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hayandforage.com

January 2016

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

Ensiling time affects silage quality pg 6 Hay export situation pg 10 Jim Gerrish opines on pasture management pg 16 Sorting the alfalfa quality metrics pg 24


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January 2016 · VOL. 31 · No. 1 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Ryan D. Ebert ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen AUDIENCE MARKETING MGR. John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Jan C. Ford jford@hoards.com Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com W.D. HOARD & SONS PRESIDENT Brian V. Knox VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING Gary L. Vorpahl

6 Ensiling time affects silage quality

EDITORIAL OFFICE 28 Milwaukee Ave. West, Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 WEBSITE www.hayandforage.com EMAIL info@hayandforage.com PHONE (920) 563-5551

Use age to your advantage when feeding corn silage.

10

Hay export situation: A good news, bad news story News on the hay export front is a mixed bag.

20

Hidden Valley meadow fescue: The grass that won’t be forgotten

Fields are being devastated by this small rodent.

16

8

12

24

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DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 12 Custom Corner 16 Forage Shop Talk 24 Feed Analysis 26 Pasture Ponderings 28 Research Round-up

SORTING THE ALFALFA QUALITY METRICS

ALFALFA AND CORN SILAGE AMONG THE CACTUSES

NITRATE TOXICITY IN ANNUAL FORAGES

Meadow vole populations explode in the West

Future finally looks bright for meadow fescue variety.

4

TIME FOR A CHANGE

22

DON’T NEGLECT WINTER WORK — OR PLAY

14

BALEAGE QUALITY HINGES ON FERMENTATION

30 39 42

Machine Shed Forage IQ Hay Market Update

JIM GERRISH OPINES ON PASTURE MANAGEMENT

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QUALITY IS KEY FOR HIGH-FORAGE DAIRY DIETS

ON THE COVER This attentive calf is one of many roaming on pastures owned by Henderson Settlement, a United Methodist Church mission establishment located in the eastern Kentucky community of Frakes. The settlement was first established in 1925 to offer needed resources to the rural residents. Photo by Mike Rankin, Managing Editor

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2016 W. D. Hoard & Sons Company. All rights reserved. Published six times annually in January, February, March, April/May, August/September and November by W. D. Hoard & Sons Co., 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Tel: 920-563-5551. Fax: 920-563-7298. Email: info@hayandforage.com. Website: www.hayandforage. com. Periodicals Postage paid at Fort Atkinson, Wis. SUBSCRIPTION RATES: Free and controlled circulation to qualified subscribers. Non-qualified subscribers may subscribe at: USA: 1 year $20 U.S.; Outside USA: Canada & Mexico, 1 year $80 U.S.; All other countries, 1 year $120 U.S. For Subscriber Services contact: Hay & Forage Grower, PO Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538 USA; call: 920-563-5551, email: info@hayandforage.com or visit: www.hayandforage.com. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to HAY & FORAGE GROWER, 28 Milwaukee Ave., W., Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin 53538 USA. Subscribers who have provided a valid email address may receive the Hay & Forage Grower email newsletter eHay Weekly.

January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 3


FIRST CUT

Mike Rankin

Time for a change

S

OMETIMES doing nothing is easier than making a change. That’s currently where things stand with our hay marketing and grading standards. The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service revised its present hay market guidelines in 2003. These are widely used by market reporters and others to describe hay quality and report price values. Largely driven by the fiberbased metrics of RFV (relative feed value) and TDN (total digestible nutrients), the standards also include the likes of ADF (acid detergent fiber), NDF (neutral detergent fiber), CP (crude protein) and visual description guidelines. In addition to the USDA grading scale, there is also another standard that was developed by the American Forage and Grassland Council’s hay quality task force nearly 30 years ago. It is based primarily on RFV, and this is still the market scale of choice in some U.S. regions. Using this scale, Prime alfalfa hay (the highest grade) is defined as being greater than 151 RFV. That same hay would qualify as (barely) Good in the USDA standard, which tops out with a Supreme grade of over 185 RFV. The current fiber-based systems founded on RFV and TDN have served us well. Prior to their arrival, hay was often judged solely on crude protein at best; or by kicking the wagon tires at worst. In the past 30 years, forage testing has moved from the research lab to routine use on most farms. Near infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) has made testing forages faster and affordable. And though there are still forage testing mountains to scale, we’ve come a long way in relatively few years. Every forage specialist I’ve talked to from around the country agrees that fiber digestibility needs to be brought

Managing Editor

into the hay grading and value equation. This was done from an animal feeding standpoint years ago. Some specialists have been vocal about a change; at least one got tired of waiting and just developed his own grading scale. The importance of digestibility is why we currently measure not just NDF, but the digestibility of NDF (NDFD). It’s one reason why RFV got flushed for RFQ (relative forage quality), which also more accurately assesses the value of grass species. Even though NDFD and RFQ are not perfect from a rate of digestion standpoint, they are still a whole lot more predictive of animal performance than the fiber-based ADF, NDF, RFV or TDN metrics. Maybe Wisconsin’s Dave Combs has the answer with his totaltract NDFD analysis, which accounts for both degree and rate of digestion. A new system of grading and valuation will have to be relatively simple, but yet defendable from a science perspective. It will need to be robust for different forage species and for different regions of the country; a Michigan buyer needs to talk the same language as a Montana or Kentucky seller. To make this happen, we need a champion or champions to move the issue forward. It will have to involve a variety of players: university specialists, USDA personnel, The National Hay Association, American Forage and Grassland Council and interests from all U.S. regions. Will it be easy? No. Is it possible? Yes, because there are a lot of very smart people in this industry. I know the ideas are out there, now we just need to have the discussion. •

Write Managing Editor Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, call (920) 563-5551 or email mrankin@hayandforage.com

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016


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Ensiling time affects silage quality by Luiz Ferraretto and Randy Shaver

T

HE main purpose of ensiling forages is to maintain the nutrients available for future feeding. The four main phases that occur after forage is ensiled are: aerobic, active fermentation, stable and feedout. The aerobic phase starts after harvesting and ensiling, and during this phase, plant and microorganism respiration occurs until oxygen is completely absent in the silo or the supply of substrate is used up. Once oxygen is absent, fermentation starts with bacterial production of fermentation end-products. This phase is characterized by the accumulation of lactic and acetic acids and a corresponding decline in pH. Once pH is low, the silo mass reaches a stable phase. Generally, it is accepted that microbial and plant fermentation ceases and few changes occur during the stable phase. The feedout phase starts after silo opening. Overall, the fermentation phase was thought to last seven to 45 days. However, recent literature suggests that the fermentation process continues for much longer in whole-plant corn silage. The focus of this article is to discuss the effects of extended storage length on nutrient digestibility and corn silage processing score. 6 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

A pH decline following a gradual increase in lactate and acetate concentrations as silage storage length progresses is commonly observed. This is not surprising if we consider that literature data from the 1960s and 1970s reported the existence of bacterial activity in silage fermented for up to 200 days. However, accumulation of lactic and acetic acid and the subsequent decline in pH are not as pronounced during storage as in the initial fermentation period. In addition, the microbial population may change over the course of fermentation, and the existence of certain bacteria with the ability to convert lactic acid to acetic acid may cause a slight increase in pH. These alterations in fermentation pattern may mask the effects of extended fermentation at the farm level. Nevertheless, although we cannot clearly see these changes going on during fermentation, it does not mean it does not occur and perhaps other indicators of continuous fermentation are needed.

Protein and starch changes Recently, data from Wisconsin demonstrated that ensiling high-moisture

corn for 240 days reduced zein-protein encapsulating starch granules, and it suggested that the starch-protein matrix was degraded by proteolytic activity over an extended ensiling period. Zein-proteins encapsulating starch granules impede bacterial and enzymatic digestion of starch in the rumen and the small intestine, which in turn limit starch digestibility and may impair lactation performance by dairy cows. In the same study, an increase in ammonia-N (nitrogen) concentration was observed as storage length progressed. Thus, ammonia-N was used in combination with mean particle size for modeling the effects of corn maturity, moisture content, and extent of silage fermentation on ruminal and total-tract starch digestibilities for high-moisture corn at feedout. The experiments evaluating extended corn silage ensiling time observed a gradual increase in soluble crude proLUIZ FERRARETTO AND RANDY SHAVER Ferraretto is a research associate at the Miner Institute; Shaver is a dairy nutritionist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


does not support the same fate for neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility. Overall, data from several sites across the U.S. demonstrate that extended storage does not change or slightly reduces NDF digestibility in corn silage.

Processing score improves During the American Dairy Science Association Joint Annual Meeting hosted in Orlando, Fla., this past summer, we reported on two experiments evaluating the effects of ensiling and ensiling time on corn silage processing score (CSPS; percent of starch passing through a 4.75 mm sieve). The first experiment compared unfermented versus 30-day fermented corn silage samples harvested with varied processors and settings. Overall, a 10 percentage unit increase in CSPS was observed after 30 days of fermentation. The second experiment evaluated ensiling time effects on CSPS. Sim-

ilarly to what commonly happens to starch digestibility, ammonia-N and soluble CP, a gradual increase in CSPS was observed from 0 to 240 days of fermentation (see graph). The extent of increase in CSPS, however, was lower than in the first experiment. Further research is warranted to evaluate if the magnitude of the CSPS change as fermentation progresses is dependent upon the initial values of unfermented samples. These findings highlight the potential effects of extended fermentation not only in chemical but also physical characteristics of kernels. In summary, research supports the use of inventory planning so a newly harvested crop would be fed only after four months in storage. Although prolonged storage of corn silage would be a valid management practice, it requires proper silo management during filling, packing and covering to ensure beneficial fermentation patterns. •

Effect of ensiling time on corn silage processing score 70 Percent of starch passing through 4.75 mm screen

tein (CP) and ammonia-N concentration as fermentation progressed. Perhaps ammonia-N and soluble CP may be used as indicators of continuous fermentation and zein-protein breakdown in future models. Research trials on the effects of ensiling time on ruminal in vitro starch digestibility of corn silage are summarized in the table. At 30 or 45 days of ensiling, starch digestibility was increased by 7 percentage units on average and is likely related to the fermentation phase, which typically occurs in this time frame. Interestingly, however, all five trials showed a gradual increase in starch digestibility after 30 or 45 days of additional storage, suggesting that starch digestibility may increase during the stable phase. Proteolysis, the main mechanism responsible for the disruption of the zein-proteins cross-linked to starch granules, occurs under acidic conditions suggesting that continuous alterations in fermentation profile as storage progressed may directly affect starch digestibility. First, bacterial activity continues even after fermentation reaches the stable phase. Second, the activity of plant proteases specific to the endosperm of cereal grains is greater under low pH conditions. Combined, bacterial and plant proteases are responsible for 90 percent of the increase in soluble CP concentration, according to a recent study from Brazil presented during the XVII International Silage Conference. Although allowing an extended ensiling period may be beneficial for increasing starch digestibility, research

68 66 64 62 60 58 56

0

30

120

240

Ensiling time, days

Effects of ensiling time on starch digestibility of corn silage Item

Days ensiled 0

30

45

60

90

120

Der Bedrosian et al., 20121

69

---

75

---

77

---

Windle et al., 2014

54

---

59

---

63

Young et al., 20121

66

---

76

---

---

Ferraretto et al., 2015a

62

72

---

---

Ferraretto et al., 2015b

56

59

---

61

150

180

240

270

360

P-value

---

79

---

82

82

0.01

---

68

---

---

---

---

0.01

---

79

---

---

---

---

0.01

---

79

---

---

84

---

---

0.01

---

63

---

---

67

---

---

0.01

Percent of starch

1

2 2

Ruminal in vitro starch digestibility at 7 hours on samples ground through a 3-mm or 4-mm screen, respectively.

1,2

January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 7


Alfalfa and corn silage among the cactuses by Mike Rankin

I

T’S not easy milking 11,000 cows. Put those cows on the Sonora Desert, decide you’re going to grow your own forage, and things really get interesting. Such is life at T & K Red River Dairy, located south of Maricopa, Ariz., along state Highway 84. On the dairy facility’s eastern boundary is a large feedlot once co-owned by actor John Wayne. The dairy and supporting land base is owned and operated by the Dugan family — father Tom, and sons Tommy, Tony and Tim. Each oversees a component of the operation. Tom manages the dairy, Tommy oversees crop harvesting and manure management, Tony is the crop manager, and Tim is in charge of the extensive calf-raising facilities that amount to a small city of calf hutches. The farm currently employs about 400 full- and part-time people.

Doctor’s orders Why would a family choose to milk and produce feed for thousands of cows in the middle of a desert where annual 8 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

rainfall is about 8 inches and summer temperatures reach triple digits on a routine basis? It was a matter of necessity for the Dugan family. The original family farm was located in east central Wisconsin. In 1962, Tom’s father was told he needed to move to a more arid region for health reasons. Originally, the family began milking 39 cows near Chandler, Ariz., but eventually urban sprawl pushed them south to the current location. At the time, much of the land had been used to grow cotton, and the soils were void of the fertility needed for alfalfa and corn. Through the years, land improvements have been made and acreage has been added. More than 20,000 acres of mostly flood-irrigated forages, spanning 20

square miles, are grown today. Water is more expensive and less available than years gone by, but Arizona has had water management planning for many years and seems to be in a better place than some of its neighboring states. Says Tommy, “We’re not really much different than farmers in the Midwest except they go to church and pray for rain, we just pay for it.” The alfalfa enterprise is impressive. Fields are flood-irrigated once per cutting cycle. Over 12,000 acres are cut from nine to 12 times per year. “The cutting intervals vary with the season,” says Tommy. “In the summer, we’re cutting about every three weeks. It’s more difficult to get high quality this time of year (July). With the heat, fiber levels are high and the plant

“We’re not really much different than farmers in the Midwest except they go to church and pray for rain, we just pay for it.”


matures really fast.” During the winter, cutting intervals extend to about 45 days. Alfalfa is chopped, baled and sometimes directcut (fed as greenchop) in the winter. Fields are rotated to corn after three production years. Alfalfa is direct seeded anytime from September to early December depending on the year and field conditions. Fall dormancy eight or nine varieties are used and seeded at a rate of 30 to 35 pounds per acre. Prior to establishment, about 20 tons of dairy manure is applied to fields. Most all of the manure is dry (a big advantage of desert dairying), and with 800 feet between ground level and the water table, the chances of groundwater contamination are remote.

Corn silage is stored in large piles on a concrete pad. This one contains over 130,000 tons.

Expect More.

Nonstop forage activity Tommy’s job of harvest coordinator is not one for the weak of heart. Multiple fields and sometimes crops are being harvested simultaneously on any given day. That was the case when Hay & Forage Grower visited this past summer on a cool 108°F day; corn silage was being chopped at the same time alfalfa was being cut. As most forage producers know, timeliness is everything when it comes to producing high-quality forage. To that end, the machinery line at T & K Red River Dairy is extensive: 15 16-foot MacDon swathers, 12 large square balers, nine Darf wheel rakes and 12 Claas forage harvesters provide the backbone. An army of trucks for hauling forage from field to farm compliments the harvest equipment. Several self-propelled, self-unloading harvest wagons have been special-built by a local machine shop for winter harvesting when fields are wet and more prone to compaction. Most of the forage is stored in large, drive-over piles. Corn silage is the other major feed source produced by the dairy. The farm harvests about 9,000 irrigated acres annually. The silage pile had just been completed when Hay & Forage Grower was there; in total, 135,754 tons. Corn is planted in early March using hybrids in the 118-day relative maturity range. “We like to harvest at 68 to 72 percent whole plant moisture,” notes Tommy. “This year we averaged 32.1 tons per acre.” It would seem that producing feed for 11,000 cows would be enough, but the Dugan family also has an alfalfa hay export business. They sell about 13,000 tons of hay to overseas buyers each year.•

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A strong U.S. dollar and increased competition are two factors that have led to a more difficult hay export situation.

Hay export situation:

A good news, bad news story by John Szczepanski

L

OOKING back over 2015, forage exporters reflected on a year of frustration and challenge, as well as moderate success. The trade data reflects a small rebound from a tough 2014 but tells only part of the story. After years of strong and steady growth, exports of hay and straw dropped nearly 20 percent in 2014. The factors contributing to that decline lingered in 2015, with farmers and exporters alike facing a new status quo that’s forcing new strategies and approaches. The strong U.S. dollar, increased competition from other countries, and global dairy farmers finding alternatives to imported forage reflect a new reality. Adding to these challenges was the West Coast port crisis, which led to a further reduction in the last quarter of 2014 and into the months of 2015. During this time, forage exporters had a very difficult time making on-time shipments, forcing end-users in various export markets to seek alternatives,

10 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

whether imports from other countries or domestic feed. Exports in January and February were down 25 percent from 2014, improving only in the following months (up 18 percent, March through May) as importers and dairy farms restocked empty warehouses. Beginning in June, exports subsided to levels lower than 2014 (15 percent lower from June through August), due largely to too much product being shipped the previous months. With apologies to Clint Eastwood fans, we refer to 2015 as “The Ugly, The Good and The Bad.” The latest figures suggest that 2015 will represent about a 7 percent improvement over 2014, with every percentage point hard fought.

Japan, South Korea exports down Much of the history of forage exports has been based on two markets, Japan and South Korea, which continue to represent over half of all overseas sales.

However, that share is rapidly falling: Japan and South Korea accounted for 88 percent of exports in 2008 but just 58 percent in 2014. That reduction reflects new sales directed to other markets; in fact, Japan and South Korea purchased about as much forage in 2014 as they did five years earlier. It is expected that Japan and South Korea will import less forage in the future. The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) will encourage more imports of dairy and beef products, putting stress on inefficient, small-sized dairies (both

JOHN SZCZEPANSKI The author is the director of the U.S. Forage Export Council.


China provides good news Officially opened in 2008, China has provided the industry with rare good news during 2015, with imports of U.S. alfalfa up nearly 40 percent. This nation will soon represent a $400 million-plus market. The market is not without its challenges. While genetically engineered alfalfa remains prohibited, there have been no detections in 2015, demonstrating the success of efforts by exporters and growers to better inspect, test and screen stacks. It is expected that the China market will continue to grow, but the rate of growth will be less than past years. China has been importing alfalfa and some grass hay varieties from other countries, but presently it does not allow the import of any grass hay or straw from the U.S. This has been a focus of the U.S. Forage Export Council, which has been working with officials in the U.S. and China to open the market for grass hays and straw.

Strong dollar hurts exports Exports to all destinations have been hampered by the strong U.S. dollar. For example, Japanese forage customers

A consistent product and reliable delivery are important to overseas hay buyers.

since September 2012 have seen their purchasing power decline 40 percent when buying U.S. forage. Canadian and Australian product, meanwhile, represent better options, with purchasing power dipping just 11 percent and 7 percent, respectively. During the same period, buyers in South Korea saw the Won decline 5 percent against the U.S. dollar while strengthening 36 percent against the Australian dollar. The West Coast port crisis put a cap on an already difficult 2014. Like other U.S. commodities, forage is marketed on quality and reliability. As a country we say, “Our prices may be higher than the competition, but . . .” and try to demonstrate our superiority in other areas. The port crisis exposed a weakness in our argument, creating enough doubt with overseas customers to encourage them to seek other suppliers.

And once those suppliers are in place, they are difficult to dislodge. The U.S. Forage Export Council has been communicating with legislators to emphasize the importance of the U.S. forage industry and the need for more efficient ports. Many of the challenges faced by forage exporters, such as a strong U.S. dollar, are beyond the ability of the industry to affect much change, but better oversight of our nation’s ports is possible and would provide benefits to many. The U.S. Forage Export Council is a subcommittee of the National Hay Association, comprised of 33 members who represent 90 percent of U.S. forage exports. Members are committed toward ensuring market access based on regulations that are fair and reasonable, and toward promoting the health and success of the forage industry. •

Value of U.S. hay exports $1,200,000 $1,000,000 Value (x1000)

South Korea and Japan average about 50 head per farm). Aging populations will also play a factor: In 1980, 28 percent of all Japanese farmers were aged 65 or older; by 2010, that portion had risen to 74 percent. As farms shut their doors or consolidate, feeding styles will change as farmers attempt to find more cost-efficient ways to feed their cattle. Another factor is foreign government policies that are aggressively encouraging farms to convert from food to feed, providing subsidies for both the growing of forage as well as to their purchase by dairies. Exports to the United Arab Emirates declined significantly from 2013 to 2014, and year-on-year exports through September 2015 reflected another decrease of 77 percent. The drop in exports was initially attributed to inventory rebalances, suggesting a short-term situation. More fundamentally, this reflects a price-sensitive market responding to a stronger dollar by seeking cheaper feed sources with new farming ventures in Africa, South America and even investment in some farmland in the western U.S. These developments have tempered original expectations for the Middle East market, and remind us that this is still a new and developing market.

(2008 to 2015)

Other UAE China

South Korea Japan

$800,000 $600,000 $400,000 $200,000 $0

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015(est)

January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 11


CUSTOM CORNER

by Jon Orr

Don’t neglect winter work — or play

Know your costs If time and effort isn’t taken to calculate operational costs, you will never know for sure if you’re harvesting as a business or a hobby. I always find it interesting how wet, muddy conditions affect the costs of harvesting a silage crop. Tons per hour go way down, and extra tractors and employees force costs higher. If you have to fight mud every year, then you will just look at these as normal expenses. We have a job where side dump carts are used every year without exception. What the guy down the road tells you about his machine operation expenses is of little use to you unless specific details are shared. If you take the time to track your numbers yearly, it will be much easier to explain to your customer 12 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

iStock/Isarapic

C

ROP harvest, Thanksgiving, deer hunting and Christmas have come and gone. So, what keeps a custom harvester busy between now and spring? I find this time of the year goes faster than the harvest. We have lots of equipment and truck repairs to get done, and it always seems there are too many last minute projects right before the harvest cycle starts again. I never understand how this happens, but it’s always the case. The other job that fills my time during the “off” season is analyzing the financials. My wife is great with accounting, but I know if I delegated this job to her, there would be nothing but coal in my Christmas stocking next year. Because we farm a few acres around home, our exact cost of harvesting can get a bit cloudy. Tractors, trucks and miscellaneous support equipment get used in both operations. We try to track expenses and determine a cost per ton on all of our jobs. Getting these numbers close is very important for upcoming customer visits and setting next year’s prices. We do not trade lots of equipment every year and have to rely on estimated equipment values to determine this year’s costs. With the buildup of used harvesters on dealer’s lots, our break-even numbers will be bumped higher by a lower harvester value this year.

why you need a rate increase. Good data will also allow you to understand that not all customers should pay the same amount for harvesting. Some customers will work very hard to improve conditions for ease of harvest; others just choose to pay more for harvesting every year. If we lose a high-cost customer to a low-price cutter, it’s pretty easy to smile and walk away knowing how much money that cutter is going to be losing.

Visit customers Once costs are determined, it’s time to visit last year’s customers and any new possibilities for next year. The obvious questions of how many acres, tons and distance to fields should be covered first. Work the discussion to help you highlight what differentiates you from the competition. Do not take a page out of the political arena and smear the other cutter, but point out your strengths. What was your run-time percentage last season? What are your silage processing scores? If you packed the bunker, what are the density numbers? Is there a different benchmark that this customer is focused on? If you did not reach a goal that was established last year, work out a plan to get it this year. Up sell your service as the best silage cutter available and then back it up with the performance during the season. Take notes during this meeting and revise the agreement from last season. If you did not have a written agreement, then make sure you talk about what both parties think

needs to be in the contract and get it taken care of before you move forward.

Take a break Work hard and play hard. We can all agree we have been doing lots of the “work” part, now what do you have planned for the “play” component? My wife and I made time for the Agritechnica show in Hannover, Germany, back in November. We experienced lots of great sights, fun with friends and had new experiences. Many of us are guilty of not taking the time to relax and regenerate. Try to find a way to turn off the business and unwind somewhere during the winter months. If you need to justify it to yourself, think of all the things we miss out on during the harvest season. If nothing else, make plans to attend a winter farm show or harvesters’ convention. The U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention is mid-January in Omaha, Neb., and Wisconsin’s Custom Operators meeting is in late January in Wisconsin Dells. Either one provides great networking with other harvesters. Neither one will provide sun and sand, but it could be just the first stop on an extended vacation. •

JON ORR The author is a partner in Orrson Custom Farming Ltd., Apple Creek, Ohio. He currently serves as president of the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc.


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Baleage quality hinges on fermentation by Mike Rankin

T

HOUGH there is no scientific survey that documents the rising popularity of baled silage, an excursion down rural roads tells us that more and more forage is being harvested in this manner. Baled silage, or baleage as it’s often called, offers the opportunity to harvest high-moisture feed at a lower cost compared to conventional silage. “Expensive toys (equipment) are not always the answer to good baled silage,” said Wayne Coblentz, a U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center scientist based in Marshfield, Wis. “The key is to start with high-quality forage. There’s a cost that can’t be recaptured if a hay crop is too mature.” Coblentz spoke as a part of World Dairy Expo’s forage seminar series last October in Madison, Wis. Many livestock producers are shifting at least some of their dry hay production to baleage in an effort to capture a higher quality feed. According to Coblentz, baleage is an attractive alternative because the higher moisture feed allows for reduced leaf loss in legumes; there is less wilting time required, reducing the risk for rain damage; little or no spontaneous heating takes place within the bale; and there is no weathering loss after harvest if bales are

14 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

stored outside. Like conventionally chopped silage, a good fermentation is important to making high-quality, baled silage. “The first key to a good fermentation is to eliminate oxygen. This does two things: it encourages the growth of desirable lactic acid-producing bacteria and prevents further decay, losses in dry matter, energy, and possibly the production of toxic compounds,” explained Coblentz. “Ideally, the goal is to establish a stable silage mass by lowering pH and maintaining anaerobic conditions.”

Know your forage Not all forage plants are created equal in terms of the amount of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) within the plant and their buffering capacity. Water-soluble carbohydrates (sugars) serve as the substrate for lactic acid-producing bacteria that drive down the silage pH for long-term preservation. Forage species vary in the amount of WSC they contain. Corn silage and sorghum species may be 10 to 20 percent WSC as a percent of dry matter. In contrast, cereal forage is 8 to 12 percent, alfalfa is 4 to 7 percent, and bermudagrass is typically 2 to 4 percent.

Coblentz noted there are several factors that impact WSC concentrations. In one study with fall-grown oats, WSC concentrations declined with increasing nitrogen fertilizer applications. As might be expected, WSC concentrations decline significantly when wilting forage is subjected to significant rainfall. Coblentz cited a study where alfalfa received 1.9 inches of rain after being cut and WSC levels dropped from near 6 percent to about 2.5 percent. In such situations, a desirable fermentation that reduces silage pH becomes more challenging. Forage species also differ in their inherent ability to resist pH change once ensiled. This is referred to as buffering capacity. It’s more difficult to lower the pH of forages with a high buffering capacity, such as alfalfa, compared to corn silage, which has a low buffering capacity. Coblentz compiled the buffering capacities of several forages and these are presented in the table. Those forages with a low level of WSC coupled with a high buffering capacity require the greatest amount of management to achieve a good fermentation. “It’s really important to wrap as soon after baling as possible,” said Coblentz. While showing some of his


research with alfalfa, Coblentz noted, “If the bale is allowed to heat before it gets wrapped, the buffering capacity of the forage significantly rises and this reduces your chances of a good fermentation. Strive to get bales wrapped as quickly as possible. A commonly mentioned target is within two hours of baling, but this may not always be feasible from a practical management standpoint. Research has indicated that damage is usually pretty minimal within the first eight to 12 hours.”

“Expensive toys are not always the answer to good baled silage.” According to Coblentz, the basic management principles of making baleage compared to chopped silage are similar, but there are two characteristics beyond moisture that make an optimum fermentation for baled silage more difficult. The first is the lack of chopping action, which forces sugars to diffuse from inside the plant to reach lactic acid-producing bacteria located on the outside of the forage. Furthermore, baled silage is often less dense than chopped silage. This may also restrict the availability of sugars to lactic acid bacteria. The result of these factors is that baled silage fermentations generally produce less lactic acid and have a higher pH.

Moisture management “Ideally, baled silage moisture should be in the 45 to 55 percent range, with a group of bales averaging around 50 percent,” said Coblentz. “The production of silage fermentation acids is positively associated with moisture concentration. As such, baled silage fermentation is at an inherent disadvantage because it’s made at a lower moisture resulting in a fermentation that is slower, with a higher (less acidic) final pH.” Coblentz also cautions growers that there are problems when moisture is either too low or too high. He cites his own research where lactic acid production was near zero at moisture levels below 42 percent. Conversely, the potential for a clostridial fermentation accelerates at high moisture concentrations. The undesirable by-products of this type of fermentation are elevated levels of butyric acid and ammonia. High-protein legumes like alfalfa are especially susceptible to clostridial fermentation when moisture levels exceed 60 percent.

Eliminate air Air is the enemy of baled silage; whatever is done correctly prior to and during harvest can be easily erased if air enters the bale after it’s dropped from the baler. Coblentz noted that the evils of air are well documented in research. When air is present, ongoing plant respiration converts plant sugars to carbon dioxide and water, while releasing heat; this reduces the pool of fermentable sugars, results in excessive dry matter loss, indirectly increases fiber levels, and decreases the energy density of the feed. “Strive for a bale density of 10 pounds of dry matter per square foot or more,”

Buffering capacities (mEq/kg DM) for selected forage crops Crop/species

Range

Mean

Corn silage

149 to 225

185

Timothy

188 to 342

265

Fall oat (headed)

300 to 349

323

Orchardgrass

247 to 424

335

Red clover

350

Fall oat (boot)

360 to 371

366

Italian ryegrass

265 to 589

366

Alfalfa (mid-bloom)

313 to 482

370

Perennial ryegrass

257 to 558

380

Alfalfa (1/10 bloom)

367 to 508

438

Alfalfa

390 to 570

472

512

White clover Compiled from various sources

suggested Coblentz. “To hit this mark, you may have to reduce ground speed and increase PTO speed,” he added. Bale density is also impacted by windrow size (smaller will increase revolutions per bale) and forage moisture (strive for about 50 percent). “Research is clear that at least four layers, at minimum, of 1 mil stretched plastic are needed to seal the bale,” said Coblentz. He added that six layers are more appropriate for long-term storage and in Southern states. “Use UV-resistant plastic and patch any holes with an approved type of tape. Duct tape doesn’t fall into that category,” Coblentz noted. Once properly sealed, locate an appropriate storage site where the integrity of the plastic can be maintained. Isolate bales from cattle and place them in an area that won’t invite nearby wildlife. Keep weed and grass growth under control around the storage area. Once wrapped and stored, inspect the bale plastic from time to time for holes. For in-line wrapped bales, Coblentz emphasized the need for bale uniformity to eliminate air pockets along the row of bales.

Are inoculants needed? Generally speaking, bacterial inoculants are used inconsistently during baled silage production, but Coblentz recommends the practice in specific situations where alfalfa is at risk for a clostridial fermentation. The first situation occurs when forage is borderline too wet (approaching or greater than 60 percent moisture). In this case, lactic acid producing bacteria will help to drive the pH down and reduce the risk for clostridial fermentation. A second situation when inoculants might be considered is when dairy slurry was applied after the previous cutting of alfalfa. Coblentz pointed to research he had done that suggested there were elevated levels of clostridial bacteria on the forage following a post-harvest liquid manure application on the previous cutting. A final situation where inoculants are recommended is when the forage is rain damaged. Here, there are fewer WSC to act as substrate and bacterial inoculants will help support fermentation and lower the final silage pH.• January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 15


FORAGE SHOP TALK

Jim Gerrish

Q&A

Well-known grazing consultant and owner of American GrazingLands Services LLC, Patterson, Idaho

HFG:You’ve been an informative, passionate voice for management-intensive grazing for many years. When did you first realize that this is what you wanted to make your life-long calling? JG: I probably knew about seven years into my career at the University of Missouri. The realization was that we have known everything we needed to double or triple pasture productivity for hundreds of years. Failure to apply existing knowledge made no sense to me. I wanted to change that attitude. HFG: Your time at the University of Missouri’s Forage Systems Research Center (FSRC) overlapped a period in the late 1980s and 1990s when the interest and application of management-intensive grazing exploded. What was that like? JG: It was a great deal of fun, but still frustrating that the rate of adoption was so slow. How long can people continue to ignore the obvious? HFG: What role do you think new fencing technologies played in the renewed interest of management-intensive grazing in those early years? JG: All the difference in the world! Modern electric fence is what made intensive pasture management economically feasible. HFG: A lot of your research at Missouri centered on the management of tall fescue to maximize livestock performance. Do you still feel that fescue toxicosis is something that can be successfully managed around? JG: Absolutely! Infected fescue is a dominant forage only when failed grazing management allows it to be. HFG: What do you still see as the most common mistakes made by those who have adopted management-intensive grazing? JG: Grazing pastures too short and returning too soon. HFG: In 2003, you left the public sector for the private sector and moved to Idaho. Explain that decision. JG: It was a mid-life crisis. I realized what I really wanted to do with my life was live in the mountains and write stories. HFG: Has your opinion changed over the years on any particular pasture management practice(s) compared to what you thought in the past? JG: When we first started putting in grazing cells in the 1980s, we almost always used lanes to let the cattle walk to water. That was based on the premise that it is cheaper to let

cattle come to water than it was to deliver water to the cattle. It might be cheaper to let cattle come to water, but it is far more cost effective in the long term to take the water to the cattle. I think the idea of letting cattle walk long distances to stock water greatly limits the opportunities of the majority of ranches to realize optimal use of their land. HFG: In addition to your consultant work, you also manage a ranch where you live. Explain that relationship. JG: We manage one unit of Circle Pi Ranch in exchange for living on that property. Our resources are 450 acres of center pivots, about 90 acres of flood ground, and a few hundred acres of desert rangeland. We usually have about 500 cow equivalents up here for about seven months. HFG: In what major ways do the principles of management-intensive grazing differ in the West compared to the East, or do they? JG: There is little difference between managing irrigated pastures in the West compared to natural rainfall pastures in the East. The greatest difference between Western rangeland and the wet pastures is the need for much longer recovery periods and the overall fragility of the semi-arid to arid landscapes. HFG: As an author and grazing consultant, what’s the most common reason you find that people come to you looking for help? JG: Simple, they want to make more money while improving their land. HFG: Are there any future trends, technologies or practices that you see coming down the line that livestock producers need to pay special attention to? JG: Sixty percent of the beef consumed in America is hamburger. Why are we still producing this commodity in feedlots? Absentee ownership of agricultural land either greatly limits the opportunity for young people to enter production agriculture or provides a great opportunity for young people to get started through innovative lease arrangements. Which way it goes is almost entirely dependent on the individual’s attitude. More people need to get their head out of the conventional box. If you really want to make money in farming or ranching, produce food, not commodities. HFG: Favorite food? JG: Red Meat! HFG: Thanks Jim. Stay warm this winter. •

In each issue of Hay & Forage Grower, we talk to a forage industry newsmaker to get their answers on a variety of topics.

16 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016


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Quality is key for high-forage dairy diets by John Hibma

F

ORAGE is an indispensable part of dairy cow diets. However, due to its bulkiness and the inherently low levels of fiber digestibility, cows are limited in how much forage they can consume every day and still keep feed dry matter intakes at high enough levels to support peak milk production. Even though cows are biologically designed to digest forages, their improved genetic potential requires that they digest far more feed and nutrients than an all-forage diet can supply. Getting cows to milk on high-forage diets requires keeping the forage quality high and consistent and making it available throughout the year. As we attempt to maximize forage in diets, it proves to be very challenging to get forage intakes over 80 percent of the total diet without compromising milk production. At the heart of the forage limitation is the amount and digestibility of the fiber fraction of the

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

forage. The fibrous fraction of all forages is referred to as neutral detergent fiber (NDF), the term coming from the laboratory procedure developed to analyze fiber. More recently, an updated lab procedure has been developed that accounts for the excessive presence of ash (primarily dirt and/or minerals) that may be present in forage samples. This analysis has been coined aNDF. For the purposes of this article, the term NDF will be used.

NDF dictates intake The amount of forage a cow can consume is almost totally dependent on the NDF level of that forage. Forages that test high in protein usually have low levels of NDF. Protein and NDF tend to be inversely proportional. Several studies have determined that daily NDF intake from forages for dairy cows is limited to about 1.1 to 1.2 percent of their body weight (BW). As an exam-

ple, using the maximum value of 1.2 percent of BW for a cow weighing 1,500 pounds, her maximum NDF intake from forage would be 18 pounds. If a particular grass hay crop tests 60 percent NDF, the maximum forage intake for our 1,500-pound cow would be 30 pounds (18/0.6=30). If we expect this cow to produce 100 pounds of milk, her total dry matter intake should be near 60 pounds per day. The forage will only make up half of the diet dry matter intake. If, on the other hand, the NDF of the grass hay crop tested JOHN HIBMA The author is a dairy nutritional consultant and freelance agricultural writer based out of Connecticut.


50 percent, the cow could consume 36 pounds of forage (18/0.5=36). That’s an additional 6 pounds of forage the cow can eat, which brings the total up to 60 percent of the diet. The only way to feed higher levels of forage is for those forages to be lower in NDF. In Ancramdale, N.Y., Jim Davenport milks about 65 cows and has spent many years focusing on growing and feeding as much forage as possible. The herd’s average milk production is in the high 70 pounds per cow range most of the year with a rolling herd average over 25,000 pounds per year. Along with the brown midrib corn silage that’s now a staple for many New York dairy diets, Davenport feeds hay crop forages that are high in protein and low in NDF. He grows primarily endophyte-free tall fescue and reed canarygrass harvested mostly as haylage and stored in cement bunks that are sized appropriately for good face management. He works diligently to keep the NDF levels as close to 50 percent as possible for all cuttings, which means he closely monitors temperatures and degree days in determining when to mow — not a specific date on the calendar. With many years of experience behind him, he can hit his goal most of the time.

Focus on milk per acre In the crop-growing business, there’s always the trade off between quality and tonnage. Farmers are inclined to maximize yield per acre. High yields, of course, equates to advanced plant maturity, which in turn equates to lower rumen digestibility and less metabolizable nutrition. Dairy farmers shouldn’t focus on how many tons of feed they get from a field — they should be focusing on pounds of milk per acre. Davenport has found that compromising quality and allowing NDF levels to climb over 50 percent will cost him more milk production than what he may get in extra tonnage per acre. He’s found that, for his farm and the local growing conditions, the optimal yield tends to be about 1.5 tons of dry matter per acre per cutting. That’s the place where he feels he gets the most milk per acre. This past season, he harvested over 5 tons of dry matter in four cuttings. This is a key concept that must be well understood when making the most out of raising your own forages. Unless

Jim Davenport has a goal to feed 80 percent forage. The best he’s done to date has been 75 percent.

aggressively managed, homegrown forage can quickly become heifer and dry cow hay. As tempting as it is to grow your own feed to offset the rising cost of grains and by-products, forages are completely unforgiving when it comes to low quality, and the drop in milk production will more than offset any savings on purchased feeds. A herd producing close to 80 pounds of milk per cow per day, all year long, consumes a lot of feed, and Davenport strives to get his cows to eat as much forage as possible and still keep milk production up. His goal has been to get them to 80 percent forage — but that has yet to happen. He’s had years where he’s had his cows up to 75 percent of their diet — and had the average daily milk production per cow over 80 pounds.

Fiber digestibility important Every year is different, Davenport notes. At the end of 2015, his cows were consuming less than 70 percent forage and the average milk production was down to 76 pounds per cow. Davenport believes that the NDF digestibility may be down in the 2015 crops due to sporadic rainfall during the earlier part of the season. He surmises this might have stressed plants, resulting in higher lignification of the fiber — but that’s just a guess. Grain prices and markets also influence how much forage should be fed. Several years ago when grain prices went through the roof, it made sense

to focus on trying to maximize forage intakes. As grain prices have moderated more recently, it may make more sense to increase grain and by-products to make more milk, especially if the forage quality has diminished. With a renewed interest in the economic value of feeding forages to dairy cows, researchers and nutritionists recognize the importance of being able to more accurately model and predict how any given forage will digest and what level of nutrition can be expected from it. The NDF digestibility varies among forages as well as within forages. As it turns out, fiber consists of rapidly digested pools of NDF, along with slower digesting pools, and finally an indigestible fraction. And while the cows ultimately will tell the story of whether the forage they consume is good or bad, nutritionists would like to know beforehand how a forage will behave in the digestive system before a dairy farmer puts it in front of his cows. Ongoing industry and university research will eventually unlock the secrets still not known about the different digestibility fractions of NDF. Meanwhile, dairy farmers who focus on feeding forages that are low in NDF, plant cultivars/hybrids that have been proven to be more digestible such as BMR, will be able to feed more forage and keep the grain bill down. Higher forage diets usually mean healthier and more profitable cows. • January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 19


Hidden Valley meadow fescue:

The grass that won’t be forgotten by Michael Casler and Lori Ward Bocher

I

T WAS a grass that time forgot — until a Wisconsin grazier rediscovered it decades later and research showed that it had great potential as a pasture grass. It was almost forgotten again when seed companies gave up on plans to take it to market because it did not grow well in the seed-producing region of western Oregon. But the grass has traits that dairy graziers really desire, so it was given another chance by a farmer willing to accept the challenge of seed production on his own. And if all goes well, Hidden Valley meadow fescue could be on the market by 2017 or 2018. The story of Hidden Valley meadow fescue begins in 1990 when Charles Opitz of Mineral Point, Wis., noticed an unknown grass growing in a remnant of an ancient oak savanna ecosystem near the location for a new milking parlor. After much research at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDA Agricultural Research Service), with assistance from several other labs around the world, we identified this grass as meadow fescue, a close relative of tall fescue and perennial ryegrass. We believe the meadow fescue came to the unglaciated Driftless Area of Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa with early settlers in the 1800s and later was transported with cattle shipped from the southern U.S. Meadow fescue was a popular forage grass, but KY-31 tall fescue replaced it in the Southern states by the 1950s. We have found meadow fescue on over 300 farms in the Driftless Area, so we think that it survived the post-World War II mechanization of agriculture in oak savanna remnants that could not be plowed. After finding it in 1990, Opitz spread

this meadow fescue around his farm by feeding mature hay with ripe seeds to cattle during winter and allowing the cattle to spread the seed in manure pats. It thrived in his pastures. Hidden Valley represents this population of meadow fescue. Plants were collected from the Opitz farm and used to produce seed for testing by the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center at the University of Wisconsin Arlington Agricultural Research Station.

Excellent forage traits Since we first produced Hidden Valley seed at the Arlington farm, we have conducted numerous agronomic studies. We have found meadow fescue to be highly winter hardy and drought tolerant. Its adaptation region is the north central and northeastern U.S. and similar regions of Canada. From a dairy nutrition standpoint, Hidden Valley meadow fescue has a very high fiber digestibility (see table). This translates to more predicted milk production even though lower forage yield reduces the potential stocking rate compared to other grasses. We were excited about the potential for this grass and consequently proceeded with the steps needed to help it reach market.

Seed production hurdles When USDA research results in a new or improved plant variety, the USDA usually enters into an agreement with a commercial seed company that acquires exclusive rights to increase seed and take the variety to market. This was attempted with Hidden Valley. But due to poor seed production in Oregon, and the relatively small market for pasture grasses, any interest in

Forage quality and predicted milk production of four grasses Grass species

Meadow fescue

Fiber digestibility (%)

Stocking rate (cows/acre/day)

Milk production (lb 3.5% FCM/cow/day)

74

15

59

Orchardgrass

71

13

52

Quackgrass

67

17

50

Reed canarygrass

70

18

53

Evaluated in southern and central Wisconsin (data from Geoff Brink and colleagues)

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

the customary options for commercial seed production were eliminated. But word of Hidden Valley’s superior qualities spread. In 2013, Larry Smith volunteered to plant a Hidden Valley seed production field near Viroqua, Wis., where he runs a beef grazing operation. Shortly after that, the USDA formally released Hidden Valley to the public, meaning that anyone has the right to produce and market Hidden Valley seed without contracts or agreements with USDA or the University of Wisconsin. Larry Smith harvested his first two crops of Hidden Valley Breeder’s seed in 2014 and 2015. In spite of the fact that there can be no exclusive rights to the variety, two seed companies (Byron Seed and Allied Seed) and a Wisconsin-based dairy cooperative (Organic Valley) have requested Hidden Valley Breeder’s seed from him. Smith has produced Breeder’s seed at his own expense, but is asking companies to provide research funds to Grassworks through a special agreement based on commercial seed sales. Grassworks is a Wisconsin-based organization that provides leadership and education to farmers and consumers for the advancement of managed grass-based agriculture. The U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center continues to work with Hidden Valley, conducting additional forage and livestock trials to ensure that the public has good data to make informed decisions. Very limited amounts (not enough for commercial use) of Hidden Valley seed can be obtained from the USDA Germplasm Resources Information Network (www.ars-grin.gov) or directly from the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (Michael Casler). Questions about its future commercial availability should be directed to the seed companies. We will be watching from the sidelines, eager to see if Hidden Valley succeeds in the marketplace, the pasture, and the dairy cow’s diet. • MICHAEL CASLER AND LORI WARD BOCHER The authors are a plant geneticist and an agricultural information specialist, respectively, at the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center, Madison, Wis.


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Meadow vole populations explode in the West by Glenn Shewmaker

S

EVERAL years of moderate winters have allowed meadow voles (Microtus pennsylvanicus) to reach crop-killing proportions in some areas of the West. Last spring I saw entire 135-acre pastures under pivot irrigation and good fall management — with more than a 4-inch stubble — destroyed. Voles ate the emerging tillers and also the roots. I have never seen any herd of livestock do that much damage from overgrazing, even from continuous stocking. Continuous stocking is one of the reasons meadow voles do so much damage, as they don’t hibernate and can thrive under tall stubble and/or a soft snow cover. I observed growing populations of voles in southern Idaho through the fall to the point that there

is concern about losing a significant acreage of alfalfa and grass. Lawns and landscaping are also suffering from vole damage. October was abnormally warm this year in the West, so alfalfa was actively growing. As a consequence, I suspect plant carbohydrate levels will be low for winter survival and early spring growth. Given low carbohydrate concentrations, plant disease exposure from feeding sites, and rapidly changing temperatures from unusually warm to sub-freezing, plants are at a high risk for damage. I observed trial plots as well as commercial fields this fall. From a pickup truck view, it is obvious there are large areas of meadow vole colonies. We used a drone to get some aerial photos of

a couple of fields, and I was amazed at the extent of damage. If we don’t get bad weather with frozen soil and a thick ice layer, I don’t think the alfalfa stands will be there in the spring. Late-summer alfalfa seedings also suffered from invasions of meadow voles and may not be viable in the spring. The photos show meadow vole colonies on a 25-acre field near Kimberly, Idaho.

Control is difficult Producers and crop advisers have been very frustrated in their attempts to control meadow voles. Although some states have toxins registered for vole control, the efficacy of toxins to mammals is generally not as effective as herbicides are on weeds. Rodents have GLENN SHEWMAKER The author is a forage extension specialist at the University of Idaho.

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016


Keys to effective alfalfa irrigation

“A

evolved to sample food, and if it makes them ill, they will avoid it. Getting the meadow voles to eat a lethal dose of a toxin is a challenge. Zinc phosphide toxins are activated by moisture inside the animal, resulting in the release of lethal phosphine gas inside the animal’s digestive system. Zinc phosphide should not be used when precipitation is expected. However, if a good dew, precipitation, or irrigation occurs before the rodents eat the zinc phosphide, the toxic portion has already been lost as a gas. Anticoagulant baits act more slowly and may require multiple feedings for adequate control. The University of Idaho extension team recommends alternating types of baits used in non-crop areas for vole control. Some producers made applications after each cutting, which is within the label. However, if alfalfa is lush and green, voles will probably avoid eating a toxic dose of zinc phosphide. Use rodenticides according to the label. If the label doesn’t list the target pest, location, crop and use, then it is illegal to apply and will not be very effective. Rodenticides will be most effective when the forage is dormant and weather conditions are conducive to consumption of the toxin. Bait stations constructed of PVC pipe will protect the moisture-sensitive baits and toxins. Some baits are restricted-use pesticides, which require a pesticide applicator license. Other types can be purchased from farm supply, home and garden stores. All baits should be used with caution in areas where they are out of reach of children, pets and nontarget animals. Good target sites include vole runways, the mouths of burrows, or in enclosed bait stations, which are required for

some baits. Many baits should only be applied directly underground in the vole holes.

Use multiple strategies Use an integrated pest management strategy for optimum control of meadow voles, including cultural controls such as tillage and reduction of refuge areas. I normally don’t recommend reduction of cover because pheasants, quail and beneficial insects also suffer from clean roadsides or ditches. However, I have observed barren areas in the desert grasslands neighboring fields where the voles have already reduced the good forages to small islands, leaving mostly weeds. Promoting hawks, owls and other predators will also help control a rodent population that is not on a logarithmic part of the population growth curve. While raking some third-cutting hay, I counted about 50 hawks overhead. Once the vole population reaches logarithmic growth, they will overpopulate most control measures. In addition to mowing ditches and clearing weeds and debris from vole-infested areas, the University of Idaho extension team’s recommendations include proper use of zinc phosphide baits or others with anticoagulant chemicals, according to the label. The best recommendation to reduce the invasion of new seedings or crops is to leave a 30-foot border of bare ground. Voles don’t like to cross an area that wide. •

Orloff offered these key points for effective alfalfa irrigation management: • Design the irrigation system to meet the water demands of alfalfa during mid-summer. • Use soil type and effective rooting zone to determine the water holding capacity of the soil. • Know your application rate. • Compare peak ET with your system’s delivery capability. • Start the growing season with a fully charged soil profile. • Use a combination of ET data and soil moisture data. • Ensure that irrigation rates and frequency follow the seasonal water-use pattern of the crop. • Use soil moisture sensors to aid in irrigation timing and confirm ET estimates. • Use at least two sets of sensors per field in representative areas. • Irrigate to maintain adequate soil moisture through cuttings. •

iStock/4nadia

Though small in size, meadow voles can destroy hayfields and pastures. A multistrategy approach is needed for control.

LFALFA is actually a difficult crop to irrigate,” noted Steve Orloff, University of California farm advisor for Siskiyou County. At an Alfalfa Irrigation Workshop held prior to the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium in Reno, Nev., Orloff said that full potential ET (evapotranspiration) is needed for maximum alfalfa yield. Further, the response is linear. Because alfalfa needs to be cut frequently and irrigation isn’t possible immediately before and after harvest, there are significant stretches when alfalfa can’t be irrigated. This makes it difficult to obtain maximum yields unless your irrigation system is designed to maintain adequate soil water reserves through the harvest period.

A detailed publication on vole control can be found online at: http://bit.ly/ID-voles. A short fact sheet on vole control can be found online at: http://bit.ly/ID-short. January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 23


FEED ANALYSIS

by John Goeser

Sorting the alfalfa quality metrics

T

assigning negative value to both acid and neutral detergent fiber (ADF and NDF). More NDF and ADF equates to lesser feed quality because these fiber components are the least digestible and filling. Less NDF means more high-quality sugar and protein per ton. Regional and year-to-year trends show fiber content has been relatively consistent for Western regions (West) over the past four growing seasons (NDF; Figure 1), whereas the Eastern region, including the Midwest, (East) has been much more variable.

HE 2015 hay and haylage crop is in storage and being fed, with many producers asking how their crops stack up, no pun intended. Determining a single crop’s quality can be a tricky task, let alone comparing from year to year. Where should you focus? What values mean the most? Variability continues to be a common theme, regardless of the hay or haylage rating system.

Basic quality ranking and trends Historically, the industry has valued alfalfa based upon fiber content,

Figure1: Hay and haylage nutritive value Percent of DM

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

West 2015

The California total digestible nutrient index (CA TDN; Robinson and Old) and relative feed value (RFV, Rohweder et al., 1978) recognize fiber as a limiting factor and build ADF and NDF into the equations. Both RFV and CA TDN have since been historically relied upon to value hay. RFV and CA TDN trends are very similar to those discussed above based on NDF, since these measures are simply another way to express ADF and NDF values. For the western U.S., the year-to-year crop has been very consistent on average for 2012 to 2015. For the eastern U.S., fiber content has decreased slightly over the past three years leading to slightly greater RFV, CA TDN and slightly more energy per ton and value (Figures 1 and 2).

More advanced quality rankings

West 2014 West 2013 West 2012 TTNDFD

East 2015

CP

East 2014

NDF

East 2013 East 2012 0

10

20

30

40

50

Percent of DM or NDF

60

*For Eastern (East) and Western (West) U.S. Total tract NDF digestion (TTNDFD) values were not available in 2012 for Western U.S.

Figure 2: Hay and haylage quality indexes 50

55

60

CA TDN

65

70

75

West 2015 West 2014 West 2013 West 2012 East 2015 RFV

East 2013

CA TDN

East 2012 50

JOHN GOESER

RFQ

East 2014

100

RFV or RFQ

24 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

150

Fiber content only reveals part of your feeds’ value. High-value hay, when fed to high-performing cattle, cannot be appropriately assessed by only measuring fiber. The industry has recognized this, evolving from using overly simple approaches (for example, RFV) to more advanced measures, such as relative forage quality (RFQ) or Milk2006, that incorporate nutrient content and digestibility. Highlighting the opportunity to use more advance measures, a conflicting conclusion could be drawn for 2014 and 2015 hay using CA TDN (Figure 2). For 2014 and 2015 crops from the eastern U.S., CA TDN would value these crops as similar on average. • Eastern Region, 2014 and 2015 CA TDN = 58.3 and 58.8, respectively o Nearly the same value, less than 1 percent different o This difference would equate to virtually no difference in milk production or value per ton Yet, the 2014 and 2015 alfalfa crops were very different, with fiber digestibility proving to be the differentiator

200

The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.


Western meeting presentations

I

Though forage fiber values are important, they often do not reflect the true feeding value.

for 2015 crop quality. Using the more appropriate ranking, considering digestibility, we can determine the 2015 crop had considerably more value: • Eastern Region, 2014 and 2015 RFQ = 119 and 135, respectively o Markedly different value, nearly 12 percent different o This difference could equate to 2 pounds of milk per cow if forage was fed at roughly half the intake or $15 per ton of dry hay

Another approach David Combs, with the University of Wisconsin, has continued to push the industry even further ahead by integrating an advanced fiber digestion value, total tract NDF digestion (TTNDFD) into hay valuation. The TTNDFD is a research-backed fiber digestion value for high-performing cattle. Combs has suggested using TTNDFD to identify Premium quality alfalfa hay and, depending on fiber content, assign as much as $70 per ton more value for 48 percent TTNDFD hay relative to 42 percent TTNDFD hay. Figure 1 shows how TTNDFD has varied for all crops across the U.S. from 2012 to 2015. For the West, TTNDFD is not substantially different for 2015. Yet in the East, TTNDFD has gained roughly 10 percent for 2015. Couple this rise with the decrease in NDF and the 2015 crop appears to have at least $15 per ton dry hay equivalent more value for the East. In summary, a variety of measures and indexes are available to compare year to year. More advanced measures are available to more appropriately value hay, but regardless of the equation and metrics you choose, variability continues to reign. Work with your consulting team to determine which approach best suits your farm. •

F YOU weren’t able to attend the Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium held last month in Reno, Nev., over 30 of the presentations are now available on video for web viewing. Proceedings papers are also accessible for download. Prior to the two-day conference, an alfalfa irrigation workshop was held and these presentations have been made accessible as well. The 2015 Western Alfalfa & Forage Symposium was sponsored by the University of California Alfalfa & Forage Systems Workgroup in conjunction with cooperative extension services in 11 Western states. The conference covered many aspects of alfalfa and forage management, including economics, pest management, irrigation and utilization. View presentations or download conference papers at bit.ly/WAFC15. •

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January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 25


PASTURE PONDERINGS

by Jesse Bussard

Grassfed Exchange highlights opportunities

T

HIS past September marked the seventh anniversary of the Grassfed Exchange Conference, a meeting organized by its namesake to offer the latest, most valuable information about grass-fed livestock production, soil health and environmental quality to grass-fed producers. The 2015 meeting was held in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Michigan State University acted as the local affiliate host for this producer-focused, three-day event offering the approximately 250 attendees a wealth of learning opportunities. The Grassfed Exchange Conference is unique in that a mostly rancher-led board plans the meeting. As a “meeting for producers designed by producers,” the conference features activities and a speaker line-up geared towards providing attendees with real-world ideas, innovations and solutions that they can readily apply on the farm or ranch. The theme for this year’s Grassfed Exchange Conference was “Generations of Opportunity: Sun and Water, Sons and Daughters.” Topics discussed included marketing grass-fed products, tips to improve forage and grazing management, challenges facing small to medium meat processors, farm and ranch succession, and issues pertinent to the connection between regenerative agriculture and human health. The conference began with a full day of tours. The first stop gave attendees a behind-the-scenes look at Graham’s 26 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

Organic Meats and Processing, an organic grass-fed beef and pastured poultry operation that also operates its own USDA-certified meat processing facility and organic poultry feed mill. Conference goers then traveled north to Michigan State University’s Lake City Research Center (LCRC) to hear research updates on grass finishing, forage utilization and outreach efforts. The day ended with an evening workshop centered on budgeting for success in pasture-based agriculture. This session featured stimulating discussions on the current status of the cattle market, financial tips for producers from both a farmer and lender, and a budget case study of the MSU-LCRC cow herd. The second day started off with a compelling talk on keys to profitably stacking livestock enterprises. Tips on how to maximize the solar collecting power of pastures and a discussion on the connection between good grazing management and improving soil health followed. Valuable insight was gained when a local producer shared his family farm’s story of transition from a conventional row-crop farm to a grass-fed beef operation. The afternoon sessions ended with a roundtable discussion on grass finishing strategies applicable to the Upper Midwest. The event closed with Defending Beef author, Nicolette Hahn-Niman, sharing the challenges producers face with consumers who may not always agree when

it comes to food production. The following award presentations were also given: • Innovative Grassfed Beef Marketer/Processor/Distributor Award — Mike and Rob Lorentz, Lorentz Meats in Cannon Falls, Minn. • Producer Award — Seven Sons Farm in Roanoke, Ind. • Terry Gompert Pioneer Award — Rod Ofte from Coon Valley, Wis. The final day opened with a discussion on ways grass-fed producers and meat processors can work and grow together. Authors Mark Schatzker, The Dorito Effect, and Daphne Miller, Farmacology, shared their perspectives on the connection between food and human health, followed by a roundtable discussion on the future of the grass-fed industry. A panel dialogue on ranch succession brought the conference to a close.

Take-home points Some of the key take-away points from the conference included: • Stacking livestock enterprises is a proven way to generate more revenue per acre and offers young producers some versatile options when getting started. • The many branded grass-fed beef programs that exist today offer many opportunities to cultivate multiple revenue streams. • Holistic management was emphasized as a foundational learning tool vital to running a successful, sustainable pasture-based operation. • Getting buy-in, especially from those outside the agriculture circle, is key when it comes to getting investors, understanding and having the ability to empathize with concerns and perspectives, and showing the value created in the product, as well as the product’s greater impact on society. The 2016 Grassfed Exchange Conference will be held April 27 to 29 at the Georgia National Fairgrounds and Agricenter in Perry, Ga. Stay tuned for details at www.grassfedexchange.com. • JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.


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For a full list of varieties, visit americasalfalfa.com America’s Alfalfa is a registered trademark and Traffic Tested, the America’s Alfalfa logo and the Traffic Tested logo are trademarks of Forage Genetics International, LLC. © 2015 Forage Genetics International, LLC. Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seed is available for sale and distribution by authorized Seed Companies or their dealers for use in the United States only. This seed may not be planted outside of the United States, or for the production of seed, or sprouts. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. This product has been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. Do not export Genuity® Roundup Ready® alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. Excellence Through Stewardship® is a registered trademark of Biotechnology Industry Organization. For the 2016 growing season, HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is available for planting in a limited geography and growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra Alfalfa with Roundup Ready Technology seed or crops (including hay and hay products) only to US domestic use. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Roundup®, and Roundup Ready® are registered trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. HarvXtra™ is a trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtraTM Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc.

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RESEARCH ROUND-UP

Comparing two versus five species rotationally grazed pastures

Tall fescue hay subs for alfalfa, corn silage

Whenever a new pasture is seeded, one of the decisions that must be made is how many species to include in the pasture mix. Researchers at the USDA-ARS Pasture Systems & Watershed Management Research Unit in University Park, Pa., established and evaluated two different pastures for a period of nine years. One pasture was established with only white clover and orchardgrass; the second pasture included white clover, orchardgrass, tall fescue, alfalfa and chicory. Both pastures were rotationally grazed five times per year by beef cattle from mid-May to mid-October for a period of nine years. Averaged across the nine-year period, the five-species mixture yielded 31 percent more per year than the pasture established with only two species. The yield advantage occurred in every year of the study except the first year. By Year 8 of the study, both pastures had reverted to the same species composition: orchardgrass, white clover, tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass. Even though both pastures were similar in species composition, the original five-species mixture yielded 41 percent more forage than the two species mixture during the final two years of the experiment (Years 8 and 9). Soil carbon sequestration rates were also measured. The five-species mixture annually sequestered three times as much carbon as the two-species mixture.

In Wisconsin, researchers investigated the potential to partially substitute tall fescue hay for either alfalfa or corn silage in a milking cow feed ration. Sixty-four Holstein cows were randomly assigned to one of four treatment groups (dry matter basis): 1. 67 percent corn silage (CS) and 33 percent alfalfa silage (AS) 2. 60 percent tall fescue (TF) and 40 percent AS 3. 60 percent TF and 40 percent CS 4. 33 percent TF and 67 percent CS Average milk production was about 91 pounds of milk per day through the experiment. Dry matter intake, milk production, fat concentration, protein yield and concentration, and somatic cell count did not significantly differ among the treatments. The 60TF-40CS treatment resulted in significantly less fat yield. Total-tract dry matter digestibility did not differ among the feeding treatments. Total-tract neutral detergent fiber digestibility (TTNDFD) was lowest for 67CS-33AS (40.8 percent) and highest for 60TF-40CS (51.2 percent). The researchers concluded that it is possible to partially substitute high-quality tall fescue hay for corn silage and alfalfa silage without influencing dry matter intake or production.

Winter cereals as a double crop with corn silage Researchers at Cornell University documented winter cereal yields following corn silage for 63 fields (44 triticale and 19 cereal rye) from 2012 through 2014. They also surveyed 30 growers in 2013 to learn from their experiences and understand why they adopted the double-crop system. Over the three years, the average cereal rye yield was 1.62 tons of dry matter (DM) per acre, while triticale yield was 2.18 tons (see table). Yields exceeded 1.5 tons of DM per acre in 71 percent of the fields over the three-year period. Survey highlights included: • Fifty-seven percent listed the desire to increase forage production on limited acreage as the main reason for seeding winter cereals. • Seeding rates ranged from 60 to 185 pounds per acre for triticale and from 60 to 150 pounds per acre for cereal rye. • Thirty-seven percent of fields received manure applications ranging from 2,500 to 12,000 gallons per acre. • Fertilizer was used at green-up by 79 percent of the farmers. The average nitrogen rate applied was 66 pounds per acre. • Fifty percent of survey participants cited getting the cereal planted on time in the fall as their biggest double-crop system challenge. 28 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

An economic analysis of the corn silage-cereal forage system indicated a wide range of results depending on a number of production factors. If 75 pounds per acre of nitrogen is applied at green-up and corn silage yield is reduced by 1 ton of DM per acre (from later planting), the researchers determined that a break-even winter cereal yield of at least 2.0 tons of DM per acre was needed. The complete economic analysis can be found at http://bit.ly/cereal-dc. Average cereal forage yields Forage yield Species

Fields

Average

Min

Max

Tons DM/acre

Cereal rye

Triticale

2012 2013 2014 All 2012 2013 2014 All

(New York, 2012 to 2014)

1 7 11 19 13 28 3 44

2.40 1.63 1.55 1.62 2.29 2.15 1.94 2.18

2.40 1.00 0.73 0.99 0.87 1.10 1.49 1.06

2.40 2.39 2.41 2.40 4.66 3.02 2.39 3.46


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Do not export Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa seed or crop, including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices do not plant Genuity® Roundup Ready® Alfalfa in Imperial County, California, pending import approvals and until Monsanto grants express permission for such planting. Monsanto Company is a member of Excellence Through Stewardship® (ETS). Monsanto products are commercialized in accordance with ETS Product Launch Stewardship Guidance, and in compliance with Monsanto’s Policy for Commercialization of Biotechnology-Derived Plant Products in Commodity Crops. Commercialized products have been approved for import into key export markets with functioning regulatory systems. Any crop or material produced from this product can only be exported to, or used, processed or sold in countries where all necessary regulatory approvals have been granted. It is a violation of national and international law to move material containing biotech traits across boundaries into nations where import is not permitted. Growers should talk to their grain handler or product purchaser to confirm their buying position for this product. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW PESTICIDE LABEL DIRECTIONS. Roundup Ready ® crops contain genes that confer tolerance to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides. Roundup® brand agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. Genuity Design®, Genuity Icons, Genuity ®, Roundup Ready ® and Roundup® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 W-L Research.


MACHINE SHED

New mower-conditioners from Kuhn

Kuhn SR 50 SpeedRake offers simplicity

The Kuhn FC TLR and TLS trailed, side-pull mowerconditioners offer fast, clean mowing of both heavy grasses and delicate forage crops with quick dry down from consistent, effective conditioning. The new mower-conditioner models offer the same high working rates, simple adjustments and low maintenance as the finger conditioner models. However, the new models offer a full range of conditioning options to fit user needs. The Diamond Block rubber conditioning rollers crimp the crop every 3 to 6 inches for fast dry down. The double crimp created by the unique square-tooth shape on the steel roller conditioner means that the crop is being crimped consistently every 1.5 to 2 inches regardless of crop volume. These models offer a broad range of windrow width and conditioning options. Learn more at www.KuhnNorthAmerica.com.

Kuhn introduces the new series SR 50 SpeedRake wheel rake. The SR 50 series boasts exceptional quality and simplicity for smaller acreage producers not requiring the deluxe features of the SR 100 GII. Working widths range from 15 feet, 11 inches to 21 feet, 4 inches with a standard eight-wheel configuration and an optional extension to make a 10-wheel model. The built-in mechanical rake arm flotation slots, combined with simple leaf spring flotation, result in superior terrain following without the need for a tractor equipped with hydraulic float. The fully welded frame provides outstanding reliability and ease of use. Standard single-side raking allows flexibility for ultimate crop management. Learn more at www.KuhnNorthAmerica.com.

Krone releases new SP forage harvester line Krone is expanding their line of forage harvesters to include four new models of the BiG X. The BiG X 480, 530, 580 and 630 round out the range of the BiG X line from Krone with 489, 523, 585 and 617 horsepower, respectively. The machines are targeted to operations that have lower horsepower requirements. The exterior of the new models have been completely redesigned in order to improve visibility and function. The sloped body and low rear end allow the operator to easily see behind and to the side. The spacious cab and 10-inch touchscreen monitor make for a comfortable workspace. All hydraulic components and the on-board air compressor are located conveniently by the steps for easy access. To maintain the high quality of chop, Krone revised the crop flow components to meet the machine’s lower horsepower requirements. This includes narrowing the width of the feed rolls while maintaining the six rolls to ensure an evenly compacted crop mat. At over 2 feet wide and 2-plus feet in diameter, the MaxFlow cutting drum has been designed specifically to handle the engine outputs of the BiG X 480 to 630 models. The 480 and 530 models come standard with 20 knives, and the 580 and 630 models come with a choice of 20 or 28 knives. The new, lower-horsepower BiG X models feature a MTU R6 Tier 4 final engine that is transversely mounted. The

two main advantages of having the engine mounted in this direction is that it allows for an ideal weight distribution and it provides for a direct line of power transfer to the chopping drum. Krone offers PowerSplit on the BiG X 530 and 630 models. PowerSplit is an intelligent, electronic engine management system that automatically adjusts the engine output to the current harvest conditions. Four Bosch wheel motors allow transport speeds up to 25 mph and infinite variable speed generates maximum traction and speed control. The independent rear wheel suspension leads to a smooth ride and a very tight turning radius. A new pendulum frame makes it easier to mount the heads to the BiG X, especially on uneven ground. The frame features rollers on the pendulum, and the feed roll cabinet has a pivoting frame for simple mounting. The heads designed for the BiG X 480 and BiG X 580 now have a quick coupler driveline to aid the simplified connection process. Learn more at www.krone-northamerica.com.

The Machine Shed column will provide an opportunity to share information with readers on new equipment to enhance hay and forage production. Contact Managing Editor Mike Rankin at mrankin@hayandforage.com.

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016


John Deere unveils 2016 Gator XUV 825i Special Edition John Deere is offering a new special edition Gator utility vehicle geared towards crop and livestock producers who require additional storage to keep their tools organized and easily accessible. The XUV 825i Special Edition Gator features two integrated cargo boxes for carrying tools or supplies and LED roof lights for added visibility. The two cargo boxes are situated on the driver and passenger sides of the 50 hp., 812 cc XUV 825i Special Edition vehicle. The driver’s side box opens from the top and has two divided compartments with a removable tray. The passenger side box opens from the side and features one open compartment. Both toolboxes have a capacity of 75 pounds. The special edition Gator also features two integrated LED roof lights for working early in the morning or late at night. The new LED lights produce 74 percent more lumens than equivalent halogen work lights and last 250 times longer.

In addition to the special edition package, the heavy-duty model is outfitted with power steering, a deluxe cargo box with polyurea liner, integrated brake and taillights, and an operator protective structure (OPS) with nets. The vehicle is also equipped with yellow alloy rims and Maxxis Bighorn tires. A power and front protection package includes power lift, a heavy-duty front brush guard and fender guard, along with floor mats. Inside the cab, the XUV 825i is outfitted with a yellow bench seat. Product quantities are limited, so visit your local John Deere dealer or www.JohnDeere.com/Gator to learn more.

Krone offers a new generation of rotary rakes

New draper platforms for John Deere windrowers

Custom-tailored to professional hay and forage operations, Krone’s new generation of Swadro rotary rakes include the Swadro Trailed Center (TC) and the Swadro Trailed Side (TS) models. The new rotary rakes are ideal for medium to large dry hay or silage producers who require even and consistent windrows. The Swadro TS rakes have the capability of making one or two windrows and raise over 19 inches for high ground clearance during headland turns so windrows are not damaged. In addition, the leading rotor rotates at higher speeds than the other rotors, ensuring greater efficiency and throughputs. The Swadro TS rakes change from single windrow formation to double in less than one minute. The TC model rakes from one windrow down the center of the rotors. The new feature on all Swadro TC models is manual height adjustment located on the rotor with a height indicator displaying the current adjustment. All of the new generation models feature a new curved tine design that effectively picks the crop off the ground, minimizing contamination and improving the forage quality. The new rakes have a reduced transport height of less than 13 feet. This is achieved without removing the tine arms, meaning the machine travels quickly without hassle between fields and the operator does not have to leave the cab. Learn more at www.krone-northamerica.com.

John Deere introduces the 500D series draper platforms as the perfect match for the highly productive W235 and W260 self-propelled windrowers. When paired together, the three 500D series draper models — from 25 to 36 feet — offer improved operational control, constant header speed, and outstanding cutting performance in challenging conditions. The new 500D is interchangeable with rotary heads on both the W235 and W260 self-propelled windrowers. By using a single John Deere traction unit with the new 500D for small grains, and a 994, 995 or 500R rotary platform for hay, producers can realize a cost savings compared with the cost of two machines and two heads. The new draper platforms come with a variety of features that boost machine performance in small-grain harvesting and improved operator convenience. Rotary heads can be removed and one of three different 500D series drapers can be placed on the traction unit in 30 minutes or less. Producers can also cut more acres per day compared to the W150/435D combination thanks to an additional foot of cutting width, higher horsepower with Constant Header Speed, and integrated AutoTrac, which can reduce overlap up to 90 percent compared to manual operation. The 500D series drapers are equipped with quick-change reel teeth, which require few tools and a simple 90-degree turn to remove and replace a broken tooth. Learn more at www.JohnDeere.com/Ag. January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 31


BUYERS MART

RAKE AND BALE IN ONE PASS Save 40% on your baling cost. • Baler-Connections go on H&S high capacity hay rakes as a bolt on kit, adaptable to most wheel type rakes. It comes in 12, 14, and 16 wheel rakes, and other sizes by special order. • 4500 RPM carrier bearings; more carrier bearings than any other design • Heavy duty frame construction that will outlast the life of the rake in which you can unbolt the unit and attach it to a new rake.

• The system requires about 20 more horsepower than operating the baler alone. • All rakes with Baler-Connection come standard with walking tandem axles on rear to provide added stability for the weight of the baler and a smoother ride. • Weasler constant velocity driveline provides smooth operation in sharp turns under heavy loads.

• Requires only two hydraulic remotes to operate system. • An electronic Fasse hydraulic valve is controlled in the cab through a remote that allows the operator to stay in the tractor in operation or transport.

For more information contact: John Lacy 903.603.8331 johnbalerconnection@yahoo.com Or visit: balerconnection.com

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1 322014_10_29GaylandWard_Half_Fall2014_v2.indd | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

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BUYERS MART

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FORAGE IQ

U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention Members of the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. will gather in Omaha, Neb., for their 2016 convention on January 19 to 21 at the CenturyLink Convention Center. A large trade show, machinery clinics, industry speakers and labor management seminars highlight the event. Activities and educational programs are also planned for spouses and children. An extra day of education is planned that focuses on the H-2A visa program for workers. For more information, visit https://uschi.com.

Lexington, Ky.), Joe Bouton (Bouton Consulting), Craig Roberts (University of Missouri), John Andrae (Clemson University), Pat Burch (Dow AgroSciences), Matt Booher and John Benner (Virginia Cooperative Extension). Information and online registration is available at http://vaforages.org/ event/2016-vfgc-winter-coferences/

Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference The Cornbelt Cow-Calf Conference has provided timely, accurate and important information for more than 40 years. This year’s program is set for January 30 at the Bridge View Center in Ottumwa, Iowa. No preregistration is necessary. See and download the conference brochure at www.iowabeefcenter.org/ events/2016CCCC.pdf. •

Heart of America Grazing Conference The Heart of America Grazing Conference will be held in Lexington, Ky., on January 25 and 26 at the Downtown Hilton. The program will include three educational sessions: Curing Fescue Toxicity, Alfalfa Mini-Symposia, and Extending the Grazing Season. Registration is available online at www.uky. edu/ag/forages.

Midwest Forage Association Symposium The annual symposium of the Midwest Forage Association will be held on January 26 and 27 at the Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells. The event is jointly held with the Wisconsin Custom Operators and Professional Nutrient Applicators Association. Over 30 presentations are planned along with a large trade show exhibit. A program agenda and registration information is available at www.midwestforage.org.

Virginia Winter Forage Conference “Tall Fescue in the 21st Century: Understanding and Managing Tall Fescue in Grazing Systems” is the theme of this year’s Virginia Forage and Grassland Council’s Winter Forage Conference. The program will be held at four different locations in Virginia as follows: January 26: Blackstone January 27: Wytheville January 28: Weyers Cave January 29: Brandy Station The program will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at each location. Speakers include Glenn Aiken (ARS,

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Nitrate toxicity in annual forages by Emily Glunk

N

ITRATES can be a big concern when feeding cereal forages and cereal grains to livestock, particularly when cereal grains are being harvested as hay. In 2015, high levels of nitrates were reported in many cereal grains such as oats, rye, wheat and barley, among others, as well as some forages such as bromegrass, fescue, sorghum and sudangrass. Weeds can also be a nitrate source, with species such as kochia, lambsquarters, pigweed, quackgrass and Russian thistle having the potential to accumulate high levels of nitrate. In the early 1900s, nitrate toxicity was commonly called “oat hay poisoning,� because large acres of oats were harvested for forage during drought years. Oats is one of the highest nitrate accumulators, which led to the association between nitrate toxicity signs and

oat hay. Since then, we have learned a lot about nitrate toxicity: what is happening in the animal, factors leading to nitrate accumulation, and some decisions that can help to avoid it.

In the animal Nitrate toxicity is not necessarily caused by nitrates, per se, but rather the accumulation of nitrites within the rumen of the animal. When normal levels of nitrates are consumed, microbes in the rumen are able to convert nitrate to nitrite, then to ammonia. They then use this ammonia to produce microbial crude protein. Energy, usually in the form of carbohydrates, is necessary to convert the nitrate all the way to ammonia, particularly during the final step of converting nitrite to ammonia. When an animal consumes an excessive level of nitrates,

the rumen becomes overburdened with nitrates converting to nitrite, often with not enough energy to convert the nitrite to ammonia for protein production. This excess of nitrite is translocated to the small intestine, where it is absorbed into the bloodstream. Nitrite then binds to hemoglobin, the oxygen carrying compound in blood, converting it to methemoglobin. Methemoglobin is unable to transport oxygen, thereby severely diminishing the amount of oxygen being transported in the blood. Animals can have chronic toxicity, where they are exposed to low levels of elevated nitrates for an extended period of time, or acute toxicity, which is an ingestion of a large amount of nitrates in a short period of time. Both types can have significant implications on animal performance. A list of the toxicity ranges and

Nitrate toxicity levels, recommended feeding actions and reproductive effects Reported on 100 percent dry matter basis as: N03 -N (ppm)

N03 (ppm)

Comment

<350 350-1,130

<1,500 1,500-5,000

1,130-2,260

5,000-10,000

Generally safe for all conditions and livestock Generally safe for non pregnant livestock. Potential early-term abortions or reduced breeding performance. Limit use to bred animals to 50% of the total ration. Limit feed to 25 to 50% of ration for non pregnant livestock. DO NOT FEED TO PREGNANT ANIMALS â&#x20AC;&#x201D; may cause abortions, weak calves and reduced milk production. DO NOT FEED. Acute symptoms and death.

>2,260

>10,000

From Montana State University guide Nitrate Toxicity of Montana Forages

40 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016


some effects on animal performance can be found in the table. For a complete list of signs of nitrate toxicity refer to MSU Extension MontGuide MT200205AG, “Nitrate Toxicity of Montana Forages.”

In the plants Nitrogen (N) is a vital nutrient for plant survival and growth. Plant roots take up soil N, convert it to nitrite and then ammonia (similar to the rumen of the animal), where it can then be converted to plant protein. Under normal conditions, there is plenty of energy available from photosynthesis to complete this conversion of N into plant protein. However, there are some cases when energy is deficient and N accumulation within the plant will occur. These include: 1. “Stressed” environmental conditions: This might include drought, frost, hail damage, prolonged cool temperatures, and shading, among others. When the plant is subjected to adverse growing conditions, where productivity and/or photosynthesis is inhibited, the possibility for nitrate accumulation rises. 2. Mineral deficiencies: Studies have found that if some soil nutrients are deficient, particularly phosphorous, potassium and sulfur, there may be an increased likelihood of nitrate toxicity. 3. High levels of soil nitrate: This can occur after excessive application of fertilizer or manure, leading to large amounts of soil N. This can be a localized area or over the entire field. 4. Herbicide damage: Applications of some herbicides may increase nitrate levels in plants.

occur during the morning, when carbohydrate or energy reserves are lowest. Also, as forage species mature, generally the nitrate levels will decrease. If you are experiencing a drought-ending rain, wait a few days before harvesting. 4. Don’t graze or harvest the lower portion of the plant: Nitrates will typically be highest in the lowest one-third of the plant stem. Cutting or grazing above this portion will reduce the likelihood of excessive nitrate ingestion. 5. Plant species that are lower nitrate accumulators: New species, particularly forage winter wheat and spring barley varieties, have been found to have lower nitrate levels than

their counterparts when grown in similar environments. 6. Sample your feed before harvest or feedout: There are in-field qualitative tests available, which can help with harvest management. Most commercial forage labs also offer analyses to obtain the exact nitrate level in your forage. Know the risk factors for nitrate toxicity in order to try to prevent their accumulation or the feeding of highnitrate forage. If your forage does test “hot,” there are a few things that you can do to decrease livestock nitrate ingestion levels. This includes “dilution feeding,” or mixing high-nitrate forages with low-nitrate forages. •

Preventing nitrate toxicity Here are some measures that can be taken to decrease the risk of nitrate toxicity: 1. Test your soils: Knowing the nutrient status of your soils, and fertilizing appropriately, may help to avoid any accumulation occurring from nutrient imbalance. 2. Control weeds: Make sure to be particularly mindful of those nitrate-accumulating weeds listed above. 3. Avoid cutting or grazing at peak nitrate levels: Typically these EMILY GLUNK The author is an extension forage specialist and assistant professor at Montana State University. She can be contacted at emily.glunk@montana.edu with any questions.

January 2016 | hayandforage.com | 41


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HAY MARKET UPDATE

Hay market holds steady and light There was anticipation throughout most of the summer and fall of a more active hay market once harvest was completed. As we head into 2016, that active market still has not developed. Words such as “steady” and “light demand” continue to grace many of the

USDA state market reports. Weather events have also depressed activity. The prices reported below were obtained primarily from USDA hay market reports in mid- or late-December. Prices are FOB for large square bales unless otherwise denoted. •

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com Supreme-quality hay California (southeast) California (Sacramento Valley) Kansas (south central) Missouri Montana Montana-ssb Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Klamath Basin) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (East River)-ssb Texas (Panhandle) Texas (western) Texas (western)-ssb Utah (central) Washington (Columbia Basin) Premium-quality hay California (southern) California (southeast) Colorado (southeast)-ssb Idaho-ssb Illinois (central) Kansas (north central/east) Kansas (southwest) Missouri Montana Nebraska (northeast/central) Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Klamath Basin) Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (East River) Virginia Washington (Columbia Basin)-ssb Wyoming (eastern)-ssb Wyoming (central/western) Good-quality hay California (northern) California (southeast) Illinois (southern) Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central/east) Kansas (southwest) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri Montana Nebraska (northeast/central) Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb Oklahoma (central) Oklahoma (eastern)-lrb Oregon (eastern) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb South Dakota (East River)

Texas (Panhandle) Price $/ton 160-180 Utah (central/northern) 320 (o) Washington (Columbia Basin) 170-200 Wisconsin 180-200 Wyoming (eastern) 150-185 Fair-quality hay 200 California (Sacramento Valley) 165-200 California (southeast) 205 Illinois (central) 385-390 Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb 190 Kansas (southwest) 180-195 Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb 220-240 Missouri 315-333 (d) Montana 150-175 Nebraska (northeast/central)-lrb 210 South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Texas (north, central, east) 240 Utah (northern) 165-200 Utah (Uintah Basin) 200 Washington (Columbia Basin) 150 Wisconsin 190-210 Bermudagrass hay 160-180 Alabama-Good ssb 155-180 Alabama-Premium lrb 150-190 Alabama-Premium ssb 140-180 California (southeast)-Good 180-185 Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium 130-165 Texas (south)-Good/Premium ssb 170-180 Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb 225 Bromegrass hay 180-190 Kansas (north central/east)-ssb 330 Kansas (southeast) Good 190 Missouri-Fair to Good 270 Orchardgrass hay 260-265 California (SV)-Premium 215 Oregon (Crook)-Premium ssb 200 Virginia-Good Timothy hay 130 Montana-ssb (Premium) 110-130 Montana-ssb (Good) 150 Oregon (Harney)-Premium 125-130 Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good ssb 120-130 Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good 120-135 Washington (Columbia Basin) 100-105 Oat hay 120-160 California (SV)-Good 150-170 Nebraska (northeast/central)-lrb 160-170 Oregon (Lake County) 80-90 Straw 120-140 Alabama 90-120 Idaho 125 (o) Iowa 160-190 Kansas (southwest) 110-120 Pennsylvania (southeast) 180 South Dakota (East River)

Abbreviations: d=delivered, lrb=large round bales, ssb=small square bales, o=organic

42 | Hay & Forage Grower | January 2016

120-150 100-140 145 90-125 80-90 150 100 90-115 110-115 110-120 95 100-120 90-135 65-70 95 160 (d) 90-120 85-100 120-130 70-80 160 130 180-300 50 135-180 231-265 120-140 120-145 95-120 50-80 260-270 240-270 165 180-225 150 140 240-310 150-220 200 100-115 90 100 160 40-55 65-136 60-65 (d) 150-180 80-90


ARE YOU IN THE ZONE?

TILL-IT速 BLUE-ZONE速 ULTRA is designed to prevent or correct nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium deficiencies in your hay and forage crop. TILL-IT BLUE-ZONE ULTRA is a premium quality, low salt index product for foliar, starter or pop-up applications. Contact your local Wilbur-Ellis representative on how to GET IN THE ZONE with TILL-IT BLUE-ZONE ULTRA!

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For information only. Not a label. Prior to use, always read and follow the product label directions. WILBUR-ELLIS logo, Ideas to Grow With, BLUE-ZONE and TILL-IT are registered trademarks of Wilbur-Ellis Company. K-0515-092


On our farms, we practice stewardship. We tend to the land, to the livestock and to our legacy in agriculture. We are steadfast in our values, and our handshake is worth its weight in gold. We believe in being efficient and getting the job done, and with the most dependable equipment, we reach new levels of success.

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Hay & Forage Grower - January 2016  

Hay & Forage Grower provides the newest production and marketing information in print, online and in person for large-acreage forage produce...

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