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August/September 2016

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

A lifelong investment in agriculture pg 8 Remote sensing more than just numbers pg 18 High esteem for cereal forage pg 34 Performance of bm1 versus bm3 pg 43



See for yourself. Start by talking to your local Mycogen dealer or sales rep.

Trademark of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”) or an affiliated company of Dow ©2016 Dow AgroSciences LLC S38-709-001 (06/16) BR MYCOGENL6076



August/September 2016 · VOL. 31 · No. 5 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 The ongoing race to find Aphanomyces resistance

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

Researchers and plant breeders attempt to stay ahead of the seedling disease curve.


A lifelong investment in agriculture’s future Ed Ballard has written a resume that few can match.

Remote sensing delivers more than forage numbers





DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 14 Forage Shop Talk 20 Custom Corner 24 Forage Gearhead 26 Dairy Feedbunk 28 Pasture Ponderings




Taking corn silage to new heights Corn silage cutting height impacts forage quality and yield.

Scientists work to turn data into information.








30 38 40 42 54 54

Beef Feedbunk Feed Analysis Research Round-up Machine Shed Forage IQ Hay Market Update





ON THE COVER Corn silage harvest on the 1,400-cow Twin Oaks Dairy in South Solon, Ohio, is no small feat. Owner Teun Verhoeven packs 1,300 acres of silage into large drive-over piles. He buys 800 acres from a neighbor and uses a custom harvest service. Photo by Corey Geiger, Fort Atkinson, WI

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., and additional mail offices. 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.

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 3


Forage wars


HO doesn’t like a good debate? Perhaps one of the greatest learning and decision-making tools a person can employ is to take an opposite view, whether you believe it or not, and engage in debate. Healthy debate and vetting is generally a good thing. It’s often how we form opinions, gauge the utility of a thought or practice, and many times discover what is “right.” Debates can also be nasty and hurtful. In our business, that of producing and utilizing forage crops, new ideas and products often fuel and frame debate topics. Lately, corn silage processing has found itself front and center on the A-list as a debate talking point. It’s not been so much a question of whether to process, but more on the uniqueness of the shredlage processor. Behind the scenes, the shredding processor concept has been wrought with an intellectual property lawsuit and a bit of the aforementioned nastiness. Legal maneuvering aside, the more interesting debate items can be found out in the field. Is the shredlage processor better or isn’t it? Can the shredding effects on the silage be duplicated with a properly set processor not found in a Claas forage


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Now in  its  46th  year,  the  Symposium  is  a  comprehensive  and  educa�onal program for anyone with an interest in important  issues  related  to  alfalfa  and  forages.    This  year’s  Symposium  will  include  a  PEST  MANAGEMENT  WORKSHOP  on  November  29.  Economics and Industry Trends, Irriga�on and Soil Fer�lity,  Producing Quality Alfalfa, and Genes and the Future of Forage  Crops  are  just  a  few  of  the  topics  that  will  be  covered  in  this  year’s Symposium.      EXHIBITOR & SPONSORSHIP OPPORTUNITIES ARE AVAILABLE      FOR A COMPLETE SCHEDULE OF EVENTS, EXHIBITOR/ SPONSORSHIP INFORMATION, AND SYMPOSIUM  REGISTRATION, VISIT OUR WEBSITE calhay.org/symposium/    Con�nuing Educa�on Credits will be provided  Hosted by the California Alfalfa & Forage Associa�on  Contact us at (916)441‐0635 or jane@agamsi.com 

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

harvester? There is not an extensive body of research to definitively answer these questions. There are, however, some passionate opinions on the topic. Those university specialists who have written on both sides of the issue have gotten beat up by the opposition. The same wrath has been poured on some media outlets that have printed the specialists’ releases and comments. I’m sure a similar fate has befallen others in the industry, consultants or forage harvesters, who have also been publicly vocal. That’s really too bad because open discussion is all a part of the process. It’s also understandable that when money, and lots of it, is on the line, passions run high. Even so, it’s possible to have constructive debate without being nasty. What is known for sure is that time usually answers all questions. There will be more research, more experience, more engineering, and more emphasis on achieving a 70-plus kernel processing score (KPS) regardless of make and model. In the interim, there’s no doubt that the debate will rage on.

Cover crop confusion Recently, I’ve been engulfed in several discussions . . . or debates if you prefer . . . regarding the core definition of a cover crop. I had always learned that cover crops, by definition, were planted for the sole purpose of “covering” soil that would otherwise be exposed to the elements. They then died over winter, were tilled into the soil, or were chemically killed. Benefits to the soil came with the deal, as has been well documented. Still, at the core, was the primary function of soil conservation. As the cover crop craze has evolved, it’s common to read about “grazing” or “harvesting” cover crops. Whoa . . . to my way of thinking and understanding we now no longer have a cover crop, but rather a traditional forage crop. Apparently, those of us who hang our hat on the forage banner have done a poor job communicating the value that forages have for the soil and environment. Rarely is this enunciated, yet utter the words “cover crops” and people ooze thoughts of soil quality and conservation. They also have an easier time getting research dollars. Forage crops have, and have always had, all the soil enhancing benefits recently bestowed on cover crops. Probably more. That story needs to be told. In addition, they help produce a lot of milk and meat. It’s unfathomable to me why the forage industry is often treated as the ugly stepchild when it comes to research, governmental, and university support. To be sure, the rising use of cover crops is an agricultural success story. But in my book, when they are utilized as a livestock feed, they then belong on the forage crop side of the ledger. Want to debate? I’m in the phone book. • Write Mike Rankin, 28 Milwaukee Ave., P.O. Box 801, Fort Atkinson, WI 53538, call (920) 563-5551 or email mrankin@hayandforage.com

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Sorting out alfalfa seedling diseases that are active in wet soils has proven to be a challenge, but progress is being made.

The ongoing race to find Aphanomyces resistance by Deborah Samac


LFALFA is frequently described as a crop that is not tolerant of wet soils. In the early 1900s, researchers described root rots of alfalfa that were attributed to wet soils or a high water table and advised farmers to avoid these fields or to tile drain wet areas for alfalfa production. The agents causing the disease were later identified, most of them belonging to the group of organisms known as oomycetes or “water molds” that flourish in wet soils and infect plants by means of swimming spores called zoospores. A major culprit of alfalfa root rot is Phytophthora medicaginis, which is found in nearly every region of the world where alfalfa is grown. USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists released “Agate” in 1973, which was the first cultivar with resistance to Phytophthora root rot. Commercial alfalfa breeding companies developed additional resistant varieties, and there is currently a very high level of resistance to this disease in all dormancy groups. Once cultivars with resistance to Phytophthora root rot were widely planted, it became apparent that another disease was also causing root rot in wet soil conditions. Symptoms included thin new plantings with stunted seedlings that developed yellow leaves and had light to dark brown soft, rotted roots. Established plants also were affected during extended periods of wet soil con-

ditions and were found to have rotted lateral roots, lack root nodules, and have stunted and yellow foliage.

The culprit identified To determine what was causing the disease symptoms, researchers needed to obtain the pathogen in a pure culture. Attempts to isolate the pathogen from pieces of rotted root tissue were unsuccessful due to the large number of other organisms that colonized the dead roots. Another technique was developed using soil sampled from fields with the disease to grow alfalfa seedlings as “bait.” The pathogen was isolated from seedlings in which the disease was just beginning and was grown successfully on laboratory media. Another oomycete, called Aphanomyces euteiches, was found to be the organism causing this root rot. Using the isolated pathogen to artificially inoculate alfalfa seedlings, researchers at the University of Wisconsin identified resistant plants from a number of alfalfa cultivars. Resistant plants from these tests and healthy plants selected under field conditions were intercrossed to create the first alfalfa lines with Aphanomyces root rot resistance called WAPH-1. The first resistant cultivars were commercially available in the 1990s, and field tests showed that the new cultivars provided dramatically improved seedling health, yield, and persistence.

6 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

While P. medicaginis is relatively specific to alfalfa, A. euteiches causes serious disease in pea, bean, and red clover as well as alfalfa. The pathogen is composed of a complex of genetically diverse subspecific types. One level of complexity is for host preference. For example, most strains isolated from pea will infect alfalfa but cause more serious symptoms on pea. Some strains isolated from alfalfa will infect pea, but others will not. The second level of complexity is based on race within the alfalfa-infecting types.

Resistance sometimes failed Distinct races of A. euteiches were identified that infect alfalfa after the release of Aphanomyces root rot resistant cultivars. Not long after the widespread use of these cultivars, there were reports of failures in disease resistance. Aphanomyces root rot was occurring even though plants had been bred for high levels of resistance. Using the alfalfa seedling baiting technique, researchers DEBORAH SAMAC The author is with USDA-ARS Plant Science Research Unit, St. Paul, Minn.

isolated strains of A. euteiches from field soils that had shown failure of resistant cultivars and used them to inoculate alfalfa seedlings. The new isolates did indeed cause root rot disease on cultivars previously thought to be resistant. New programs of selection at the University of Wisconsin were initiated to identify alfalfa plants with resistance to both types of A. euteiches. These efforts resulted in development of an alfalfa line with resistance to both types called WAPH-5. With two kinds of resistant alfalfa lines, races of the pathogen could be identified. Those that caused disease on Agate but not on WAPH-1 were called race 1, while those that caused disease on WAPH-1 but not on WAPH-5 were called race 2. Commercial alfalfa breeding companies began to develop cultivars with resistance to both race 1 and race 2. Tests with individual soil samples found that race 2 occurs in many areas of the United States. However, it was not clear if it was a major or minor component of the pathogen complex.

Starting about 10 years ago, intensive surveys were done in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New York to determine the distribution of race 1 and race 2 strains. Soil samples were obtained from commercial production fields and used in a bioassay with alfalfa lines susceptible to both Phytophthora and Aphanomyces root rot, “Agate” with Phytophthora root rot resistance, WAPH-1, and WAPH-5. In the three states, it appears that race 2 strains are more common than race 1 strains. That is, the WAPH-5 seedlings were healthy, while the WAPH-1 seedlings were killed. However, there were also a number of “anomalous” soils in which a clear result could not be obtained, suggesting the possibility of additional races. More disturbing were some reports of failures of race 2 resistant varieties in some locations.

The search continues Researchers in my laboratory have taken a closer look at the pathogens in the anomalous soil samples. We used the

Pythium and Fusarium strains cause pre- and postemergence damping off and seed rot of alfalfa (right) compared to soil lacking the pathogens (left).

Low risk ARR 21%

Race 1 11%

Damping off 7%

Atypical 16%

Race 2 45%

Percentage of Aphanomyces euteiches races in Minnesota soils. Race 2 is more common than race 1 in the 44 soils assayed from commercial production fields. Low risk of Aphanomyces indicates that neither race was observed at a damaging level. Approximately 7 percent of the soils had high levels of Pythium and Fusarium, causing damping off. Root rot occurred in approximately 16 percent of the soils, but the pathogen could not be identified.

baiting technique to isolate pathogens from soils in which a very high level of seed rot and damping off was observed in the Aphanomyces bioassay. In those soils, almost all seedlings of all the alfalfa lines died but did not have the typical Aphanomyces root rot symptoms. We isolated eight species of Pythium, another oomycete known to cause seed rot and damping off of alfalfa, and showed that three of them were highly virulent on alfalfa. We also isolated four species of Fusarium, a fungal pathogen, which caused pre-emergence rot of alfalfa seeds. Since the 1980s, most alfalfa seed has been treated with the fungicide Apron or ApronXL to control Pythium seed rot and damping off. However, the active ingredient in ApronXL did not inhibit many of the Pythium strains we isolated. Taken together, these results indicate that some of the anomalous bioassay results were due to seed rot and damping off caused by Pythium and Fusarium species. From soils in which WAPH-5 had low levels of resistance, we isolated 60 A. euteiches strains and inoculated the individual strains onto seedlings of WAPH-1 and WAPH-5. Each strain could be clearly identified as either race 1 or race 2 in this test. However, this assumes that WAPH-5 has a single gene for resistance to race 2. If instead, WAPH-5 has many genes for resistance to Aphanomyces root rot, we would not be able to distinguish additional races. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have evidence for multiple resistance genes in what we have called race 2 resistant lines such as WAPH-5 and evidence for multiple races of A. euteiches. Obtaining lines of alfalfa with single resistance genes is complicated by the outcrossing tetraploid nature of alfalfa. Until we can identify resistance genes in alfalfa at the DNA sequence level, the number of races of A. euteiches will be difficult to determine. On a practical basis, it does not appear that these additional races are causing widespread breakdown of resistance to Aphanomyces root rot in current commercial cultivars. However, to maintain protection against this disease, a wide range of isolates should be used in breeding programs when developing new cultivars. Growers are advised to use the most advanced disease resistant cultivars available. Protecting the alfalfa root from organisms causing decay is of the utmost importance to ensure high yields, stand persistence, and winter survival. •

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 7

A lifelong investment in agriculture’s future by Sydney Sleep

Ed Ballard has been managing the Dudley Smith Farm since its establishment in 1995.


FTER 39 years of serving as an animal systems educator with University of Illinois extension, Ed Ballard is continuing his work with farm productivity and sustainability as the liaison and manager of the Dudley Smith Farm in Christian County, Ill., near Pana. The 226-acre farm is a resource for research and outreach under the Dudley Smith Initiative. Dudley Smith was a landowner in the 1800s. After his passing, his son Dudley Smith Jr. took over the crop and livestock operation. Dudley Smith Jr. was concerned about the future of farming and desired to contribute to research that would sustain farmland and rural communities. His concern for the future of agriculture shaped the vision of the initiative. The farm has served as a field-scale research site since 1995. Ballard has been managing the farm since its establishment. In his first 12 years at the farm, Ballard grazed cattle 365 days per year on summer and winter annuals. The trials he composed were duplicated on area farms for 10 years. Ballard spoke in 14 different states on his year-round grazing strat-

egy. He believes that corn and cattle need to supplement each other. “Our goal is to improve soil and attain yearround forage production,” Ballard said.

A master educator Teaching over 250 Management Intensive Grazing Schools for Illinois producers, Ballard has extensive knowledge of forage and grazing management. He shares his knowledge with the students that he mentors. Ballard works with eight to 10 University of Illinois graduate students at a time on the farm. Graduate students begin a new agricultural project every four years. He also works with students from grade school to high school on different science and agricultural projects at the farm. Comprised of cropland and pasture paddocks, the farm provides opportuni-

8 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

ties for a wide range of research projects. There are three row crop plots that are 48 acres each. Two are planted with soybeans, while the other was planted with oats this year. Normally, the cropland is rotated between corn and soybeans. There are also 24 cool-season pastures that average about 2.5 acres each. One-fourth of the pastures were originally big bluestem, but it was found that growing warm-season grasses was costing them 20 cents more per day compared to growing cool-season grasses. As a result, the farm chose to establish three mixtures of cool-season grasses in all paddocks in 2000. The first series of pastures has orchardgrass, red and white clover, and continued on page 10 » » »

SYDNEY SLEEP The author is the Hay & Forage Grower editorial intern and a student at South Dakota State University.

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perennial ryegrass. The next series is endophyte-free fescue, orchardgrass, red clover, and white clover. The final series has novel endophyte fescue, red clover, and white clover. They are planning to have all of the pastures reseeded within the next four years. Pastures are kept at about 30 percent clover. “At this level, protein is at least 20 percent and total digestible nutrients (TDN) is in the high 60s to low 70s,” Ballard said. Dry matter consistently averages 5 to 6 tons per year and the forages are tested on a monthly basis. Varying numbers of replacement heifers graze the pastures each year, depending on how many are supplied by area producers. The goal is to maintain high-quality forages for the animal to achieve a higher performance at an economical cost. Grazing days are recorded for each paddock annually. Last year there were 82 heifers, while 70 head are being grazed this year. In the most recent study, heifers were rotated every three days. Animals were split into four groups, and each group was rotated between six pastures. The farm used to have only cow/calf

Pastures contain 30 percent clover to maintain at least 20 percent crude protein and TDN values in the 60s to low 70s. Forage dry matter yield consistently averages 5 to 6 tons per acre.

pairs, but replacement heifers have been used the past four years. Between April or May and November, the cattle are kept in summer pastures. Although there is no current research project being done with the pastures, they continue to take monthly forage samples and keep track of the grazing days. A crop science student and an agricultural engineering student are currently starting a drainage nutrient management research project on the cropland. “It will be a four-year project, and then they hope to expand it to look

at pasture versus cropland in nutrient management runoff,” Ballard said.

From farm to university

November 29-30, 2016

There is a diverse combination of soils on the farm with no more than 5 to 10 percent of one type. “This makes it challenging because there are totally different management types with the soils,” Ballard said. Since the farm was established, no commercial fertilizer has been used on the pastures. “We test our theories here, and if they work, we can take them to the university, and there they can be researched on a bigger scale at a larger site,” Ballard explained. Some other projects that have been conducted at the farm include studies of continuous and strip grazing of corn residues, effects of summer supplement feeding frequency, and minimizing fescue toxicosis by grazing novel endophyte-infected tall fescue following grazing endophyte-infected tall fescue.

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There is an advisory committee for the farm that requests what they would like to see done. The committee is split equally between cattle producers and corn farmers. Ballard says that he “does his best to keep them informed of what is going on at the farm.” He serves as the local contact between the students and the farmers. To further enhance their educational mission, the farm hosts an annual beef cow/calf, nutrient management, water quality, and corn production field day held in early summer. The event includes numerous speakers and tours of the projects taking place. As for the future, Ballard says, “As long as I am healthy and the university will let me, I plan to stay involved with the Dudley Smith Farm.” Ballard’s passion toward farm sustainability and education is undoubtedly strong. •

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Willie Foster checks hay moisture as he prepares for another day of wrapping bales.

He’s the wrapper guy by Mike Rankin


IKE, you need to come down here. I’d like to talk to you,” related the voice over my office phone in late April. I would soon learn that voice belonged to Willie Foster, a man who has a passion for wrapping large square bales and, for that matter, a general interest in all things wrapped forage. How much of a passion does Foster have? His meticulous records show the total number of bales he’s wrapped as a custom operator is over 300,000 . . . and counting. Foster is no Johnny-come-lately. He bought his first square bale wrapper in 1993 — a Kverneland model. “Not too many farmers were wrapping square bales back in those days,” Foster said. “It was somewhat of a leap of faith, though there was definitely a demand.” These days, Foster wraps around 10,000 bales per year for farmers throughout southwest Wisconsin. Foster’s modest shop and machine shed is where he’s designed and built any number of bale handling tools for large square bales that he and some of his clients continue to use. Foster farms no land himself. From the shop have come a large square bale slicer and his current project, a front-end bale squeezer designed for skid steers to gently handle wrapped square bales. As for his first 1993 square bale wrapper, “I’ve done some modifications to it through the years,” Foster said. Although originally designed to run off of a tractor PTO and hydraulic system, the wrapper

now has its own engine and hydraulics. He’s done the same with another machine he bought several years after the first one. Both are pulled and operated from a pickup truck seat with the help of an electronic control box. Though Foster has a round bale wrapper, it has always been a small part of his business. The fact that Foster serves as a custom bale wrapper isn’t the only unique aspect of his life. He obtained a Ph.D. in dairy management from Virginia Tech University in 1988. A transplanted New Englander, Foster taught at South Dakota State University for four years after getting his degree and then worked in private industry as a sales representative and nutritionist for several more years. He left because he saw a need for wrapped high-moisture bales and thought he could make a living at it — and he was right. Although he hasn’t been a university employee for many years, Foster still has a passion for research and a drive to find out what works, what doesn’t work, and why. Being only a stone’s throw away from the University of Wisconsin Lancaster Research Station, Foster has involved himself in a number of bale wrapping research and demonstration trials to determine the optimum bale moisture for wrapping and the minimum thickness of plastic that is needed. This year he is investigating oxygen barrier films. He passes his knowledge on to his clients. “Back in 1994, I quickly realized that the rules for round bales did not apply to square bales. The denser package

12 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

made them different,” Foster said. “We did a trial and determined that at least six, and sometimes eight layers of 1-mil (millimeter) plastic were needed. Specific conditions, including hay moisture, time of season, humidity, and perhaps time of day had an impact on the storability of wrapped bales and the amount of plastic needed.” Of special significance was the discovery that you could successfully wrap low-moisture bales. “Farmers like the lower moisture bales because they were lighter and easier to handle,” the amiable Foster explained. Along with Dan Undersander, Wisconsin’s extension forage specialist, a trial was designed to look at various hay moisture levels and wrapping thicknesses. “What we found is that you can effectively wrap a square bale at any moisture, but the lower moistures require more plastic. It becomes a matter of fermentation versus oxygen exclusion,” Foster said. Foster prefers to wrap bales within 24 hours of baling, though sooner is better. “When we did a trial looking at wrapping time after baling, in most cases 24 hours was acceptable. I like to wrap in the morning and in the evening or night, if possible. Waiting to wrap causes bales to heat rapidly, but after wrapping they cool down quickly. In the trials we did, waiting several days to wrap did not significantly change forage test results, but it did result in higher dry matter loss and mold development,” he said. When the weather is hot and humid, he likes to wrap as soon after baling as possible. Like all custom hay harvesters, Foster related that the occupation is by nature a high-stress endeavor. “Everybody is harvesting and wants your services at the same time. It’s all weather dependent,” he said. “I learned the hard way and worked myself into a heart attack in 2002. Since then, I’m more careful not to overcommit myself and I’ve had good help, especially my wife and my sons during their high school and college years. Overall, I’ve really enjoyed wrapping bales and it’s provided a good living for me and my family.” •


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Craig Roberts


University of Missouri Extension forage specialist. His work and interest in fescue toxicosis has him involved in a genetic test for tolerance in cattle.

HFG: Working in the heart of the Fescue Belt, you see or hear about the effects of fescue toxicosis on a daily basis. Just what kind of impact are we looking at from an economic and animal performance perspective? CR: Even putting aside the herd health issues (vasoconstriction, thermoregulation, immunosuppression), toxic fescue is devastating to beef production. It reduces calving rate, shrinks intake and gain, lowers weaning weight, and drops milk production. The impact is severe. For example, on a “straight grass” comparison, rate of gain can drop from 1.7 pounds per day (on nontoxic grass) to 1 pound per day (on toxic fescue); that is typical. Milk production can decline by 30 percent. Calving rate (in spring-calving herds) can fall from 95 percent to 58 percent.

and how it was developed. Our company is advised to not discuss development but to focus on the confirmation data. I would say, however, that I have seen how difficult it was to develop this test.

HFG: When was it realized that some cattle were more tolerant of fescue toxicosis than others? CR: Many farmers and scientists have observed differences within cow herds for many years. Unfortunately, their observations were sometimes ignored because their remarks were often exaggerated. Many claimed that their cattle were completely resistant to toxic fescue. No cattle are completely resistant, and follow-up research proved that.

HFG: If a beef producer wants to test cattle for fescue tolerance, what is the protocol? How much does it cost? CR: The protocol is laid out in five steps: 1. Obtain sampling cards. 2. Print a sampling form (from www.agbotanica. com). 3. Collect the blood or hair sample. 4. Submit payment. 5. Mail the sample to AgBotanica in Columbia, Mo. The turnaround time is four to six weeks.

HFG: Tell us about the launch of AgBotanica LLC. How and why did it come into being and who was involved? How did you become involved? CR: AgBotanica was launched in response to a call from John Gardner and other University of Missouri administrators. They wanted faculty to be more proactive in economic development. The company started in 2004 and began by handling grain samples for quality analysis. Over the past 12 years, AgBotanica has grown to address other areas of agriculture. The partners and company history are described on the company website: www.agbotanica.com; in addition to the partners, others work with AgBotanica on a contract basis. I became involved in the company because of my work with near-infrared analysis of plant and animal tissues. My involvement in the T-Snip test occurred merely because of my partnership in AgBotanica. Though I came in through the side door, the test caught my attention immediately, as I have worked in fescue toxicosis for 36 years. During that time, I have seen 100 home remedies that claimed to work but didn’t. This test works; it is fascinating to me. HFG: How difficult was it to develop the test for toxicosis tolerance? CR: I did not develop the test, but I know who was involved

HFG: What procedure was used for documenting the accuracy of the test? CR: There are several ways to confirm the accuracy of T-Snip, as this test scores for performance based on average daily gain, dry matter intake, weaning weight, and soon other measures of performance. The easiest confirmations occurred by comparing T-Snip test scores to 205-day adjusted weaning weights. When the test was launched, it had been tested on almost 3,000 cow-calf observations, on eight farms, many of which were tested over two and three years.

HFG: How are test results interpreted? CR: T-Snip is reported in scores from 0 to 5. Cattle that score 0 or 1 are highly susceptible. Cattle that score 4 or 5 are most tolerant. From the cattle we have seen, there is plenty of improvement to be made, as many cattle score moderate or low. HFG: Are there many bulls currently being tested for tolerance? CR: Yes. Probably about 10 to 15 percent of incoming samples are bull samples. HFG: Given that single trait selection can be dangerous, once the test results are in hand, how should they be used? CR: According to the animal scientists, single trait selection is not only dangerous but can be devastating. The cow line with the best growth and/or carcass traits in a herd could be among the most intolerant to toxic tall fescue. It would defy logic to cull superior growth and carcass traits just for greater tolerance to tall fescue. Rather, a producer should use fescue tolerance data to further improve performance potential of the herd. Bulls with higher T-Snip scores would be expected to produce calves and replacement heifers with greater fescue tolerance. A low T-Snip score (0 to 2) would not be a reason to cull cows that produced the best calves in a herd, but rather

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

14 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

could be used to identify how these cows’ calves could be made even better by using sires that had higher T-Snip scores (more fescue tolerant). HFG: Where does the test fit with other methods of fescue toxicosis management such as using the novel endophyte trait, seedhead suppression, or feed supplementation? CR: The best recommendation for addressing fescue toxicosis is to renovate the pasture by killing out toxic Kentucky 31 and planting a novel endophyte. Novel endophytes are true cures. If replanting is not an option, implement several mitigation practices. Which management practices are best is a matter of opinion. But in my view, selecting cattle for fescue tolerance is the best of these other practices. It is a one-time event for each animal. It is not a practice that needs to be implemented every year on each acre or each animal. And most importantly, it allows the producer to recover half of what was lost by susceptible cows grazing toxic fescue. It improves weaning weight and gain immediately. And again, there will be other positive responses reported as the research is completed. It’s not a thing that has to be performed each year (and paid for each year). I would add that novel endophytes and T-Snip are not mutually exclusive. They can and probably should be implemented together. Cattle on novel endophytes are naïve. When they are sold and then grazed on a neighbor’s toxic fescue, they will undergo “fescue shock.” However, the fescue tolerant cattle will perform better in the long run. HFG: Do you see this as a tool that beef producers in

nonfescue areas might also be interested in if they are selling stockers into the Fescue Belt? CR: Absolutely. We are already seeing that. Some producers outside of the Fescue Belt refer to their cattle as “fescue ready” when those animals score high on this test. Also, producers with novel endophytes should consider themselves as being in a nonfescue area. Again, those animals are excellent. But they are naïve to toxic fescue. HFG: Where do you see the future headed with the incorporation of fescue toxicosis tolerance into the genetic pool? CR: Testing for fescue tolerance will be one more technology used in genetic analysis of cattle and likely will be added to genetic test platforms available to cattle producers. Based on performance potential benefit, a cow-calf producer with cattle in the Fescue Belt should use bulls tested to be tolerant to toxic fescue and use fescue tolerance testing as one (not the only) of the selection criteria for identifying replacement females. Therefore, it is expected that performance data on sires will include a T-Snip score. HFG: Favorite food? CR: Fried shrimp . . . from the gulf! • Portions of this interview describe T-Snip testing. T-Snip is not affiliated with the University of Missouri but is a commercialized technology from the start-up company, AgBotanica LLC, in which Roberts has a financial interest.

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Applying steam to alfalfa at the time of baling has been a game changer for Maddox Dairy, Riverdale, Calif.

They feed more alfalfa leaves by Corey Geiger


T ONE time, baling hay was one of the most stressful times of the year for Maddox Dairy. “I don’t think Grandpa ever slept at night during the haying season,” said Steven Maddox, who recalled his grandfather Doug managing four balers at night. That night baling has been routinely necessary for leaf retention in California’s dry Central Valley that relies on irrigation to grow alfalfa. “We needed to capitalize on the night time dew to save the precious high-protein alfalfa leaves,” he said explaining it’s alfalfa’s high protein composition that delivers great value to the herd’s ration. Recently, the Maddoxes switched their way of thinking on harvesting the 2,000 or so acres of alfalfa hay at their dairy. “We now bale hay with a steamer,” says Steven. “If you are looking at our baling activity from the road, it looks like a train . . . or a baler before the baler,” he said. In addition to alfalfa, the Riverdale, Calif., operation double crops an additional 2,000 acres of corn and winter forage for silage or wheat for grain. The Maddox family also grows 2,500 acres of wine grapes along with 1,500 acres that have been diversified into almond trees. “Up close you will notice it’s really not two balers, but a boiler on wheels with a baler following behind,” said Steven, a fourth-generation dairyman and crop farmer. “That boiler generates steam that’s applied to the hay allowing us to

bale all day.” “When you count the tractor pulling the baler, the entire system covers about 90 feet,” added Steve Maddox, father to Steven.

Mimics dew “From that steamer, we apply water vapor to achieve a consistent 15 percent moisture,” said Steven. “The steam gets applied right before the alfalfa goes into the baler’s pickup head . . . being applied from both the top and the bottom of the windrow. The steam level gets constantly adjusted based on moisture readings measured in the windrow,” he went on to explain. In the process of applying steam, the vaporized water instantly condenses and gets absorbed into the dry crop material. Steam is preferred over liquid water because water vapor more closely mimics dew. “Over the course of 100 acres, we apply roughly 1,000 gallons of water. And the added benefit is that we can bale during the light of day,” he noted. On a dry day, 5 to 7 gallons of water would be added to each ton of hay. This is the third season that the Maddoxes have used the hay steamer setup. Last year, the farm made over 22,000 bales. The unit has water tanks that hold 1,000 gallon of water and a generator to power the low-pressure boiler. It also has four delivery hoses that go under

16 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

the pickup head, to the wind guard (above the pickup head), the packing chamber, and the packing chamber floor. A 300-gallon diesel tank fuels the hay steaming system. Since making the switch, Riverdale, Calif., dairy farmers have noticed a significant reduction in supplemental protein needs for the milk cow ration. “Our alfalfa hay bales weigh 100 pounds more because we are keeping so many more leaves,” Steven said when describing the farm’s large square bales, which are routinely weighed across the farm’s scale. University studies back up Maddox’s observations as leaf loss generally gets cut in half. As for speed of baling, that generally picks up because more hay is getting packed into each bale. It takes a 170 to 180 horsepower (HP) tractor to pull the entire rig on flat ground. That HP goes up to 200 to 250 when baling on hillier fields. The steamer is commercially produced by Staheli West, which is based out of Cedar City, Utah, in the southwest part of the state. There is one drawback to using the steamer as part of the cropping enterprise. “We cannot use the steamer when temperatures are over 95°F,” said Steven, because the water doesn’t vaporize as well.

Better water use With California mired in a drought, the Maddox family also has changed its approach on irrigating alfalfa. “These days we use subsurface drip irrigation to deliver water to alfalfa,” said Steve. “We must conserve our water resources and this is one way to do that.” Previously, the farm used flood irrigation to irrigate alfalfa. Also, growing grapes and almonds, the Maddox family switched to drip irrigation for those crops, too. •

COREY GEIGER The author is managing editor of Hoard’s Dairyman.




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Remote sensing delivers more than forage numbers by Josh Pittman


OR the past several years, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation Forage Improvement Division’s agronomy lab has been studying remote sensing as a way to estimate forage amount and protein content using real-time or short-delay data. Although we work in an applied research environment, our strategy is producer-focused. We are working to develop components that could become helpful management tools for producers to use when making forage estimates and stocking rate decisions. After about five years of study, we have developed a combination of technologies that the Noble Foundation currently uses as a forage biomass and crude protein estimation tool.

More than numbers The system consists of a spectral instrument that measures the amount and intensities of red light and near infrared light reflected off of vegetation. The colors we see are the colors that an object reflects, so there is more green vegetation when less red light is reflected. The amount of green directly relates to the amounts of biomass and crude protein. The system also uses sonar and laser to measure the actual forage height and estimate the amount of forage present. Lasers help measure any holes in the forage canopy, and the sonar measures the average overall canopy height. Also, a global positioning system (GPS) records the location of the forage measurements. This collection of instruments is contained in a case and

can be attached to any ground-based vehicle platform, like a golf cart. These pieces of equipment are measuring devices. They deliver data, not information. Many pieces of remote sensing equipment are available on the market, but their data output is often hard to translate into information for making practical decisions. Our goal was to deliver information, not just numbers. The software used to collect all the data is a key to delivering information. Software developed at the Noble Foundation called AgriLogger collects information from many sensors at one time and puts it all together in a way it can later be easily analyzed and converted into an information product. There are two ways information could be delivered. The first would be in a table format with numbers corresponding to the amount of estimated forage and estimated utilization potential in pounds of beef or head of cattle (see Table 1). Another is a visualization tool, which takes the collected data from the sensors and spreads it out graphically in map form to show the amount, quality, and location of forage (see graphic). This type of visualization tool can be used when making decisions that optimize forage production through spatial management. Spatial management refers to the idea that not all parts of a field are equally productive. With some help, less productive areas can become more productive while more productive areas are given less focus. This could help improve your bottom line by saving on input expenses,

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

such as fertilizer and herbicides, by more efficiently using resources.

Looking forward Everything mentioned to this point is in use in some form at the Noble Foundation today. Next, we will look at what the future of this technology in production scenarios could hold. Some dots in the agricultural technology world still need to be connected. Largescale modeling for supporting a management knowledge base will be essential. Similar to the Facebook modeling engine that predicts ads you would be interested in based on a history pattern of your searches, over time patterns can be established when information is collected from sensors that estimate forage amount and quality. A modeling engine could also pull in other pieces of data related to climate, market, and soil variables to begin establishing more patterns. From the patterns, predictions could be made at a general precision level. As more specific data is added, such as the forage amount at a particular spot on a particular day, the predictions would get more precise for future

JOSH PITTMAN The author is a sensor system manager and scientist at the Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Okla. He can be reached at jjpittman@noble.org

implications. These modeled estimates could range as simple as the forage amount, where the manager makes the call on how to allocate the resource, to as complex as offering trend information on how holding or selling according to the current market, climate, forage species, and forage load could influence the bottom line for the production cycle. This leads to the next level in data to be turned into information. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) hold the potential to collect much larger amounts of data more quickly and deliver more comprehensive information. One key difference with the UAV will be the use of light detection and ranging (LIDAR) lasers to essentially draw a point-bypoint picture of a management area and evaluate it as a whole or in pieces. The data collected from LIDAR is called a point cloud, which has a much greater resolution than the systems currently used at the Noble Foundation. The functional difference is somewhat similar to the difference between an old-fashioned tube TV and a new generation 1080p HD smart TV. Although both can deliver a discernible picture, the newer generation TV is much more detailed and delivers higher resolution visualized information.

sensors. When the user decides enough information has been entered or all the available information has been collected, regardless of how sparse or extensive it may be, the visualization and table information could be turned into a report. From these two pieces of information, a manager could visually realize how resources are oriented in an area, as well as what the quantitative numbers actually are and what possibilities or limitations the future may hold.

Quantifying change It seems appropriate to draw one final comparison to put into perspective the power of leveraging this type of information. During a year of beef production, a producer will use a specific number of supplement cubes and hay bales. Most likely the producer will have done some

sort of calculation to determine how much supplementation would be needed. That calculation might have been done very precisely with software, on the back of a napkin at the coffee shop or from intuition and experience, but an estimation was made. The type of technology application described here is also a tool for estimation. The difference is that forage systems, which are dynamic and change daily, could begin to be viewed as a more tangibly quantified feed source. First, we must be able to more fluidly and rapidly review the system resources and deliver information to match the ever-changing production of the system. This will continue to be a major focus for the agronomy lab so that we can continue to develop and ultimately help deliver tools that provide valuable decision-making information to producers. •

Delivering data as information The last component of a system is the delivery vehicle, often referred to as a dashboard or user interface. This component predicts outcomes and delivers information based on a combination of specific data unique to a certain producer; general data such as soils or weather data, and global data such as forage species. This product delivery avenue could be embodied in a smartphone app or a web page. All types of information can be collected and entered just like many online calculators or possibly seamlessly based on a user profile and automatic-upload features that capture data directly from

Remote sensing has the capability to provide information such as forage biomass estimates that can be used to guide daily decisions.

Table 1. Example of AgriLogger data presented in a table format User: Joe Black

Date: 02-29-16


Area (acre)

1 4 6 7 8 9 10 11

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

Report: Stocking Recs

Sensor Platform: Forage Box


Biomass (pounds per acre)

Crude protein (percent)

Current number of head


Fescue Fescue Fescue Wheat Alfalfa Fescue Wheat Mix

3200 2800 1600 1700 1500 950 1800 2000

24 26 26 29 30 28 27 25

2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2

+1 +1 +0 +0 +0 -2 +0 +0

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 19


by Jon Orr

Prior planning limits harvest problems


F YOU ask most dairymen what their biggest fear was when they made the switch to a custom harvester, the answer is usually if the cutter will show up on time. After a few years of getting to know the cutter, or maybe switching to a different custom harvester because of a previous late arrival problem, the biggest fear remains, “Will the chopper roll in the drive when I need it here?” From a cutter’s perspective, there are only a limited amount of days to make a year’s worth of payments. We obviously want to cut silage as many of those days as possible. From the dairyman’s point of view, it would be great if the chopper and trucks were sitting in his driveway a week before the crop was ready. The reality exists someplace in the middle. How can both parties be happy the majority of the time? This is where the six P’s come into play: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. The Prior part begins in the winter when you talk about how the previous season went. If this is a new customer-cutter relationship, make it a couple of hour-long meetings. These Proper Planning meetings involve talking about hybrids, planting dates, field locations, ordinary harvest window weather, field conditions, expectations, goals, and a very long list of details and logistics are what will help Prevent Poor Performance. Visiting field locations, examining road conditions, meeting the growers, talking with the nutritionist, and receiving monthly updates on how the crop is growing are all part of the lead up to harvest.

Not a perfect world This communication will help make the harvest go smoothly. Now we know that sometimes all the planning in the world will do no good when a rainy spell, early frost, or major accident/setback occurs. Proper planning can help us be prepared for some of these by having extra equipment or employees available, if possible. The cutter, hopefully, has a safety training program in place to help prevent accidents, as well as a maintenance program to lessen the chance of broken or worn-out parts causing downtime. What about planning for rain days in the schedule? It does not take too long

searching the internet to get an average rainfall amount for the location and month you are harvesting. How about only counting on being able to harvest seven out of 10 days? If the harvester’s schedule is to be cutting 100 percent of the time, I can say with absolute certainty they are going to be late to arrive at some of their customers. Is the harvester actively looking for more work in the same harvest window as you, or are they willing to focus on you and their existing customers?

Timing is everything We all know the “go and blow” cutter. This is the cutter that puts acreage and tonnage ahead of quality or service. You will find this type of cutter is most often driven to be this way because they are hanging on by a financial thread. If, as a dairyman, you are comfortable with the amount of risk associated with not knowing when or who is going to be harvesting your crop, then by all means look for this type of operator; they are also usually one of the cheaper cost alternatives available and these cutters are almost always looking for more work because of lost customers. When milk prices were high, it might have made sense to offer a bit of a bonus to your cutter to help make sure they were at your farm when needed. With today’s dairy climate, that may not be real practical. But on the flip side, we all know one of the quickest ways to lose money is with poor-quality forage. Cheaper is definitely not always better.

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

A quality-minded cutter will usually know their costs and will set their price so that they can be profitable. A longterm relationship with a cutter allows you to work together through market swings, both down and up.

Lost a great one As I am writing this, many people are making their way to a suburb of Atlanta to pay tribute to yet another great man who was lost too early in life. I got to know Kevin Bien in 1997 when we first started looking at Fendt tractors. Kevin’s passion for “his” tractor line was something I had not witnessed before. As time went on, he became much more of a friend than a corporate guy for Agco. You could always count on a good story, a pat on the back, a lesson on the important things in life like “faith, family, friends,” and a real good laugh. I was lucky enough to help induct Kevin into The U.S. Custom Harvesters Hall of Fame this past January. Over the last month and a half, I had been getting updates on his battle with a pretty vicious brain cancer. On June 2, Kevin lost the battle. Rest in peace, my friend. • JON ORR The author is a partner in Orrson Custom Farming Ltd., Apple Creek, Ohio. He serves as advisor on the U.S. Custom Harvesters Inc. board.

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Birdsfoot trefoil matched grain-fed beef in consumer overall liking.

Not all forage-finished beef is created equal by Jerrad Legako


UMEROUS studies have revealed that the beef finishing diet prior to harvest impacts meat quality. Specifically, diet is believed to influence the amount of intramuscular fat (marbling) and ultimately beef eating quality. Changes in beef fatty acid composition occur as intramuscular fat content changes because of the preferential deposition of saturated and monounsaturated fatty acids (SFA and MUFA) following rumen biohydrogenation. Additionally, as intramuscular fat accumulates, there is also a tendency among polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) to be composed of more Omega-6 fatty acids compared with Omega-3. Human diets having greater ratios of PUFA to SFA (>0.45) and lower ratios of Omega-6 to Omega-3 (<4.0) may reduce the incidence of coronary artery disease. Previously, forage-finished beef has been concluded to have comparatively greater nutritional value due to favorable ratios of PUFA:SFA and Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acids. Feedlot finishing is known to provide an abundance of dietary carbohydrates and thus marbling is accumulated. Forage finishing by comparison rarely yields carcasses with high amounts of marbling. This tendency toward lower marbling is believed to be partly due to the lower amount of dietary carbohydrate found in most grasses. In a study conducted at Utah State

University, forages were explored that provided a range in dietary carbohydrate. Three groups of cattle were provided different finishing diets during the last four months of production up until harvest. The first group was provided a typical feedlot ration (USUGrain), the second grazed the legume birdsfoot trefoil (USUBFT), and the third grazed meadow bromegrass (USUGrass). Feed dietary composition and carcass composition of the university cattle were evaluated. Additionally, ribeye rolls were retained for meat quality evaluations. To understand how the university-produced cattle would compare with retail beef, USDA Certified Organic Grass-fed (OrgGrass) ribeye rolls and feedlot-finished USDA Choice (ChGrain) ribeye rolls were purchased. Ribeye steaks were produced and evaluated by consumers for sensory properties, total fat content, and fatty acid content.

Trefoil matches grain fed Interestingly, the nonfibrous carbohydrate (NFC) level of the feedlot ration and birdsfoot trefoil was comparable and greater than meadow brome (see table). This provision of dietary carbohydrate was determined to impact many meat quality factors. However, final marbling score did not differ due to diet. This is in contrast to previous studies that showed marbling to be altered with diet. However, visual assessment of marbling is a subjective measure and other indi-

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

cators of carcass fatness (fat thickness; kidney, pelvic, and heart fat) revealed that diet did have an impact on carcass fatness in this study with USUGrain and USUBFT being comparably greater than USUGrass. Among ribeye steaks, fat content was greater for grain-finished (ChGrain) than all grass-finished beef and USUGrain (Figure 1). Among the USU-finished beef treatments, the fat content of USUBFT was intermediate to USUGrain and USUGrass. The elevated fat content concentration of birdsfoot trefoil-finished beef is of interest due to the well documented impact of fat content on palatability.

Consumer liking When ribeye steaks were evaluated by consumers, USUBFT was determined to have comparable tenderness, juiciness, and overall liking with grain-finished beef. Meanwhile, each of the grass-finished beef (USUGrass and OrgGrass) were determined to be liked less by consumers for all attributes in comparison with grain-finished beef. Among attributes, flavor liking was the only attribute where USUBFT was not at least comparable with grain-finished beef. This result is of interest due to the well documented impact of forage finishing on flavor-contributing fatty acids. Considering the impact of diet on both fat content and beef palatability, there were specific links with beef fatty acid content. As previously described, changes in marbling content occur primarily through higher amounts of triglycerides during animal finishing. Furthermore, there is a propensity for greater accumulation of SFA and MUFA within beef triglycerides as overall marbling JERRAD LEGAKO The author is assistant professor in the nutrition, dietetics, and food sciences department at Utah State University.

help maintain lower ratios of Omeimproves in comparison with PUFA. ga-6:Omega-3 fatty acids and can In this study, grain-finished beef had have positive health impacts. Ratios greater fat content (Figure 1) and in the forage-finished beef treatments, greater cumulative SFA and MUFA including USUBFT, were all less than compared with grass-finished (Figure the recommended 4.0, whereas the 2 and Figure 3). Similar to overall fat grain-finished beef ratios each exceeded content, cumulative SFA and MUFA 4.0, particularly the purchased of USUBFT was intermediate to the beef, ChGrain, which had an OmeUSUGrain and USUGrass treatments. ga-6:Omega-3 fatty acid ratio greater With regard to sensory perception, than 15 (Figure 4). This result indiconcentrations of SFA and MUFA have cates that while USUBFT shared SFA been positively correlated with desirable and MUFA similarities with grain-finbeef flavors. In contrast, an elevated ished beef, the Omega-6:Omega-3 proportion of Omega-3 fatty acids have ratios of USUBFT were at a positive been shown to increase undesirable dietary level. off-flavors in beef. The results of this study would support these previous conclusions, where Composition of diets on a dry matter basis forage-finished beef had lower flavor liking and less SFA and Finishing Diet* MUFA concentrations while Component, % USUGrain USUBFT USUGrass having greater proportions of CP 15.4 24.4 18.2 Omega-3 fatty acids. ADF 16.5 26.8 32.2

Positive dietary characteristics

Although additional amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids may negatively influence flavor, greater amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids

NDF Ash Crude fat Lignin Nonfibrous carbohydrate

31.0 8.5 2.4 3.2 42.7

28.9 7.0 2.0 4.4 39.8

*Conventional feedlot (USUGrain), perennial legume, birdsfoot trefoil (Lotus corniculatus; USUBFT), and meadow brome (Bromus riparius Rehmann, USUGrass).

7.94 5.84 4.43 2.91


USUGrain ChGrain USUBFT USUGrass OrgGrass University finishing diet and retail product

Monounsaturated fatty acid content, mg/g

Fat content, percent

Figure 1: Influence of dietary treatments on beef ribeye fat content. 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

Figure 2: Influence of dietary treatments on beef ribeye saturated fatty acid content. 37.41

30 25 20 15 10 5 0

27.32 21.42 14.66 8.14 USUGrain ChGrain USUBFT USUGrass OrgGrass University finishing diet and retail product

Figure 3: Influence of dietary treatments on beef ribeye monounsaturated fatty acid content.

45 40 35 30


35.59 28.24





10 5 0

6.65 USUGrain ChGrain USUBFT USUGrass OrgGrass University finishing diet and retail product

18 Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acids

Saturated fatty acid content, mg/g


The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of Jennifer MacAdam and Silvana Martini, Utah State University, in conducting this research.

Figure 4: Influence of dietary treatments on beef ribeye Omega-6:Omega-3 fatty acid ratio.

45 35

50.4 10.8 3.4 3.3 19.3

The results of this study support the conclusion that cattle finishing diets impact beef quality, where grass-finished beef is generally lower in fat and less liked by consumers compared with grain-finished beef. However, this study reveals that not all forages are equal. The relatively high concentration of NFC in the legume birdsfoot trefoil compared with meadow brome appears to have boosted fat content and altered consumer perceptions. The tenderness, juiciness, and overall liking of birdsfoot trefoil-finished beef was equivalent to grain-finished beef. Meanwhile, the important dietary characteristic of Omega-6:Omega-3 for birdsfoot trefoil-finished beef was more favorable compared with grain-finished beef, and comparable to grass-finished beef. These results demonstrate an opportunity for producers to follow a forage-finishing program while maintaining beef eating quality comparable to grain finishing programs. â&#x20AC;˘

16 15.21

14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

5.74 2.41



USUGrain ChGrain USUBFT USUGrass OrgGrass University finishing diet and retail product

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 23


by Adam Verner plugs. The ideal alignment occurs when the crop hits the lower third of the top roll. This ensures continuous crop flow and is crucial to the differential speed of the rolls as well. Many KPs run at a 30 percent differential speed, meaning that the top roll is turning 30 percent faster than the bottom roll. This leads to the tearing and slicing of the leaves, cob, and kernels. Changing your differential speed may change the way you chop and process your corn this year.

Stop and check

Chopper adjustments pay big dividends


S SUMMERTIME comes to a close, there is usually a different buzz on the radio. I’m not talking about on your Sirius or FM dial. I’m talking about all of the chatter that will be on the CB radios for the next few months during harvest season. For most livestock and dairy producers, corn silage harvest can be considered the single most important time of the year. Whether you use a custom harvester or your own chopper, making sure your corn silage gets put up at the right stage of maturity and moisture and is processed correctly are very important. Putting up a mediocre crop of corn silage could be the difference in purchasing thousands of dollars of unnecessary supplemental feed or having less milk in the tank. One part of this silage process has taken years to become relevant — kernel processing. Most people are now aware of the Corn Silage Processing Score (KP score). The KP score is basically how well the corn silage, mainly the corn kernel, is processed during chopping. The more processing, tearing, and pulverizing of the kernel you can get the better. This is why the setup of your forage harvester and its kernel processor can be the difference in great silage and average silage. The optimal KP score is 70 or above. An adequate score is from 50 to 70, and below 50 would be considered poor kernel processing. Most of the new choppers purchased today can be properly set up and adjusted to achieve the optimal 70-plus KP score.

I have made a checklist of the places to check on your forage harvester to ensure you are doing everything you can to produce excellent processed corn silage.

Keep knives sharp To me, it all starts with the corn head. Make sure your knives are sharp and all adjustments have been made for optimal crop flow to the feed rolls. Be sure you check the springs or whatever your harvester uses for feed roll tension. The precompression of the crop before it gets to the cutting drum is key for the best and most consistent chop quality. Sharpen the knives on the cutting drum at least once per day. Dull knives lead to poor chop quality and make your chopper work a lot harder in the process. Another critical step in producing high-quality feed is making sure the shear bar is properly adjusted. I recommend that this be adjusted in the morning after knife sharpening and at least one more time during the day. At minimum, adjust the shear bar twice per day. One other adjustment that often gets overlooked is the drum bottom. The floor beneath the cutting drum has a huge effect on the crop flow and how far you can blow out of the spout. Check this adjustment every time you change out the knives. You can find the proper spacing for these adjustments in your operator’s manual. Properly adjusted and aligned KP rolls are essential in the crop flow process and can be the source of many

24 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

The KP gap spacing is also critical. The gap distance is going to vary by machine, brand of rolls, hybrid, and the silage end user. Some operators run their KP gaps as close as they can, 0.5 millimeters (mm), while others are over 3 mm. This is where it will take time and testing to figure out what gap spacing you should be running in each field and for a particular hybrid. Do not be afraid to stop the cutter, exit the cab, and check what is coming out of the spout. You should not find any whole kernels in a 32-ounce cup sample of fresh silage. If you are finding several whole kernels, then you probably need to look at tightening up the KP. Before the season, also check the calibration of the KP gap to make sure what the monitor in the cab reads is the same gap the KP is set to. I also recommend at least once per week or every knife change to inspect the KP rolls for any damage or excessive wear. You can have everything set and adjusted perfect, but if the rolls are worn out, you will not do a good job of processing. This may seem like a lot, but a few hours spent properly adjusting your cutter can lead to higher feed quality in the pile and a lower cost of the feed in the feedbunk. So, before you go out and spend tens of thousands of dollars on new KP rolls this season, stop and check to make sure that your cutter is properly adjusted first. You just may be surprised as to what your current chopper and rolls are capable of! Be safe this harvest season! • ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag, LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

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by Gonzalo Ferreira On an as-fed basis, the sorghum silage is 15 percent cheaper than the corn silage, which is great. On a DM basis, the sorghum silage is still 12 percent cheaper than the corn silage, which is still great. However, if we formulate least-cost diets, feeding lactating cows can be 4 percent cheaper when including corn silage than when including the lower cost sorghum silage. This is explained by the greater need for more expensive concentrates to obtain similar rations.

Evaluate the trade-offs

Cheapest forage is not always the answer


HEN talking about interpersonal relationships, we may frequently say, “What I don’t know won’t hurt me.” The flip side of this is saying “Ouch! Knowing that really hurts!” For those of us who are parents, there are a few things that hurt as much as knowing our kids are hiding the truth. This example should serve as an analogy for dairy managers, as many of their decisions are driven by what they can see rather than what they cannot see. As an example, the dollar amounts of checks paying for seeds, fertilizers, chemicals, and ensiling contractors are tangible items; they often directly influence decisions. On the flip side, certain inefficiencies, such as silage shrinkage, are more intangible and, therefore, become hidden costs that seem to not hurt directly but can actually negatively affect the business. Most managers and nutritionists know and understand that the best ingredients are those that better meet the requirements for the animal, ideally at the least cost. For instance, to obtain a required 28 percent dietary neutral detergent fiber (NDF) concentration for a lactating dairy cow, the inclusion in the ration of corn silage containing 42 percent NDF requires lesser amounts of concentrate than when including a sorghum silage containing 55 percent NDF. In other words, due to the lower concentration of NDF and greater concentration of starch,

using corn silage will likely allow for less concentrate in the diet.

Remember the big picture Similar to building a puzzle, when evaluating your feeding program it is important to analyze the small pieces while always keeping an eye on the whole picture. This is especially important during major decision-making times, such as defining which forages to grow. For instance, planting corn for silage will likely require higher seed costs per acre than any other forage. Paying for corn seed involves writing and signing a tangible, high-value check. Does this large amount imply that managers are obligated to find alternative and cheaper forages? Maybe yes, and maybe no. First of all, seed costs are only a portion of the total costs of the silage. On top of seed costs are fertilizer, chemical, chopping, and ensiling costs that dilute the seed cost difference between alternative forages. As mentioned before, another piece of the whole puzzle is the amount of concentrate needed to formulate diets. Let’s now consider $45-per-ton corn silage with 31 percent dry matter (DM), 4.2 percent ash, 8.4 percent crude protein (CP), 42 percent NDF, and a 34 percent starch concentration. Compare this corn silage to a $38-per-ton forage sorghum silage with 30 percent DM, 7.9 percent ash, 7.1 percent CP, 56 percent NDF, and 18 percent starch concentrations.

26 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

Logistically and financially, needing more concentrates is not a minor detail, especially when prices of commodities are very high. For our example, concentrate needs would be 21.6 pounds per cow when including corn silage and 27.4 pounds per cow when including sorghum silage in the diet. This difference translates into 27 percent more purchases of concentrates, which may put more stress on the financial budget. An analogy might be made with the “short blanket syndrome” (either your feet or your shoulders are cold). What is saved from one side (silage costs) can be lost from the other (concentrate costs). If this analysis is valid, then why is it so hard to make certain decisions? The answer may be related to what we see and what we do not see. Or alternatively, to what hurts and what seems to not hurt. Paying an extra 15 percent difference (or more) all at once seems to hurt more than losing a 27 percent difference in small chunks. In conclusion, a holistic vision is needed to ensure adequate decisions are made when defining the feeding program of your farm. We may lose sight of the whole picture when looking only at the individual pieces. Be aware that cheap forages might not necessarily translate into higher income over feed costs or better cash flows. Therefore, an adequate balance between costs, nutritional composition, and availability of ingredients is always necessary when deciding on your feeding program. • GONZALO FERREIRA The author is assistant professor, department of dairy science, Virginia Tech.


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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. ©2016 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 U.S. domestic use. 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. HarvXtra™ is a trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready ® Technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. Genuity Design ®, Genuity Icons, Genuity ®, Roundup Ready ® are trademarks of Monsanto Technology LLC. © 2016 W-L Research.


by Jesse Bussard

Erica Beck

Winecup Gamble Ranch has 1,500 acres of pivot-irrigated fields and another 500 acres under wheel and flood irrigation. Only 7 inches of precipitation is received annually.

Ranch shifts focus to soil organic matter


HE high desert of northeastern Nevada poses unique environmental challenges for producers growing forages. Extremely limited rainfall, roughly 7 inches annually, makes irrigation a must and alkali soils create difficult growing conditions. Among the many ranches in the area, the nearly 1-million-acre historic Winecup Gamble Ranch near Montello, Nev., is one operation seeing promising results from the use of regenerative farming practices to improve both their soil health and forages in these challenging conditions. Managed more conventionally in the past, the ranch has since shifted its philosophy to a more holistic, regenerative focus in recent years. Winecup Gamble Ranch farm manager, Arlen Gentert, confirmed this change of heart, noting he does not rely solely on a single factor when it comes to managing the ranch’s forages. Instead, he said

he considers the whole system in every decision he makes.

More forage diversity Approximately 1,500 acres of pivot-irrigated fields, another 500 acres of wheel-line irrigated land, and several fields of flood-irrigated ground provide moisture to produce high-quality pasture and hay for the ranch’s livestock needs, specifically their grass-fed beef program and winter feed stockpile. In past years, plants such as tall fescue and alfalfa have made up the majority of the irrigated fields’ forage base. Tolerant of alkali soils, these species thrive in high salinity conditions when irrigated and are common choices for hay operations in the area. After coming on board with the ranch in 2014, Gentert began implementing more regenerative farming practices in attempts to increase forage species

28 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

diversity and improve soil health. “There’s a lot of clay and salt in the soil and our water even has salt in it, too. These fields have either been farmed or hayed for the past 120 years, likely with little inputs going back into them,” Gentert said. “For a soil with low organic matter and the challenges we already have, the abuse over the years really adds up.”

Bale grazing To expedite natural processes while staying profitable, Gentert said he likes JESSE BUSSARD The author is a freelance writer from Bozeman, Mont., and has her own communications business, Cowpunch Creative.

“We try to be systematic about completely covering a pivot as we are feeding. No gaps, no missed spots,” Gentert said. “You feed in one spot today, the next day you might move over 10 feet.” Alongside bale grazing, Gentert has taken a page out of cover crop expert Gabe Brown’s playbook, planting diverse cover crop mixes to further build soil health on a few select acres each year. The seed mix for a recent alfalfa field he planted into contained a sundry of annual grasses and legumes, including oats, wheat, rye, kale, collards, turnips, radishes, vetch, and two types of red clover. To get good establishment, Gentert

Arlen Gentert checks the seed depth while no-till planting a mix of forage cover crops. The practice is just one way the ranch is trying to build back lost organic matter.

Erica Beck

to try out new strategies on a smaller scale before going bigger. Among the first of his experiments to help improve soil health on the ranch’s irrigated fields was bale grazing. “During the times when we need to feed hay, like late fall or winter, we try to bale graze and feed the hay out on the fields,” Gentert said. “It’s basically our fertilizer program since we don’t use synthetics.” Gentert has tried this feeding method out on both irrigated and dry land fields. Bales are placed and fed in a way that allows the cattle to rotate around a field, spreading the manure and hay waste evenly across the area, he explained.

had to first knock back the existing alfalfa stand. In the past, he has tried various methods, such as grazing an area hard before planting. However, he has found, in most cases, an herbicide burndown is the easiest, most effective option to get a field ready for planting in his conditions. While he tries not to use herbicides, Gentert recognizes sometimes it’s the only option that works.

Early results encouraging “My plan is to do a couple years of annuals, especially in those areas we are grazing, to jump-start the biological process again,” Gentert said. “Then I’ll go in with perennials and use a mix of something like orchardgrass, wheatgrass, sainfoin, meadow bromegrass, and maybe some others.” Thanks to both bale grazing and cover crops, Gentert said he is starting to see dramatic turnarounds on the productivity of some of the ranch’s poorer fields. Grass production on balegrazed fields generally improves the following year, and he has noticed these fields now recover quicker between grazings. In addition, the cover crops he has planted provide a more diverse, higher-quality forage source for the ranch’s grass-fed cattle. An important component to having success with regenerative agriculture practices, said Gentert, is to find the limiting factor for each field. Then use this knowledge as the cornerstone in your strategy to overcome it. For Gentert, this limiting factor is the organic matter level in his soils. Going forward, he plans to stay focused on the whole system with his management, but will also track his progress by monitoring organic matter levels in the ranch’s soils using tests such as the Haney Test. “I think organic matter is an important key to all this,” Gentert said. “It will help tell the story of our management and our successes and failures.” •

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 29


by Mary Drewnoski The quality of an oats-brassica mix stays high through early winter despite multiple frosts and freezes.

Consider oats, brassicas after corn silage high-quality fall forage for grazing fallweaned calves. If fall forage is the goal, then winter sensitive species like oats and brassica are good options because they will produce more fall forage than cereal rye. In most of the Midwest these species will winterkill, which can be viewed as good (no spring management needed) or bad (no early spring biomass production), depending on your point of view. With a modest seed cost relative to yield, brassicas tend to be a low-cost source of forage; but they canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be grazed in a monoculture because they are too low in fiber and too high in sulfur.

Percent of DM


T MAKES sense to cover the ground and protect our precious soil and water resources, especially after harvest of corn silage; but why not also produce additional forage? The use of cover crops for forage can be beneficial to the pocketbook while still providing soil benefits. Cover crops provide additional root biomass that can stabilize soil and maintain or improve soil properties even when a significant portion of aboveground biomass is removed as forage. However, some top growth should be maintained to provide soil cover and reduce erosion. In much of the Midwest, corn silage harvest typically starts in late August and runs through September. The question of what to plant after corn silage is an important one. Cereal rye is one of the most commonly used cover crops in these situations. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to establish and has a forgiving nature with fall planting date. Typically, it is harvested as silage in the spring, although it can also be used for spring grazing. For the early harvested corn silage, there is an opportunity to produce

90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

Forage quality of an oat-brassica mix over the winter TDN*





*TDN- Total Digestible Nutrients (calculated from ADF)

Table 1. Forage yield and steer performance on an oats-brassica mix Year

Yield, ton DM/ac

Stocking rate calf/ac

Days of grazing

ADG, lb/d

Gain, lb/ac













(Grazed November to January)

30 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

Planting 40 to 50 pounds of oats with 3 to 4 pounds of turnips is a good mix for grazing. Quality of both oats and brassicas are very high and do not rapidly decrease over the winter despite turning yellow and then brown (see Figure 1). The best evidence of the high-quality nature of these forages is cattle performance. Over the past two years, 500- to 600-pound steers have grazed an oat-brassica mix during the winter in south central Nebraska. The mixes were planted in the last week of August or first week of September. Turnout date was around November 15, which means that the calves spend most of their time grazing frost-killed forage. Gains of the calves ranged from 2.2 pounds per head per day in 2014 to 1.3 pounds per head per day in 2015 (see Table 1). In 2014, the winter was relatively mild. However, in 2015, the winter started out warm then turned brutally cold very quickly. This difference in performance was not due to the quality of forage. Calves in a feedlot at the same location being fed the same corn silagebased ration in both years also gained 1 pound per day less in 2015 when compared to 2014. This suggests that the weather was the main factor driving the difference in gains over the two years. For those having corn silage acres, the addition of a backgrounding oats-brassica mix is worth considering. However, planting date is extremely important as growing degree days rapidly decline in the fall. Fall forage yield is lost each day planting is delayed. Producers considering this forage resource need to make a commitment to planting as early as possible. Delaying by one week in early-September can reduce forage production by as much as one-third. For mid-season or late harvested corn silage fields, the common practice of planting rye for spring forage production is still the better option. â&#x20AC;˘

MARY DREWNOSKI The author is a beef systems specialist, University of Nebraska.


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How native silage LABs compete by Jane Caldwell


ILAGE production is a competition. While the crop stands, its native microorganisms, or epiphytes, live in a low-growth, maintenance-only state of starvation. The stopwatch begins the minute the crop is cut, when plant cells are disrupted and nutrients are released. Epiphytes such as bacteria (good and bad), yeasts, and molds all compete for those precious sugars and proteins. Fortunately, the beneficial lactic acid-producing bacteria (LABs) are top-notch competitors. Scientists have reported that LABs are outnumbered on standing crops by bad bacteria, molds, and yeasts by a factor of 1,000. Despite these overwhelming odds, LABs can usually overtake the others. Here’s why:

Built to win LABs such as Lactobacillus species have undergone genome shrinkage; the genome being the complete set of DNA needed to build and maintain the organism. This means they’ve lost nonessential DNA and nutrient production pathways. They have evolved to co-exist with their hosts or food sources, such as plant surfaces and the animal gut. The DNA they have lost during shrinkage was formerly used to make nutrients de novo. Now, instead of using time and energy to make food from scratch, they import the intact nutrients from the outside world. To achieve this, LABs have ramped up transport systems that scavenge their host environment for food. Furthermore, 32 | Hay & Forage Grower | August 2016

tolerant. When they produce lactic acid from water-soluble carbohydrates (sugars) in the forage, they inhibit or destroy their nonacid-tolerant competitors through chemical warfare. Ditto for hydrogen peroxide. Bacteriocins are specialized chemicals that kill pathogens or other closely related bacteria, Lactobacillus cousins if you will, by punching holes in their cell walls. In nature, nothing goes to waste. The bodies of the destroyed are consumed by the surviving LABs. They have their lunch eaten by the LABs, and they are lunch for the LABs.

Protein a problem they have lost DNA in their genomes, so they are smaller and can divide more quickly. They manage to outpace other bacteria, molds, or yeasts that have larger, unwieldy genomes. LABs are lean and mean growing machines. When you chop alfalfa, corn, or grasses, the LABs quickly transport plant nutrients into their own cells, which spur growth. Other microorganisms make their nutrients from scratch or have slower transport systems. Because LABs can grab the nutrients more efficiently, they leave the starvation state sooner. This means the LABs have a shorter lag time transitioning from maintenance to growth, which allows them to rapidly double and grow exponentially. The competitors such as Clostridia, Enterococcus, yeasts, and molds are left in the dust and literally have their lunch eaten by LABs. Adequate chopping of forage releases sugars, proteins, water, and other nutrients needed for LAB growth. Furthermore, fungi or molds require oxygen to grow. LABs can grow in oxygen, but most prefer to grow without it. The sooner the forage grower can eliminate oxygen, the sooner the LABs can dominate their undesirable competitors.

Chemical warfare To further outpace the competition, LABs also excrete lactic acid, hydrogen peroxide, and bacteriocins — all compounds which inhibit other micro competitors. LABs themselves are acid

Forages, such as alfalfa, which have higher protein content, are more difficult to ensile due to greater buffering capacity. Buffering capacity is the ability of a substance to resist changes in pH, even when strong acids or bases are added. Many proteins are charged, having positive or negative ends, making acidification by LABs more difficult. The lactic acid produced is neutralized by the proteins; the negative protein and the positive acid charges cancelling each other out. Forage sugars, such as water-soluble carbohydrates stored in the stem, are a great, readily available source of energy for LABs. Sugars are converted to lactic acid to rapidly drop the pH of the forage and inhibit undesirables. Where natural plant sugar content is low, sugars such as molasses and lactose can be added to aid in LAB growth. Native forage LABs exhibit superb growth due to genome shrinkage, excellent nutrient transport systems, acid tolerance, release of acids and other inhibiting chemicals, cannibalism of other dead microorganisms, and ability to grow without oxygen. Naturally occurring LABs have evolved to be our partners in food and forage preservation. •

JANE CALDWELL The author is the director of research and development for TransAgra International, Storm Lake, Iowa.

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©2016 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 and NEXGROW® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra™ Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is enabled with Technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. * Because of factors outside of Forage Generics International, LLC’s control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by FGI. Actual results may vary.

Winter rye, no-tilled into corn silage stubble, is providing high yields of quality forage on many dairy farms.

Winter cereals held in high esteem

Some like triticale

by Mike Rankin


MIDST the rolling hills of Lancaster County, Pa., you will find everything from state-of-the-art dairies to picturesque, modest-sized Amish and Mennonite farms. It’s a landscape made for postcard sales; it’s also an area where many dairies have jumped on the idea of making winter cereals a mainstay in their crop rotations. “We like the consistency of yield that cereal rye gives us,” said Mike Brubaker, who farms with brother, Tony, and his father, Luke. The Brubakers seed about 600 acres of rye each year. “The quality of the feed is excellent and it’s a great conservation crop,” Luke added. “Our biggest cereal forage is rye, and it’s been that way for a lot of years,” said Jeff Graybill, Penn State extension’s agronomy educator in Lancaster County. “Farmers can typically harvest it in the boot stage in late April, apply liquid manure, and no-till corn back into the field before May 10 in most years. That’s about the end of our optimum corn planting window.”

Spread rye maturity On the Brubaker farm, over 1,000 cows are milked; they grow about 600 acres of corn silage and 150 acres of alfalfa that help fuel the dairy herd. Rye is no-tilled into the corn silage stubble soon after harvest is complete at a seeding rate of about 2.5 bushels (140 pounds) per acre. “We plant about

winter rye silage. The ration powers a 30,000-pound herd average. The winter rye is no-tilled around mid-September into corn silage stubble at a fairly hefty rate — 4 bushels per acre. Like Brubakers, Benner plants a couple of different varieties to spread his harvest window and capture as much of the forage in the boot stage as possible. “We source our normal rye seed out of Canada but then buy an early variety locally,” Benner said. Benner applies liquid manure to some fields, while others receive about 30 pounds of nitrogen in the spring. He shoots for a harvest moisture of about 65 percent. In 2016, Yippee Farms hauled off over 3 tons of ryelage dry matter per acre from their fields.

half our acres to an early maturing variety and half to one that matures on the later side,” said Mike, who heads up the field operations. “We try to cut at the boot stage and harvest at about 70 percent moisture.” The Brubaker dairy herd is fed 70 percent corn silage (dry matter basis) with the remaining 30 percent of forage being evenly split between alfalfa haylage and winter rye silage. The winter cereal is also used to feed heifers, which are raised by the Brubakers but at a different farm than the milking herd. The rye tests over 16 percent protein. Liquid manure is applied to some of the rye acres before they are planted, while other acres receive manure in March using a dragline. Harvest generally occurs in late April and corn is no-tilled into the rye stubble, usually in early to mid-May.

He’s all-in Arlin Benner also relies heavily on winter rye to feed both his milking herd and young stock. Benner and his wife, Deborah, own and operate Yippee Farms near Mount Joy. “I’m done with alfalfa,” Benner said. “We’re moving to a corn silage-winter rye rotation on all of the acres. I like the tonnage that rye offers.” Benner milks 900 cows on four different farms but has plans to build a new dairy and consolidate the cows. The milking herd is fed 70 percent brown midrib corn silage and 30 percent

34 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

Winter rye isn’t the only winter cereal game in town. “The past few years have seen more experimentation with triticale, wheat, and barley,” Graybill said. “Some have switched to triticale because it is still very early but will not mature as fast from high to poor quality.” One of those farmers who likes triticale is Aaron Hess. He covets the quality that winter triticale provides but also the fact that it extends the harvest window. Aaron farms with his father, Joe, and operates a 350-cow dairy. “We grow 130 acres of an early-maturing rye and another 150 acres of triticale. The triticale is ready to harvest about two weeks later than the rye,” Hess said. They daily feed 4 pounds of dry matter to the milking herd along with alfalfa and brown midrib corn silage. Heifers are fed ryelage. The Hesses no-till seed 2.5 bushels per acre of triticale after corn silage. They also include Italian ryegrass and radish in the seeding mix. About 9,000 gallons of liquid manure is applied before planting, and then 50 to 65 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer is broadcasted in the spring. “We target about 68 percent for a bootstage harvest moisture and generally get around 3 tons of dry matter per acre,” Hess said. He also noted that in the fall they like to no-till seed about 1.5 bushels of triticale into their alfalfa stands. “It makes for a nice mixture and keeps the first-cut alfalfa from lodging.” •





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To learn more, visit americasalfalfa.com or call 800.873.2532 America's Alfalfa, America's Alfalfa logo, Traffic Tested alfalfa seed and Traffic Tested logo are registered trademarks of Forage Genetics, LLC. © 2016 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 seed with Roundup Ready® technology is available for planting in a limited geography and growers must direct any product produced from HarvXtra™ alfalfa seed 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. HarvXtra™ alfalfa seed with Roundup Ready® technology is enabled with technology from The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Inc. * Because of factors outside of FGI’s control, such as weather, applicator factors, etc., results to be obtained, including but not limited to yields, financial performance, or profits, cannot be predicted or guaranteed by FGI. Actual results may vary.

Fermentation hinges on proper moisture content by John Hibma


ERMENTATION is a biochemical reaction accomplished by bacteria as they consume the plant sugars and oxygen. They then convert those nutrients into acids, and once an anaerobic environment has been achieved, prevent the remaining organic material from further decay. With the ensiling of corn and hay crops, the desired fermentation end product is lactic acid. The more lactic acid produced in a silo or bunk of silage, the more stable and less prone to spoilage the plant material will be. The forage moisture level at the time of harvesting has the single largest impact on fermentation outcome. Water is the medium in which the carbohydrates (starches and sugars) feed the lactic acid producing bacteria.

Oxygen is the enemy Acetic acid is commonly produced during fermentation along with lactic acid. Well-fermented silage will have both lactic and acetic acids present. However, excessive levels of acetic acid indicate that fermentation was slower and more dry matter was subsequently lost during the ensiling process. The environment for the fermentation remained aerobic for a longer period of time, allowing for more decomposing of organic matter. Higher levels of acetic acid indicate the pH (a measure of acidity) did not drop as rapidly as it would have had more lactic acid been produced. The lactic acid should be dominant with

a ratio of about 3:1 lactic to acetic. The prolonged presence of oxygen in a fermenting pile of forage results in the continued heating and the degradation of organic matter — and the loss of dry matter. Depending on how hot a pile gets and how long that heat continues will alter the quality of protein, making it less available in the cow’s rumen. Piles that have suffered through extensive heating will have darkened or blackened forage that has lost much of its nutrition. In some cases, yeasts, which are in the fungus family, will interfere with proper fermentation when oxygen is available. Yeasts are everywhere in the environment and can produce molds, which can make the silage unpalatable. Yeasts will also convert sugar to alcohol. The alcohol, which is an organic compound containing carbon, will evaporate into the air taking the carbon with it, resulting in the uncontrollable loss of dry matter. Unfortunately, the presence of yeasts in silages can destroy dry matter no matter how well a pile has been previously fermented.

Hay crops are a challenge Achieving properly fermented haylage — grass or legume — poses a special challenge. The proper moisture levels for grass and alfalfa silages are much more critical to the development of proper fermentation. Grass and alfalfa, unlike corn, have much lower levels of the starch that is needed to support rapid lactic acid production.

36 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

The absence of adequate lactic acid results in a less acidic environment that enables the proliferation of clostridial bacteria that produce butyric acid. Silage high in butyric acid levels has a noticeably putrid smell and does not store well. It also will reduce feed intake and milk production. Oftentimes a clostridial fermentation in haylage is accompanied by the breakdown of proteins resulting in the production of ammonia. While ammonia is necessary for the fermentation of forage in the rumen, too much will be toxic to a cow. The presence of ammonia indicates that the protein in the hay crop is being destroyed.

Know your fermentation A fermentation analysis is a diagnostic tool that will allow us to better identify possible problems in forages that may lead to dry matter intake problems. A complete fermentation analysis provides the moisture level along with the lactic, acetic, and butyric acid levels. Knowing the levels of these acids gives us a good idea of the type and degree of fermentation that has occurred. The ammonia level is another indicator of how well the silage has fermented. Forage evaluation data compiled by Cumberland Valley Analytical Services in Maugansville, Md., has shown that dry matters below 28 percent are associated with much higher levels of butyric acid as well as ammonia levels approaching 30 percent of the total available nitrogen in the forage. Target the corn silage dry matter to be around 30 to 35 percent, allowing for the optimal lactic and acetic acid profile. For hay crops, shoot for dry matter levels in the 35 to 40 percent range. Always include a silage inoculant to increase bacteria levels that will accelerate oxygen scavenging. Fermentation analysis is a tool that will assist a nutritionist or dairy farmer in evaluating if a forage has been ensiled properly. The type and degree of fermentation will affect the dry matter recovery and also provide us with valuable information as to how we formulate the rest of the feed ration around the silage. • JOHN HIBMA The author is a dairy nutritional consultant and freelance agricultural writer based out of Connecticut.


by John Goeser

Taking corn silage to new heights


HERE are different paths to optimal forage quality and animal performance for hay and haylage crops versus corn silage. With hay and haylage crops, cutting the crop at the correct plant maturity is a major decision that will substantially influence resulting quality. Cutting the crop earlier will not only result in more protein, more sugar, and less fiber, but also tends to yield better fiber digestibility. Picking great genetics for legumes or grasses typically impacts yield more than nutritive quality. With corn silage, heritability for nutritive quality is greater than that for hay crops due to the ability to create true hybrids from inbred lines. Hence, picking the best seed genetics is a large component in resulting quality with corn silage, but managing the corn harvest for silage is also very important. For example, dry matter and crop maturity must be optimized, and kernel processing

is imperative for ideal starch digestion. In-season management decisions have a limited impact on fiber digestibility with the exception being cutting height. Cutting corn higher will raise the grain-to-stover ratio and energy content, but improving forage quality while meeting yield and inventory needs is a tricky decision. How can we evaluate what potential drawbacks or benefits could be associated with cutting corn at 12 or 18 inches instead of 6 inches from the soil surface? Considerable research has been published over the past 15 years, but how can these research results be interpreted practically and what do they mean for your farm?

Lower yield . . . To help bring insight into the cut height versus yield and quality questions, I evaluated seven articles published in the past 20 years and documented 30

different treatments. After compiling the reported nutrition and yield measures for various cut heights into a spreadsheet, I developed simple prediction equations relating yield or nutrition parameters to cut height (equations not shown). Using the equations, I then predicted nutritive and yield results (see Table 1) for a normal 6-inch cut versus either 12or 18-inch cut corn silage. When evaluating the predicted outcomes in Table 1, as cut height was elevated, yield declined, which is logical. Yield would be predicted to decrease 0.6 and 1.3 tons per acre (as-fed) for 12- and 18-inch cut heights, respectively. These ton per acre declines would result in a reduced yield value per acre of $23 and $46, respectively, assuming $35 per ton corn silage value.

. . . but higher quality Beyond yield, the research-based equations suggest that corn silage value per

Table 1. Predicted cut height impact on nutritional value and yield Cut height, inches





39.8 30.2 50.8

42.4 28.1 48.8

41.1 29.1 49.8

42.4 28.1 48.8

5.6 16.1

6.1 17.4

5.9 16.8

6.1 17.4

$563.60 90.79 $15.89 $5,799.21 1.54 $8,954.62

$609.20 89.49 $15.66 $5,716.17

$(45.60) 1.30 $0.23 $83.04

$609.20 89.49 $15.66 $5,716.17

$(22.80) 0.67 $0.12 $42.80



$586.40 90.16 $15.78 $5,758.97 1.61 $9,252.22



Predicted nutrition measures

NDF, % of DM Starch, % of DM NDFD, % of NDF Predicted yield measures

Yield, DM/acre (tons) Yield, as-fed/acre (tons) Economic impact

Yield $/acre @$35/ton Milk/cow @20# CS, 54# DMI (lbs.) Milk value/cow/day Milk value/cow/year Cows fed/acre Milk value/acre

Predicted results are based upon equations developed from 30 different treatment means reported by seven published articles (available upon request).

38 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

ton at higher cuts has more starch, less fiber, and better fiber digestibility than conventionally cut corn (see Table 1). This is also logical but needs to be converted into milk per cow to estimate a return on investment. We can estimate dairy production returns by using the corn silage nutrition information within an NRC (2001) based milk prediction model. I used a ration evaluation tool to project the impact that high-cut corn silage has upon milk production potential for three different TMRs, each with corn silage cut at 6, 12, or 18 inches. The different silages, fed at 20 pounds (dry matter basis) as part of a 54 pounds of intake per cow in the TMR, projected to result in milk production gains of 0.67 and 1.3 pounds per cow, a value of $0.12 and $0.23 using $17.50 per hundredweight. Does the improved corn silage nutritional value off-set lower yield? Potentially, the milk value per acre in Table 1 suggests opportunity, but use the information presented in Table 1 at your own discretion and only as the basis for a discussion with your advisory team. Keep in mind also that moisture content will likely be different for highcut corn silage relative to conventional cut. Moisture drops with higher cutting because the grain represents a larger proportion of the tonnage and grain is drier than stover. The lower stalk is also higher in moisture than the upper portions. High-cut corn silage may not make sense for later-season harvested corn, where whole-plant moistures have dropped below the ideal window.

stalks through a chipper or chopper. Send the chopped green samples to your forage testing lab for nutritional evaluation and make sure to have a NDF (neutral detergent fiber) digestibility measure done. Upon receiving nutrition results back, work with your agronomy and nutrition advisory team to interpret and consider the yield and nutritional ramifications of high cutting. Balance the yield drag with projected nutritive quality gains to make the economic decision that benefits your farm. •

cations with a 12- or 18-inch cut height. To evaluate high chopping potential in your fields, sample stalks at both conventional cut height and theoretical high-cut scenarios (for example, 18 inches). Sample from at least three fields and ensure your team is harvesting stalks by hand at least 30 rows in from the field edge. Using a knife or machete, hand harvest five stalks from two adjacent rows for each conventional cut height and then the desired high-cut height. Weigh each stalk set to estimate yield and then run the



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Perform an on-farm test When discussing potential responses with your advisory team, again consider the predictions in Table 1 and relationships with caution. The data set used to develop the predictive equations has not undergone peer review and many factors outside of cut height will impact corn silage yield and quality. Do not make decisions based on the predictions in the table. Rather, chop several test plots at different cut heights on your farm to better understand the economic ramifi-

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Effects of bale wrapping time delays on forage quality

Cow size, stocking rate impact performance and costs

Bale wrapping has grown in popularity among small and midsized dairy or beef producers. Fermentation in wrapped bales is somewhat different than in traditional chopped forages. Researchers at USDA’s Dairy Forage Research Center in Marshfield, Wis., recently evaluated the effect that wrapping time delay has on forage nutritive value. Large round bales from a second cutting of alfalfa were wrapped with seven layers of a 1 mil plastic either one, two, or three days after baling. The standard wrap was also compared to using an oxygen barrier film. Average wet bale weight in the study was 1,043 pounds, and bales were stored for 99 days. Internal bale temperature was monitored daily. Internal bale temperature rose linearly with a delay in wrapping. Average bale temperature was 95°F, 117°F, 128°F, and 147°F for zero, one, two, or three days at wrapping, respectively. Though dry matter recovery was not affected, wrapping delays impaired silage nutrient value and the spontaneous heating that occurred. The researchers noted that concentrations of acid detergent insoluble crude protein and total digestible nutrients changed the most once internal bale temperature rose above about 117°F at the time bales were wrapped. This corresponded with the 24-hour wrapping delay. The oxygen barrier wrap had no effect on silage nutritive value, though the researchers noted their standard seven layer wrapping protocol is perhaps more aggressive than many producers might use.

Over the past five years, costs for maintaining a beef cow and the unit cost of weaned calf production have grown. Cow carrying costs have also risen along with mature cow size. Research conducted by University of Arkansas and the Noble Foundation was designed to test the effects of stocking rate and mature body size on cow and calf performance, cowherd efficiency, and system economics. Here were some of the results: 1. A 30 percent larger cow requires 22 percent more daily maintenance energy and will consume 22 to 28 percent more forage dry matter daily. This lowers the cow-carrying capacity of the farm or raises input costs associated with pastures, supplementation, and stored forages. 2. Stocking rate impacts individual animal performance, body weight production per unit of land area, and economic returns to the producer. 3. There were no effects of cow body weight on carrying cost or net returns; raising stocking rate lowered total expenses per cow and raised net returns. 4. A larger cow size raised calf weaning weights but did not affect total production per acre or profitability; however, weaning weight efficiency ratios were reduced. 5. Boosting stocking rate reduced cow weight and body condition at weaning. It required additional stored feed to be fed but did not affect pregnancy rates and led to a higher total calf weight weaned per acre and net returns.

Recovering losses from fescue toxicosis Diets containing toxic endophyte-infected tall fescue negatively impact cattle weight gain and feed intake. Results of a 2015 summary of research aimed at reducing the impact of fescue toxicosis were reported by University of Arkansas researchers in the Journal of Animal Science. Many of the tested concepts have created new opportunities to partially recover production losses from toxic fescue without reducing the effects of ergot alkaloids. Dry matter intake and weight gain were summarized to measure the effectiveness of each mitigation strategy. Studies where nontoxic endophyte-infected tall fescue were used as a total replacement forage system showed the greatest improvement in per-acre (136 pounds per acre) and per-animal (0.64 pound per day) weight gain. Interseeded legumes exhibited a small and highly variable weight gain effect per acre (46 pounds) and per animal (0.24 pound per day). The legume response was seasonal, with the greatest improvement made during summer. 40 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

Evaluating studies where cattle consumed toxic tall fescue with chemicals that suppress plant growth resulted in an average weight gain response (0.37 pound per day) equal to or greater than the legume study responses. Cattle also have positively responded to anthelmintics, antimicrobial feed additives, and steroid implants. However, functional foods as a group did not improve weight gain. Weight gain was positively impacted in cattle supplemented with highly digestible fiber supplements. There was an observed 0.33-pound improved weight gain compared with studies using starch- and sugar-based supplements. Supplement feed conversion was estimated at 6:1 for highly digestible fiber supplements compared to 11:1 for starch-based supplements. The researchers noted that the idea of using multiple strategies to gain additive effect and restore lost production might have merit if the negative performance is attributed solely to the difference between a toxic and nontoxic fescue diet.

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High-yielding alfalfa removes 40 or more pounds of sulfur per acre per year and many soils are deficient today.1 In fact, a recent study showed that 81% of soil samples in Wisconsin tested low in sulfur.2 Apply GYPSOIL to sulfur-deficient alfalfa fields and you’ll likely see a dramatic difference in your crop by the very next cutting. Stands will be taller and leafier for more harvested tonnage and better feed quality. GYPSOIL supplies about 17% sulfur on a dry matter basis. GYPSOIL is also an excellent source of soluble calcium – about 21% on a dry matter basis – to improve soil physical structure. Calcium helps loosen tight soils and increases water infiltration by helping soil particles flocculate. Gypsum helps reduce ponding, runoff and nutrient losses. The national Natural Resources Conservation Service recently added gypsum to its list of conservation practices, with financial incentives available in some areas. For more information about GYPSOIL brand gypsum, including how to put it to work in your conservation program, visit gypsoil.com or call 866-GYPSOIL (497-7645).

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Jaylor introduces line of dump wagons

High capacity seeders from Kasco

Jaylor has introduced a new line of dump wagons ranging from 975 to 1,315 cubic feet. Jaylor’s dump wagon is designed to provide years of trouble-free performance. Tandem commercial-grade cambered highway axles and brakes with oil bath hubs are standard equipment. The cylinder configuration provides exceptional stability and requires less oil volume than conventional multi-stage cylinders. The design of the up-and-over tailgate opening, with a 4-inch body taper, accounts for its ability to empty a full load quickly. Wide footprint, low-pressure tires add stability and low compaction. The low, wide box design makes it easier to load from the operator’s view in a combine or chopper. Design features such as built-in spring suspension in the tongue soften the ride over rough terrain and lessen wear on the tractor. Visit Jaylor’s website at www.jaylor.com/dumpwagon.

Kasco Manufacturing is offering a new agricultural seeder in 8- or 10-foot working widths with high capacity seed hoppers. Ideal for alfalfa producers, pasture renovations, or grass seeding, these new seeders utilize Kasco’s Precision Seed Metering System for eliminating seed waste. Other features include two rows of cast-iron press wheels to ensure good seed-to-soil contact and extra leveling action; meters that adapt for a variety of seed sizes and standard agitator for consistent seed mixture. For more information, contact Kasco Manufacturing, Shelbyville, Ind., phone: 800-458-9129. Visit their website at www.kascomfg.com.

Bale handling made easy from Worksaver Worksaver has introduced two new bale-handling tools. The new R Series of rotating bale hands is now available for handling wrapped or unwrapped round bales up to 2,200 pounds. The R Series allows the operator to pick up a round bale, rotate it up to 110 degrees and stack it on end, all without having to put the bale down and/or realign the clamps. Stacking round bales on end allows for better storage and reduces the pressure on bale sides. Designed for round bales from 4 to 6 feet, the unit features smooth curved clamping arms to avoid puncturing wrapped bales. The R Series is available in four models and is offered in Euro/Global mount, John Deere 400/500 series mount, skid steer mount and blank back to accept Worksaver bolt-on brackets. Optional interfacing brackets are avail-

able for most, popular quick-attach front loaders with a loader arm distance of 54 inches or less. Worksaver also has introduced a dual-arm bale squeeze for handling wrapped or unwrapped large rectangular bales, as well as round bales. Hydraulic cylinders open both arms to handle bales from 48 to 96 inches in length and up to 2,800 pounds. The round, tubular arms do not puncture the plastic wrap, retaining bale quality during storage. The SSBS-48D mounts to skid steer loaders and tractor front loaders that use the industry standard universal skid steer quick attach system, while the GLBS-48D is designed for tractor front loaders with the Euro/Global quick-attach system. For more information, contact Worksaver Inc., Litchfield, Ill., phone: 217-324-5973, or visit their website at www. worksaver.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.

42 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

More fuel for the BMR corn silage debate by Eric Young


ODAYâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S corn silage hybrids offer high yield potential but can vary substantially in nutritional quality depending on genetics and the growing environment. Dual-purpose, leafy, and brown midrib (BMR) hybrids are the three main types of corn on dairy farms producing corn silage. Dual-purpose hybrids were designed for grain or corn silage production and generally have moderate fiber digestibility with high grain potential. While 30-hour (hr) neutral detergent fiber (NDF) digestibility for dual-purpose hybrids can vary by more than 10 percentage units in different growing seasons, fiber digestibility generally varies minimally (2 to 5 percentage units) when dual-purpose hybrids are grown in the same location. Francis Glenn (Glenn Seed Ltd, Blenheim, Ontario, Canada) developed the first leafy corn hybrids in the 1980s with the idea of producing a high-quality corn silage crop to feed dairy cows. These days, Glennâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s foundational seed lines are used by companies in the U.S., Canada, and around the world. Leafy hybrids have at least eight leaves above the ear and a lower ear placement on the stalk compared to dual-purpose. Current breeding efforts are focused on developing full floury kernel texture to boost starch availability.

BMR is digestibility king

dry matter (DM) yield. BMR is typically 8 to 12 percentage units higher in 30-hr NDF digestibility than non-BMR. Dairy farmers and nutritionists are interested in the agronomic and nutritional differences between bm1, bm3, and non-BMR hybrids and their fit in rations for optimizing farm profitability. Feeding trials have shown BMR can result in greater milk production when fed in rations; drawbacks include lower yield and a higher seed cost. Few studies have looked at yield and quality of bm1, bm3, and non-BMR. With funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, Miner Institute conducted a trial to evaluate yield and quality for bm1, bm3, and non-BMR hybrids in 2015. Hybrids were arranged in a randomized complete block design with four replicated strips per hybrid (six rows, 500 feet length) and planted at 34,000 seeds per acre. Relative maturity ranged from 95 to 107 days, and all plots were harvested on the same day (October 2, 2015). Identical hybrids were grown at a cooperating dairy farm located approximately 25 miles south of Chazy, N.Y. (Adirondack Farms, LLC) to serve as a comparison. In addition to yield and moisture content, fresh chop and fermented samples were analyzed for a range of forage quality measures, including total fiber [acid detergent fiber (ADF) and NDF], crude protein (CP), soluble protein (SP), 30-hr NDF digestibility expressed on

uNDF (percent of NDF)

The BMR mutation in corn was discovered in 1924. It took nearly 40 years to realize that the BMR trait confers lower uNDF values for corn silage hybrids at three time points lignin content and greater 25 fiber digestibility. There uNDF30om uNDF120om uNDF240om are four known BMR muta20 tions that differ in agronomic traits. Dow Agro15 Sciences (Mycogen Seeds) utilizes the bm3 gene, while 10 DuPont Pioneer uses the bm1 gene. In general, trials 5 show that BMR has more milk yield potential per ton 0 Hybrid 1 Hybrid 2 Hybrid 3 Hybrid 4 Hybrid 5 than non-BMR but at the (bm3) (bm1) (non-BMR) (non-BMR) (bm3) expense of lower average

an organic matter basis (NDFD30om), lignin, starch, 7-hr digestible starch (starchD), and undigested NDF (uNDF) content measured after 30, 120, and 240 hours of in vitro digestion.

What we found Dry matter at harvest ranged from 35 to 38 percent (see table). Starch content ranged from 34 to 36 percent with no differences among hybrids. Yield (at 35 percent DM) did not differ significantly among hybrids. StarchD on fresh chop ranged from 54 to 64 percent and was lowest for the bm1 and higher for nonBMR. There was no significant difference in starchD between bm1 and bm3. After 30 days of ensiling in vacuum bags (to mimic silo fermentation), starchD improved by more than 10 percentage units (73 to 79 percent), with no significant differences among hybrids. NDFD30 varied significantly among BMR and non-BMR, with nearly a 10 percentage unit advantage for bm3 compared to non-BMR. There was no difference on NDFD30 between bm1 and bm3. BMR lignin content (1.8 to 2.0 percent of DM) was significantly lower than non-BMR (2.5 to 2.6 percent), with no differences between bm1 and bm3. Fiber digestibility or indigestibility of corn silage affects feed intake, rate of forage particle breakdown, ruminal turnover, and milk production potential. In rations with more than 40 percent corn silage, a recent study showed that milk potential improved by nearly one-third pound per day for each 1 percentage unit bump in NDF digestibility. Fresh chop samples were used with MILK2006 to provide a relative hybrid ranking for milk potential (see table). ERIC YOUNG The author is an agronomist and soil scientist with the Miner Institute in Chazy, N.Y.

