species that do well in the fertility and drainage conditions on your farm; 4) plant only varieties selected specifically for forage (leaf) production.

It should be noted that managing grasses for hay is different than managing alfalfa! The growth calendar for cool season grasses starts in late summer. During late summer, tiller buds are set. Stress during that time such as close cutting or excessive fertilization on dry soils, can reduce future yields. However, some of the highest quality grass hay can be harvested in mid to late fall, after buds are set and root reserves built up. Perennial cool season grasses produce most of their yield in late spring and early summer. Once these grasses produce a seed head, they are very likely to go through a period of dormancy, unless moisture and fertility stress are minimized. Supplying grasses with a balanced nutrition program like our Agri-Energy Grass Hay Fertility Program in the late summer and before harvesting the first cutting encourages plant health and quicker regrowth. Fowler Seed Marketing specializes in recommending the right Barenbrug grass variety for the conditions in your field and supplying cost-effective fertility programs to maximize quality and yield.

As far as grasses for hay production, tall fescue is one of the most widely adapted and highly productive grass species. Unfortunately, many hay buyers aren’t aware that not all fescues have stiff, sharp leaves like KY-31. We recommend STF-43 (a blend of Bariane and Barelite) soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescue, which is very productive in dry or wet conditions and matures with most alfalfa varieties.

Many hay producers have traditionally used orchardgrass with their alfalfa. Late maturing varieties like HLR and FSM Brand Snowbelt are very productive, soft-textured varieties that give a longer harvest window for making quality hay. Both HLR and Snowbelt are late maturing orchardgrasses with seasonlong high yields, good winter hardiness, and leaf disease resistance; establishing more thickly and quickly than older varieties. HLR matures about the fourth week of May and features excellent winter hardiness, outstanding disease resistance and outstanding digestibility and yields.

On wetter soils, either Barpenta (late-maturity) or FSM Brand Promesse (medium-maturity) timothy produce hay with excellent color, leafiness, and soft-texture that is especially suited to the equine market. Barpenta and Promesse have greater leafiness than Climax, establish rapidly and demonstrate superior disease resistance. Barpenta is a newer release that shows some yield advantage to older varieties in Cornell trials. Hakari Mountain Brome is available in limited quantities and is best suited to fertile, well-drained soils. Consult with your local FSM dealer for seed and fertility recommendations that fit your farm and management system.

 

Mechanical Harvest Grass Products:

Dairy – Rotational Forage Options for Storage and Grazing

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photo courtesy of FSM dealer Eric Grim, Grim Dairy Farm, New London, OhioHigh yielding, digestible annual forages have a place on every dairy. For early spring planting straight or as an alfalfa nurse crop, we recommend Baler forage oats, OPtimum II, or Green Spirit Italian Ryegrass for early summer harvest. Once soil temperatures reach at least sixty-five degrees in late May, plant FSM Brand Cow Candy II BMR sorghum-sudan alone or with Barenbrug T-Raptor rape or Barkant turnips. By establishing before soil moisture becomes lacking, Cow Candy II BMR will develop enough root to produce excellent tonnage on about of 25% the moisture needed to grow corn. Adding turnips, increases the protein content of the forage when grazed or baled. Green Spirit can be planted after sorghum-sudan, small grains or early corn silage for top quality fall and spring forage. Aroostook rye and triticale establish well after soybeans or corn silage and produce lots of tonnage for spring harvest. Discuss your rotational forage needs with your local FSM dealer.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Dairy – High Quality Grass for Lactating Cows and Replacement Heifers

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dairy-lactating-cowsDairymen and nutritionists alike are recognizing the nutritional benefits of high quality grass forage.  For years, farmers have noted that cows often “go up” in milk production when turned out on grass.  Thanks to advances in forage digestibility analysis (NDFd), we now know that improved grasses like Bariane and Baroptima+E34 soft-leafed tall fescue and BG-34 perennial ryegrass, often have digestible energy levels equal or higher than shelled corn with protein levels similar to alfalfa!

