Hay & Forage Grower - Mar 2022

Page 1


March 2022

Summer annuals cure many ills

pg 10

Morning or evening pasture moves? Drones for controlling alfalfa pests Dairy cocktail mixes

pg 12 pg 24

pg 26

Published by W.D. Hoard & Sons Co.

F1 1 Mar 2022 Cover.indd 1

2/15/22 10:27 AM

Get More More acres per hour with the C500.* More tractor compatibility with the lighter weight C400. More time cutting with new Quick Change Knives.** More choices with cutting widths from 8 ft. 2 in. to 16 ft. 4 in. (2.5 m to 5 m). More confidence with a 5-year cutterbar warranty.

Get more with the newly redesigned John Deere Zero Series Mower-Conditioners. Learn more at JohnDeere.com/MoCo.


79951-19_8.375x10.875.indd 1

Compared to previous models **Compared to standard bolted knives of previous models

12/9/21 10:52 PM

March 2022 · VOL. 37 · No. 3 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 ADVERTISING COORDINATOR Patti J. Kressin pkressin@hayandforage.com



Succeeding in succession This Minnesota farm business manages several enterprises to keep the next generation involved. The Malecha family meets weekly and uses a third-party adviser to help guide their path forward.

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

DEPARTMENTS 4 First Cut 9 Beef Feedbunk 12 The Pasture Walk 17 Feed Analysis 22 Alfalfa Checkoff



Remoisturizing alfalfa windrows may pay

26 Dairy Feedbunk 28 Forage Gearhead

South Dakota farm finds a small bale niche

Researchers at Utah State University recently examined the economics of remoisturizing technologies for baling alfalfa hay.

Sometimes, smaller is better. That’s what these South Dakota haymakers found when it came to bales. Curtis McGuigan services local farms with small square bales that he packages in bundles of 21.





















34 Forage IQ 34 Hay Market Update ON THE COVER

William Malecha chops alfalfa for the farm’s 1,300 dairy cows. The operation has 2,700 acres near Villard, Minn., and also does custom forage harvesting in several different states. William’s parents, Todd and Louise, plan to pass ownership down to five of their seven children who wish to remain working in the family business. About 60% of the dairy ration is comprised of forage, which includes both brown midrib corn and HarvXtra-traited alfalfa. Photo by Amber Friedrichsen

HAY & FORAGE GROWER (ISSN 0891-5946) copyright © 2022 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.

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 3

F2 3 Mar 2022 TOC.indd 1

2/16/22 2:49 PM


Baseball cards and farms


Mike Rankin Managing Editor

VERYONE can define their youth by a decade, and mine was the 1960s. For perspective, movies set within those 10 years span “The Sandlot” to “Easy Rider” to “Good Morning, Vietnam.” In those days, my childhood mind wasn’t set on the Cuban Missile Crisis or the initial deployments to Southeast Asia. I was more focused on when the next series of Topps baseball cards would arrive at Nall’s Drug Store. Those 5-cent wax packs, filled with five cards and a flat piece of bubblegum, were like gold to me. My friend and I traded cards, played imaginary baseball games with them, and kept meticulous records of which cards were still needed. Added to my pre-high school collection over some of my subsequent adult years were more cards, and now there are a few thousand tucked away in boxes and binders. A Nolan Ryan rookie card . . . yes, I’ve got it. The same is true for Johnny Bench, Rod Carew, Bob Gibson, and many others. None of the old ones are graded or in mint condition, but they’re not in bad condition either. The value of baseball cards, like stocks and land, has gone up and down throughout my lifetime; however, the thought of selling them has never crossed my mind. My baseball cards are who I am — selling them would be like selling my soul. What has crossed my mind lately is what will eventually happen to my cards? After all, everyone has a final at bat. Will any of my grown kids or their kids have any interest in keeping them around or be able to extract the enjoyment out of them that I’ve had? Probably not; it would be impossible to do so. Perhaps, they’ll just cash out. It’s a fluid situation at this point. Baseball cards are one thing, but a ranch or farm is quite another. In my many years as an extension agent, I can’t tell you how many situations I was pulled into where internal family strife was imminent or had already begun regarding the future of the family’s farm. Often, one or more siblings wanted to sell while others desired to keep the farm in the family. Sometimes, there was already a sibling heavily involved in running the operation after the parents had passed on, but with little equity. Unfortunately, there are many situations where the parents aren’t ready to let go of the

management and/or ownership of the family farm until the proverbial horse has left the barn. When it becomes too late, what often ensues is an internal civil war, or more accurately described as an uncivil war, that could have been avoided with earlier discussions. These kinds of situations are heartbreaking. On the flip side, there are those farmers and ranchers who start succession discussions early when decisions can be made with thoughtful consideration rather than intense emotion. Last summer, our editorial intern, Amber Friedrichsen, and I pulled up to the farm shop of Malecha Enterprises. It was there that we met Todd Malecha and his son, William. This had all the makings of a typical dairy-forage interview and a resulting farm feature article. Amber’s story can be read starting on page 6, but the interview wasn’t typical. Before I could ask a question about the nuts and bolts of their farm’s alfalfa program and custom forage harvesting business, Todd began our conversation by pointing to a sign on the wall that read “Malecha Enterprises Company Values.” These values were: drive, responsible, candor, trust, fun, integrity, empathy, and a commitment to constant and never-ending improvement. The father of seven children then stated matter-of-factly, “Every decision we make on this farm is with an eye toward the future.” The Malechas had brought in third-party advisers to help with a succession and business plan. Without spoiling Amber’s story, they had set up new enterprises to make sure the five interested siblings had a management role and could grow their own future within the confines of the family business. They meet every week and evaluate each other’s progress. They agree and probably disagree, but everyone knows what direction the boat is sailing and why. I’m pretty confident the Malecha kids won’t be calling their extension agent while wielding a farm succession fight card anytime in the future. They’ve got it figured out. As for me, it might be time for a family baseball card meeting. •

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

4 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 4 Mar 2022 First Cut.indd 1

2/15/22 10:29 AM

VB 560

5 x 6 Variable Chamber Round Baler

WHERE INNOVATION MEETS TRADITION The new KUHN VB 560 is one of the most efficient balers on the market. With industryleading cycle times, it offers the productivity needed to put up high-quality hay expected in today’s demanding market. This baler includes KUHN’s proven front net wrap system, which is now easier than ever to load thanks to an innovative new easy load rail system.

Twin tension arms create dense, shape holding bales for efficient transport and storage

Three intake options (TwinCharge, OptiFeed, OptiCut) to meet diverse baling needs

Built to last with hardened sprockets, heavier chains & rollers and patented bearing design

Simple design with fewer moving parts for easy maintenence

No matter if you’re baling dry hay, corn stalks, high-density baleage or anything in between, the VB 560 is ready to work for you!

Visit our website to locate a Dealer near you!




Untitled-1 1

2/15/22 4:24 PM


Mike Rankin

by Amber Friedrichsen

6 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 6-8 Mar 2022 Succession.indd 2

2/18/22 8:21 AM


VERY farm has a story. Like most stories, farms also have chapters. These chapters may be defined by one planting season, a production year, or perhaps a generation of ownership. Todd Malecha, president of Malecha Enterprises in Villard, Minn., and his wife, Louise, have been writing their chapter since 1989, and they are now inking the final pages. But their family’s farm story won’t end when they put down their pens. Todd and Louise are looking forward to passing down ownership of Malecha Enterprises to five of their seven children: William, Jonathan, Rebecca, Katelynn, and Robert. Their children are already involved on the farm, but now they are ready to write their own accounts. Although each of them oversees different parts of the operation, they all seem to be on the same page. Malecha Enterprises is home to approximately 1,300 dairy cows and is surrounded by about 2,700 acres used to grow all of the herd’s feed. The Malechas also custom harvest forage, bale wheat straw, pump and spread manure, and own an aggregate quarry. To ensure that each of these enterprises continued to grow during a time of change, Todd and Louise began working with a succession planning consultant. Rena Striegel, owner of Transition Point Business Advisors, started helping the Malechas six years ago. She is impressed with how the family members value the future of their farm and push each other to expand and improve the many businesses that make up Malecha Enterprises.

The Malechas have done a great job at developing that.” Next, the Malechas set expectations for themselves as managers, as well as for current and future employees of the operation. They comprised a list of values everyone is expected to demonstrate. These include being responsible and trustworthy, having candor and integrity, and a commitment to never-ending improvement. “This is where it all begins for us — it all begins with the values of who we are,” Todd said. “That way we know who we can work with. You need to possess at least three of these to become an employee.” Taking on different roles and setting goals was an important part of the farm’s succession plan. Striegel believes these initial steps helped the Malechas structure their individual businesses and gain confidence when it came to overseeing them. “Their leadership team has become more cohesive, and they have become more competent as leaders,” Striegel said. “I’ve seen their businesses go from

being fairly small and modest to being robust and high-producing divisions of their operation.”

Highs and lows Even though a change of hands is fast approaching, the Malechas are not slowing down when it comes to enhancing production. Those in management positions meet weekly — every Monday at 6:15 a.m. — to monitor and discuss measurable aspects of the operation. This allows them to identify what is going well and what could use improvement. The Malechas keep track of their measurables by filling out a scorecard. They record data such as pounds of milk produced, number of acres chopped, and number of bales baled. Scores are based on expectations the Malechas have for themselves, and if a score is less than ideal, they must figure out why. When an aspect of production scored low because of human error, family members trace issues back to the source and hold each other accountable. “Just because they are family doesn’t mean they can get away with being less than what they’re capable of,” Striegel stated. “The Malechas do a great job of supporting each other, but they are also quick to note when someone is not quite hitting the mark on performance.” Confronting a family member can be continued on following page >>>

The first thing Striegel prompted the Malechas to do at their initial session together was define a vision and outline where they would like the farm to be in 10 years. Then the family began making more timely goals, considering what they wanted to achieve in three years, and then more specifically, in just one year. The Malecha children determined leadership roles among themselves — each of them claiming the part of the operation they were most passionate about. The family also defined roles for the other approximately 40 full-time and seasonal employees working at the farm, creating their own handbook and a comprehensive accountability chart. “The accountability chart tracks how employees are being allocated throughout the operation,” Striegel said. “It shows all of the workers, the jobs they have, and who they answer to.


Setting goals

The management team at Malecha Enterprises are pictured from left to right: Katelynn Malecha (daughter), Rebecca Orr (daughter), William (son) and Emily (daughter-in-law) Malecha, Todd and Louise Malecha (parents and owners), Jonathan Malecha (son), and Robert Malecha (son).

