Kelly Manufacturing

Ohio Ag News Headlines
Navigating Nature's Curveballs - Lessons in Forage and Feed Management
Ohio Ag Connection - 09/15/2023

Growing up on a farm in rural Ohio during the 50s and 60s, I became accustomed to the idea of social distancing long before it became a necessity. The occasional trip to the feed mill, Sunday church service, or the camaraderie of baseball practice were the few times we interacted beyond our closest neighbors. Speaking of baseball, it taught me a valuable lesson: in a tight game, you don't want to be caught off-guard by a fastball when the opposing pitcher can consistently throw a curve for a strike.

Nature, much like a skilled pitcher, can throw any pitch at any time and hit the mark. Recent years have proven that Mother Nature's curveballs come in various forms, from extreme wetness to prolonged droughts. To navigate these challenges successfully, flexibility and adaptability in forage and feed management are essential.

Lessons from the Past:

• Weather Extremes: The unpredictability of recent weather patterns, characterized by excessive rainfall, droughts, and fluctuating conditions, has impacted forage production. In some instances, dry spells led to reduced yields despite good quality forages. Farmers need to adopt resilient feed management strategies, such as feeding pads, managed grazing, or stockpiled forage, to mitigate the impact of extreme conditions.

• Cover Crops for Feed: Utilizing cover crops for feed or bedding is a well-documented practice in Ohio. These crops play a vital role in bridging the gap when quality forages are scarce.

• Crop Residue Grazing: With millions of acres of Ohio corn ready for harvest, corn crop residue offers an opportunity to extend the grazing season into late fall and winter. It provides digestible energy and fiber, but farmers should evaluate the practicality of baling and hauling residues versus grazing.

• Fall Weed Control: Addressing weed infestations in fields is crucial. Fall herbicide applications can effectively control perennial and biennial broadleaves without harming desirable grasses. This approach helps prevent future weed invasions.

• Fall Fertilization: Soil sampling and replenishing removed nutrients are essential to maintain forage productivity. Each ton of forage harvested takes away crucial nutrients like phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), which must be replaced.

• Forage Quality Analysis: Regularly assess forage quality to make informed feeding decisions. Allocate the best-quality forages to cows nearing calving and lactation, optimizing their nutrition.

Adapting to Change:

As wisdom suggests, "Adapt and change." With ever-changing weather patterns, embracing flexibility, valuing experience, and learning from the past are our strongest allies. Just as in baseball, being prepared for the curveballs Mother Nature throws our way is key to success in the farming game.

Other Ohio Headlines
Hixwood Metal
Gehling Auction
Copyright © 2023 - All Rights Reserved.