Therefore, cows and heifers that consume high quality grass, in the barn or the pasture, perform extremely well.  Grass may also help reduce acidosis and encourage rumen health by stimulating cud chewing, the cow’s natural rumen buffering system.  We recommend that every dairyman consider Barenbrug NutriFiber varieties designed to add highly digestible fiber to dairy cow diets.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Dairy – Growing High Quality Dairy Pasture

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A typical grass-based dairy should have about one acre per cow of high quality pasture.  In addition, dairymen should have another acre per cow in flexible forage that can either be made for hay or grazed as needed based upon the season.  Many dairymen have at least a portion of their farm well-suited to the production of high quality pasture.

Photo courtesy of FSM dealer Eric Grim, Grim Dairy Farm, New London, OhioGenerally, soils with good fertility that are not excessively wet or droughty can support high quality pasture grasses with proper management.  Lighter soils with lower water holding capacity are better suited as “flex” (hay or grazing) acres.  Improved perennial ryegrasses, like Mara, Barsprinter, and Remington, maximize intake and nutritional quality for top milk production, but require adequate moisture and fertility.  Soft-leafed tall fescues, like Bariane or Baroptima+E34, provide an excellent balance of palatability, highly digestible yield, durability and stress tolerance.  Soft-leafed fescues can also be used on both high quality pasture and flex acres.

FSM Brand HQ-F and HQ-R pasture mixes offer an ideal combination of Barenbrug perennial and Italian ryegrasses, soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescues (in HQ-F), and Alice white clover for rapid establishment and long-term productivity.  Depending on the farm, grazing tolerant alfalfa, such as FSM Brand 421-BR, Hakari Mountain Brome, or late-maturing HLR or Snowbelt Orchardgrass can be used to add drought tolerance while maintaining feed quality.

On a grazing dairy, everyday the cows are grazing high quality forage is a profitable day!  Providing adequate and balanced nutrition for the grass and properly managing grazing height are key to achieving that goal.  On our farm, we try not to graze below three to four inches, especially in the summer.  We also use an Agri-Energy Pasture Fertility Program, based upon soil tests.  By making three to four applications of balanced nutrients and beneficial microbes per year, we’ve been able to keep our high quality pastures healthy and productive through all but the driest weather.  Ask your local FSM dealer for specific seeding recommendations, soil test bags, and details about how an Agri Energy Pasture Fertility Program can work for you.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Beef – Summer Grazing & Winter Feed

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beef summer grazingEvery livestock manager utilizing pasture is concerned about drought.  Rather than having to feed expensive hay or sell animals when your cool season pastures slow down, we recommend planning ahead.  After soil temperatures reach at least 65 degrees in late May, we recommend planting FSM Brand Cow Candy II BMR sorghum-sudan alone or with Barenbrug T-Raptor rape or Barkant turnips.

By establishing before soil moisture becomes lacking, Cow Candy II BMR will develop enough root to produce excellent tonnage on about 25% of the moisture needed to grow corn.  Adding turnips, increases the protein content of the forage.  In years when extra summer grazing is not needed, Cow Candy II BMR can be harvested for additional highly digestible, high energy winter feed.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Beef – Rotational Forage

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High yielding, digestible annual forages have a place on every beef operation.  For early spring planting straight or as an alfalfa nurse crop, we recommend Baler forage oats, OPtimum II, or Green Spirit Italian Ryegrass for early summer harvest.  Once soil temperatures reach at least sixty-five degrees in late May, plant FSM Brand Cow Candy II, or BMR sorghum-sudan alone or with Barenbrug T-Raptor rape or Barkant turnips.

beef-forage1By establishing before soil moisture becomes lacking, Cow Candy II BMR will develop enough root to produce excellent tonnage on about 25% of the moisture needed to grow corn.  Adding turnips increases the protein content of the forage when grazed or baled.  Green Spirit can be planted after sorghum-sudan, small grains or early corn silage for top quality fall and spring forage.  Aroostook rye and triticale establish well after soybeans or corn silage and produce lots of tonnage for spring harvest.  Discuss your rotational forage needs with your local FSM dealer.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Beef – Multi-purpose Pasture Options