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 7

F2 6-8 Mar 2022 Succession.indd 3

2/15/22 10:30 AM

have the entire farm be seeded with it challenging, especially on a farm when at some point,” William said. “But we problems can occur frequently. Striegel haven’t sprayed the alfalfa yet because attributes the Malechas professionalwe haven’t needed to. The oats and peas ism as the reason for their early start are keeping the weeds to succession planning. under control,” he added. With her guidance, MALECHA ENTERPRISES Alfalfa is cut every 28 they have been able to COMPANY VALUES days, but planting develop a communicaHarvXtra gives this tion style that fits their Drive harvest schedule a little needs and lends itself to Responsible leeway. William was intertheir success. Candor ested in seeding HarvXtra “They have used Trust for its higher nutritional resources — people such Fun values, which he said as myself — to help Integrity doesn’t decline as quickly diffuse frustration and Empathy as conventional varieties if make sure their converA commitment to CANEI harvest is delayed. When sations are being held in (Constant and Never Ending Improvement)

a low-emotional, highly intelligent manner,” Striegel said. “They don’t want to hurt each other, but rather are working to improve each other as a team.”

Forage harvesting Communication is important to keeping everyone connected. Each day, the Malechas work in different buildings, on different fields, and even in different states from one another. As manager of the Malecha’s custom forage harvesting business, William finds himself in a remote location often. William and his employees cut and chop hay and corn silage, either bagging or piling the product for their customers. Much of their work is done on farms in Minnesota and North Dakota, but they also travel to South Dakota, Colorado, and Montana. The Malechas’ machinery line-up consists of a 32-foot Krone triple mower, a 34-foot Oxbo merger, a Vermeer wheel rake, and two 1100 Krone choppers. They also have five semis and three, 30-foot box tractor-haul units. In addition to their custom work, the Malechas’ machinery is used to harvest forage and grain on their own farm. William establishes new alfalfa stands in the spring at a rate of 20 pounds of seed per acre and plants 75 pounds of oats and peas per acre to add forage yield during the initial year and compete against weeds. They have also started planting HarvXtra-traited varieties. “This spring was our third year planting HarvXtra, and the goal is to

8 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 6-8 Mar 2022 Succession.indd 4

it is cut, alfalfa is chopped and bagged. About 60% of the dairy ration is comprised of forage, and the Malechas also plant brown midrib (BMR) corn to harvest as silage. “In order to have the cows right, you have to have the forage right,” Todd asserted. “Forage — that’s what makes the milk.” Grain corn is also included in the cows’ feed ration, as well as soybeans which are roasted on-site. The Malechas reduce costs by not having to haul their crop to be made into soybean meal. The roaster also has another purpose. “We roast our own soybeans, and we dry manure solids for bedding,” William said. “The roaster kills all the bacteria, brings the moisture down an additional 10% to 15%, and then we put it back in the freestalls as bedding.”

Everyone has a role Jonathan is another important character to Malecha Enterprises’ story. He oversees the operation’s aggregate quarry, which yields sand, gravel, and rock products. Jonathan also runs the custom manure pumping and spreading enterprise, and in his spare time he oversees projects in the farm’s shop. Rebecca cares for the dairy’s calves and works in concert with the herd manager, Ben Wuebkers. Wuebkers is not a part of the family, but he is valued as if he were. He delegates daily chores, keeps track of milk production, and monitors animal health. Louise oversees the dairy as a whole and leads human resources for the farm. To advertise their custom work and

dairy, the Malechas have created a website and social media accounts. Todd’s youngest daughter, Katelynn, and William’s wife, Emily, have teamed up to promote the family’s operation online and provide engaging content. Emily also assists with bookkeeping and finances in the office. Robert, the youngest Malecha, helps on the farm during the summer and when his college schedule allows. After graduating, he plans on returning to farm full time.

A happy ending Todd and Louise still own Malecha Enterprises and assist with every aspect of the business, but their involvement is becoming less and less. “If I wasn’t here, our farm would operate just fine,” Todd said confidently. “We have gotten to the point where we are not really needed.” This is exactly where he and his family want to be. Striegel considers the Malechas a model family because of how well they have executed their succession plan. But the process doesn’t stop there. Todd and Louise’s offspring are already looking ahead to welcome the next generation to the farm. “I know the Malechas are already thinking about what it will look like when the cousins start working together, and I anticipate our relationship is one that will go on to the next generation,” Striegel predicted. “They are committed to not only running a profitable business but making sure their family dynamic remains healthy as well.” It is not always easy to transition a family farm to the next generation, but the Malechas have created a business model that will sustain their farm into the future. It is clear that this story is nowhere near finished. • AMBER FRIEDRICHSEN The author served as the 2021 Hay and Forage Grower summer editorial intern. She currently attends Iowa State University where she is majoring in agricultural communications and agronomy.

Mike Rankin

2/15/22 10:31 AM


Jason Banta

These factors impact performance


ERFORMANCE of grazing animals is primarily affected by forage quality, the animal’s ability to select plant parts, and forage intake. Knowing these factors and implementing good grazing strategies can significantly improve animal performance and reduce supplementation needs. Forage quality is affected by several factors, but three of the primary factors include forage species and cultivar, plant maturity, and temperature. Generally, cool-season forages will be higher in digestibility and total digestible nutrients (TDN) than warm-season forages. Annual forages will be higher in TDN than perennial forages, and forages grown in arid environments will be higher in TDN than forages grown in humid environments. Beyond these general guidelines, also look at the expected animal performance of specific forage species. Table 1 provides the potential average daily gains (ADG) of growing animals, such as heifers and weaned calves, for some species under good to excellent grazing conditions; forages are grouped by type and potential animal performance. Although performance differences are illustrated using growing animals, the same relative differences would be excepted for cows grazing these forages. With cows, the differences are seen as changes in cow body condition and improved milk production. When comparing perennial native forages to perennial introduced forages, a large part of the difference is due to how these forages are grazed. Utilization goals of native perennial forages is to let cattle consume 25% of the forage produced. This compares to introduced warm-season perennials where target consumption is often above 65%. When

target consumption is higher, cattle are not able to be as selective and, consequently, eat more of the lower quality portions of the plant. Plant maturity is also a big factor affecting forage quality. As plants advance in maturity, the concentrations of plant structural components such as lignin and fiber rise and forage digestibility declines. This results in lower concentrations of TDN and crude protein.

Grazing cattle can select Maturity and quality are not equal throughout the plant. Some leaves and stems may have been growing for weeks while others may have just recently started to grow. Because of this, the top third of the plant will be the highest quality, the middle third will be the next best quality, and the bottom third will be the lowest quality under most conditions. When hay is cut, all the plant is removed and eventually fed; however, under grazing conditions, cattle can be allowed to selectively graze the highest quality parts, which can greatly impact animal performance. Lignin is one of the most important factors affecting forage digestibility. As temperatures rise, lignin deposition increases in most warm-season perennial forages. Consequently, forage grown in the spring and fall will typically have a higher TDN concentration than forage grown during the summer. Stocking rates significantly influence both animal performance and total gain per acre. A two-year experiment conducted in East Texas with steers grazing a ryegrass and cereal rye mixture overseeded on bermudagrass provides an example of these impacts. Steers, weighing about 600 pounds at the start, were grazed from December

to May, and pastures were fertilized with a total of 267 pounds of nitrogen. Three stocking rates were compared: 1.6 steers per acre (low), 2.2 steers per acre (moderate), and 2.8 steers per acre (high). The average daily gains were 2.95 pounds for the low stocking rate, 2.12 pounds for the moderate stocking rate, and 0.96 pounds for the high stocking rate. Additionally, total animal gain per acre was 743 pounds, 740 pounds, and 436 pounds for the low, moderate, and high stocking rates, respectively. Research at Oklahoma State University shows the importance of stocking rate with native perennial forages as well. Under both continuous and rotational grazing, animal performance was reduced significantly with higher stocking rates. Even though you may be limited to certain forage species, you can still improve grazing animal performance with appropriate stocking rates and good grazing management. During hot weather, make sure cattle have access to shade to maximize performance. Cattle that are not able to cool off will not eat as much, which leads to lower performance. Water availability and quality can also impact performance. If water intake is reduced, it will lead to both lower forage consumption and performance, so make sure cattle always have access to a good source of water. •

JASON BANTA The author is a beef cattle specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension based in Overton, Texas.

Table 1. Potential growing animal performance from various forage types Forage type

Expected average daily gain (lbs./day)

Example species

Introduced cool-season annuals

2.0 to 2.85

ryegrass, rye, oats, barley, triticale

Introduced warm-season annuals

1.75 to 2.75

sorghum-sudangrass, sudangrass

Introduced warm-season annuals

1.25 to 2.0

crabgrass, pearl millet

Introduced warm-season perennials

1.0 to 1.6

Old World bluestem, Tifton 85 bermudagrass

Introduced warm-season perennials

0.7 to 1.3

bermudagrass, bahiagrass, dallisgrass, kleingrass

Native warm-season perennials

1.0 to 2.25

eastern gamagrass, big bluestem, indiangrass, switchgrass, little bluestem

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 9

F2 9 Mar 2022 Beef Feedbunk.indd 1

2/15/22 10:32 AM

Mike Rankin

Summer annual forages can cure many ills by Leanne Dillard, Josh Elmore, and Kim Mullenix


UMMER annuals are fast-growing, high-quality forages that can be used to supplement tall fescue systems during the summer forage slump. They also complement bahiagrass and bermudagrass for producers needing a higher quality forage during the summer. Bermudagrass, bahiagrass, and dallisgrass are excellent warm-season perennial options for maintaining cows and cow-calf pairs during the summer months in the Southeast. They are moderate to high yielding with low to moderate quality but still usually meet the nutritional demands for mature cows. For managing growing animals such as stockers or replacement heifers, lactating dairy cows, or mature females that just need to put on more condition, warm-season perennial forages are not sufficient in energy and protein and supplementation is needed. Summer annuals can be a good option to graze, limit graze, or to harvest as baleage for use during the winter. They are higher in forage quality than warm-season perennials while typically producing similar forage yields. Summer annuals include forages such as forage

sorghum, millets, crabgrass, and a variety of legume species. They can provide highly productive and quality forage during times when perennials are not as productive, can be used for emergency forage during periods of drought, and provide superior forage quality for forage-based stocker and finishing operations during the summer months. Summer annual forages are highly productive in a very short amount of time. When rain delays planting of summer crops by several weeks, these forages can still be grazed in as little as 60 days after planting. They also provide grazable forage during a time when tall fescue is dormant (June to September).

Many options exist There are many different species and varieties of summer annual forages. Sorghum, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids have been researched and used extensively throughout the Southeast. Millets, especially pearl millet, and crabgrass are also popular, with pearl millet being more drought tolerant compared with the sorghums and sudangrasses. Teff is another summer annual grass option; however, little research has been conducted on its use in the South. Summer annual tropical legumes can also be used, but breeding

in this area has been limited, so few varieties are available. These legumes include sunn hemp, annual lespedeza, cowpea, lablab, and velvet bean. Sorghum, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass are high yielding, often topping 5 tons of dry matter (DM) per acre, and have high quality with about 17% crude protein and 58% total digestible nutrients (TDN). Pearl millet is productive under drought conditions and can tolerate lower soil pH than sorghums. It is slower maturing, making it easier to manage under grazing, and its thinner stems make it less difficult to dry. Pearl millet will yield 2 to 6 tons of DM per acre with 12% crude protein and 55% TDN. There are many millet species (for example, browntop, foxtail, and Japanese); however, pearl millet varieties are more common for use in forage systems. Crabgrass is another productive, drought tolerant summer annual option. Crabgrass can yield 2 to 5 tons of DM per acre and is about 14% crude protein and 58% TDN. While an annual, many producers find that crabgrass is prolific at reseeding itself each year, which reduces establishment costs. Less research is available regarding summer annual legumes. While not grazing tolerant, these species can be used in a mixture with summer annual grasses to enhance digestibility and crude protein. Research on forage yield and quality of several summer annual grasses and legumes has recently been conducted in central Alabama, and the results are summarized in Table 1.

Harvesting dry is difficult It is often necessary to harvest and store summer annuals for use during the winter or fall transition. Summer annual grasses are high in moisture and typically have thick stems, making them difficult to wilt and harvest as dry hay; however, the high quality and sugar content of summer annuals make them easy to ensile as chopped forage or baleage. They can also be grazed

LEANNE DILLARD Dillard (pictured), Elmore, and Mullenix are an extension forage specialist, regional extension agent, and extension beef cattle specialist, respectively, with Auburn University.

10 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 10-11 Mar 2022 Summer Forage.indd 2

2/16/22 2:50 PM

under intensive management. A feeding evaluation with cow-calf pairs at Auburn University highlighted animal performance and forage quality in a fall-calving herd using summer-annual baleage during the winter-feeding period. Tifleaf 3 pearl millet and AGS6402 sorghum-sudangrass (a brown midrib [BMR] hybrid) were planted in early June 2016 and harvested three times during the study. Forage harvests generally followed a four-week regrowth interval during the growing season. Cows and calves were fed either pearl millet baleage, sorghum-sudangrass baleage, or Tifton 85 bermudagrass hay during a 50-day feeding trial. Animal performance during the feeding trial is shown in Table 2. All cows maintained a body condition score of 5.5 to 6 during the feeding period, which coincided with peak lactation. The average milk production by each cow during a 24-hour period was 15 pounds and was similar across the forage diets. All calves had an average daily gain of 2.4 pounds per day. Forage TDN concentration was 58%, 62%, and 64% for the bermudagrass hay, BMR sorghum-sudangrass, and pearl millet baleage, respectively. Crude protein ranged from 14% to 15% for all of the warm-season forages used in the trial, which illustrates the high quality of the forages evaluated in this study. These data indicate that summer annual baleage can serve as a high-quality alternative to dry hay to support animal production during the peak of the production cycle. Always conduct a forage analysis to determine if additional supplemental feed is needed to support performance, monitor cow body condition score after calving, and make nutritional adjustments as needed to achieve animal performance targets. Consider the production costs of a summer-annual baleage system and evaluate if there are potential savings in forage waste, labor, and animal performance.

the number of sugarcane aphids per sorghum-sudangrass plant. The study showed that forage yields were not different among the three-way mixture and the nontreated sorghum-sudangrass, but both had about a 27% yield reduction compared to treated sorghum-sudangrass. Summer annual grasses work well in mixtures with each other and with summer annual legumes. While not as productive as the grasses, summer annual legumes are highly nutritious and can boost overall forage quality compared with grass-only pastures. When planning your forage system, incorporating summer annuals and summer annual mixtures can be useful to either bridge the tall fescue gap or to meet the nutrient requirements of stocker and finishing cattle. Committing 10% to 15% of your perennial-based forage system to annual production, both winter and summer, can provide some flexibility and insurance against unfavorable weather conditions. •

mer annual grasses have the potential of causing nitrate toxicity. After a drought-ending rain or extended cloudy weather, allow forages to stand ungrazed or harvested for one week until nitrate levels have declined. A nitrate test can be conducted by any forage lab to determine the exact concentrations in the forage. Sugarcane aphids are a pest of sorghum and sorghum-sudangrass hybrids that have recently become a concern in the Southeastern U.S. Sugarcane aphids suck sap out of the plant’s xylem, reducing the nutrients available to the plant. Also, a black, sooty mold develops on the leaves, which may reduce the plant’s ability for photosynthesis and can make a mess of harvesting equipment. As a result, sugarcane aphids can reduce both forage quality and harvesting efficiency. A recent study at Auburn University showed that planting sorghum-sudangrass in mixtures with crabgrass and cowpea reduced the overall sugarcane aphid pressure per acre but increased

Table 1: Forage yield and quality of warm-season annuals in central Alabama1 Forage

Total forage yield



lbs. DM/acre















Pearl millet




Legumes Cowpea








Sunn hemp




Forage soybean




Values represent two to three years of data. CP = crude protein; TDN = total digestible nutrients

1 2

Table 2. Cow-calf performance during a 50-day summer annual feeding trial Forage type

Cow body condition – Initial

Cow body condition – Final

A few downsides Sorghum, sudangrass, and sorghum-sudangrass can cause prussic acid poisoning in the fall following a frost or freeze event. When a killing frost is forecasted, animals must be removed from the field for seven to 10 days to allow prussic acid levels to decline. Pearl millet and crabgrass do not contain prussic acid, but all sum-


Calf average daily gain

Cow 24-hour milk production



Bermudagrass hay 15% CP, 58% TDN





Pearl millet baleage 14% CP, 64% TDN





BMR sorghum-sudangrass baleage 14% CP, 62% TDN





Trial was done at the EV Smith Research Center in Shorter, Ala.

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 11

F2 10-11 Mar 2022 Summer Forage.indd 3

2/16/22 2:50 PM


by Jim Gerrish

Grazing animals consume a majority of their forage intake in the early morning hours.

Mike Rankin

Morning or evening pasture moves?


OPEFULLY, most of our Hay & Forage Grower readers in the West are aware of the nutritional advantages of cutting hay in the afternoon rather than in the early morning hours. Over the nighttime hours, plants metabolize the sugars formed during photosynthesis during the previous afternoon. The measurable digestible energy of a standing hay crop will peak in the afternoon and be lowest in the morning hours. I think I first read about this research at least 40 years ago. Numerous studies have shown that animals can differentiate between high energy hay cut in the afternoon and low energy hay cut in the morning. Lactation trials have clearly shown a boost in milk production for cows being fed afternoon cut hay. This basic relationship between timing of hay harvest and improved individual animal performance is indisputable. Years of experience on a mowing machine also taught me hay mows easier in the afternoon than in the morning. Hay cures more quickly when mown dry compared to being mown wet. We can mow a week’s worth of hay down in a matter of a few hours in the afternoon. It’s going

to take a grazing animal all week to make that harvest.

Still open for debate What is open to conversation is whether moving livestock to fresh pasture in the afternoon is advantageous over moving them to a fresh paddock first thing in the morning. It has long been known that cattle do the majority of their day’s grazing within three to four hours of daylight beginning. Research over the years suggests somewhere between 50% to over 70% of daily grazing consumption occurs in this brief morning window of time. In other words, most of their daily intake occurs before the daily accumulation of photosynthetic sugars. A grass-based dairy is about the only enterprise that has the capacity to measure immediate production response to some change in grazing practice. Most dairies move twice daily following each milking event. One of those events will most likely be in low forage-energy hours and one may occur during higher energy hours. Over the course of 24 hours, milk yield has not been consistently tied to timing of the move. Volume of the allocation and increase in total intake seem to be the

driving factors for milk production. I have a separate motivation for moving livestock first thing in the morning that is completely independent of energy content of the forage. It is simply a question of animal contentment. We have been doing daily rotation as our normal daily grazing management since 1988. I know that makes me sound like an old stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t change for anything, but there is also the old saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sometimes we have had water available in every paddock so that the stock never need to cross back over previously grazed area. That is the ideal situation in my view. Other times we have had to go three to five days across a previously grazed area to access a stationary watering point. In these larger paddocks where the stock are returning to a tank, by moving the animals first thing in the morning, I can observe them throughout the day. If by late afternoon 80% of the cattle are still on the strip I gave them in the morning, they are telling me that it’s still the best bite of feed in the paddock. If, however, 30% or more are scattered back over the previously grazed area, they are telling me I did not give them enough feed that morning. I can either give them an additional strip at that time or plan to offer a larger allocation the next morning. The animal’s grazing day is a sequential event, unlike a mowing machine. I can make adjustments in feed allocation as necessary based on observation through the day as long as I have left the animal’s day intact. • 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.

12 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 12 Mar 2022 Pasture Walk.indd 1

2/15/22 10:44 AM

HFG-full.indd 1

2/10/2022 4:16:40 PM

by Earl Creech and Ryan Larsen


ERHAPS no other issue garners more attention from alfalfa growers than the moisture level of the crop in the windrow. Having the correct moisture in alfalfa at the time of baling is critical for maximizing economic return. Alfalfa baled too wet can be subject to spoilage, discoloration, and, in extreme cases, combustion. When baled too dry, shattered leaves, brittle stems, and dust are undesirable. Regardless of whether the hay is to be used to feed livestock on the farm or sold, it is worthless if baled outside of the proper moisture window. Dew has long been relied on to provide needed moisture to the windrow for reducing leaf and stem shatter during baling. The challenge with natural dew is that it can be unpredictable, both in terms of timing and amount. As a result, producers typically work their baling schedules around Mother Nature and often experience a wide range of windrow moisture levels over the course of a baling event. To work around the need for dew, attempts have been made over the

years to develop systems that artificially introduce moisture to the windrow. Early attempts consisted of a producer loading a sprayer with water and applying it over the top of the windrow. More recently, specialized equipment that injects moisture into the windrow during the baling process has been developed. The claim of manufacturers is that these systems widen the window of time for baling to occur, thus allowing a single baler to cover more acres per day and also produce bales at a consistent moisture level. There has been much interest in these technologies among hay growers in recent years, but little to no university data on how these systems compare. Over the past two years, Utah State University has studied the impacts of moisturization technologies to determine their effects on yield, quality, and economic return.

What we did Studies were conducted during second and third cuttings in 2020 and second cutting in 2021 on a large, pivot-irrigated farm near Milford, Utah. For the experiment, alfalfa was windrowed

Earl Creech

REMOISTURIZING ALFALFA WINDROWS MAY PAY and raked according to normal practice on the farm. Treatments included four different remoisturizing methods: 1. Steamer (Staheli West Dew Point) 2. Treat and bale (Harvest Tec Dew Simulator) 3. Treat and wait (Harvest Tec Dew Simulator) 4. No treatment (dry) Treat and bale consisted of baling approximately five seconds after treating with the Dew Simulator. Treat and wait consisted of baling approximately 10 minutes after treating. Baling for all three harvests occurred between the hours of 9 p.m. and 1 a.m. with a 3x4 baler operated at 45 to 50 flakes per bale at an average speed of 8 miles per hour. The four treatments were replicated and randomly assigned to windrows within two pivot spans.

EARL CREECH Creech (pictured) is an extension forage specialist with Utah State University. Larsen is an extension agricultural economist with Utah State University.

14 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 14-16 Mar 2022 Remoisturizing.indd 2

2/16/22 2:59 PM

What we found Bale moisture and weight: In all cuttings, moisture was higher in treated bales (12.3% moisture on average) than those baled dry (9.2% moisture). Differences in moisture between those windrows that received the moisture treatments were rare and inconsistent. As expected, the weights of moisture-treated bales (1,448 pounds per bale) were generally higher than those baled dry (1,347 pounds). Bales from the steamer were often, but not always, heavier (1,483 pounds) than those produced using the Dew Simulator (1,431 pounds on average). Yield: When not adjusted for moisture, two of the cuttings in the experiment recorded higher yields from moisture treatments on a per acre basis compared to those baled dry (0.16 ton per acre per cutting, on average), while the third cutting had no effect on yield. No statistical yield differences were detected between the steamer or the Dew Simulator in any of the cuttings. When adjusted for moisture and expressed on a dry matter basis, only one of the three cuttings had statistical yield differences between treatments. The 2021 cutting resulted in a dry matter yield gain from 1.11 tons per acre baled dry to an average of 1.34 tons per acre with the moisture treatment. The lack of yield difference in two of the three cuttings was surprising based on the potential dry matter loss due to leaf and stem shatter by baling alfalfa at around 9% moisture. More study is needed to understand why the dry matter yield of alfalfa baled dry was not consistently lower than those baled with moisture. Quality: Adding moisture did not negatively affect quality. It also did not improve quality. Although numerically, the dry bales trended toward lower quality, having lower crude protein and relative feed value with higher neutral detergent fiber, but the differences were not statistically significant. The fact that the lack of moisture during baling did not adversely impact forage quality is surprising. This suggests that, although shattered and unattached, the leaves in the dry bales were mostly captured during the baling and core sampling process. Storage in the stack: Bales produced in 2021 were re-evaluated after three months of storage in a stack to

Earl Creech

determine if differences in bale characteristics would persist. After storage, bale moisture content declined 1.2 to 1.5 percentage units across all treatments, and bale weight dropped by about 30 pounds. Each of the forage quality measures also trended a little worse. Statistically, no new treatment differences emerged after storage. Visual appearance: After stack storage, two hay brokers evaluated the visual appearance of the bales to provide an assessment of how those produced using moisturizing systems may influence marketing. The brokers did not know which treatment was applied to any of the bales to avoid any potential bias. Moisture-treated bales using different technologies did not differ from each other and were always more appealing

Without knowing treatments, hay brokers assessed the market value of the hay.

to buyers than those baled dry. Bales produced with both the Dew Point and Dew Simulator, having the leaves intact and attached, had a much better appearance than the dry bales with shattered leaves and stems. In terms of market value, the moisture-treated bales were priced at $280 to 285 per ton for the 2021 season, while the dry bales had a value of $270 per ton.

A look at the dollars Partial budgeting is a decision tool to help analyze the financial impacts of changes to an operation. Partial budcontinued on following page >>>

Table 1. Partial budget categories Added income:

Added costs:

Increased bale weights from incorporating steam technology

Increased costs are associated with including the steam technology

Steamer: Additional 258 pounds per acre

Steamer: Annual ownership cost + Operating cost = Total cost

Dew Simulator: Additional 217 pounds per acre

Dew Simulator: Annual ownership cost + Operating cost = Total cost

Additional income = Additional pounds per acre times hay price

Table 2. Economic analysis summary table Category Annualized cost of ownership


Dew stimulator



Total operating cost



Total baling cost



Total cost



Benefits per acre



Steamer costs per acre



Net benefits per acre



March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 15

F3 14-16 Mar 2022 Remoisturizing.indd 3

2/16/22 2:59 PM

geting only includes resources that will change, such as adding remoisturizing technology in an alfalfa operation. The cost of baling will remain fixed and the financial impact of including remoisturizing technology will be analyzed. The four key components to a partial budget are increased income, reduction or elimination of costs, additional costs, and reduction or elimination of income. The net impact will be the positive changes minus the negative changes. Table 1 helps to identify these changes. Annual ownership cost is estimated by utilizing the capital recovery method. The capital recovery method uses the purchase price, salvage value, useful life, and a discount rate to estimate the annual ownership cost. The discount rate represents the opportunity cost of capital and accounts for owning the piece of equipment over multiple future periods. The operating cost is estimated by utilizing the fuel used per hour, labor cost, and repair costs on an annual basis. Using the information from Table 2, we can analyze the net financial impact assuming 1,000 acres of alfalfa, a fuel price of

Using the Dew Simulator (pictured) or Dew Point resulted in bales having fewer shattered leaves and stems.

Bryant Henningfeld

$2.50 per gallon, and an alfalfa price of $200 per ton. These numbers are based on one certain scenario, so caution must be used when drawing specific conclusions from them. The steamer has a higher ownership cost, which drives the cost per acre up. The financial benefits of utilizing the steamer improve as the number of acres increases. Conversely, the same can be said for

utilizing the Dew Simulator. The lower ownership costs of the Dew Simulator make it more economical with fewer acres compared to the steamer. These results also assume that both steam technologies are utilized over 100% of the acres. Lowering the usage will impact the results for both technologies. A producer should utilize the partial budgeting methodology to analyze the results for their specific operation. •


2112 & 2114

2330 & 2334 No matter the size of your operation, there is an Oxbo designed to fit your needs. Accepting 2022 orders now. See your local dealer TODAY!

NEW 2340

OXBO.COM 800.628.6196

16 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 14-16 Mar 2022 Remoisturizing.indd 4

2/16/22 3:00 PM


by John Goeser

It takes the right equipment

Go wet or go home Coming back to macro-mineral measures, accurately determining forage mineral concentration is no simple task. Routine forage analysis is conducted using near infrared reflectance spectroscopy (NIRS) technology. This technology is utilized in many different

Figure 1: Calcium and potassium content in hay and haylage crops analyzed by wet chemistry CA



INING for precious metals or diamonds requires tried and true equipment and techniques. Simply walking around aimlessly with a metal detector or sifting the dirt won’t often prove successful. Instead, miners use experience and science-backed techniques and equipment for uncovering precious materials. Determining the mineral content in forages is very similar. The right equipment and techniques must be used in a forage and feed analysis laboratory to reliably determine the true mineral content. Grasses and legumes are adept at absorbing minerals from the soil, assuming the growing environment and soil contains both adequate moisture and plant-available minerals in the root zone. For multi-cut forages like alfalfa, sorghum, or grass, we take advantage of this biological phenomena for nutrient management and planning purposes. Forage mineral content varies substantially. As an example, Figure 1 details the concentrations of calcium and potassium for hay and haylage crops over the past five years in samples analyzed by Rock River Laboratory. The range in forage content with these minerals spans from near zero to almost 1% of dry matter. If these forage minerals are to provide value in dairy and beef diets, their content must be accounted for accurately. Macro- and trace minerals in forages are measured in concentrations of parts per hundred to parts per million (ppm). Parts per hundred is another way to express the percent of dry matter. Most nutritionists are concerned with the macro-mineral concentrations for beef nutrition and dry cow, prefresh, or lactating dairy cattle diet formulation and mineral balancing purposes. The trace mineral content in forages is less understood but warrants further exploration and discussion in the future.


Small grain silage

Small grain silage




Hay 0.0







Rock River Laboratory from 2017 to 2020

industries, including the pharmaceutical and other industries that rely upon organic compound measurements in samples. In agriculture, John Shenk Sr. adapted this technology and demonstrated that NIRS can accurately and reliably measure organic compounds like protein, fiber, and starch. While NIRS technology is fantastic for routine, rapid, and low-cost nutrient analyses, the technology comes with limits. Inorganic compounds such as minerals and metals are not directly measured by NIRS. Instead, these compounds are more reliably measured with wet chemistry techniques and equipment. This is just like the case for needing the right techniques and equipment to mine for gold or silver. Detecting minerals in forages requires equipment and methods that directly identify the individual minerals. There are numerous wet chemistry techniques to separate and identify forage minerals, ranging from an inductively coupled plasma (ICP) technique to an X-ray instrument-based approach. In both cases, the minerals are assessed directly, and the resulting measures are robust. In past years, these instruments and techniques required several additional days for laboratory technicians to complete the analyses. However, thanks to technology and technique advancements, the turnaround time has dramatically improved to the point that wet chemistry mineral measures can be made in nearly the same amount of time as the routine and rapid NIRS-based measures.

Commercial forage analysis laboratories have developed NIRS-based models to predict the mineral content. These measures are helpful to gain a general understanding of the forage mineral concentration; however, they are merely directional in terms of accuracy, much like a compass points you in a general direction. Wet chemistry easily gives us the most precise and accurate answer. I recommend NIRS mineral measures for day-to-day monitoring and to identify substantial changes. Use wet chemistry mineral measures with forages prior to making supplementation decisions in your dairy or beef diets to avoid a costly mistake. In precious mineral or metal mining, miners use advanced techniques and technology to their advantage to efficiently and more accurately find valuable compounds. Determining forage mineral concentration for diet balancing purposes can be thought of in the same way. The right instruments and technology should be applied at the forage laboratory to get the right answer and efficiently build your ration’s mineral supplementation around those minerals contributed by your forages. • JOHN GOESER The author is the director of nutrition research and innovation with Rock River Lab Inc, and adjunct assistant professor, University of WisconsinMadison’s Dairy Science Department.

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 17

F3 17 Mar 2022 Feed Analysis.indd 1

2/15/22 10:44 AM


Mike Rankin

Begin with a new mindset and plan by Hugh Aljoe and Steve Smith


N THIS three-part series, we’ll be discussing specific steps you can take to use regenerative grazing to achieve certain goals. Regenerative grazing is a set of practices, guided by ecological principles, that uses the benefits of grazing livestock to rebuild soil health and can help diversify the enterprises and income a farm or ranch produces. As we make the transition to regenerative grazing on our ranches at Noble Research Institute and talk to producers who have switched their thinking and tactics from conventional to regenerative, the word “mindset” comes up as the biggest first step. It’s a mindset that looks at the operation as a whole system — made up of the soil, water, air, plants, animals, and themselves — and makes decisions for the whole, not just one part of the enterprise. It is a “holistic” mindset. It means managing for life in the soil as well as above it by keeping the ground covered with a diversity of plants and animals; minimizing disturbances, such as tillage; and keeping living roots in the ground to feed and exchange nutrients with soil microbes. It may mean reducing the size of a herd to better match the forage production (carrying capacity) of the available grazing area and allowing the land to heal. It may also mean cutting back on inputs such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides for the good of insects, pollinators, soil microbes, and plant diversity. A regenerative mindset means you

must be flexible, adaptive, eager to learn new things, willing to ask for help, and not afraid to fail by embracing trial-and-error. It helps to be curious, observant, humble, and most of all, open and willing to change. Spend time with other producers who practice regenerative ranching to gain ideas and see what your success can look like. Lastly, it’s important to start small in an easy-to-manage area, using your existing pastures and grouping your cattle into a single herd (as few as can be managed) to facilitate a good grazing rotation. This greatly enhances the odds of success when adopting regenerative practices for the first time.

Have a plan A regenerative grazing management plan helps you map your existing resources, determine potential stocking rates, and identify future infrastructure needs. A comprehensive plan includes: 1. Goals 2. Maps (aerial and soil) xisting infrastructure (fences, 3. E corrals, pond, and so forth) xisting forage types and 4. E production 5. Grazeable acres 6. Potential stocking rates 7. A ny additional equipment or infrastructure needs Establish goals: Think about why you want to try regenerative grazing and discuss what you want to achieve with all involved parties in your operation.

Common grazing goals include improving soil and animal health, increasing plant cover and diversity, reducing brush encroachment, improving livestock production, and enhancing profitability. In our August 2021 Hay & Forage Grower article, “Start with these soil health principles,” we discussed the six soil health principles, beginning with “Know your context.” As we set goals to restore degraded land, it’s valuable to look back at what your land was like in presettlement days so you know how much potential it has. Develop and write down your goals to guide your steps and inform what you will measure and record to track your progress. You’ll likely be tracking many new metrics. Map the big picture: Aerial maps help to view your property as a whole, and can be retrieved online from websites such as Google Maps, Google Earth, or Daft Logic, as well as from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. Soil maps help determine the different soil types and estimate the forage productivity of an area. Soil differences typically explain why some areas of a property are more productive than others. The USDA Web Soil Survey is an excellent source for soil maps. Infrastructure in place: Once you have developed maps for your property, draw in any existing infrastructure such as fences, corrals, water sources (pond and plumbed), roads, pastures, forage types, and structures. Knowing these locations helps identify areas that may need infrastructure development to improve the use of the entire property to meet your regenerative grazing goals. It will also guide pasture and eventually paddock plans if you move into full adaptive multi-paddock (AMP) and/or high stock density grazing. Forage inventory: Take stock of your own history of forage production and the types and health of your soil. Inventory the species of forages in your pastures and know the growing seasons of each species to help develop your grazing plan and stocking rates. Make a spread-

HUGH ALJOE Hugh Aljoe (pictured) is the director of producer relations at Noble Research Institute (NRI), Ardmore, Okla. Steve Smith is a wildlife and fisheries consultant at NRI.

18 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 18-19A Mar 2022 New Mindset.indd 2

2/16/22 3:04 PM

sheet with entries for each pasture and consider coding your map. Forecast what your pastures can produce and how many cattle they can handle without using as much hay or substitute feeding to get through the winter. Grazeable acres: Determine the number of grazeable acres that are in the areas where the selected grazing animal could forage. To do this, use one of the aerial photo websites (preferably Google Earth or Daft Logic) or a phone app to outline these areas. If the grazing animals are cattle, outline the acres not dominated by trees, brush, water, or other nongrazable cover. If goats are used, the entire property minus water and infrastructure is fair game. Once all the areas are drawn, total them for the grazeable acres. Be conservative because overestimating the number of grazeable acres will lead to properties being overgrazed. Stocking rate: Proper stocking rate is the most important management decision, no matter your goals. Defined as the total number of animals that can use the whole grazeable area for

not conducive to successful regenerative grazing. Setting the right stocking rate, and adapting it as conditions change, provides flexibility in wildlife habitat management, prescribed fire implementation, preparation for drought or other adverse weather conditions, and allows room for a temporary boost in livestock numbers during years of better-than-average growing conditions. For regenerative grazing, it also allows for the intentional feeding for other organisms near the surface and in the soil, which contributes to their rebuilding. As you move to higher stocking densities that are often used in regenerative grazing, you’ll likely need more temporary fencing and possibly additional water sources to optimize grazing performance results. •

the entire grazing period, typically estimated per year, it impacts not only livestock production but every aspect of the operation — soil and plant health, wildlife, economics, and so forth. Each year is different, so forage production varies considerably from year to year. Therefore, proper stocking rate varies annually and should be adjusted according to forage production, unless very conservatively stocked. In working with ranchers who are using continuous grazing, we observe there’s a great tendency to stock more livestock than their pastures can handle without feeding hay or doing a lot of substitute feeding. It’s not unusual to be aggressive with stocking rates and less proactive in adjusting rates relative to forage growing conditions. When overstocking results in overgrazing, the whole system suffers. Overgrazing is a significant cause of poor forage and livestock production, wildlife habitat loss, low rainfall infiltration, soil erosion, weed problems, and lower profitability on millions of acres across the country. It’s simply

IN FUTURE ISSUES: Part 2: Moving cattle, resting grass, and AMPing up Part 3: When to consider and use high stock density grazing

Decades of killer hits like... • • • • • •

Our fanbase uses Rozol for rodent challenges because we’ve been listening and collaborating with them for 50 years. We help clean up farms and ranches with the most knowledgeable agricultural rodent control team in the industry and a catalogue of products that are as forward-thinking today as when they first hit the scene.

Rozol Rockin’ Rebate Liphatech.com/Rozol50 *These products are Restricted Use Pesticides

Rozol Ground Squirrel Bait* Rozol Prairie Dog Bait* Rozol Burrow Builder* Rozol Pocket Gopher Bait Rozol Vole Bait* Rozol Pellets

Hard-hitting classics endure when you get it right the first time.

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 19

F3 18-19A Mar 2022 New Mindset.indd 3

2/16/22 3:06 PM

Mike and Curtis McGuigan make small square bales that are mostly sold to local hobby farmers. They bundle and sell their hay in Bale Baron packages of 21.

by Sydney Meyer


EALIZING a need for small square bales caused Curtis McGuigan to shift gears on more than just his tractor, and as a result, business is booming. McGuigan was making big square bales and shipping them to Texas until he decided to try something new and started making small square bales that he packaged in bundles of 21. Now he is selling most of the hay bundles in his community as fast as he can make them. McGuigan is the fifth generation working on his family’s farm located just outside of Spearfish, S.D., where he and his dad, Mike, operate around 2,000 acres of owned and leased land. About half of the land is hay ground where they grow a mix of alfalfa, orchardgrass, and timothy that is made into small square bales. The remaining acres are rented out as pasture.

Hay demand boomed The farm was homesteaded in 1909 and the family milked dairy cattle until selling the herd in 2001. McGuigan and his dad then raised beef cattle for several years until converting to hay production in 2012. “In 2011, I bought a big square baler

because I foresaw a high demand for hay in Texas due to the drought,” McGuigan said. “I shipped a lot of alfalfa to Texas that year. Then we decided to sell the beef herd the next year and went strictly into hay production because the demand for hay really took off.” After sending his hay to Texas for several years, he decided it was time to try something new. In 2016, he purchased a Massey Ferguson 1840 small square baler and a Bale Baron bundler. He started making 50 to 60-pound alfalfa small square bales and packaging them in bundles of 21 that he shipped to racehorse owners in Kentucky. Within the last couple years, the demand for small square bales in his own community grew drastically, and he started selling more and more bundles locally as well. “Now, the local demand for our hay is so high that we sell most of it around here rather than shipping it across the country,” McGuigan said. “When I have the supply, I will send hay to Kentucky, Texas, and Florida, but the local demand has been growing so much that I just don’t typically have enough to send to other states.”

Shift with the market Most hay producers in his area make round bales, so he found a niche that

All photos: Sydney Meyer


The McGuigan family started the McGuigan Farm Experience last spring to educate local consumers on agricultural production. The experiences range from farm tours to campfire talks.

has become a profitable enterprise. He has found success using a business Facebook page to market his hay and grow a strong customer base. Most of the hay is sold to local hobby farmers and horse owners who get one or two bundles about every other week. “When I brought home the bundler, I think many of our neighbors thought I was crazy, but I like to keep people laughing at me because I’m always

20 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 20-21 Mar 2022 South Dakota.indd 2

2/16/22 9:08 AM

trying something new and doing something different than everyone else,” McGuigan said. “Being willing to adapt and try new things has really paid off for us.” According to McGuigan, his local customers prefer grass hay over alfalfa. As a result, he is in the process of transitioning fields to grass by interseeding timothy and orchardgrass into existing alfalfa stands. The goal is to extend the productive stand life by interseeding the grass. Prior to beginning this transition, the fields were on a six-year rotation with corn or wheat. About 300 hay acres are irrigated using both a pivot and pipe irrigation. Due to drought last year, he only harvested hay from his irrigated acres, which cut his normal annual production by about 25%. Typically, he gets four cuttings from his hayfields. The first cutting is made in the first week of June, and the latest the hay is cut in the fall is the first week of September. A neighbor cuts the hay for him, but McGuigan does the raking, baling, and bundling. His ideal baling time is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. “I strive to bale at 16% moisture,” McGuigan said. “I check the stems, and when those feel right, I have several moisture probes that I use to check the bales.” He sends in samples of the hay to be tested and aims for a relative feed value (RFV) of 180 on the second and third cuttings. If the hay becomes too bleached or is too dry, he will make it into big square and round bales and sell them in the beef cattle market. Fertilizer is applied in the spring, and McGuigan takes soil samples each fall to determine what is needed the following year. The primary pest issue is alfalfa weevil, so he makes the first cutting early in June with the goal of getting the forage off before damage becomes too severe. If needed, he sprays to control any pest or weed pressure. McGuigan converted his family’s old dairy barn to hay storage when he started making small square bales. “The shed will hold about 1,000 bundles, and I try to fill it each year,” McGuigan said. “Having shed space for storing the bales is key to the success of our operation.” One of his biggest challenges is making hay that his customers want. “Everyone’s opinion on good hay is different,” McGuigan said. “Growing up in the dairy business and making hay for ourselves, I

always knew the quality of our hay based off the test results. The tests tell you the right answer about quality. However, for our customers to buy our hay, it also needs to be visually appealing.”

Farm campfires and more The family recently added a new enterprise to their operation that is focused on helping consumers learn more about agriculture. This spring, the family started an educational agricultural experience on the farm, called the McGuigan Farm Experience. “There are a lot of people who are now several generations removed from the farm, so we are trying to give people a first-hand look at where their food comes from,” McGuigan said. They kicked off the new venture by hosting four campfires on their farm throughout the summer, which included educational talks by local producers. The campfire talks covered beekeeping, the farm-to-table process, the irrigation system in the valley, and canning and preserving food. They also have a farmyard with a variety of animals for visitors to interact with.

Farm tours are another experience they offer. People ride around the farm on a bus and get a firsthand look at what is being done in the field, whether it is irrigating, cutting, baling, or some other activity. They also offer the opportunity for people to spend the day working alongside the farm team to get a hands-on experience of what’s involved in making hay. McGuigan continues to demonstrate that being willing to change and adapt to markets is a characteristic needed for long-term farming survival. When others were trading in their small square balers for larger package units, the McGuigans saw an opportunity to do the opposite. That decision has paid them bundles of dividends. • SYDNEY MEYER The author is a freelance writer who lives in Brookings, S.D. She was raised on a cattle ranch near Spearfish, S.D., and earned an agricultural communications degree from South Dakota State University.


Made in the USA YEARS of unmatched performance, proven longevity and customer service.

Call today to learn more!

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 21

F3 20-21 Mar 2022 South Dakota.indd 3

2/16/22 9:08 AM


Alfalfa-bermudagrass growers get new guide Hay & Forage Grower is featuring results of farmer-funded research projects through the Alfalfa Checkoff, officially named the U.S. Alfalfa Farmer Research Initiative, administered by National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance (NAFA).


ERTINENT information on establishing alfalfa into bermudagrass, as well as answers to common pest problems, can be found in a dashboard-sized publication recently available through Alfalfa Checkoff funding. The 6- by 9-inch publication, Alfalfa Bermudagrass Management Guide, is the brainchild of Jennifer Tucker, University of Georgia animal scientist, and Kim Mullenix, Auburn University extension beef systems specialist. Southern farmers newly integrating alfalfa into their JENNIFER TUCKER bermudagrass Funding: $20,500 systems were continually asking for a detailed “getting started” reference guide, Tucker said. Only one-page factsheets and articles on the dual-crop system existed. “We knew this alfalfa-bermudagrass mixture was going to work for several states, so we wrote a grant with the National Alfalfa & Forage Alliance to create a national publication,” Tucker said. “We saw a hole and decided to try and fill it.” In 2020, they hired Liliane Silva, then a post-doctorate scholar, to oversee the project. Silva is now Clemson University’s forage specialist, and South Carolina collaborates with Georgia and Alabama on current alfalfa-bermudagrass systems research. The 26-page publication begins with a definition of what the authors call the “Bermudagrass Belt.” Within this belt, an estimated 28 million acres of the warm-season perennial grass grows coast-to-coast, encompassing the entire southern part of the U.S. as well as much of the transition zone. Although the grass, which is used for both hay and pasture, is persistent, dependable, widely adapted, and high yielding,

interseeding alfalfa can improve a field’s forage production and quality. Nitrogen-fixing alfalfa plants also can keep fertilizer costs manageable. Tucker and Mullenix developed research projects showing the benefits of the dual-crop system, and farmers have been slowly integrating the legume with bermudagrass. Most of the research and education has been in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, but momentum is also building in South Carolina and Mississippi. “I have been here the last six to seven years and am now seeing more of an increase in adoption,” Tucker said. “More people are watching the work and saying, ‘Now I am ready to do it (integrate alfalfa).’ The other big factor coming into play are these astronomical

prices of fertilizer inputs,” Tucker said. “While you do have to put fertilizer into the system, you don’t have to add nitrogen. Fertilizer prices are frustrating, but knowing we have potential alternatives is pretty exciting for us.” The guide offers growers the basics in planting and establishing alfalfa-bermudagrass mixtures, as well as information on soil and fertility recommendations, common nutrient deficiencies, and insect, disease, and weed control. The last chapter discusses the economics involved in incorporating alfalfa into a bermudagrass system. “We hit the high points with this,” Tucker said. Its small size lets farmers keep the guide where they need it. “We also added a fold-out management calendar that has tips for each month. For

PROJECT RESULTS Developed a publication and a quick-resource pocket calendar on the management and production of alfalfa-bermudagrass mixtures.

22 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 22-23 Mar 2022 Alfalfa Checkoff.indd 1

2/17/22 10:11 AM

example, if I look at August, what do I need to be considering? Stockpiling? Scouting for diseases?” The guide is being handed out at conferences, cattlemen’s meetings, and extension training sessions. An online version can be downloaded at www. alfalfa.org. Print copies can also be ordered from the website. The researchers, using National

Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) funding, are now comparing different harvesting methods, including baleage, grazing, and what they call a dual-use cut-and-graze system. “We cut it a couple of times, we graze it a bit, let it rest, and then stockpile graze it because October, November, and December are when we need grazing acres,” Tucker explained. A follow-up NIFA grant will give the

researchers a total of five years to examine the system, collect data, and look at nutrient cycling within the soil as well as within animals. They hope to measure the impact of alfalfa on the system, Tucker said. “We’re trying to answer more in-depth what the practice is really offering from a whole-system perspective while also developing best management practices for it.” •

SUPPORT THE ALFALFA CHECKOFF! Buy your seed from these facilitating marketers: Alfalfa Partners - S&W Alforex Seeds America’s Alfalfa Channel CROPLAN DEKALB Dyna-Gro Fontanelle Hybrids Forage First FS Brand Alfalfa Gold Country Seed Hubner Seed Innvictis Seed Solutions Jung Seed Genetics Kruger Seeds Latham Hi-Tech Seeds Legacy Seeds Lewis Hybrids NEXGROW Pioneer Prairie Creek Seed Rea Hybrids Specialty Stewart Stone Seed W-L Alfalfas

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 23

F3 22-23 Mar 2022 Alfalfa Checkoff.indd 2

2/16/22 9:10 AM

All photos: Ian Grettenberger, UC-Davis

A technician checks over the spray drone to ensure it is ready for the next launch. Researchers at the University of California-Davis have been assessing the use of drones for controlling alfalfa summer worm pests.

Drones show utility in controlling alfalfa pests by Rachael Long and Ken Giles


RONES, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), are more frequently being used for applying pesticides on farms for crop protection. This innovative technology for managing pests, weeds, and diseases is appealing for many reasons. Drones are highly efficient, precise, help save time and energy, have a quick response time, and can cover vast areas tough-to-reach places that might need spot treatments. They also provide an additional tool for farmers to manage pests, especially in times of labor shortages. This is a growing reality as more agricultural pilots retire and there are fewer replacements to fill a need for crop dusters. Although the use of drones for applying pesticides on farms is still limited in the U.S., UAVs are often commercially used in crop production elsewhere. For example, large drones are currently being used to spray fungicides on banana plantations in Central America and for applying insecticides on cereal grains and rice fields in Southeast Asia.

The future is now The use of drones will continue to grow in the U.S. as laws restricting weight carrying capacity change and

with research showcasing high levels of efficacy for pest control that are comparable to manned airplane applications. Pesticide registrants are also developing label language to facilitate and guide future use. In California, that reality for controlling pests in alfalfa fields with drones is here. Researchers from the University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension service and UC-Davis, in collaboration with growers and registrants, found that drones work well for applying pesticides for summer worm control in alfalfa fields, including armyworms and alfalfa caterpillars. These insects are key pests of alfalfa as they feed on the foliage, resulting in yield and forage quality losses if left uncontrolled. For the past two summers, the lead researchers evaluated the performance of a small six-rotor drone (PV35X, Leading Edge Associates) compared to traditional manned airplane and grower ground rig sprayer application methods for controlling summer worms in alfalfa. In the trials, Prevathon and Vantacor insecticides (chlorantraniliprole) were applied to alfalfa fields at 0.054 pounds of active ingredient per acre. In 2020, Prevathon was applied by drone versus a manned airplane at 10 gallons per acre (gpa); a second alfalfa field compared both application methods at

5 gpa. In 2021, Vantacor was applied to a third alfalfa field by drone at 2 gpa and 5 gpa, compared to Prevathon at 10 gpa by a ground rig sprayer. The 2 gpa volume is the minimum labeled rate for aerial application of Vantacor. Spray cards (water sensitive paper) were used to assess spray coverage, and plant samples were taken to compare insecticide residue concentrations after treatment for the different application methods. Summer worm counts were also taken to determine the effect of the different application methods on pest control, the best indicator of the success of the application technology. Natural enemy counts were taken to determine the impact of the pesticides on beneficial insect activity.

Positive first results The results of multiple field trials revealed that the spray cards had similar coverage for the drone and airplane insecticide application methods for all three alfalfa field sites. Overall, the drone application had a bit more variability in terms of spray deposition uniformity than the airplane application methodology. This was not due to the inherent qualities of the drone, but instead that the drone-based spray technology may require more refinement. Airplanes have been used for applying pesticides for decades, and that technology is refined. Drones are new and there is a bit more work that needs to be done to fine-tune them for optimum pest control in crops, such as exploring different nozzle types for maximum coverage and optimal ground speed and flight altitude. Insecticide residue concentrations on the alfalfa plants were remarkably similar for the drone and airplane application methods at the 2, 5, and 10 gpa spray volumes (Figure 1). Likewise, RACHAEL LONG Long (pictured) is a University of California (UC) Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Woodland, Calif. Giles is an emeritus professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering at the UC-Davis.

24 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 24-25 Mar 2022 Drones.indd 2

2/16/22 3:12 PM

the drone, airplane, and ground sprayer rig all showed excellent summer worm control five to seven days after application (Figure 2). Prevathon and Vantacor insect control showed a true selectivity with no visible negative impacts to predators such as ladybird beetles or parasitoid wasps for any of the application methods. This is good news for an insecticide that controls the target pest well, without adverse impacts to natural enemies that help control secondary pests in alfalfa such as aphids. Drone technology is a reality for pest control in alfalfa fields. While more research is underway, the results of this study show that effective drone spray applications can now be made with commercial UAV equipment. California currently has a specific UAV (unmanned) ag pilot license category, which means that for most commercial applications, the pilot of the drone is not required to have a commercial pilot certificate, only the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) UAV certificate

Drones were shown to provide a similar spray coverage as airplanes. Different nozzle types along with speeds and altitudes are being evaluated to achieve maximum performance.

mandated by FAA regulations for the category of “small” UAVs. Some drone companies, such as Yamaha, have obtained certification for handling more than 55 pounds, and many others are in the process of requesting similar approval with research being conducted on larger aircrafts. Further refinements and greater load limits will help to pave the way for more people to use drone technology on a larger scale in crop production in the U.S. Additionally, an industry-wide UAV Task Force is being formed to coordinate the development of labels and standards. Based on university and industry research, drones are a promising and viable option for aerial application of insecticides for pest control in alfalfa fields. •

and the California Department of Pesticide Regulation license. A current limitation for the use of drones for aerial spraying of crops in the U.S. is the 55-pound weight limit

The authors wish to acknowledge Xuan Li with FMC Corporation and Bill Reynolds with Leading Edge Aerial Technologies in California for their expertise and contributions in completing this research.

Insecticide concentration (ug ai/g leaf)

Figure 1. Prevathon (Fields A and B) and Vantacor (Field C) insecticide residue concentrations on alfalfa plants 30

Field A


Field B

Field C

20 15 10 5 0 -5

UAV 10 gpa (PV35)

Airplane 10 gpa (AT-502)

UAV 5 gpa (PV35)

Airplane 5 gpa (AG-CAT D)

UAV 2 gpa (PV35)

UAV 5 gpa (PV35)

Larvae counts/10 sweeps

Figure 2. Prevathon and Vantacor alfalfa summer worm control by UAV, ground, or airplane application methods 120


Field A 10 GPA





Field B 5 GPA






40 20 0 Untreated Control

UAV (PV35)

Airplane (AT-502)

Field C 2, 5, 10 GPA






0 Untreated Control

UAV (PV35)

Airplane (AG-CAT D)

Untreated Control

UAV at 2 GPA

UAV at 5 GPA

Ground at 10 GPA

March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 25

F3 24-25 Mar 2022 Drones.indd 3

2/17/22 10:04 AM


by Matt Akins, Kevin Jarek, and Mike Ballweg

Mike Rankin

Cocktail forage mixes may fit in dairy rations S DAIRY farms utilize more spring-harvested winter cereal forages, cocktail forage mixes are often on the list of options of what to plant next. This is due to their fast growth after planting, the option to apply manure in-season, and the potential for high forage quality. These mixes typically contain a warm-season annual, which is often a brown midrib (BMR) sorghum-sudangrass, Italian ryegrass, and a mix of various legumes, including berseem, crimson, or red clover; hairy vetch; and others. Most mixes contain a high percentage of the warm-season annual and Italian ryegrass because of their quick emergence, growth, and regrowth potential after cutting. In one 2019 Wisconsin field project, a cocktail forage mix planted after a cereal rye crop yielded a total of nearly 4 tons of dry matter (DM) per acre across four harvests. This included 0.7 tons DM per acre from the rye forage. As more producers consider these forages, additional data is needed to understand yield, quality, and variability across farms. To address this, we conducted a project that was supported by the UW Dairy

Innovation Hub to gather forage data from four Wisconsin dairy farms.

Systems differed Forage yield data were collected from fields at three dairy farms in northeast Wisconsin and from the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station. On the three commercial farms, the cocktail forage mix was planted after a cereal forage harvest in early June. At three of the locations, the mix was seeded at 35 pounds per acre with 60% BMR sorghum-sudangrass, 25% Italian ryegrass, and 15% from a combination of berseem, red clover, and hairy vetch. Farm 4 used a mix seeded at 50 pounds per acre with 59% cowpeas; 17% Italian ryegrass; 6% each of millet, alfalfa, and red clover; 4% timothy; and 2% radish. The fertilization program varied widely, with Farm 1 applying 9,000 gallons of liquid manure preplant and then 60 pounds of N fertilizer per acre between harvests. Farm 2 applied 66 pounds of N fertilizer per acre preplant and then 6,000 gallons of liquid manure between cuttings. Farm 3 only applied 45 pounds of N fertilizer after each cutting, while Farm 4 applied 20 pounds of N per acre preplant and no subsequent N due to drought.

Farms targeted harvest of high-quality forage, with harvests taken at approximately a 24- to 36-inch canopy height of the sorghum-sudangrass. First harvest occurred about 40 to 50 days after planting, second harvest was 30 to 35 days later, and a third harvest had a longer interval of 45 to 60 days with a harvest in late September to mid-October. Overall, total-season forage yields averaged 4.6 tons of DM per acre with a range from 3.7 to 6.9 tons of DM per acre. The cereal forage yields were consistent across farms at 1 to 1.5 tons of DM per acre. Yields of cocktail mix across harvests were more variable, with the first harvest being the highest yielding (1.4 to 1.9 tons of DM per acre) on three of the four farms (see Figure 1). The second and third harvests were lower for the two farms that used synthetic N fertilizer between harvests (0.7 to 1.1 tons of DM per acre), while the farm that applied liquid manure maintained higher yields (1.7 to 1.9 tons of DM per acre). The photos depict areas in the same field that received or did not receive manure at this farm. It is hard to know exact reasons for MATT AKINS Akins (pictured) is an extension dairy scientist with the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW). Jarek and Ballweg are extension educators with the UW Division of Extension.

26 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F3 26-27 Mar 2022 Dairy Feedbunk.indd 1

2/17/22 10:06 AM

Kevin Jarek

Kevin Jarek

Photo 1 (left): Cocktail forage mix without manure applied.

Cereals shined for quality The cereal forages were excellent quality with 19% crude protein (CP), 43% neutral detergent fiber (NDF), 67% NDF digestibility at 30 hours (NDFD30),

Figure 1. Forage yield across the harvest season for each farm 2.50 Yield, tons DM/acre

the yield differences, but soil fertility is likely a main factor, especially for the sorghum-sudangrass and Italian ryegrass dominant mixtures. Some producers have indicated significant damage to sorghum-sudangrass stands after applying manure to the crop due to wheel traffic and stem breakage, with some considering a mix based on Italian ryegrass to minimize stand damage. Wisconsin researchers are currently working to evaluate N fertility needs for these mixes to determine more precise recommendations. The farm with the lowest season yields (Farm 4) was only able to take two harvests due to drought conditions after emergence. This farm used a mix with mostly cowpeas, which had good early emergence but did not perform well during drought conditions. The farms with mixes based on sorghum-sudangrass had stands that were primarily sorghum-sudangrass for the first harvest, then progressively increased in Italian ryegrass for the second and third harvests. Across all farms, the proportion of legumes was very low (less than 10%). Some farmers are indicating that the Italian ryegrass and certain clovers can overwinter and provide a potential spring harvest of high-quality forage, but this would depend on winter conditions.

Photo 2 (right): Cocktail forage mix with manure applied.

 Cereal forage

 Cocktail 1st

 Cocktail 2nd

 Cocktail 3rd

2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00



6.7% undigestible NDF at 240 hours (uNDF240), and 72% total digestible nutrients (TDN). This forage would work very well in lactating cow diets. For the cocktail mix, overall quality was a bit lower than expected. Energy was between 53% and 68% TDN with most samples 55% to 63% TDN. The highest TDN sample consisted primarily of Italian ryegrass. Crude protein was moderate and ranged from 8.4% to 16.5%. Protein declined with each subsequent harvest, even with N fertilization between harvests. Fiber content seemed to be consistent across cuttings, ranging from 48% to 56% NDF, except for a third harvest that was 42% NDF and predominantly ryegrass. Fiber digestibility averaged 55% NDFD30 with a range from 41% to 65%. These values were lower than expected considering the species, traits,




and harvest targets used. Undigested NDF (uNDF240) was 5% to 12% of the DM, with the lowest sample being predominantly ryegrass. Meanwhile, most of the cocktail mix samples were between 8% and 12%. These forages still fit in lactating cow diets, but inclusion rates would need to be evaluated to avoid reducing intakes. In making decisions about using cocktail mixes, consider how the crop fits in your cropping and feeding systems. It’s also apparent that N fertilizer will be considerably more expensive this year, which will boost input costs. Based on the results of this multi-farm demonstration project, cocktail forage mixes can provide good forage yield and quality with adequate soil fertility and good growing conditions. We plan to evaluate lactating cow productivity when fed a cocktail forage mix. • March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 27

F3 26-27 Mar 2022 Dairy Feedbunk.indd 2

2/17/22 10:09 AM


by Adam Verner

grass crops as some are too flexible to be effectively crimped. The flail-type conditioner works by stripping wax from the stem and leaf, which speeds the dry-down time. The downside is that the tine speed and baffle hood need to be adjusted for different crops. If not adjusted properly, the aggressive setting used for ryegrass is likely going to be too aggressive for a legume and will knock off the high-value leaves.

Most popular

Get your forage in condition for drying


T MAY not seem like it, but first cutting is right around the corner. In fact, we’ve already started down here in the South with winter annuals. Ryegrass, wheat, and oats are the most common annuals chopped and baled during the early spring in our area, and each offers its own unique challenge when it comes to putting up excellent forage. Our annual forages are not unique with their propensity to dry down slowly. Triticale in the Southwest can be challenging to get harvested at the ideal stage of maturity as it seems to turn to “rope” in just a few days after its optimum harvest date. Alfalfa in the North and West can sometimes offer the challenge of drying down too fast when it is chopped. The decision every forage producer must make when purchasing a mower is what conditioner is going to be most effective for their situation, or if one is needed at all. I’ve had this discussion dozens of times with different people across the country. Each situation is unique, and there is no cookie-cutter answer that fits every farm. Let’s discuss each type of conditioner and go over the pros and cons for each.

Going cold turkey Let’s start with no conditioner, which has always been a popular option

across the South with three-point hitch mowers. It’s also becoming more common in the North for producers who only chop their alfalfa. Eliminating the conditioner is a cost-effective way to harvest forage, and with some tedding, it’s still possible to reach a balable moisture content. There are some people who think that not conditioning hay can improve the quality and dry-down speed of the forage. That might sound good until you get into some young, 6- to 8-ton wet annual forages lying on wet soil. It will take days to lose 5% moisture and will require multiple trips with a tedder to reach baling or chopping moisture. Each pass adds the risk for elevating the ash content of the feed. For dry hay, not having a conditioner might add hours or days to the dry-down time, which can result in more rained-on hay.

Best for grasses A popular option in the eastern half of the U.S. is the V-tine, flail, or impeller conditioner. These are all basically the same conditioning system. This system uses mostly V-shaped tines and an adjustable baffle hood to increase or decrease the amount of conditioning. The overall design and cost of this option is reasonable. It works well in

Another extremely popular option that can be found in most states is the roller conditioner. Rubber rollers have been around for a long time and are still popular where legumes are harvested. They do an excellent job crimping the stems. Some producers have shifted away from the rubber rolls due to the cost and rapid wearing of the rubber, which lowers the crimping effect. Steel roller conditioners have taken the place of the rubber ones on many mowers. They come in different shapes and sizes, and Massey Ferguson offers a double roller conditioner. The durability of the steel rolls has been their biggest selling point. Some people say they do not crimp as well as new rubber rolls, but the longevity has seemed to be a strong selling point. As acreage per farm keeps growing, equipment longevity becomes more important. Steel rolls do an excellent job with legumes, as you would expect. They also perform well with cool-season annuals, as most of them have thicker stems. All roll-type conditioners tend to underperform in our southern perennial grasses. Deciding on the right conditioner, if any, deserves careful consideration when purchasing a mower-conditioner. In addition to the basic types listed here, there are also some after-market conditioners available. •

ADAM VERNER The author is a managing partner in Elite Ag LLC, Leesburg, Ga. He also is active in the family farm in Rutledge.