August/September 2016 | hayandforage.com | 43

Yield and forage quality of bm3, bm1, and non-BMR corb silage hybrids Hybrid

bm3 bm3 bm1 non-BMR non-BMR

Yield (ton/ac at 35% DM)

16.9a* 18.3a 16.8a 18.7a 18.6a

Moisture (% DM)

Starch % DM

StarchD (% of starch)

NDF (% DM)

NDFD30 (% of NDF)

37.1a 34.5c 35.6ac 38.4b 36.1ac

35.7a 33.7a 35.7a 35.8a 35.6a

56.3a 56.2a 54.1a 59.6b 64.4b

37.6a 37.6a 38.3a 39.8a 39.5a

63.3a 61.2a 59.7a 54.3b 56.6b

Milk (lb/ton DM)

3,109** 3,056 3,012 2,843 2,888

Milk per acre (lb milk/acre)

52,457 55,902 50,593 53,143 53,704

*Hybrid means with different letters are different at P≤0.05 **Hybrid means used as input for Milk2006

Milk per ton was highest for the two bm3 hybrids, followed by the bm1 and non-BMR. Factoring in both quality and yield (milk per ton multiplied by yield) results in a different ranking. While one of the bm3 hybrids still ranked num-

ber one in milk per acre, the non-BMR hybrids ranked second and third.

Sorting out uNDF Indigestible or undigested fiber (uNDF) is becoming a more popular forage

quality measure. Since uNDF is a more uniform feed fraction than NDFD, it has a predictable digestibility (zero) and can be used to estimate fast and slow fiber digestion pools to fine-tune rations. The next version of the Cornell Net Carbohydrate and Protein System (CNCPS) model will have the capability to utilize uNDF time points to formulate rations. Our uNDF results supplied additional information on silage quality. For example, uNDF30 was significantly lower for the BMR hybrids and did not differ among them. However, uNDF measured at later time points (such as uNDF120 and uNDF240) showed differences between bm1 and bm3 (see figure). Bm3 had significantly lower uNDF120om compared to bm1 and nonBMR, and there was no difference in uNDF120om between bm1 and nonBMR. The bm3 hybrids also had significantly lower uNDF240om compared to bm1 and non-BMR. While lower uNDF values imply greater whole plant fiber digestibility at any given time point, rates of digestion are derived from curve fitting based on the three time points and would better capture overall fiber digestibility of the hybrids.

Make wise choices Distinct and significant differences in quality among BMR and non-BMR hybrids were found in our study. Results highlight the importance of wise hybrid selection and forage analysis when formulating rations. We found that uNDF was a good indicator of fiber quality and may be a useful measure to include for ranking hybrids based on milk production potential. Future research will calculate digestion rates of the hybrids based on fast and slow fiber pools, and evaluate milk production potential using CNCPS. The bottom line is that a complete estimate of a corn hybrid’s nutritional value will be based on the content of starch and its digestibility, plus the content of fiber and its digestibility or indigestibility. Year two of this trial is currently underway. • 44 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016


get PLUS


Crop Specific Inoculant Haylage & Small Grains Dry Hay Hay--up to 26% moisture Corn Silage Hi Hi--Moisture Corn

Full line of applicators. Exceptional customer service. Organic certified. Custom Operators Wanted N4852 County Road C ~ Ellsworth WI 54011 Office: 715-273-3739 Cell: 612-812-7939 www.multisile.com deatonnutrition@dishup.us

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DARF is still #1. Customer response has made the 1017 DARF hay rake a proven success. The model represents years of unmatched performance over thousands of acres plus Nikkel’s attention to detail. Find out what the competition already knows. Call today to learn more.

Work faster ~ Work smarter Built Strong. Trusted for Life.

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Solving square baler problems for over 25 years Liner Covers all 4 sides of bale chamber

One way anti-springback pattern machined into all sides

Pattern keeps hay compressed even when plunger retracts

Special self-adjusting material stabilizes friction

Non-stick properties prevent bale-chamber buildup

Material has 3x the wear resistance of mild steel

www.LDAGmachinery.com 866-889-3846 Baleskiis@LDAGmachinery.com Available at your local dealer. Visit our website to find one near you.




Corn Stalk Netw 15% H rap ea Tough vier for balin g cond itions


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• Repositioned loader for easy bale loading

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• Heavier rotor shafts

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• Heavier conveyor table chains and drive shafts

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When passion makes the difference

Burrowing Rodents

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Pressurized Exhaust Rodent Controller PERC® • The most effective and safe way to control burrowing rodents. • Saves time, gopher mounds are probed, not dug out.



Visit your Hay & Forage Grower staff Coliseum Booth #213 & 217

48 Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

• Control ground squirrels-gophers-prairie dogs. • Low operating cost and simple to use. • Preserves turf and landscaping. Gopher Control Manufacturing & Sales 855-667-5181 • 530-667-5181 or cell# 530-640-3981 www.hmgophercontrol.com




$2.50 per word per issue. 10 word minimum.


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Merger attachment for John Deere R450 and W200 Series Windrowers to save passes in the field.

Wider merger for your toughest conditions.

New Innovative Irrigation system from K-Line Irrigation!


8A BUMPER Bumper and ballast system for John Deere 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters.

Earlage at a whole new level for John Deere 8000 Series Self-Propelled Forage Harvesters.

· Ideal for rotational grazing systems · Easy to install, move, and winterize · Ideal for odd size fields or hilly terrain

K-Line Irrigation NA Call or check on-line for a dealer near you. 866-665-5463 or www.k-linena.com

RCI Engineering reserves the right to make changes in design or appearance without incurring any obligations related to those changes. Images shown may not be representative of final production unit.

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Knoll Dr. RCI products your local For more information, visit208 us River at www.RCIengineering.com, call usareatavailable (888) through 472-4552. Mayville, WI 53050 John Deere dealer or call RCI Toll Free at 888-472-4552 Fax: 920-387-9806 RCI products are also available through your local John Deere dealer. © 2013 RCI Engineering LLC. All rights reserved.

©2015 RCI Engineering LLC. All rights reserved.

A John Deere Allied Supplier

See us on Facebook, See us on Facebook,Linked LinkedInIn& &You YouTube Tube

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BUYERS MART Make Square Bales PROFITABLE with the



Gather, Load, Unload & Stack Hay With the Maxilator Accumagrapple, just one person, with one piece of equipment does it all: gather, load, and unload hay. Spend less time and use less labor to get the job done. • Affordable Maxilator Quality • Works with both tractors and skid loaders • Nothing towed behind baler • Adjustable side-packing arms • 5-Year Warranty • Available in 10 and 15 bale models • Accumulates 10 small square bales • Converts to a grapple in about 2 minutes • American-made in Rockmart, GA • High-quality thermoplastic paint finish

2016 Irrigation Show & Education Conference Las Vegas Convention Center Las Vegas, Nevada

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Heard about reduced lignin alfalfa? Wondered if it can play a role on your farm? Yield vs. Quality

Join us for this free webinar October 17 Noon–1 p.m. C.S.T.

Redesigned to increase digestibility by 12–15 percent, HarvXtra™ alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology allows a delay of harvest up to 10 days while still maintaining quality and digestibility when compared to conventional alfalfa at the same stage of maturity. A Forage Genetics International Researcher leads this discussion. Visit hayandforage.com for details. Sponsored by

Moving and feeding round bales? Check out Worksaver’s Spin Offs! Eliminate wasted hay by only unrolling what cattle will consume in one hour. Change feeding location each day. All models are hydraulically driven. Rotates in both directions for easy feeding and features a 53” forged tapered spear for easier bale penetration. Available in three models and designed to fit Category II or Category III 3-pt. hitches, front loaders and skid steers. Visit worksaver.com to learn more.

Engineered, Designed and Manufactured in the USA

Irrigation Show December 7 – 8 Education Conference December 5 – 9 CO-LOCATING WITH:

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Designed. Engineered. Remarkable Value.

50 Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016




When it comes to ground preparation no one can come close to the level of dedication and experience than Northwest Tillers. With over 60 years in business and many more in collective experience the Northwest line has become something that farms have come to rely on for years on end. Available in a range of sizes from 10' to 20' the Hay & Forage unit is capable of having a seed bed ready floor in as little as one pass. All this is achieved by placing additional blades and rotors on the shaft allowing for a much finer cut; in turn resulting in a better seed bed in a fraction of the time.

Call today to reduce your labor and fuel costs and enhance your ability to seed sooner.

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FIRST RESPONSE Baler Applied Product

A Proven, Non-Corrosive Forage Treatment Alternative to Acid!

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August/September 2016| hayandforage.com | 53

25-01-16 18:29



Hay market activity on modest upswing South Dakota Grazing School September 5 to 9, Chamberlain/Oacoma, S.D. Details: www.sdgrass.org Kentucky Forage and Grassland Council Field Day September 13, Owenton, Ky. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-KFGC16 National Hay Association Convention September 13 to 17, Pasco, Wash. Details: www.nationalhay.org Georgia Grazing School September 20 to 21, Tifton, Ga. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-GGS16 World Dairy Expo World Forage Analysis Superbowl Dairy Forage Seminars October 4 to 8, Madison, Wis. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-WFAS Sunbelt Ag Expo Southeast Hay Contest October 18 to 20, Moultrie, Ga. Hay contest deadline: September 18 Details: sunbeltexpo.com, https://sehaycontest.wordpress.com/ Mid-America Alfalfa Expo November 29 to 30, Kearney, Neb. Details: http://alfalfaexpo.com/ Western Alfalfa and Forage Symposium November 29 to December 1 Reno, Nev. Details: http://calhay.org/symposium/ Northwest Hay Expo January 18 to 19, Kennewick, Wash. Details: www.wa-hay.org U.S. Custom Harvesters Convention January 19 to 21, Omaha, Neb. Details: www.uschi.com AFGC Annual Meeting January 22 to 24, Roanoke, Va. Details: http://bit.ly/HFG-AFGC17

After a long period of weak volume hay sales, there are some signs that hay-buying interest is on the uptick. Dairy and export demand appears to be the primary driver. Though overall supplies of hay seem to be adequate, there have been areas hampered by dry

weather through much of the summer. Top quality hay, as always, is in the shortest supply. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of early August. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted. •

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

Price $/ton 230 170 145-150 245 250 130-160 150-180 200 170-180 260-270 120-130 175 160-175 160-195 100-120 155-160 Price $/ton 190-230 130 180 130 180-190 200-220 120-125 140-175 120-155 150-190 170-190 110-130 135 175 235 150-180 150-155 115-118 Price $/ton 110 120 95-125 150-160 160-165 85-103 100-145 130-135 150-180 150 100-115 135-150 80-90 205-210 150 190-250 78-88 115-130

Texas (Panhandle)-ssb (d) Texas (west) Utah (Uintah Basin) Washington (Columbia Basin) Wisconsin (d) Wyoming (central/western) Fair-quality hay California (north SJV) California (southeast) Illinois (northern) (d) Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (northwest) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri Montana-lrb Nebraska (northeast/central) Oklahoma (central) Oregon (Klamath Basin) (d) Pennsylvania (southeast)-ssb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Utah (southern) Wisconsin Wyoming (eastern)-lrb Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Premium ssb Texas (Panhandle)-Good/Premium Texas (north, central, east)-G/P ssb Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb Bromegrass hay Kansas (north central/east)-Good Kansas (southeast) Good ssb Missouri-Fair to Good Orchardgrass hay California (north SJV)-Premium California (inter-mountain) Colorado (southwest)-Premium-ssb Illinois (southern)-Good ssb (d) Oregon (eastern)-Premium Oregon (Klamath Basin)-Premium ssb Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb Oregon (Lake County)-Premium Oregon (Klamath Basin)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Washington (Columbia Basin)-Good Oat hay New Mexico (south/southwest) (d) Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Good ssb Straw Colorado (northeast) Illinois (northern) Iowa (oat) Kansas (southeast) Pennsylvania (southeast)

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

54 | Hay & Forage Grower | August/September 2016

210 150 70-80 125-135 110-130 100 Price $/ton 115-120 80-85 100-160 70-85 65-100 60-70 100-120 90-110 110-130 60-70 135-140 120-185 63-73 55-75 70-103 105 Price $/ton 133 180-300 180 231-297 80-120 Price $/ton 100-120 100-135 50-80 Price $/ton 240 250 233 160-180 160 275 Price $/ton 210 200 315 155-190 120 Price $/ton 90-100 160 Price $/ton 60 120-125 95 50-60 100-140



(d) (d)

density where it counts

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variabLe chamber round baLers

• Integral Rotor Technology provides consistent, trouble-free crop flow • Fast, consistent bale starting in diverse conditions • Progressive Density System produces very firm bales with moderate cores • Simple, heavy-duty driveline and chains for reliability Integral Rotor

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Double Knotter

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Large square baLers

• Reliable double knotter for increased bale capacity and density • Integral Rotor Technology ensures even crop flow, regardless of windrow variations • The Power Density system produces uniform flakes and square-edged, rock-hard bales • Simple, heavy-duty driveline with fewer moving parts for greater reliability Produces 3x3 and 3x4 bales • Cutting and non-cutting models


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Put our best offers to work for you during DealMaker, now through December 31st. We’re packing on the savings with the BiG Pack large square baler, available in 3x3, 3x4, 4x4, and MultiBale sizes. Now is the time to buy during DealMaker. To learn more or to find your Krone dealer, visit krone-na.com.

Cash discounts vary and are determined by exact machine model. 25% heavier bales when compared to a standard 3x4 large square baler. ©2016 Krone is a registered trademark of Maschinenfabrik Bernard Krone GmBH. Memphis, TN 38181-0880. 901-842-6011 005044

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Profile for Hay & Forage Grower

August/September 2016 Hay & Forage Grower  

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

August/September 2016 Hay & Forage Grower  

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