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In some years, pastures begin to slow down in early summer and more grazing acres are needed other years, the cattle cant keep up with all the grass.  One way to manage this situation is to plant a portion of the farm to a forage mixture that can be grazed or made for hay, as needed.  A number of products are adapted to this kind of management including grazing tolerant alfalfa, such as FSM Brand 421-BR, HLR or Snowbelt orchardgrass and Bariane, STF-43 or Baroptima+E34 soft-leafed tall fescue.

beef-multipurpose1Another option which can be grazed or made for hay is our FSM Brand HQ-O pasture mix, which contains both late maturing orchardgrass and soft-leafed, endophyte-free tall fescue.  The key to success in this management scheme is to decide before the sward becomes too mature how much to make as hay and then not cutting too close to the ground.  Our Agri-Energy Pasture Fertility or Grass Hay Fertility Programs will not only improve the nutritional quality of the harvested forage, but delay grass maturity extending the harvest window and stimulate more rapid recovery after harvest. Discuss the options with your local FSM dealer for best results.

 

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Beef – High Quality Rotational Pasture for Stockers, Replacement Heifers and Cow-Calf Pairs

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Many cattleman have a portion of their farm well-suited to the production of high quality pasture. Generally, soils with good fertility that are not excessively wet or droughty can support high quality pasture grasses with proper management. Soft-leafed tall fescues, like Barenbrugs endophyte-free Bariane or friendly-endophyte Baroptima+E34, provide an excellent balance of palatability, highly digestible yield, durability and stress tolerance. Improved perennial ryegrasses, like Barenbrug BG-34, Barsprinter, Remington or Remington+EA, maximize intake and nutritional quality for aggressive weight gain.

beef-rotational1The keys to profitably utilizing these high quality grasses for beef production are selecting a field with adequate water and nutrient holding capacity providing adequate and balanced nutrition for the grass properly managing the grazing height and selecting classes of cattle best able to convert high quality grass into gain. On our farm, we use an Agri-Energ Pasture Fertility Program based upon soil testing. By making three to four applications of balanced nutrients and beneficial microbes, we’ve been able to keep our high quality pastures healthy and productive through all but the driest weather. very day growing cattle are gaining weight on pasture is a profitable day For rapid establishment of high quality, long-term pasture use our FSM brand HQ-F containing endophyte-free tall fescue or HQ-R no fescue pasture mixes, which are an ideal blend of Barenbrug cool season grasses for maximum productivity, palatability and dry matter intake.

Beef Rotational Pasture Products:

Beef – Basic Improvements for Difficult to Manage Permanent Pasture

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Beef production has traditionally been a way of utilizing farmland least suited to crop production.  Therefore, many long-term pastures tend to have soil moisture extremes, steeper slopes and may be untillable due to rocks or trees.  By default, these areas may also be infested with undesirable or low quality plant species, like multiflora rose or fescue infected with harmful endophytes.  In relatively open areas with infected fescue, pastures can be improved by frost seeding Alice white clover and/or Wildcat red clover over tightly grazed or trampled areas.

beef-permanent1In some cases with better fertility, BG-34 perennial ryegrass, Bariane or Baroptima+E34 soft-leafed tall fescue and HLR or Snowbelt orchardgrass can be established in the same way helping to dilute the less palatable infected fescue. Occasionally, extreme flood, severe drought, mechanical land clearing or reclamation give opportunity to “start fresh”.  Anytime you renovate a pasture, we recommend either FSM Brand HQ-F or HQ-O pasture mixes to minimize pasture “downtime” and improve long-term production.  For recommendations, review your specific situation with FSM or your local FSM dealer.

Permanent Pasture Beef Products: