Hay & FOrage Grower - February 2020

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February 2020

A father’s legacy pg 8 Time makes all the difference pg 12 Hard to beat the beet pg 26

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

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Appraise forages with dollars and sense pg 31

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Make the Switch! Learn why so many growers are switching to Alforex™ varieties with Hi‑Gest® alfalfa technology.

1 Higher

Digestibility Alforex™ varieties with Hi‑Gest® alfalfa technology average 5-8% more leaves than conventional varieties which can result in the following: •

5-10% increased rate of fiber digestion*

22% reduction in indigestible fiber at 240 hours (uNDF240)**

3-5% more crude protein**

2 More Tonnage Alforex varieties with Hi‑Gest alfalfa technology provide farms flexibility to adjust to aggressive harvest systems to maximize yield and quality, or to a more relaxed schedule focused on tonnage. Either way, growers put the odds of improved returns per acre and animal performance in their favor.

3 More Milk While management and feeding practices vary widely, it’s common for dairies feeding Alforex varieties with Hi‑Gest alfalfa technology to report a positive production response from their cows when alfalfa makes up a higher percentage of the ration. Based on the increased rate of digestion, you could expect 2.5 lbs. more milk per cow, per day.1 And while not every producer experiences this level of improvement, some producers report even better results.

Ready to bring higher digestibility, more tonnage and more milk to your farm? Visit us at www.alforexseeds.com or call us at 1-800-824-8585. *The increased rate of fiber digestion, extent of digestion and crude protein data was developed from replicated research and on-farm testing. During the 2015 growing season at West Salem, WI and Woodland, CA, the following commercial dormant, semi-dormant and non-dormant alfalfa varieties were compared head-to-head with Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein: America’s Alfalfa Brand AmeriStand 427TQ; Croplan Brands LegenDairy XHD and Artesia Sunrise; Fertizona Brand Fertilac; S&W Seed Brands SW6330, SW7410 and SW10; and W-L Brands WL 319HQ and WL 354HQ. Also, during the 2015 growing season, 32 on-farm Alforex varieties with Hi-Gest alfalfa technology hay and silage samples were submitted to Rock River Laboratory, Inc., for forage analysis. The results for rate of digestion, extent of digestion and percent crude protein were averaged and compared to the 60-day and four-year running averages for alfalfa in the Rock River database which included approximately 1,700 alfalfa hay and 3,800 silage 60-day test results and 23,000 hay and 62,000 silage test results in the four-year average. **Crude protein=60-day running averages and uNDF240=four-year running average 1 Combs, D. 2015. Relationship of NDF digestibility to animal performance. Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference, 101-112. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/5350/f0a2cb916e74edf5f69cdb73f091e1c8280b.pdf.

™ ® Trademarks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. © 2019 Corteva.

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February 2020 · VOL. 35 · No. 2 MANAGING EDITOR Michael C. Rankin ART DIRECTOR Todd Garrett EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Jennifer L. Yurs ONLINE MANAGER Patti J. Hurtgen DIRECTOR OF MARKETING John R. Mansavage ADVERTISING SALES Kim E. Zilverberg kzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jenna Zilverberg jzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jan C. Ford jford@hoards.com ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com



Angus, good forage, and a father’s legacy

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

A Vermont beef producer and his brother take cattle from pasture to retailer with high-quality pastures and a lot of knowledge from their father.

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 11 Dairy Feedbunk 12 The Pasture Walk 14 Alfalfa Checkoff


Head off baleage feeding issues

Fermentation profiles can help to identify potential baleage feeding problems.


18 Beef Feedbunk

Time spent determining your available forage and livestock intake will help you hit the stocking rate sweet spot.

34 Machine Shed

23 Feed Analysis

Optimize your grazing plan for more profit





















24 Forage Gearhead 42 Forage IQ 42 Hay Market Update ON THE COVER Dalton Schuppe and his children, Raylan and Diem, head out for another day of hay mowing. Located in Iliff, Colo., Schuppe Hay Farms is a diversified operation that annually bales 2,600 acres of alfalfa and grass. Dalton farms with his parents, Mike and Kammy. His grandfather, Gordon, oversees the beef enterprise. Read more about this unique family operation on page 28. Photo by Michaela King

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2020 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.

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Taking stock LFALFA winterkill. Copious amounts of rain. Extended periods of drought. These all impacted hay production in one region of the U.S. or another during 2019. Tales of haymaking woes ran rampant this past year. In May 2019, USDA’s average price for alfalfa hay eclipsed $200 per ton for the first time since 2014. All of this pointed to a down year for U.S. hay production. That didn’t happen, at least according to USDA’s ending year estimates of hay stocks, acres, yields, and production. December 1 hay stocks: After two consecutive years of a reduction in December 1 hay stocks, USDA pegged total hay inventory at 84.5 million tons, up 5.4 million from 2018 and nearly the same total as 2017. These inventory metrics do not take into account forage quality or hay stored as chopped haylage or baleage. To keep some perspective, 2018 December hay stocks were at their second lowest level since 1957. Only 2012 was lower. The level of December hay stocks has dropped about 10 million tons since 2016. At the same time, we’re using less hay between December and May. When it comes to hay stocks, the devil is always in the details. Not every state experiences positive gain. For example, Alabama was down 37%, Minnesota was off 17%, and Kentucky was 13% lower than 2018. Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio also had double-digit percentage unit reductions in hay inventories. Many states significantly improved their hay stocks situation. These included Missouri (up 64%), Utah (up 33%), Nevada (up 32%), Arkansas (up 27%), Kansas (up 23%), and Montana (up 21%). To see how your state fared, visit bit.ly/HFG-USDA. Hay acres and yield: USDA set the final 2019 harvested dry hay acreage at 52.4 million, which was about 400,000 acres fewer than 2018. All of the reduction

Mike Rankin Managing Editor

came from hay acres other than alfalfa (mostly grass). Texas led the nation in 2019 with 4.9 million hay acres and was followed by Missouri (3.36 million acres) and South Dakota (3.35 million acres). Harvested acres of alfalfa and alfalfa -grass dry hay mixtures climbed slightly from 16.6 million in 2018 to 16.7 million in 2019. The top three states for alfalfa dry hay acres harvested in 2019 were Montana (2.1 million), South Dakota (1.9 million), and North Dakota (1.2 million). The average U.S. dry hay yield (all types) jumped from 2.34 tons per acre in 2018 to 2.46 tons per acre in 2019. For alfalfa and alfalfa-grass mixtures, the year-to-year average yield improved from 3.17 to 3.28 tons per acre. Hay production: The 2019 production of all dry hay types in the U.S. totaled 128.9 million tons, up 4.3 percent from 2018. Total alfalfa dry hay production also increased by 4.3 percent to 54.88 million tons. Alfalfa hay production in 2019 was cut significantly in North Dakota (down 303,000 tons), Texas (down 208,000 tons), and California (down 160,000 tons). Alfalfa hay production gainers were easily led by South Dakota (up 702,000 tons). This is the second year in a row that South Dakota has led production gainers. Other states with significant gains in alfalfa hay production included Montana (up 620,000 tons) and Kansas (up 385,000 tons). Bottom line: Virtually all yearover-year dry hay production metrics were up in 2019, but there was variation among states. There’s no reason to believe hay prices will move higher in 2020, although dairy producers will be in a more positive economic position. •

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

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Thanks to our elite genetics and technology, Roundup Ready® and conventional alfalfa varieties provide superior tonnage that growers demand. Ask your local Pioneer sales representative about our varieties that flourish in multiple environments. Pioneer.com/alfalfa

Do not export Pioneer® brand alfalfa seed or crops containing Roundup Ready® alfalfa technology including hay or hay products, to China pending import approval. In addition, due to the unique cropping practices, do not plant this product in Imperial County, California. Always Read and Follow Pesticide Label Directions. Alfalfa with the Roundup Ready® alfalfa technology provides crop safety for over-the-top applications of labeled glyphosate herbicides when applied according to label directions. Glyphosate agricultural herbicides will kill crops that are not tolerant to glyphosate. ACCIDENTAL APPLICATION OF INCOMPATIBLE HERBICIDES TO THIS VARIETY COULD RESULT IN TOTAL CROP LOSS. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark used under license from Monsanto Company. Pioneer® brand products are provided subject to the terms and conditions of purchase which are part of the labeling and purchase documents. TM ® SM Trademarks and service marks of Dow AgroSciences, DuPont or Pioneer, and their affiliated companies or their respective owners. © 2020 Corteva. PION9FORG057_FP




Jimmy Henning

Making baleage by quickly wrapping high-moisture forage in six or more layers of UV-resistant plastic allows producers to make more timely harvests and avoid rain damage.

Head off baleage feeding issues by Jimmy Henning


ALEAGE, or making silage in bales of wilted forage that are wrapped in plastic to create an anaerobic environment, allows for the more timely harvest of forage crops. It produces consistently higher quality stored feed than haying, which requires longer periods of good curing weather. The key to this process is wilting the forage sufficiently to achieve the recommended moisture content and adequate fermentation within the wrapped bales. Good preservation depends on achieving anaerobic conditions and rapid fermentation of available carbohydrates to form lactic, acetic, and propionic acid. The accumulating organic acids lower the pH, ideally to a level of 5 or below (slightly higher in legumes). This acidity prevents spoilage during storage and when re-exposed to air at feeding. Well-fermented baleage is generally accepted to have more than 3% lactic acid and less than 0.1% butyric acid on a dry matter basis.

Clostridial culprit As simple as this process sounds, baleage can and does go bad as a result of improper fermentation. When baleage is ensiled too dry, fermentation is incomplete and good storage relies on achieving and maintaining anaerobic conditions. In the case of high-moisture

baleage (70% and above), and especially when forages are mature and lack sufficient fermentable carbohydrates, bales do not generate enough lactic acid to prevent a secondary fermentation, usually by clostridial bacteria. Clostridia metabolize available carbohydrates, lactic acid, and protein, often producing butyric acid and sometimes other toxins depending on the species of clostridia present. The most feared of these bacterial types is Clostridium botulinum, the species responsible for the production of the botulism toxin. Ordinarily present in low numbers on forage, clostridia bacteria are introduced into baleage most often from soil or applied manure. Soil is most commonly introduced into baleage from aggressive raking, but driving rain can also splash soil onto swaths and windrows. Feeding poorly fermented, high-moisture baleage can be costly. Baleage that has undergone clostridial fermentation can have effects ranging from lowered feed intake to the introduction of intestinal toxins such as botulism. Nearly every year, cattle are lost to botulism toxicity from poorly fermented baleage. Identifying problem baleage and preventing cattle losses would be highly beneficial.

How Kentucky producers fared

various baleage lots. In 2018, samples were collected on random lots of baleage across central Kentucky and analyzed for forage quality, pH, and fermentation profiles in a commercial certified laboratory. In 2019, additional data was collected on general production practices, such as equipment type and the interval between cutting and baling. All lots were allowed to ferment for at least four weeks before sampling. Fermentation results were similar in 2018 and 2019, so only 2019 data is presented. Baleage moisture content ranged from 22% to 79% (Figure 1), with more samples above 60% moisture (16) than below 40% (12). Thirty samples were outside of the recommended moisture range of 40% to 60% while 27 were within that range. Similar to most baleage research, moisture content at baling was the major factor impacting lactic acid and butyric acid production (Figures 2 and 3). Only when moisture approached 60% did samples in this survey achieve 3% lactic acid and a pH of 5, which are the generally accepted threshold values for good fermentation. Fermentation characteristics remained good for most samples when moisture content was between 60% and 70%, but the results became less predictable. Above 70% moisture, elevated butyric acid production was common. Lactic acid values generally declined when moisture was above 70%, presumably due to its metabolism by clostridial bacteria. Most producers had some type of silage baler or baler adapted to handle silage. All used wheel rakes, but mowers were a mix of conditioning and nonconditioning types. Wilting time was difficult to summarize but varied from hours to a day or more depending on conditions. All producers were JIMMY HENNING The author is a professor and extension forage specialist with the University of Kentucky, Lexington.

A survey of Kentucky baleage was done in 2018 and 2019 to determine the fermentation characteristics of

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Limit the ash Ash content is of practical concern since it is a measure of potential clostridial contamination of forage from soil. Normal ash concentrations range from 6% to 8%. In our 2019 study samples, ash content ranged from 7% to 15% but was not correlated with butyric acid production. There was evidence that the ash effect might be seasonal. Two samples, both above 14% ash content, were spring-produced small grain baleage that had greater butyric acid than a sorghum-sudangrass sample from the same farm and field (0.44% compared to 0.01%). High ash content alone is not predictive of butyric fermentation but should still be considered a risk factor. All of the well-accepted practices

Number of samples

In 2019, baleage needed to be 55% moisture or above to consistently produce adequate lactic acid. All but one sample at or below 60% moisture content had acceptable butyric acid levels. Work by Kevin Shinners and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin found that baleage at or below 60% moisture and with less than target lactic acid concentrations can still be stable during storage and feeding; however, this assumes anaerobic conditions are maintained until feeding and bales are consumed within one week of removing the plastic. Baleage with moisture contents between 60% and 70% produced high quantities of lactic acid (1.9% to 5.8%), but 10 of 14 samples also had butyric levels greater than the desired 0.1% or less considered optimum. Above 70% moisture, all samples had excessive levels of butyric acid. Butyric acid was present (0.23% to 6%) in every lot of small grain baleage with moisture levels above 60%. The type of crop and season of production also contributes to risk; wet, small grain baleage is often produced in early spring when lactic acid bacteria numbers and lower temperatures likely limit optimal fermentation. Baleage inoculants would have likely improved fermentation in these cases.

20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0

19 14

12 8


<= 40%

41 to 50%

51 to 60%

61 to 70%

>= 71%

Moisture range

Figure 2. Effect of moisture content on pH and lactic acid concentration, Kentucky baleage, 2019 8 7

pH or % lactic acid

Moisture was the key

Figure 1. Frequency (n=57) of moisture content, Kentucky baleage, 2019

6 5 4 3 2 1 0








Moisture content (%)

Figure 3. Effect of moisture content on butyric acid concentration, Kentucky baleage, 2019 7 6

% butyric acid

using at least four layers of plastic, and most used six or more. All of the high-butyric samples were high-moisture small grains. None of the producers used any form of silage or baleage bacterial inoculant.

5 4 3 2 1 0








Moisture content (%)

for making baleage were confirmed in this survey. Doing things such as cutting on time, wilting forage to a proper moisture content, making dense bales, and achieving and maintaining anaerobic storage conditions are all extremely important. Testing baleage for forage quality and getting a fermentation profile is also highly recommended. Testing will not predict actual botulism toxin formation, but it will reveal risk factors that make it more likely. These include a high

moisture content, an elevated pH, high levels of ash, and significant butyric acid formation. Although the presence of butyric acid above 0.1% is not necessarily a guarantee of botulism issues or poor performance, it should be a marker for potential feeding problems, including botulism. With a comprehensive forage test in addition to an organic acid/fermentation profile, feeding problems due to poor fermentation become preventable, or at least more predictable. • February 2020 | hayandforage.com | 7

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All photos Mike Rankin

Angus, good forage, and a father’s legacy by Mike Rankin


OHN Kleptz is a mechanic, rotational grazer, forage producer, electrician, cattleman, meat processor, public relations director, welder, delivery truck driver, construction supervisor, and competitive sharpshooter. That latter skill was honed while serving a stint in the Marine Corps. Most of his other résumé-building talents he directly attributes to his dad’s tutelage. John talked with a low, matter-of-fact tone in the office of Bear Trap Custom Processing, the final stop before his beef cattle enter the consumer end of the food chain. How he got here in Milton, Vt., is a long story that begins in Indiana with his father, Jim. “My dad was one of six children in Terre Haute, Ind., and raised during the Great Depression,” John said. He joined

the Air Force, served in the Korean War, and eventually found himself working as a mechanical and electrical engineer for General Electric (GE). That job would eventually get him transferred to GE’s plant in Burlington, Vt. The move to Vermont came in 1971. The family consisted of John, his parents, and four other siblings (two brothers and two sisters). Jim purchased a 10-acre hobby farm in Shelburne, Vt., in 1973 where his family could live.

A hobby gone wild “Though not raised on a farm, my dad always had this passion for Black Angus cattle,” John explained. “We started with a few head and then the herd grew; it was more or less a hobby that simply spiraled out of control. Before long, we had 30 to 40 head. My brother, Mark, had been working on some local dairy farms, and I went off to the Marine Corps after high

school. My dad still worked for GE, and he finally gave us an ultimatum that he needed help with the cattle, or they would have to go because they were too much of a financial and labor burden.” In 1980, the older Mark began to work full time with the family beef business — coined LaPlatte River Angus Farm. John joined his father and brother on the family farm in 1988 after his time in the Marine Corps. It wasn’t commonplace back then to direct-market beef, but that’s what the Kleptzes did from the start. John and his father essentially became door-todoor salesmen for beef. “Our meat processing was done at other facilities, and I got some experience with marketing and at processing plants during the mid-1990s,” John explained. “We operated out of a couple of rented facilities for a while, and when we lost the last one, I told

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Annual or perennial, all forage acres at LaPlatte River Angus Farm are rotational or strip grazed.

my father and brother that we needed something permanent.” They bought the 208-acre Milton farm in 2011. It was a former dairy farm, located about 23 miles north of the home farm in Shelburne. “We came to this location because of the sandy soils, which made it easier to get wastewater permits for the future processing facility,” John noted. John and his father went to work designing the processing facility. “When it came to mathematics and engineering, my father could figure anything out,” the appreciative son said. Multiple nights were spent determining what construction materials would be needed and how they would fit together. By this time, Jim was also battling leukemia. John started building the meat processing facility in 2013, welding all the steel support frames together himself. Bear Trap Custom Processing began operations in May 2015. Jim passed away in October 2015 at the age of 83.

Back to the present These days, LaPlatte River Angus Farm operates from the Shelburne and Milton locations. John and Mark are equal ownership partners. Helping Mark in Shelburne is another brother, Chris, and a nephew, Jim. The original southern location has about 70 brood cows and consists of about 500 acres (owned and rented) of pasture and hayfields. In Milton, there are the original purchased acres and another 70 that are leased. John and his son, Ben, manage the operation. Four full-time employees work in the meat processing plant. John also oversees 35 to 40 brood cows and both his own stocker cattle along with those that he purchases from neighbors each year. John’s wife, Jean, and Mark’s wife, Joan, assist with the overall operation by managing the record books.

of alfalfa and tall fescue, which he reseeds every six to seven years. His rented pastures and hayfields are a mixture of cool-season species that include orchardgrass, timothy, and smooth bromegrass. “We’re big believers in rotational and strip grazing, and every pasture, regardless if it’s a perennial or annual, is managed that way,” John asserted. “I know it’s good for the land, it’s good for the cattle, and it’s good for the person managing the cattle because they’re forced to spend time with the animals. In our case, we also get a lot of exercise because we don’t own an ATV (all-terrain vehicle), so we walk everywhere,” he added. Seeking to maximize gain on his forage base, John moves his cattle every day. Depending on the season, he allots just enough forage for one day using polywire and fiberglass posts. Not surprisingly, his belief in rotational grazing initiates from his father. Many years ago, after reading about rotational grazing in three or four magazines, Jim ordered electric fencing from Texas because it wasn’t sold in Vermont at the time. John said he likes to experiment with new species, always in search of something better. Although he has had good success with brown midrib (BMR) sudangrass, this past year he also tried seeding some pearl millet and kale to help supplement his perennial

pastures during the dry summer slump, which is amplified on the sandy soils. “In the past, I loved sudangrass, but when you get into the second round of growth and frost becomes a concern, then we worry about prussic acid being a problem.” In late-summer 2019, John seeded a new pasture with a mixture of chicory, alfalfa, subterranean clover, tall fescue, and orchardgrass. It had yet to be grazed as of mid-September but looked exceptional.

A need for stored feed Being in the far reaches of northern Vermont, grazing year-round is not an option. To keep adequate gains on stocker calves through the winter, John must depend on stored feed. His storage method of choice is silo bags. He fills seven to nine 8- by 150foot bags each year. Included in the stored feed inventory is corn silage and haylage. John also chops winter wheat, spring barley, and spring-planted oats and peas, which he really likes. Most of the haylage is made early in the growing season on dedicated, rented hay fields. Once mid-July rolls around, he shifts to making dry round bales, putting up 300 to 350 bales per year to help carry his brood cows through the winter. continued on following page >>>

By mid-September, chicory dominated this summerseeded pasture that also included several other legumes and grasses.

Multiple forage options Surrounding the main buildings at the Milton location are pastures of every ilk. “I try to do something different every year,” John noted. His base perennial pastures consist February 2020 | hayandforage.com | 9

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A competitive market

Kleptz credits both his knowledge and success to his late father, Jim.

“We try to utilize our pastures and stored forage to their fullest potential and then finish cattle on corn toward the end,” John said. Cattle are finished on a total mixed ration (TMR) consisting of corn silage, dry shelled corn that is run through a grinder-mixer, and minerals. The finishing period ranges from 90 to 130 days, depending on the animal. Bear Trap Custom Processing slaughters 650 to 780 head per year. Custom processing for other producers accounts for about 30% of their business. All of the meat is sold wholesale, and they currently have 38 regular businesses that they supply with beef. John and his son make all the meat deliveries, which gives them a chance to interact personally with their clientele. Vermont will never lead the nation in beef production but, according to John, there’s more beef cattle in the Green Mountain State than there’s ever been before. “I now have tougher competition than in the past,” he said.

“A lot of people here have gotten into the beef niche markets such as grassfed and Wagyu.” Even with the competition, LaPlatte River Angus Farm continues to grow, improve, and bring in a third generation. John didn’t hesitate when asked how they have been able to make such great strides in such a short amount of time. Although a well-planned grazing and forage program certainly deserves some of the credit, he attributes most of their success to Jim Kleptz. “My brother and I have to give our father a lot of credit for where we are today,” John said. “He read every agricultural magazine that existed. He talked to everybody who had knowledge of agriculture. He even took classes at night where he learned about production practices, genetics, and how to A.I. cows. He just had a thirst for knowledge that he passed along to his kids. He also had a deep appreciation in the environment and water quality in Vermont and instilled that in us as well,” he concluded gratefully. •

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Corn and wheat silage anchor dairy rations


HE San Joaquin Valley (SJV) of California is home to about 1.7 million lactating dairy cows, and that number of cows needs a lot of forage. However, SJV dairy farmers have a card that more northern locations do not — the ability to grow a winter and a summer crop on the same ground. Summer visitors to the dairy areas of the SJV will find field after field of corn (for silage); whereas, visitors in the winter will find those same fields largely covered with wheat — also for silage. Both silages are integral parts of the dairy feed system in the SJV. Corn for silage is generally planted in April or May for harvest in September or October. This means that most corn crops will have the majority of their growth during the hot SJV summer and never get rained on in favor of applications of irrigation water timed to match plant growth needs. In contrast, wheat silage is planted after the corn is taken off in the fall and is harvested in March or April. After an initial irrigation post-planting, it is not uncommon for wheat to be fully rainfed through harvest. In addition, wheat tends to grow relatively slowly in the cool SJV winter until day-length and ambient heat increase in late February to cause a growth spurt through the longer days and modest temperatures until harvest. These growth conditions, for both crops, contrast dramatically to those in the North. As a result, SJV corn and wheat silages are dissimilar to the same crops grown in a Midwestern summer, for example.

Differ in feed nutrients Corn and wheat silages, while generally similar, have important differences in their nutrient profiles. While there

is substantial field variability for both wheat and corn silages, notable overall differences are the much higher level of starch in corn silage and the slightly lower level of protein. Skipping right to the bottom of Table 1, wheat silage only has about 85% of the net energy for lactation (NEL) of corn silage, virtually all due to the higher ash levels of wheat silage. This is likely due to higher soil contamination of the shorter wheat plants and soil splash during rain events. Wheat also has a higher level of neutral detergent fiber (NDF), although its in vitro fermentability does not differ. While the NEL of both these California silages are higher than NRC (2001) levels, it is notable that the wheat silage is about 12% higher while corn silage is only 4% greater. Thus, these California silage crops are energetically much closer than would be expected for similar summer grown crops in the North.

Mike Rankin

by Peter Robinson stimulates rumination but may depress DM intake, plays a role in determining maximum feeding levels. As a result, in general, a high proportion of wheat silage produced in the SJV will find its way into rations of dry cows and replacement heifers. Dairy nutritional consultants can formulate relatively high levels of both wheat and corn silages into lactation diets with little impact on milk production. However, the highest dietary inclusion levels for corn silage (about 25% of diet DM) are generally greater than the 15% of diet DM maximum for wheat silage. Even so, there were a couple of exception farms in the survey that had 24% and 29% wheat silage of diet DM. The use of wheat silage in California high-cow diets is much lower than corn silage. However, when either is formulated into diets by nutritional consultants at up to 25% of DM, but more commonly up to 15% of DM for wheat silage, it has no discernible impact on milk production levels of high-group cows. •

Table 1. Comparative nutrient profiles of California corn and wheat silages Silage Corn


Dry matter (%)



Ash (% DM)



Protein (% DM)



Soluble protein (% CP)



Undigestible CP (% CP)



NDF (% DM)



30 h dNDF (% NDF)



The survey says . . .

ADF (% DM)



Based upon surveys of high, mature cow groups on 35 commercial California dairy farms completed by the author over the past decade, the use of wheat silage is much less prevalent than that of corn silage in high-cow groups. Only 14 of the 35 farms fed wheat silage while 31 fed corn silage. In addition, inclusion levels of wheat silage by those dairy farms that used wheat silage in their high-cow groups were also lower than those farms that used corn silage (11.6% versus 16.5% of diet dry matter [DM] for wheat and corn silage, respectively). While the reduced feeding rates were primarily due to the lower NEL value of the wheat silage, it is likely that the higher NDF level of wheat silage, with its tougher structural integrity that

Lignin (% DM)



Fat (% DM)



Starch (% DM)



NE1 (Mcal/lb) DM)



NRC (2001) NE1 (Mcal/lb DM)



Based upon sample collection and assay by the author.

PETER ROBINSON The author is a professor and dairy extension specialist with the University of California-Davis.

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Time makes all the difference


ELCOME to this first installment of The Pasture Walk. The editors of Hay & Forage Grower have invited me to share my thoughts on pasture and grazing management through 2020. I look forward to this opportunity. I want to begin this series with the consideration of time management as the most critical piece of the grazing puzzle. Time has always intrigued me, both how we measure it and how we perceive it. As a bit of introduction for those of you who don’t know me, I have been working in the realm of grazing management for over 40 years. Someone introduced me at a conference several years ago and said my career had spanned five decades. I thought that was nonsense at the time, but then realized I had started doing grazing work in graduate school in the 1970s, and we were already into the 2010s at the time of the introduction. The program moderator was right, but it didn’t really make sense to say that. With the onset of 2020, someone could say my career now spanned six decades. I’m only 63, so did I start as a 4-year-old? It is all a matter of how we choose to view time, and the aspect of time that I want to discuss here is in the context of the grazing cycle. What exactly is the grazing cycle? It is the duration of time from the onset of one grazing event to the onset of the subsequent grazing event. The grazing cycle has two segments of time: the grazing period and the recovery period. In a productive, high-moisture environment, our grazing period might be a single day and recovery period 24 days. In a range setting, we might graze a pasture for 10 days and then

allow 14 months of recovery. Those both represent a single grazing cycle.

Limit grazing exposure Conventional ranch management for generations has largely ignored the critical role of time in pasture and range productivity. The simplest way to explain the importance of time management is this: Mostly bad things happen to plants and soil during the grazing period, while mostly positive things happen during the recovery period. Thus, the fewer days in the year pastures are exposed to grazing, and the more days of recovery, the better the outcome will be. During the grazing periods, grazing animals primarily remove leaves from the plant. As leaves are removed, photosynthesis is diminished, causing the root system to contract and the direct flow of energy from the plant to beneficial soil microbes to decline or cease altogether. Hoof impact can cause soil compaction. The shorter we make the grazing period, the sooner the pasture can transition to recovery. During the recovery period, mostly positive things happen to the plants and soil. Photosynthesis increases as long as the plant is still generating new leaf growth. With the renewed flow of energy, the root system expands again and the symbiotic relationships with soil biota resume and accelerate. Recovery must take place during the active growing season. Grazing a pasture throughout the growing season and removing stock in the winter does not constitute recovery.

Consider plant, animal, and soil From the plant perspective, we want to avoid leaving stock on a pasture once new recovery growth has begun. If new growth is being created using

Mike Rankin

by Jim Gerrish stored carbohydrate energy, and the new growth is being grazed off as fast as it appears, plant vigor will diminish. In irrigated or high natural rainfall situations, this is generally no more than three to four days. On rangeland, it may be seven to 10 days. These are the maximum lengths of stay I recommend. Shorter is better. Given the opportunity, animals will selectively graze. What an animal consumes on the first day on a new pasture is typically higher nutrient value than what they consume on the second, fifth, tenth day, and so on. This means daily forage intake is usually trending downward through the course of the grazing period, meaning that performance is also trending downward. Shorter grazing periods allow us to more effectively optimize individual animal performance through tighter management of forage availability and accessible nutritive value. Soil compaction is the combined effect of soil type, soil moisture, and physical force applied to the soil. With grazing, the physical force being applied is the animals’ hooves. The more days animals are present on a pasture, the more total hoofbeats hit the ground. The longer stock stay on one paddock, the greater their daily travel distance becomes as they walk greater distances looking for that best bite of forage. Contrary to what many people believe, the hoof impact of daily rotation with stock density of 100,000 pounds animal live weight per acre delivers substantially less physical impact than grazing an area for 10 days at 10,000 pounds of live weight per acre. These are the factors driving our choice to make grazing periods shorter. The more tightly we want to control our production system, the shorter we make the grazing periods. • For more information, visit www.americangrazinglands.com.

JIM GERRISH The author is a rancher, author, speaker, and consultant with over 40 years of experience in grazing management research, outreach, and practice. He has lived and grazed livestock in hot, humid Missouri and cold, dry Idaho.

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Your Checkoff Dollars At Work

Seeking out new alfalfa fungicides Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of research projects funded through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA). The checkoff program facilitates farmer-funded research. Aphanomyces has been shown to affect alfalfa establishment as well. “There are resistant alfalfa varieties, but not every seed in a bag is going to be resistant to Aphanomyces, so a fungicide can help to achieve improved establishment,” Samac said. “The seed treatment also doesn’t protect an older plant; the fungicide probably only lasts a month. If you continue to have pressure from pathogens, particularly Aphanomyces DEBORAH SAMAC or Phytophthora, USDA-ARS $36,000 that’s where you can see die-off of plants within a couple of months of establishment,” she added. Increasingly, wet falls across the Midwest are exposing adult plants to these pathogens after the fungicide has worn off. “Fungicides are not going to be the silver bullet, but they are going to help get

the crop established,” Samac explained. Using Checkoff research funds, she and USDA-ARS research technician Melinda Dornbusch gathered fungicides from several chemical companies and incorporated them in an agar medium at different concentrations with the different pathogens causing seed rot and damping off. They wanted to see what concentrations would inhibit the growth of the pathogens, then selected the two with the broadest range of activity. Those fungicides, EverGol Energy, also registered for alfalfa, and Intego Solo, were compared against Apron XL in soil artificially infested with a mixture of Phytophthora, Pythium, Aphanomyces, and Fusarium. All three seed treatments increased seedling counts, with Apron XL and EverGol Energy the most effective. Apron XL was the most effective in soil flooded immediately after planting; in soil flooded two days after planting, Apron XL and EverGol Energy performed similarly.

Moist soil

Saturated for 24 hours after planting

Saturated two days after planting for 24 hours






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Seedling count

Seedling count

FUNGICIDE used as an alfalfa seed treatment for decades in the U.S. — to help quickly establish and protect the crop — was compared with eight soybean fungicides in NAFA Alfalfa Checkoff-funded research. The goal of the research: to determine if the soybean products could fight the effects of several pathogens causing the soilborne disease seed rot and seedling damping off in alfalfa. Apron seed treatments have been used on alfalfa seed since the 1970s. They have been effective against the pathogens Phytophthora and Pythium, but not against Fusarium in alfalfa, said Deborah Samac, the USDA-ARS plant pathologist who conducted the research. She has been concerned that some of the disease-causing organisms may have developed resistance to Apron and Apron XL, and that the fungicides haven’t been controlling some Pythium species even since the 1970s and 1980s. More recently, another pathogen,

Fungicide seed treatment

Project results • Doses of nine commercial fungicides causing 50% reduction in pathogen growth were determined for 16 pathogen strains. EverGol Energy and Intego Solo had the broadest range of activity.

• None of the five proprietary biological seed treatments tested were effective against seed rot and damping off pathogens. EverGol Energy and Apron XL had similar protective action as seed treatments.

• Germplasm resulting from one cycle of selection had 29% to 62% resistant plants depending on germplasm source and Pythium isolate.

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“I was a little disappointed that the two (soybean) fungicides didn’t show better efficacy than Apron XL,� Samac said. “But we used artificially infested soil; we didn’t really know if all of the pathogens were really active.� Future research will include testing seed treatments with soil infested with individual pathogens as well as field testing fungicide-treated seeds. The research will also look at how fungicides enhance

genetic resistance in different conditions and field sites with different soil types. “We can do polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays to quantify the different organisms in the soil,� Samac pointed out. “Farmers would know which pathogens are most numerous in their soils and consider different management.� Farmers should continue to select alfalfa varieties highly resistant to Aphanomyces and Phytophthora root

rot and buy alfalfa seed treated with multiple fungicides if they have had establishment problems. “The herbicides currently being used in corn and soybeans may have longer residuals than those used in the past,â€? Samac said. The plant pathologist suggested taking a whole-crop-system approach when planning herbicide applications. The final report on the research can be found at bit.ly/HFG-Samac. •

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Mike Rankin

Ten irrigation tips for dairies by Dennis Halladay


UST like managing dairy cows, there is a lot more to putting water on crops than it looks. Plus, what may seem like tiny, insignificant details throughout the process can have a tremendous impact on costs and productivity. Intensifying demand for water today mean those details are more important than ever, said Washington State University Extension Irrigation Specialist Troy Peters at the 2019 Western Dairy Management Conference in Reno, Nev. To help dairy producers get them right, Peters offered 10 key tips: Number 1: Don’t guess about when to run the water and when to shut it off. “What we want everyone to do is collect and use and some sort of data to irrigate. There are a lot of varieties of data. One is the look and feel method, which is okay. The weather-based evapotranspiration (ET) estimate method is better. Soil moisture sensors are even better, and a combination of ET and soil moisture sensors is best of all. “The amount of water a crop uses changes drastically. Early in the season it is very little. It peaks in July or August and then drops back in fall. So if we apply the same amount of water throughout the season we are probably over irrigating in spring, under irrigating in summer, and over irrigating again in fall. We really need to modify the amount of water we apply and respond to different weather conditions.”

Number 2: Move sprinklers close to the ground if possible. “This can save a lot of water, so if you are in a situation where you don’t have enough water, getting closer to the ground can really help. These systems are much more efficient and operating a sprinkler at 12 to 18 inches off the ground as opposed to eight feet is huge, especially in windy, dry areas.” “We don’t think about the amount of water that is lost in the wind, but it can be 20% to 30%. Rainbows are pretty things, but they aren’t what we want to see when trying to run an efficient irrigation system. “Incidentally, dairy producers especially are often not concerned with efficiency. They have a lot of effluent water they need to get rid of, so they do the opposite of what I am saying. High pressure, big gun sprinklers are best at being inefficient, by about 60%, plus they have large nozzles that won’t plug.” Number 3: When using hand lines and wheel lines, use the skip movement method instead of the taxi or wipe methods. “Taxi is where we irrigate with every riser going down the field, then we move the empty pipe back to the beginning and start again. “Wipe is where we irrigate with every riser going down the field, then we irrigate with every riser coming back, like a windshield wiper. This is the most inefficient and ineffective method. It applies way too much water at the ends of the field and it takes so long between irrigations that it creates water stress. “Skip is when we irrigate using every other riser going down the field, then hit the skipped risers on the way back.

You will have quicker recovery from stress following an alfalfa harvest, fewer issues with water losses due to deep percolation (overwatering), and less stress between irrigation events. It also takes about the same amount of work each move.” Number 4: if you want to be efficient, move pivots slowly. “Move them as slowly as possible until you start to see runoff at the end of the field. Then speed up just a little bit to avoid the runoff. The more water we apply per pass with the pivot, the less total time we have water sitting on the soil surface and exposed to evaporation. “If we want to be inefficient then what we do is run things really fast so there is more evaporation and less opportunity for water to penetrate into the soil.” Number 5: Till less if you can. “If we can do no-till, strip-till, or limited tillage we can save time sitting in tractors and burning fuel, and it will reduce wear and tear on equipment. And every time we till, we destroy soil structure texture a little bit and we expose more soil organic matter to volatilization that turns it into CO2 . It also exposes moisture in the soil to evaporation. “Especially in places where you are DENNIS HALLADAY Dennis Halladay is the former Western editor for Hoard’s Dairyman.

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struggling with water availability, you can see yield boosts by doing less tillage. That’s because trash on the surface serves as a mulch to protect soil from heat and wind evaporation.” Number 6: Schedule time and budget money to maintain and repair your irrigation system. “Fixing leaks, replacing nozzles, and replacing sprinklers, regulators, and gaskets is a must. And of course, be sure to service the pump. Decide to just do it. It’s a better approach than messing with everything all at once, and I think it saves time and money in the long run. “Of course, you want to fix leaks and unplug nozzles and regulators regularly. Water losses due to leaks can be tremendous. A survey in Idaho found leak losses on Thunderbird wheel lines averaged 12% to 16%. On hand lines the average loss was 36%. That’s a lot of water, and it means you’re running pumps longer, but not getting the benefit of water that you could if the leaks were controlled. It is well worth your time and money to fix them.” Number 7: Don’t let water freeze inside your system. “This is a no-brainer. Water expands when it freezes and creates tremendous pressure, so it is going to break just about anything. Be sure to take the time to get all water out before freezing temperatures arrive, otherwise it is going to be an expensive mistake!” Number 8: It pays to have your system designed by somebody who knows what they are doing. “You’re just going to pay and pay and pay for bad irrigation system design, either in lost potential yield and quality, or in higher energy costs. “Remember, the amount of electricity or diesel you use, is proportional to the amount of water you pump and the operating pressure of the system. It really pays to get everything designed and done correctly.” Number 9: Pay attention to nozzle sizes. “Irrigation uniformity is really important to profitability, and water flow rate from each sprinkler is highly dependent upon nozzle size. Don’t just toss on a replacement sprinkler that has a different nozzle size. “The two greatest losses of water in irrigation systems are both invisible. One is wind drift and evaporation of water vapor; the other is deep percolation of water in the soil. “The amount of water that comes out of nozzles depends upon orifice diameter and pressure. Just one step too high or low from the correct nozzle size can result in 40% to 50% more or less water coming out of the nozzle than we want. “Nozzles also become worn. Depending on how dirty the water is that you’re pumping and what pressure you’re using, its abrasiveness will cause nozzles to wear prematurely and grow in outlet diameter.” Number 10: If your field has significant slope or elevation differences, you need pressure regulators or flow control nozzles. “Water, of course, flows downhill. Hilltops don’t get as much water as low spots. You’re going to see lower yields on high spots and swampy areas down in basins. “If you have a center pivot on a very flat field with little elevation difference, a maximum of 10 to 15 feet in a quarter section, and a constant and reliable incoming pressure, you probably don’t need pressure regulators on your pivot.” •

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by Jeff Lehmkuhler

Jeff Lehmkuhler

A realistic estimate of forage production goes a long way into determining the correct stocking rate.

Optimize your grazing plan for more profit


OR centuries, beef cattle production has relied on forages and grazing. Typically, the land resources utilized to support ruminant production are nontillable acres. The productivity of this land is limited by fertility, organic matter, and/or topsoil depth. Forage production, therefore, is a major influence on livestock performance. Optimizing grazing productivity hinges on forage availability. Soil maps are a valuable starting place to evaluate forage production potential of land resources. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides information on soil types and productivity. This information is available through the Web Soil Survey portal. Here in central Kentucky there are many acres that have shallow top soil and limestone outcroppings. These soil types dry out quickly and the limited soil moisture reduces forage production potential. When looking at farms to buy or lease, these soil maps can aid in determining the productivity of the farm, allowing one to negotiate prices. Forage production potential will relate to the stocking rate. Stocking rate is the number of animals or the

pounds of beef supported on a defined area for a given period of time. The stocking rate that is supported over the entire grazing season is referred to as the carrying capacity of the farm. Soils that support greater forage production will inherently support more livestock and higher stocking rates. In central Kentucky, carrying capacity may be 2 to 4 acres per cow-calf pair. For growing cattle on a stocker operation, a stocking rate of 750 pounds per acre is typical. If we assume dry matter intakes near 2.5% of body weight, the forage needs for 250 days of grazing would be estimated at slightly more than 4,000 pounds.

Hit the stocking sweet spot Not all forage produced is consumed, and if grazing efficiency is 50%, the total forage production needed is around 4 tons per animal. Estimated forage production in variety trials conducted in central Kentucky for tall fescue often ranges between 3 to 6 tons of dry matter per acre. This would mean that if growing cattle were on pasture from 500 to 800 pounds, an average stocking rate would be about one calf per acre. Improving forage-based livestock

production will be dependent on the stocking rate. Understocking, or too few animals, will allow for greater forage selectivity and better individual animal performance. Understocking, however, will often have less production per unit of land. On the other hand, having too many animals and a high stocking rate will reduce selectivity and potentially suppress individual gain. Overgrazing may lead to suppressed production per unit of land due to insufficient forage availability. For grazing livestock producers, improving forage production allows for greater stocking rates and profit potential. Forage availability is a key factor in animal performance and productivity. For mature grazing animals, nearly 70% to 80% of their daily intake goes toward maintenance of existing body tissue and body functions. Intake limitation can significantly impact lactation or body tissue accretion. Many factors contribute to the intake of grazing animals. Rumen fill can impact forage intake, with low rumen volumes signaling a desire to eat more. Passage rate or the speed at which forage is digested into a particle size small enough to pass out of the rumen also affects intake. The more mature a forage, the slower the degradation and passage rate, which reduces intake. Grazing strategies that keep forages vegetative provide greater opportunity to optimize intake and animal productivity. Standing forage availability has been shown to impact forage intake. Forage availability less than approximately 1,000 pounds of dry matter per acre is expected to reduce intakes. In many cool-season pastures, this is approximately 3 inches in height for dense swards. It is not uncommon to see pastures that are grazed shorter than 3 inches in mid-summer. Overstocking

JEFF LEHMKUHLER The author is an extension beef specialist with the University of Kentucky.

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livestock will lead to limited forage availability, suppressed intakes, and reduced animal performance.

Fat off their back

of forage-based livestock production systems, livestock managers need to focus on forage production and grazing management. Learning more about the forage production potential of the farm can enhance one’s ability to appropriately stock grazing operations. Invest time before the next grazing season to prioritize actions that will enhance forage production and standing forage availability for grazing livestock. Happy grazing! •

Jeff Lehmkuhler

The act of grazing has been shown to lead to greater energy expenditure, which can limit performance. I normally tell producers that during the first green flush of grass in the spring, they can watch lactating cows walk the fat off their backs. This is partially due to the fact that the fresh grass is more palatable than hay, and the cows will prefer this new growth. The limited forage availability results in greater physical activity as cows seek to fill their rumen.

enough to reduce stocking rates or provide supplemental forage or grain to limit pasture damage. It is likely that we will see more weeds and overall reduced pasture productivity next spring. Encroachment of undesirable, unpalatable plants will reduce forage availability and potentially limit intake. For the Fescue Belt, frost seeding red clover in February is a cost-effective pasture improvement strategy. In an effort to improve profitability

Limited forage availability often leads to suboptimal energy intake.

Researchers investigated the activity of sheep grazing versus not grazing. The number of steps and percentage time spent walking was shown to be increased by 170% and 134%, respectively. This greater activity caused nearly 20% more energy to be expended. Recall that energy for maintenance can be 80% of the daily intake. Thus, 20% more activity from grazing can easily lead to a negative energy balance during lactation in early spring. Limited standing forage availability will only further compound issues with energy balance if intake isn’t maximized. Waiting for forage to get to a 3to 4-inch height before spring turnout can improve bite size and reduce energy expended from grazing.

Pasture damage looms large This season, much of Kentucky experienced an early fall drought. This limited forage production and led to overgrazing on many farms. The insufficient pasture growth not only caused reduced gains of growing animals and body condition loss of lactating cows, it likely also will reduce forage persistency and, in some cases, weaken or thin forage stands. Often, steps are not taken early February 2020 | hayandforage.com | 19

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by Melissa Beck

grown on almost 40 million acres of pasture in the U.S.


Problems and solutions

HAT if pasture grass was poisoning your cattle? That is exactly the case with toxic tall fescue. Some producers go to great lengths to try to mitigate the negative impacts of toxic tall fescue. Others, like Darrel Franson of southern Missouri, are opting to convert pastures to novel endophyte fescue and eliminate the problem all together. Franson is often known to ask, “Would you give a kid 3/4 of a teaspoon of arsenic instead of two teaspoons a day? Why feed poison at all?” Toxic tall fescue is a prolific perennial grass. Its merits were first recognized by Kentucky farmer, William Suiter, in the late 1800s. Fescue has an amazing ability to persist, even under less than desirable environmental conditions, and can produce up to 3,000 pounds forage dry matter per acre in the fall. It is winterhardy, insect and nematode resistant, and grows well in marginal soils. It’s no surprise that fescue gained popularity with producers in the 1940s and 1950s. Today, toxic tall fescue is

It wasn’t until the late 1970s that researchers in Georgia were finally able to identify an endophyte (fungus) in the plant that produced ergot alkaloids. Fescue toxicosis, the resulting syndrome to livestock from exposure to ergot alkaloids, is responsible for up to $1 billion in production losses annually to the livestock industry. These losses occur from depressed weight gains, elevated body temperature, rapid respiration, up to 45% lower milk production, and poor reproductive performance. Physical symptoms such as hoof, tail, and ear loss also occur. Fescue can be toxic because there is a symbiotic relationship between the endophyte and the plant, and when scientists removed the endophyte, the toxicity problem was eliminated; however, the endophyte-free fescue plants lacked hardiness and persistence, two desirable traits that toxic fescue was known for. Joe Bouton at the University of Georgia, and Gary Latch, Ag-Research Limited of New Zealand, worked together

Michaela King

TAMING THE TOXIN to develop the first novel endophyte tall fescue. The first seeds were released in 2000. Novel endophyte tall fescue does not produce the toxic alkaloids that negatively impact livestock, but maintain the benefits of persistence and overall vigor associated with the symbiosis of the endophyte-plant relationship.

He went all-in Initially, Franson tried mitigating fescue toxicity by planting complementary forages, intensively managing his grazing, and controlling seedheads in toxic pastures. “Even after focused management and grazing, I recognized that toxic fescue was costing me gains,” Franson said. “I’m a numbers guy; I do the math. I know what calves will gain on MELISSA BECK The author is a freelance writer based in Stillwater, Okla.

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cool-season grasses if it’s not poisonous, and my gains were well below expectations.” In addition to reduced gains, the Show-Me State farmer wasn’t getting the desired conception rate in his cows. For Franson, the cost of converting toxic pastures penciled out, even on his rented ground. He noted, “I’ve got records that prove it. When the neighbor said I could go ahead and kill his toxic fescue on 16 acres of grass I rent from him, I went ahead and spent $3,200 to do it. I’ll have that investment back in under two years.” There is a partnership of industry, government, producers, university, and other professionals called the Alliance for Grassland Renewal, which has a mission of replacing toxic tall fescue with nontoxic endophyte fescue. They help producers through education, seed quality control, incentives, and promotion. One option the Alliance for Grasslands Renewal recommends is to eliminate toxic fescue in 25% of pastures as a start. This enables producers to remove cattle off of toxic tall fescue at key times during the year. This conservative approach helps ensure the new pastures are established and the ranch will have grass in the interim. This approach also allows producers to spread the cost of converting the pastures over a longer period of time. A recommended method for converting pastures from toxic tall fescue to novel endophyte fescue is “spray-smother-spray,” which involves killing the fescue in the spring with herbicide, planting a summer smother crop (a warm-season annual), and spraying any residual toxic fescue that comes back in the fall. Another approach is double spraying without a smother crop, a method popular in the southern areas of the Fescue Belt. Producers are encouraged to be conservative when converting pastures, just in case weather conditions aren’t conducive to establishing pastures, thereby avoiding a loss of the entire forage base.

Convincing research Ample research indicates the expense of converting pastures could be recouped in returns from animal performance. Based on a four-year study in Arkansas investigating the effects of toxic tall fescue on the cow-calf herd and ways to mitigate it, John Jennings, an extension forage specialist at the University of Arkansas, said, “Converting 25% of the pastures to novel endophyte fescue improved calving rates from 44% to 80%.” Fescue toxicity affects bulls as well. Jennings recommends to graze bulls on nontoxic forage starting 60 days before the breeding season. Avoid late-summer breeding and provide nontoxic forage for as much of the breeding season as possible. Having a novel endophyte paddock for breeding stock could be a good place to start, the specialist said. A three-year research project conducted by Stacey Gunter and others from the University of Arkansas showed that novel endophyte tall fescue produced net returns of $89 per acre and would require four years for a new planting of novel endophyte fescue to break even. The Alliance for Grassland Renewal is hosting one-day schools in seven locations across the Southeast. Topics will include how to transition from toxic to nontoxic fescue, the economics of pasture renewal, forage establishment, and firstyear management of novel endophyte fescue. • Information about each school, including schedules and online registration can be found at grasslandrenewal.org.


Registration at 8:30 a.m. Schools run 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Registration fee includes meal, refreshments, and proceedings Tuesday, March 10, 2020 — Virginia Middleburg Agricultural Research and Extension Center 5527 Sullivan’s Mill Rd., Middleburg, Va. Registration by March 2, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 2, 2020: $80/person For more information: Rita Rollison at 540-687-3521 ext. 10 or rbrady@vt.edu Thursday, March 12, 2020 — North Carolina St. Lukes Lutheran Church 11020 North Carolina Hwy. 801, Mt. Ulla, N.C. Registration by March 4, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 4, 2020: $80/person For more information: April Shaeffer at 919-515-4005 or april_shaeffer@ncsu.edu Monday, March 16, 2020 — Georgia Iron Horse Plant Science Farm 7861 Athens Hwy., Watkinsville, Ga. Registration by March 8, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 8, 2020: $80/person For more information: Tayler Denman at 903-818-2104 or tayler.denman25@uga.edu Wednesday, March 18, 2020 — Tennessee Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center 1000 Main Entrance Dr., Spring Hill, Tenn. Registration by March 10, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 10, 2020: $80/person For more information: Gary Bates at 865-974-7208 or gbates@UTK.edu Thursday, March 19, 2020 — Kentucky UK Veterinary Diagnostic Lab 1408 Bull Lea Rd., Lexington, Ky. Registration by March 11, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 11, 2020: $80/person For more information: Krista Lea at 859-257-0597 or UKForageExtension@uky.edu

Tuesday, March 24, 2020 — Arkansas

North Arkansas College 1515 Pioneer Dr., Harrison, Ark. Registration by March 16, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 16, 2020: $80/person For more information: Mike McClintock at 870-741-6168 or mmcclintock@uaex.edu

Wednesday, March 25, 2020 — Missouri

MU Southwest Research Center Agricultural Education Center 14548 Hwy. H, Mt. Vernon, Mo. Registration by March 17, 2020: $65/person Registration after March 17, 2020: $80/person For more information: Jendel Wolfe at 417-466-2148 ext. 21 or wolfejl@missouri.edu February 2020 | hayandforage.com | 21

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also have the least winter hardiness and may get winterkilled in Northern climates. Spring-planting oat or barley for emergency pasture is a common practice when hay stocks fall short or after winter pasture burns. Generally, rye has the highest total-season long forage production, followed by triticale, wheat, and oat or barley.

Top-notch quality From left to right, variation in maturity and growth of rye, triticale, and oat.

Small grains: unmatched for versatility by Joshua Anderson and Xue-Feng Ma


MALL grains are often grazed during vegetative stages or harvested as green silage, baleage, or dry hay. It is important to select the right crop or variety to fit an operation. Understanding environmental conditions and soil characteristics of the farm are helpful in selecting a proper crop. In general, rye is better suited for sandy soils or where temperatures are relatively colder; oat is more suitable for warmer regions or spring plantings. Determining whether the intended outcome of the crop is to be grazed or harvested for hay will also facilitate variety selection. Awnless varieties are often preferred in a graze-out system or dry hay production because awns can cause irritation to eye and mouth areas of the animals.

Get a good stand In general, later planting results in less total forage production of small grains. Follow the recommended planting dates for your location. Planting a few weeks early in the fall allows for more forage production as long as the crop is established with adequate moisture. However, planting early may also enhance the risk of certain pests such as Hessian fly or diseases such as barley yellow dwarf virus, which are vectored by aphids. For early season grazing, boost seeding rates of small grains by 25% to 50% compared to seeding rates for

grain-only production. A higher seeding rate can produce more forage early in the fall and help cover plant losses from trampling or uprooting during grazing. Planting a higher rate can also reduce stem thickness and make curing easier for silage or dry hay. Adequate fertilizer amounts, based on soil tests, are required for maximizing forage production of small grains. In general, all small grains have similar fertility and pH requirements, although rye generally has better production where fertility is marginal or pH is low. Small grains also respond well to nitrogen. Boost nitrogen rates by 30 to 50 pounds per acre when the crop is to be grazed compared to grain production. A split-application timing of nitrogen in the fall and early spring is a common practice. Small grains grown for silage or hay should receive the same nitrogen rates recommended for grain production. There can be a large variation in forage production from year-to-year and among different species and varieties of small grains. Small grains usually produce good pasture in late fall and early winter. Fall forage yields can be up to 3,000 to 5,000 pounds per acre, depending upon growing conditions. Production declines during the winter and generally resumes in mid- to late-February, depending on temperature and moisture conditions. Stem elongation usually occurs from late February to April in the Great Plains, and forage production can progress rapidly during this period. Oat and barley can produce excellent yields during the fall; however, they

Small grains provide high-quality forage during vegetative growth and can be a valuable option for grazing stocker cattle or yearling calves. Crude protein can range from 16% to 25%, which may exceed nutritional requirements of the animal depending upon the amount of available forage. Forage quality declines in late spring as the plant matures from a vegetative stage to reproductive. Producing a high-quality silage from small grains requires attention to the crop because small grains advance from the boot to dough stage rapidly, and harvest can be delayed by unpredictable spring weather. Silage is generally harvested at boot stage or head emergence when crude protein can range from 10% to 12%. Small grains may also provide a good source of dry hay to use as emergency feed during winter or drought. Crude protein can range from 5% to 7% at the dough stage when dry hay is usually harvested to maximize yield. Some producers try to optimize both forage quality and yield by harvesting at the flowering or early milk stage. In general, forage quality of hay from wheat, barley, oat, triticale, and rye at the late boot stage is similar; however, rye can become less palatable as growth progresses. Have the hay tested for forage quality to determine whether a protein supplement is needed or how much is needed. Wheat straw may be used as a filler or fiber source in dry lot feeding operations. Small grains can offer a variety of quality forage options that may be utilized by stocker operations, dairies, and feedlots. They can be grazed during fall in dual-purpose systems, grazed out, or harvested as silage or dry hay. • JOSHUA ANDERSON AND XUE-FENG MA Anderson (pictured) is a senior research associate and Xue-Feng Ma is an assistant professor at the Noble Research Institute, Ardmore, Okla.

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by John Goeser

Frozen forage disruption


OMING upon nearly 100 years of silage science, researchers and farmers have long recognized that successful fermentation will preserve forage and grain long into the future. Preservation can be so effective that silage can maintain its nutritional value for decades. In fact, I’ve been witness to silage originally ensiled in 1988 that was later uncovered in a silo after a tough growing season dwindled the forage supply in a concrete silo to a level not touched in nearly 30 years. The 1988 silage was virtually indistinguishable from many 2018 silages. Forages achieve stability because beneficial fermenting bacteria convert forage sugars into lactic and acetic acids when their growing environment reaches an anaerobic state. This process is moisture and temperature dependent. When successful, deteriorating spoilage yeast, mold, and bacteria are effectively eliminated or rendered dormant. Much like leavening bread needs a warm and humid environment, fermenting bacteria need some heat to get the process going. This starting point is likely somewhere between 40°F and 50°F. As fermenting bacteria do their work, some heat is produced from the microbes digesting carbohydrates and creating fermentation acids, and the fermentation process continues until a pH of less than 4 to 4.5 is reached and the silage stabilizes. In most years, an adequate temperature is not a concern as crops are harvested and stored during spring, summer, and well above freezing temperatures in fall. However, with challenging growing seasons where delayed planting or insufficient growing degree days push harvest into late fall, ambient temperatures may not be sufficient to kick-start the fermentation process in the silo. In these situations, forage may feed very differently than either your forage analysis or prior experience would suggest. There are several reasons for this.

More than a stabilizer Forage stability is goal No. 1, but ensiling is also recognized to affect rumen and total tract starch digestibility. Ensiling breaks down a water

repelling protein matrix that encapsulates the starch granules in corn grain. The protein in the grain is the same protein that lines paper cups, which are also made to repel water. Thus, if the grain isn’t soluble in water, the liquid phase rumen-digesting bacteria that degrade starch can’t gain access. Ensiling and fermentation breaks down this protein matrix, freeing up the starch granules for digestion in the rumen and vastly improving feed quality. The resulting fermentation impact can equate to as much as a 20 percentage unit improvement in total digestible nutrients (TDN) for high-moisture corn or a 10-plus unit improvement in TDN for corn silage. Yet, if fermentation doesn’t proceed, then starch digestibility likely remains at the same meager state as it was when the crop was harvested. Accurate laboratory feed analysis should capture this missing energy through rumen in situ starch digestion measures. If you suspect starch digestibility is limiting, also consider checking fecal starch content for your high-producing group(s). Fecal starch is tightly related to total tract starch digestibility (TTSD). The goal for TTSD in dairy cattle is now less than 1% and feedlot diets are capable of resulting in less than 3% fecal starch. If starch digestibility is lacking, consider fine ground corn, sugar, or corn starch to help kick start the rumen.

Microbial overload Beyond starch digestion, ensiling also changes the forage by practically decontaminating the feed of substantial levels of spoilage yeast, mold, and undesirable bacterial populations present in the fresh feed. This cleansing effect has proven critical in the U.S. as those in the Midwest and East have recognized higher microbial loads (yeast, mold, and possibly bacteria) over the past five years. Environmental conditions, tillage practices, and greater water activity (due to rainfall) are all likely contributing factors. But bear in mind, if fermentation never has a chance to proceed, then these undesirable microorganisms may be present and carried through into the ration.

During recent troubleshooting situations with both haylage and corn silage crops, several farms have recognized digestive upsets and performance challenges coinciding with the introduction of unfermented, wet feeds into the diets. The working hypothesis here is that the feed is carrying a dormant microbial load that fermentation did not have a chance to decontaminate. Or worse yet, the unfermented crop served as a petri dish for undesirable microorganisms. When this forage is added to the diet, the microbial communities may wake up and thrive in the feedbunk, rumen, or both. This impactful factor associated with frozen feed, beyond starch digestibility, isn’t assessed through routine feed analyses and requires more in-depth diagnostic efforts to grasp the magnitude. Consult with your nutritionist and veterinarian if feeding frozen forage or silage with limited to no fermentation. Total mixed ration yeast and mold counts or an enterobacteria count may help identify a contaminating microbial load. If ration stability appears compromised or bacterial loads are excessive, isolate where the contamination is coming from. Either keep the feed from the diet or consider adding acid to the feed to decontaminate it prior to mixing in the ration. If unable to decontaminate, consider adding research-backed live yeast or bacterial probiotics to help the rumen negate the undesirable bugs. There may be additional factors beyond those discussed here that also may be at play in your new crop forage. These include lower levels of crude protein and minerals, a higher mycotoxin load, or excessive soil (ash) contamination. Bring your agronomist, nutritionist, and veterinarian to the table for a discussion regarding these factors and potential impact on your farm. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Dairy Science Department.

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by Adam Verner Spending some time with your mower this winter can save downtime in the field next summer.

Mike Rankin

Get your mower in peak condition S WINTER has fully set in for most of the country, indoor jobs that often center around machinery maintenance are popular and beneficial at this time. The most popular items to work on are usually the tractors, balers, or harvesters. All of these deserve plenty of attention to have in tiptop shape for the upcoming season. One item in a haymaking arsenal that typically gets left out of a major tear-down event is your mower. I’m not sure what it is about these units that either makes them seem intimidating or bulletproof, but in both cases the result is little or no attention paid to the mower. Aside from a little grease and changing out a few knives and discs from time to time, that’s about all that these units get — if they are lucky. I feel the opposite when it comes to mowers and windrowers. These units are the first gear in your operation, and if the first gear isn’t spinning, the rest of the haymaking machine won’t be at its efficiency peak.

Heart of the mower Maybe it’s the manufacturers that have started this trend with the “lubed for life” cutterbars. Sure, it does sound great not to have to

change out the oil or grease in your cutterbar, but when I really think about it, there is cause for at least some concern. The cutterbar is the heart of the mower and should be treated as such. Let’s not pull out every gear each winter, but annually draining the oil or cleaning out the grease from the pods can tell you a lot about the health of your mower. My dad and I were going through our mower-conditioner one winter and called our dealer to order some of the special grease that went into the cutterbar. The dealer did not even have any in stock. This tells you how many times people around us checked their cutterbar. He even asked why we were doing it, and we said just to make sure everything looked okay. Sure enough, most all of the grease in the pods looked great . . . except for one. In the problem pod, the grease was jet black, and, upon further inspection, we noticed some discoloration on the lower bearing. Obviously, this disc had gotten hot at some point. We chose to replace the bearing in the hub, refilled it with grease, and never had an issue with this mower for the next eight years that we owned it. Maybe nothing would have happened, but we did not want to find

out in the middle of cutting a field. I recommend you look into changing out the lube in your cutterbar about every 3,000 acres. Once changed the first time, you can determine if you think you should change it sooner, or maybe it looked great, and you can get closer to 5,000 acres per change. I look at it like changing the oil in your truck. You can go longer between changes, but eventually it usually catches up with you. Rebuilding a complete cutterbar can cost over $10,000, but with proper cutterbar maintenance and the skid shoes beneath that protecting it, you should never have an issue.

Don’t stop at the cutterbar This same approach can be taken with the gearboxes. Neither the drive gearboxes nor the cutterbar take much oil, so the main expense is just your time. Usually right in front of the main drive gearbox is the slip clutch. This is a good time to inspect it as well. Regardless of manufacturer, they all have specs for the friction discs, and most have a rebuild video that can be viewed online. Be sure to inspect each yoke and cross on the driveline for any excess play or wear. Again, it’s a lot easier to change these in the shop than the field. For a pull-type unit, the hitch also should be inspected, especially the units with a gearbox used as the main pivot point. These gearboxes are usually extremely reliable. Most use a wet seal between the two sections that can eventually get low in oil. So, remember to check this and make sure the hitch components are not excessively worn as well. It’s only a few months away before mowers hit the hayfields. Make sure yours is in the best operating condition it can be. In the meantime . . . stay warm. • 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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GET XTRA CONTROL AND XTRA QUALITY WHERE IT COUNTS. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology can increase your cutting flexibility giving you higher quality or increased yield potential. Conventional alfalfa breeding doesn’t compete with those valuable xtras. Ask your alfalfa dealer about getting HarvXtra Alfalfa with Roundup Ready Technology in your favorite alfalfa seed. ©2020 Forage Genetics International. HarvXtra® is a registered trademark of Forage Genetics International, LLC. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready® Technology is subject to planting and use restrictions. Roundup Ready® is a registered trademark of Monsanto Technology LLC, used under license by Forage Genetics International, LLC. Roundup Ready® Alfalfa is subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit www.ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products.

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All photos Jim Gibbs

Fodder beets have had the fastest adoption rate of any forage in New Zealand history.

Kiwis find it’s hard to beat the beet by Jim Gibbs, B.VSc, Ph.D.

FEW years ago, I gave a guest lecture on New Zealand forage grazing systems at a U.S. agricultural college. The professor introduced me with a statement that made me laugh and reminded me how Kiwi livestock systems are seen internationally. He told the audience that if you want to learn space travel, you go to NASA, and if you want to learn pasture-based livestock systems, you go to New Zealand. Of course, what he could have added was that New Zealand had no choice but to develop productive forage systems because no grain is grown here, and the landscape appears to have been built just to grow and graze ryegrass year-round. Nevertheless, the livestock

industries are well known for those green paddocks under the snowy hills, and the efficient systems of grazing management that make the most of the sun, rain, and geography. But every grazing system has seasonal shifts in production, and the temperate island climate of New Zealand is no different. It also has cool winters and dry summers that limit pasture growth. Like beef production systems on grass worldwide, this has the effect of reducing stocking rates and delaying slaughter age to 26 to 36 months, which puts a drag on farm profitability and carcass quality. Both farmers and meat processors are affected by these productivity limitations.

Plugging the forage gap

taken about ten years ago between Lincoln University and Silverstream Beef, a large beef operation in the South Island. The forage fodder beet was grown in order to transfer large yields of high-quality, standing feed from spring and summer growth to autumn and winter grazing, producing finished steers from 100% forage in 14 to 16 months. This project was successful and went on to develop and validate two highly productive and profitable beef grazing systems based on grass and fodder beet that have been widely taken up by the beef industry. Fodder beets have had the fastest farmer adoption rate of any forage in New Zealand history with use going from 0 to 170,000 acres in 10 years. Because these systems suit large-scale farms, there are now numerous operations finishing and marketing 2,500 to 5,000 cattle annually. Fodder beets are strip-grazed and used as the primary diet forage resource (about 90% of the ration) for either 130 to 150 days (6- to 7-monthold weaned calves at 600 pounds) or 90 to 110 days (18-month-old cattle at 900 pounds) during autumn and winter. The weaned calves gain about 2.2 pounds per day on the fodder beets and then are grazed in spring on pastures for 90 days to a slaughter weight of 1,200 to 1,300 pounds at 14 to 16 months. The older cattle are finished on the beets at 1,300 pounds or more for the late winter/early spring market; this is when there is a premium price for good beef. Both systems are stocked at about 10 animals per acre on the crop, and four animals per acre across the crop and pasture system for the weaned calves, an almost fourfold improvement on traditional New Zealand pasture systems productivity. The carcass characteristics of beetJIM GIBBS, B.VSC, PH.D. The author is a veterinarian and ruminant nutrition scientist at Lincoln University in Canterbury, New Zealand.

To remedy this seasonality in grazed beef production, a project was under-

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grazed cattle are the result of the high-energy, low-carotene content of the plant and the accelerated slaughter age. The carcass to liveweight yields are 56% to 58%, well above the typical 52% seen in traditional pasture systems. Fat covering and marbling are strong with white fat. Only about 40% of New Zealand steers typically grade as elite category one, but greater than 70% of beetgrazed steers do so and almost 100% from experienced operations. These crop attributes have pushed farmer adoption since its early development.

Good yields with quality Fodder beets, which are also called mangels, are an older cousin of the sugar beet. Its development as a grazed crop in New Zealand has led to very different agronomic practices because of a higher nitrogen content, greater total dry matter yield, and especially enhanced leaf yields. All of these characteristics have helped bolster grazing success. Sown in spring, it is a biennial crop that can be grazed from autumn until

Strip grazing fodder beets is a common practice.

the following spring. Current New Zealand yields are greater than 15 tons of dry matter per acre, producing a feed of suitable protein content (11% to 13%) and cereal grain feed energy content for about $60 per ton of dry matter. This is about one quarter of the price of cereal grain in New Zealand and represents an opportunity to achieve comparable energy intakes and liveweight gains to cereal grain feeding on an all-forage system. With higher nitrogen rates compared to sugar beet crops, bulb nitrogen and phosphorus content is higher. This enables the crop to grow more leaves,

which drives liveweight gains. Split fertilizer applications with late-season nitrogen and potassium also hold leaf quality into the colder months. Planting row width is narrow and the cattle harvest the bulbs themselves, so plant population is relatively high, offering a greater leaf mass and earlier canopy closure to reduce herbicide use.

Not for all regions The fodder beet grazing systems operate most effectively in landscapes with relatively dry, firm autumn and winter soils and a growing season with water and warmth suitable for good yields. I have been asked if U.S. beef grazing sectors can also use beets. While not all harsh Northern and Midwest winters will suit beet grazing, both the Northwest and the Southeast have suitable growing and grazing climates with limitations to forage finishing that appear similar to New Zealand. There is no obvious reason why this system could not be developed in these U.S. grazing regions to provide similar seasonal feed resources and be used as it is in New Zealand. •

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T 31,000 feet above the flat farmland of northeast Colorado, the view offers hundreds of bright green pivot irrigation circles. This region of Colorado receives an average of only 12 to 14 inches of precipitation annually. The climate is hot and dry with low humidity. Last year, similar to many other areas of the U.S., the weather in northeast Colorado strayed from the norm with heavy rainfall early in the growing season. Haymaking was a challenge; however, the unusual weather didn’t stop the Schuppe family from doing what they do best. Schuppe Hay Farms is a family-owned and operated commercial hay company that grows alfalfa, a variety of grasses, and corn in Iliff, Colo. Marketing hay across the country, Mike Schuppe, the fourth generation to run the farm, strives to raise quality forage products for customers located within and far beyond the boundaries of their home state.

During the busy time of year — summer haymaking — the Schuppe crew consists of 10 employees, which includes Mike’s wife, Kammy, his son and daughter-in-law, Dalton and Meagan, three full-time employees, and several part timers. Occasionally, there is also help from Mike’s grandchildren, Raylan and Diem, who love to ride shotgun in the tractors. A recently born grandson, Ryatt, will no doubt follow in his older siblings’ footsteps.

acres of alfalfa, 1,300 acres of a variety of forage grasses, 800 acres of corn, and they also graze 2,000 acres of dry (nonirrigated) grass. The farm has evolved from much humbler beginnings. “In 1912, my great-grandparents immigrated to the United States from Russia. They moved to Colorado in 1917 and worked as beet laborers,” Mike said. “In 1927, they saved up enough to

The farm’s evolution Including their custom work acres, the Schuppes currently farm 1,300

All photos Michaela King

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buy the original farm.” As the years continued, the farm grew and experienced changes in crop enterprises, and when Mike’s dad was young, almost all of the crops grown on the farm were used to feed the variety of livestock being raised. Mike recalled that as he was growing up, the farm only sold small amounts of hay and corn. That quickly changed. In 1988, Mike bought the land the office is currently on to expand the farm. After switching from small square bales to round bales, the Schuppes began taking on custom work. After leasing a 3x3 square baler and realizing the marketability of the bales, in 1998, he purchased a 3x3 baler of his own. With the new equipment, his customer base only grew. “After Dalton finished college in 2012, the business kind of exploded,” Kammy explained. “As he got more involved, we took on more and more as a business.” With time and hard work, the farm has transformed into the successful hay business it is today.

Quality over quantity After continuous growth, the Schuppes switched to 3x4 balers and now run three 15-foot swathers and three balers to achieve added efficiency. “Some customers still ask for 3x3 bales, but we just have too many acres to be running the smaller balers,” Mike explained. Each year, the business looks to eclipse alfalfa yields of 7 or more tons per acre in four cuttings. Their first cutting is

typically the biggest yielder. They strive for 3.5 to 4 tons per acre of grass in two to three cuttings, excluding the fall and spring grazing of the dry grass. The Schuppes put more emphasis on forage quality than yield and work to

Dalton (left) and Mike Schuppe check the condition of a wilted alfalfa field.

maintain a loyal customer base. “We bale when the hay is ready, not when we feel like it,” Mike noted. “There is nothing better than baling good hay, which is something that can’t be rushed.” Excluding their dry hay pastures, all their fields are under irrigation. The water is sourced from a reservoir, which gets water from the South Platte River. The system was built in the early 1900s and runs as a canal system that stretches over 40 miles. Mike and Dalton start their summer days at the diversion structures setting the water needs for the day. The water is shared with neighbors and levels are recorded daily. “It blows my mind that something built so long ago still works for us today,” Mike noted. “It just shows the original builders knew what they were doing all those years ago.” While most of their customer base is located in the eastern part of the U.S., Kammy explained that where their hay is sold depends on the weather patterns in a given year. “If it’s dry in Texas, we will have a big market there,” she remarked. “Iowa and Indiana are big markets for us, but

we’ve also delivered to Florida, New York, and Louisiana in some years.”

Multiple marketing strategies Schuppe Hay Farms uses a variety of strategies to promote their product, including a Facebook page, a website, and inclusion in the annual Colorado Hay Directory where a large number of their new buyers come from. However, their most effective marketing tool is word of mouth. “Once you get established in a community, you start getting neighbors calling, and that’s the biggest reason that we’ve grown,” Mike noted. “We provide quality products to our loyal customers, and then they do promotion for us,” he continued. In addition to promotion by their customers, often their returning truck drivers will bring new customers. People will ask the drivers where the hay came from, and they will pass along the contact information. Schuppe Hay Farms has one full-time driver who stays within 150 miles of the farm and several owner-operators they use every year for longer hauls. They will also contact freight brokers who will line up back hauls.

A family with many hats Aside from the hay business, the Schuppes also operate other successful enterprises. Kammy explained that farm cash flow can be easier to manage when multiple enterprises are a part of the larger picture. “Most of the add-on companies just fell into our laps,” she said. “After the local feed and seed retailer closed, we saw a need and took on the business. We now sell seed, livestock supplies such as minerals, and twine. This has allowed us to buy in bulk, and we have seen growth in this part of our business,” she added. Dalton also runs an excavating company called SNS Excavating. In 2013, the South Platte River flooded, so Dalton bought an excavator to help improve some farmland that they were leasing. It became clear that there were other continued on following page >>>

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local landowners with the same need. With slow expansion and a consistent customer base, the excavation enterprise became a good source of extra income. Mike’s parents, Earline and Gordon, run the cattle side of the company. The Limousin and Lim-Flex cattle are grazed on 2,000 acres of dry grass pastures. “Each of the different enterprises really just help the bigger corporation,” Kammy noted. “The most unique part of our business is that every family member has something they focus on. Everyone is represented in their own way.”

It’s all about family Although the haymaking operation is successful, it is not what stands

out when spending time on this farm operation. What is most impressive is the overwhelming sense of pride that the family takes in working with each other. Within a short amount of time, it’s easy to sense how important family is to the Schuppes. Mike mentioned his biggest business success was that the farm had sustained itself for six generations. “I worked as soon as I could. Dalton was helping me as soon as he could reach the tractor pedals, and I love seeing grandchildren wanting to ride along and help when they can,” Mike said. “I want the farm to be here for generations to come.” The future goals of Schuppe Hay Farms

Forty Years of Industry Leading Genetics

are simple: Improve what they have, work to produce quality products and services, and pass it on to the next generation. That recipe has proved successful for 100 years, and there’s no reason to believe it won’t continue for another 100. The future looks as bright from the ground as it does from 31,000 feet above. • MICHAELA KING King served as the 2019 Hay & Forage Grower summer editorial intern. She currently attends the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is majoring in professional journalism and photography.

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30 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2020

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health. The NDF from forage can be considered 100% eNDF.

What are nutrients worth?

Mike Rankin

Appraising forages with dollars and sense by Alex Tebbe and Bill Weiss


HETHER you are in the business of growing and selling forages or feeding cattle, correctly assigning the economic value of forages can impact profitability. Forages obtain their economic value when fed to animals, and a forage appraisal system should reflect the ability of that forage to support growth and milk production. That ability is a function of the nutrient composition of the forage and its effect on feed intake. Relative feed value (RFV) and relative forage quality (RFQ) are often used to appraise forages; however, they put no value on protein, they consider fiber only as a negative factor (higher fiber equals lower RFV and RFQ), and they are not good when comparing across forage classes (for example, alfalfa, grasses, or corn silage).

Forage nutrients The major nutrients needed by cattle are energy, protein, and fiber. Because dairy is a major user of forages and essentially all labs provide net energy for lactation (NEL) values, NEL will be the basis of this article. The NEL concentration depends mostly on fiber (higher equals lower NEL), fiber digestibility (higher equals higher NEL), and ash (higher equals lower NEL). Lab results usually include crude

protein (CP); however, not all CP is created equal. Most ruminant nutritionists balance diets for metabolizable protein (MP) rather than CP. The concentration of MP depends on the digestibility of the rumen undegradable (or bypass) protein and on the proportion of rumen degradable and undegradable protein in a feed. The problem with using MP is that it is calculated for diets and not individual feeds. Labs usually do not provide an MP concentration. However, if we assume that the forage will be fed in a balanced diet and has typical rumen degradability, then its MP equals CP times 0.56. If alfalfa hay had 22% CP, it will have approximately 12.3% MP. The CP in other common feed ingredients have different conversion factors to MP. Because feed evaluation software uses several different feeds, MP, rather than CP, must be used. Most dairy nutritionists use neutral detergent fiber (NDF) in ration formulation. The NDF from all feeds provide energy, but NDF from forages is needed for rumen health, which translates into better animal health and improved milkfat production. For this reason, NDF from forages is worth more than NDF from other feeds such as distillers grains. By dividing NDF into two fractions, effective and non-effective NDF (eNDF and neNDF), we can give more value to the NDF that promotes rumen

Routine lab analyses provide nutrient composition data, but we need to translate those numbers into dollar values. Software programs are available to compare feed prices based on nutrient composition. Sesame, which was developed at The Ohio State University, estimates the dollar value of nutrients (Table 1) using a statistical method that relates prices of a host of different feeds to their nutrient concentrations. These values are also available from various sources such as Buckeye Dairy News (dairy.osu.edu). The Sesame software is available free of charge at dairy.osu.edu/node/23 (user name = sesame; password = open). The calculated prices are specific to a given market and may not reflect historical or future prices. Note that estimates for nutrients are not absolute and include a plus/minus term (Table 1). The plus/minus terms mean that those four nutrients alone are not the only factors affecting feed prices. The uncertainties associated with nutrient prices need to be reflected in the calculated total value of feeds. As an example, let’s say we have a truckload of alfalfa hay sold in the Midwest that is 85% dry matter (DM). Its nutrient composition on a DM basis is 0.62 Mcal of NEL per pound, 40% NDF, and 23% CP. Because alfalfa is a forage, eNDF equals 40% and neNDF equals zero. First, we convert CP to MP by multiplying by 0.56 so that MP equals 12.9%. Second, we calculate how many nutrients are in a ton of hay. One ton of this hay has 1,700 pounds of DM (2,000 times 0.85). That DM contains 1,054 Mcal of NEL (1,700 times 0.62), 219 pounds of MP (1,700 times 0.129), and 680 pounds of eNDF (1,700 times 0.4). Next, we put a value on those nutrients using Table 1. The 1,054 Mcal of NEL has a value of $63 (1,054 times 0.06), MP is worth

ALEX TEBBE AND BILL WEISS Tebbe (pictured) is a graduate research assistant and Weiss is a professor of dairy nutrition with The Ohio State University, The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, Wooster, Ohio.

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$81, and the eNDF is worth $61. Summing those values equals $205 per ton (63 plus 81 plus 61). Because all feed prices were put into the program on an as-delivered basis, that is the average delivered value of the hay. However, when it comes to valuing forages, it is not that simple.

Consider intake, too Nutrient intake by cows profoundly influences productivity, and forage quality has a major effect on intake. Unfortunately, the nutrients discussed above do not adequately account for differences in potential intakes among forages. For forages, the best single lab assay to estimate differences in intake is in vitro NDF digestibility (IVNDFD). Within a forage class (for example, legume or corn silage), a 1% unit increase in IVNDFD on average boosts intake by 0.26 pounds per day and milk yield by 0.47 pounds per day. This is based on Michigan State University research from Masahito Oba and Michael Allen, which was published in the Journal of Dairy Science in 1999. Those values are only appropriate for a change in IVNDFD. For example, if a forage with 50% IVNDFD was replaced with a forage with 55% IVNDFD (within the same forage class), milk would be expected to improve by 2.4 pounds per day (5 times 0.47). The same response would be expected if IVNDFD increased from 35% to 40%. Since intake and milk are associated with change in IVNDFD, a base IVNDFD value is needed. The base values used here are the mean IVNDFD for alfalfa, grass, and corn silage from a publicly available feed library; in this case, it comes from DairyOne Laboratory, Ithaca, N.Y. It does not matter if you use a 30- or 48- hour incubation, but the incubation time must be consistent within a comparison. To calculate the quality adjustment, the difference between IVNDFD of the forage sample and base value (Table 2) is calculated: IVNDFD (sample) minus IVNDFD (base). The value is then multiplied by 0.26 to estimate change in intake and 0.47 to estimate change in milk yield. The dollar value of “forage quality” depends on the milk price and diet cost (Table 3).

Ration cost can vary The cost of diet varies depending on the production level of the herd and the ingredient costs, but in most cases,

it will range between 8 to 12 cents per pound of DM. If available, actual farm-derived feed costs should be used, but if not, we suggest using 10 cents per pound. If the corn price is more than 10% or 20% above the historical price, use 12 cents, and if corn grain is 10% or 20% less than historical average, use 8 cents per pound. The studies summarized by Oba and Allen had an average forage inclusion rate of 31 pounds, so that value was used in our calculations (Table 3). As an example, let’s assume alfalfa hay has a 48- hour IVNDFD of 54%. We will also assume a milk price of 19 cents per pound and a diet cost of 8 cents per pound of dry matter. 1. Difference in IVNDFD from standard: 54 – 47 = 7 units 2. Expected increase in milk yield: 7 x 0.47 = 3.3 pounds per day 3. Expected increase in DM intake: 7 x 0.26 = 1.8 pounds 4. Expected gain in income over feed cost: (3.3 x $0.19) – (1.8 x $0.08) = $0.49 5. Converting to a ton basis: 0.49/31 = $0.016 per pound = $32 per ton of DM or about $27 per ton of hay at 85% DM. That value is added (or subtracted) from the nutrient value calculated as described above. Therefore, alfalfa hay in our example has a total value of $232

per ton ($205 plus $27). To simplify these calculations, Table 3 has quality adjustments for various diet costs and milk prices. A user selects the most applicable diet and milk prices, finds the quality adjustment, and adds (or subtracts) it from the nutrient value. If a forage had 3 percentage units less IVNDFD than the base, the milk price was $20 per cwt., and the diet costs 10 cents per pound of DM, the quality adjustment would be 4.4 x (-3) = $(-13.2) multiplied by the DM percent as a decimal, or about $11 per ton on an as-fed basis if the hay was 85% DM. The value calculated using this method has uncertainty associated with it, and the nutrient value should actually be considered as a range. A good benchmark for this range is plus or minus 12.5% of the calculated value. In the example above for $232 per ton alfalfa, a reasonable range is $203 to $261 per ton. Prices at the low end of the range would be considered a bargain for the buyer, and prices at the high end would be overpriced. Prices near the calculated value of $232 per ton would be considered the break-even price. Using this method gives growers an idea of what improved nutrient quality is worth, offering buyers the ability to make more informed purchasing decisions. •

Table 1. Estimated value of different nutrients for the Midwestern and western U.S., December 2019. Nutrient



NEL, $/Mcal

0.06 + 0.013

0.09 + 0.010

MP, $/lb.

0.37 + 0.040

0.33 + 0.039

eNDF, $/lb.

0.09 + 0.027

0.15 + 0.020

neNDF, $/lb.

0.02 + 0.023

0.02 + 0.018

Table 2. Average NDF concentrations and in vitro NDF digestibility (as a % of NDF). Mean IVNDFD, % of NDF Forage

Mean NDF, % of DM







Corn silage




Cool-season grass




Table 3. Intake adjustment ($/ton of forage DM) per 1 percentage unit change in IVNDFD. Milk Price, $/cwt. Diet cost, $/lb. of DM
























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Hancock heads Dairy Forage Research Center by Mike Rankin


EING without a permanent director since June 2018, the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFRC) is now under the leadership of Dennis Hancock, who assumed its directorship on January 21, 2020. Hancock leaves the University of Georgia, where he was a tenured faculty professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department. He served as their state extension forage agronomist Dennis Hancock since 2006. During his time in Georgia, Hancock developed a world-class extension and research program. The USDFRC consists of a team of scientists and support staff who are based on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It also includes a research dairy facility in Prairie du Sac and a research unit in Marshfield, which houses several scientists. In addition to Hancock’s own Georgia educational efforts that focused on Southeast forage production and grazing management, the forage specialist has been a highly sought-after speaker for forage events throughout the U.S. He has also been a prolific writer, authoring numerous extension bulletins and fact sheets in addition to publishing many peer-reviewed, research journal articles. Neal Martin, who served as the USDFRC director from 1999 until his retirement in 2013, was on the evaluation panel who tabbed Hancock. “At an unprecedented time when farmers and ranchers struggle to meet the challenges of farm profitability, environmental stewardship, and soil health and social concerns, we are blessed to have Dennis in a prime research leadership position,” Martin commented to Hay & Forage Grower. “He has a fire to seek answers to forage and grassland challenges facing farmers and a wealth of collegial experience with scientists, extension workers, agribusiness, and producers. He will no doubt help enhance our

understanding of forage and grassland utilization by dairy cattle,” he added. Hancock assumes his new position with immediate projects and challenges to oversee. There are several scientist vacancies that need to be filled at the

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MF introduces 5700 Series tractors with Dyna-4 transmission

Two Massey Ferguson 5700 Global Series mid-range tractors are now available with the Dyna-4 transmission, making them even better-suited for loader work, hay production,

and general on-the-farm chores. The Dyna-4 transmission shifts smoothly through 16 forward and 16 reverse speeds without clutching, making speed and direction changes easy and efficient. In addition, Auto-Drive, standard in the new models, speed-matches the transmission to shift automatically at 1,500 rpm in Eco mode for transport and light applications. In Power mode, it auto-shifts at 2,100 rpm, convenient for field applications. Operators who make frequent stops when round baling, for example, will appreciate the Brake-to-Neutral feature, which operates the clutch as soon as the brake pedal is pressed, stopping the tractor with no other action required. The two new models, the MF5710D (100 hp) and MF5711D (110 hp), come standard with a large, quiet cab. They are loader-ready from the factory with an integrated joystick to operate any of the four available Massey Ferguson loaders. Other standard features include an easy-to-read digital system information screen, advanced cab suspension, three hydraulic remotes, a 540E/540/1000 PTO, and radial tires. For more information, visit masseyferguson.us.

Pöttinger offers new Cross Flow option

Kuhn adds twin-rotor rotary rakes The GA 6930, 7530, and 8131 twin-rotor, semimounted rotary rakes provide operators with an even wider range of sizes to find a machine that best fits their operation’s needs. The patented Kuhn Masterdrive GIII double-reduction gearbox is designed for heavy crops, tough field conditions, and intensive use. The hydraulic adjustment of the working and windrow widths allows operators to customize their machine for a desired end result. With a minimum 20 inches of clearance in the headland position, these machines can pass over previously made windrows without disturbing them, allowing the crop to be easily picked up by balers and forage harvesters. Double-curved tine arms are designed to form fluffy and straight windrows at high speeds. This promotes fast and uniform drying. For more information, visit kuhnnorthamerica.com.

With the Novacat Cross Flow, it is now possible to merge swaths as you mow without a conditioner. Cross Flow is already available on the Novacat A10 mower combination and the Novacat 352, the 11.5-foot rear mower. Now, Pöttinger is launching an economical 9.8-foot version as the Novacat 302 Cross Flow. The Novacat 302 Cross Flow has a lower power requirement than the larger models. Tractors starting at 100 horsepower (hp) can be used. All Cross Flow models now have a hydraulic rear flap opening. It can be opened conveniently from the tractor seat using a small control terminal. The cross-flow auger merges the forage to form one swath during mowing. The closed design prevents forage losses. Innovative technology ensures there is no ground contact and consequently no soil contamination with the forage. One great advantage of Cross Flow in terms of efficiency is that subsequent swathing is no longer necessary; harvesting is performed by the baler or loader wagon itself. The

auger turns the crop as it flows through to accelerate the drying of the forage. This also provides a light conditioning effect. When mowing along field boundaries, the cross-flow auger can transport the crop to the inside. This is done with the rear flap closed and ensures that the forage remains inside the field boundary during the subsequent tedding process. Because the crop is placed in a swath, it can be collected and transported away directly after mowing. For a more intensive drying effect, the rear flap is opened to form a wider swath. For more information, visit poettinger.at/en_us/.

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.

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FORAGE IQ Society for Range Management Annual Mtg. February 16 to 20, Denver, Colo. Details: srm2020.org

Midwest Forage Symposium

February 18 and 19, Wisconsin Dells, Wis. Details: midwestforage.org

Pennsylvania Forage Conference February 19, Dauphin, Penn. Details: bit.ly/HFG-PA2020

Alfalfa & Stored Forage Conference February 20, Elizabethtown, Ky. Details: forages.ca.uky.edu

Idaho Hay & Forage Conference February 20, Twin Falls, Idaho Details: idahohay.com

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Foraging for Profit February 21, Reynoldsburg, Ohio Details: https://forages.osu.edu/events

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February 25, Springfield, Mo. Details: springforageconference.com

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Great Lakes Forage and Grazing Conference March 5, St. Johns, Mich. Details: forage.msu.edu/events

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Mostly good news Milk prices have finally turned the corner and are expected to stay strong through the first half of the year and maybe longer. The signing of the Phase One agreement with China is also encouraging for hay exports. The USDA year-end reports indicated that there is more hay in storage than

a year ago, but not a lot more, and 2018 was one of the lowest hay inventory years on record. As always, regional hay inventories vary significantly. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the beginning of mid-April. Prices are FOB barn/stack unless otherwise noted •

For weekly updated hay prices, go to “USDA Hay Prices” at hayandforage.com Supreme-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) California (southern) Colorado (northeast) Colorado (southeast) Idaho Iowa Kansas (all regions) Missouri Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Montana Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (eastern) Oregon (Lake County) South Dakota Texas (Panhandle) Washington (Columbia Basin) Premium-quality alfalfa California (Sacramento Valley) California (southern) California (southeast) Colorado (northeast) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Montana Nebraska (east/central)-lrb Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (eastern)-lrb Oklahoma (western)-lrb Oregon (Crook-Wasco) Oregon (Klamath Basin) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota Texas (west) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Washington (Columbia Basin)-ssb Wyoming (western)-ssb Good-quality alfalfa Colorado (northeast) Colorado (San Luis Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) Minnesota (Sauk Centre)-lrb Missouri Montana Montana-lrb Nebraska (Platte Valley)-lrb Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (western) Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota

Price $/ton 285 200 220 180 180 250-280 185-225 180-200 210-300 175-190 200-215 220 220 300 275-300 230-240 Price $/ton 240 275 180-235 180 175 170-200 210-290 160-180 150-175 120-125 180-195 190 175-180 250 190-195 340-410 250

Texas (Panhandle) (d) Washington (Columbia Basin)-ssb Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb (d) Wyoming (eastern) Wyoming (western)-lrb Fair-quality alfalfa California (central SJV) California (Sacramento Valley) Colorado (southeast) Idaho Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (all regions) (d) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri Montana (d) Nebraska (east/central)-lrb (d) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Washington (Columbia Basin)

175-190 (d) 215 130-145 165-175 145-150 Price $/ton 220 150-160 145 130-145 80-113 90-130 125-150 100-125 110-125 80-95 255 180 90-108 160-165

Bermudagrass hay (d) Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Good lrb Texas (Panhandle)-Premium Texas (south)-Good/Premium lrb

Price $/ton 133 80 160-180 (d) 120-160

Bromegrass hay Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (southeast)-Good ssb Kansas (southeast)-Good lrb (d) Missouri-Good Orchardgrass hay Colorado (northeast)-Premium Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium ssb Washington (Columbia Basin)-Premium ssb 250-265 Timothy hay 270-280 Idaho-Good 250 Montana-Premium ssb 210-235 Montana-Good-ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Price $/ton 155 (d) Oat hay 160 California (Sacramento Valley)-Good 125-165 160-175 145-210 120-160 125-150 110-120 105-110 160-175 90 185 265-300 225-235

Kansas (south central)-lrb Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Nebraska (western)-lrb South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Texas (Panhandle) Straw Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (south central) Minnesota (Sauk Centre)-lrb Nebraska (western) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota-lrb

Price $/ton 130-143 115-150 90-100 80-120 Price $/ton 264 230-250 340-415 230-250 Price $/ton 163 240-270 160-180 240-310 Price $/ton 190 80-85 80 95 85 160 (d) Price $/ton 88-110 70-75 125-180 80-90 130-255 73-100

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

42 | Hay & Forage Grower | February 2020

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Hancock heads Dairy Forage Research Center by Mike Rankin


EING without a permanent director since June 2018, the U.S. Dairy Forage Research Center (USDFRC) is now under the leadership of Dennis Hancock, who assumed its directorship on January 21, 2020. Hancock leaves the University of Georgia, where he was a tenured faculty professor in the Crop and Soil Sciences Department. He served as their state extension forage agronomist Dennis Hancock since 2006. During his time in Georgia, Hancock developed a world-class extension and research program. The USDFRC consists of a team of scientists and support staff who are based on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It also includes a research dairy facility in Prairie du Sac and a research unit in Marshfield, which houses several scientists. In addition to Hancock’s own Georgia educational efforts that focused on Southeast forage production and grazing management, the forage specialist has been a highly sought-after speaker for forage events throughout the U.S. He has also been a prolific writer, authoring numerous extension bulletins and fact sheets in addition to publishing many peer-reviewed, research journal articles. Neal Martin, who served as the USDFRC director from 1999 until his retirement in 2013, was on the evaluation panel who tabbed Hancock. “At an unprecedented time when farmers and ranchers struggle to meet the challenges of farm profitability, environmental stewardship, and soil health and social concerns, we are blessed to have Dennis in a prime research leadership position,” Martin commented to Hay & Forage Grower. “He has a fire to seek answers to forage and grassland challenges facing farmers and a wealth of collegial experience with scientists, extension workers, agribusiness, and producers. He will no doubt help enhance our

understanding of forage and grassland utilization by dairy cattle,” he added. Hancock assumes his new position with immediate projects and challenges to oversee. There are several scientist vacancies that need to be filled at the

Center. Further, Congress has appropriated $72 million dollars to construct a new research dairy facility in Prairie du Sac, which will replace the current out-of-date farm structures that are nearly 40 years old. •

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