28 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 28 Mar 2022 Gearhead.indd 1

2/16/22 2:54 PM


Untitled-1 1 Untitled-1 1

12/2/21 9:39 AM

12/15/21 11:38 AM











Contact Mountain View Seeds at 503.588.7333 for a free MVS Forage & Cover Crop Guide www.mtviewseeds.com March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 29

March2022_BuyersMart.indd 1

2/16/22 4:53 PM


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

Full line of applicators. Exceptional customer service. Organic certified. Custom Operators Wanted Bainbridge, OH

N4852 County Road C ~ Ellsworth WI 54011 Office: 715-273-3739 Cell: 612-812-7939 www.multisile.com deatonnutrition@dishup.us

Untitled-1 1

2/23/12 1:25:25 PM

Feeding Guide 4th Edition

by Mike Hutjens hoards.com/bookstore

Is injury, illness or arthritis impacting your farming?

Get back to doing what you love. Contact AgrAbility to find out how we can help. With a Swing-Max Tandem Power Hitch, you can double the baling production of your tractor. Take PTO power from your tractor, split it in two, and easily operate two balers at once. The Swing-Max boom, with its steerable second dolly, allows you to instantly adapt to windrow conditions while swinging inline for single file travel and corner control.

AgrAbility: It’s about Hope.

800-825-4264 www.AgrAbility.org


www.marcrestmfg.com 30 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

March2022_BuyersMart.indd 2

2/16/22 4:53 PM


GOPHER GENERAL SLOW-Release Fumigant “Best gopher control I’ve ever seen. Our cost per acre has gone down after the first season of use. Just added a second machine to cover all our ground.” M.B. Walla Walla, WA SLOW-RELEASE FUMIGANT remains effective for days!

World’s Finest Hay Products

Alfalfa Seed Plastic & Sisal Twine Net Wrap Hay Preservatives Silage Film Hay Tarps Conditioning Rollers Hay Fluffers Fair Manufacturing Hay Rakes


Field-proven gopher control since 2010!

Patented system blows slow-release fumigant tablets in the artificial tunnel, undetected, allowing time for gophers to find the tunnel and succumb to the fumigant. Cover 20 acres/hour with a fumigant cost of $10/acre! Machines operating in CO, ID, KS, MN, MT, ND, NE, NM, NV, OR, SD, UT, WA, and CANADA.


www.thefinetwineco.com 1062 Junction Rd, Alton, IA 51003

FineTwine_March_HFG.indd 1

STAY IN THE TRACTOR while Gopher General does the work for you!

2/4/22 2:14 PM

CALL 306-745-2412



WORKS IN ALL CONDITIONS Protects against rocks/obstacles; dry, muddy or hard ground conditions! LEARN MORE at our website!

WATCH OUR VIDEO gophergeneral.com

Reliable wrapping intuitive control G3010 Farmer // Round Bale Wrapper

The wrapper for a single-person operation

Göweil’s G3010 Stationary Wrappers are designed for wrapping at the farm. Thanks to the integrated motor and user-friendly remote control, the wrapper is easy and efficient to run. Operate the wrapper from the comfort of your tractor cab as you stack bales.


Philip Kieser | sales@goeweil.com | (309) 750-5639

www.goeweil.com March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 31

March2022_BuyersMart.indd 3

2/16/22 4:53 PM


(800) 552-3295

Stay up to date at

hayandforage.com Hay and Forage Grower Online • News and intelligence from the field • Latest industry information and updates


• Original features and industry insight

Squeeze for Large Rectangular Bales

Hay Biz

• Handles wrapped/unwrapped bales, widths 48” to 96”, weight up to 2,800 lbs.

• Every day, all day, find out what is going on in the hay and forage industry

• For loaders that use the“universal” skid steer quick attach system.

• Participate in shared news and information

• Dual cylinders gently squeeze the bale from both sides. • Cylinders, hoses & couplers are standard.

Round, tubular arms do not puncture the plastic wrap, retaining bale quality during storage.

Built with Sunshine

Built with Sunshine and Manufactured in the USA

• News about products, people, places, and events

• Handles round bales too! Visit worksaver.com to learn more Worksaver, Inc., P.O. Box 100, Litchfield, IL 62056-0100 Phone: 217-324-5973 • Fax: 217-324-3356 worksaver.com • E-mail: sales@worksaver.com ®

Connect with us

Designed. Engineered. Remarkable Value.

2022 World Alfalfa Congress

• Current events, special features and Hay & Forage Grower updates

Profitable Alfalfa Production Sustains the Environment

• Track the pulse of the forage industry on Hay & Forage Grower’s Twitter page • Get news as it happens with live Twitter updates • Video from events and more on the Hay & Forage Grower YouTube channel

November 14–17, 2022, San Diego, CA www.worldalfalfacongress.ucdavis.edu

Connect with us at hayandforage.com

32 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022 HFG Stay up to date.indd 1 March2022_BuyersMart.indd 4

6/28/16 10:12 AM 2/16/22 4:53 PM


John E. Baylor Memorial Forage & Livestock Scholarship

For current undergraduate students majoring in a field related to growing/feeding forage to livestock.

Applications due: April 1, 2022 To Apply: https://tinyurl.com/mrafcenr

Sponsored and Funded by:

Advertise in the Buyer’s Mart Section DE46905

For more information contact: Kim Zilverberg Kzilverberg@hayandforage.com Jenna Zilverberg Jzilverberg@hayandforage.com

CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING $2.50 per word per issue.10 word minimum.

920-563-5551 ext. 125

FARM EQUIPMENT BALEWAGONS: New Holland self-propelled & pull-type models/parts/tires/manuals. Can finance/deliver. 208-880-2889, /15 www.balewagon.com JAWIBA

Pitbull Blades are available in Four Wheel Drive Tractor Models and Front Wheel Assist Tractor Models. Built using T1 grade steel with AR400 wear points, Pitbull Blades are made in Canada and come with a 2-Year Warranty—the best in the industry.


1.888.856.6613 March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 33

March2022_BuyersMart.indd 5

2/16/22 4:53 PM

FORAGE IQ Novel Endophyte Renovation Workshops March 8, Virtual at 6 to 9 p.m. ET March 23, Springhill, Tenn. March 30, Keedysville, Md. Details: grasslandrenewal.org/ workshops/ Appalachian Grazing Conference March 10 to 12, Morgantown, W.V. Details: www.wvagc.com Silage for Beef Cattle Conference March 17, Ithaca, Neb. Details: bit.ly/HFG-SFBC22 Northeast Pasture Consortium Annual Meeting March 24, Virtual Details: grazingguide.net/news/ winter22.html Central Plains Dairy Expo March 29 to 31, Sioux Falls, S.D. Details: centralplainsdairy.com Coastal Plain Beef Cattle Field Day March 31, Newton, Miss. Details: bit.ly/HFG-BCFD22 Tri-State Dairy Nutrition Conference April 11 to 13, Fort Wayne, Ind. Details: tristatedairy.org Grassfed Exchange Conference May 18 to 20, Fort Worth, Texas Details: grassfedexchange.com



Strong exports in 2021 Hay prices remain above historical levels as winter begins to wane. If cold weather holds on longer than normal, this will further erode hay inventories as we enter the 2022 production season. The final tally on hay exports during 2021 was extremely positive with several records being set. Once again, over

4 million metric tons of all hay types were exported last year, which bolsters hay prices and demand, especially in the West. The prices below are primarily from USDA hay market reports as of the beginning of mid-February. 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 (central SJV) California (southeast) Colorado (northeast) Idaho (south central) Iowa (Rock Valley) Kansas (north central) Kansas (northwest) Kansas (southeast) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Missouri Nebraska (western) Oklahoma (northeast) Oklahoma (northwest) South Dakota Texas (Panhandle) Texas (west)-ssb Premium-quality alfalfa California (northern SJV) California (southeast)-ssb Colorado (southeast) Idaho (southeast) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (northwest) Kansas (southwest) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Minnesota (Pipestone)-ssb Missouri Montana Montana-lrb Oklahoma (northeast)-lrb Oklahoma (western)-lrb Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-ssb Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica) Texas (Panhandle) Washington Wisconsin (Lancaster) Wyoming (western)-ssb Good-quality alfalfa California (central SJV) California (southeast)-ssb Colorado (southeast) Idaho (south central) Iowa (Rock Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (northwest) Kansas (southeast) Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri-lrb Montana Nebraska (eastern)-lrb

Price $/ton 332 285-300 248-280 285 213-220 225 200-255 200-230 225-270 200-250 250 140 190 250 280-300 300-315 Price $/ton 330 280-310 240-260 250 175-188 235 235-250 210-240 250 160-200 310-350 300 215 185 300-350 250 220-270 190 250-260 265-275 180 240-260 Price $/ton 315-330 265 200-240 300 178 150-175 185-200 160-180 210-230 170-185 120-160 285-310 185

Nebraska (western) (d) Oklahoma (central)-lrb Oklahoma (southwest) Oregon (Lake County) Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota Texas (west) Wisconsin (Lancaster) Wyoming (western) Fair-quality hay Colorado (San Luis Valley) Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas (north central) (d) Kansas (south central)-lrb Minnesota (Sauk Centre) (d) Minnesota (Pipestone)-lrb Missouri-lrb Montana Nebraska (central)-lrb Oklahoma (northwest)-lrb Pennsylvania (southeast) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb Texas (Panhandle)-lrb (d) Washington Wisconsin (Lancaster)-lrb Bermudagrass hay Alabama-Premium lrb Alabama-Good lrb California (southeast)-Premium ssb Oklahoma (southeast)-Premium lrb (d) Texas (central)-Good/Prem lrb Texas (southern)-Fair/Good ssb Bromegrass hay Kansas (south central)-lrb Kansas (southeast)-Good Nebraska-Good lrb (d) Orchardgrass hay (d) Idaho (south central)-Fair/Good Oregon (Crook-Wasco)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good (d) Timothy hay Montana-Premium ssb Pennsylvania (southeast)-Good Oat hay California (northern SJV)-Good ssb Oklahoma (northwest)-Premium lrb Straw Iowa Iowa (Rock Valley)-lrb Kansas Minnesota (Sauk Centre) Pennsylvania (southeast) (d) South Dakota (Corsica)-lrb

210 170 150 260 145-240 200 235-260 100-155 200-250 Price $/ton 210 105-120 120 135 210-230 150-165 100-125 285 125 148 135-160 135-140 175 230-250 70-85 Price $/ton 133 80 285 145 120-160 235-265 Price $/ton 70-105 150 135 Price $/ton 350 325-400 285-375 120-240 Price $/ton 360 110-210 Price $/ton 280 130 Price $/ton 135 108-123 60-100 95-125 80-125 80-90

(d) (d) (o)








(d) (d)

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

34 | Hay & Forage Grower | March 2022

F2 34 Mar 2022 IQ-Markets.indd 1

2/15/22 10:39 AM

PLANT YOUR LEGACY WITH W-L ALFALFAS. Grow your confidence season after season with our proven alfalfa seed. W-L Alfalfas® has increased yields and improved forage quality for more than half a century. Our lineup of conventional, Roundup Ready ® and HarvXtra® Alfalfa with Roundup Ready Technology can make a difference in your fields. wlalfalfas.com

© 2022 Forage Genetics International. W-L Alfalfas and HarvXtra® are registered trademarks 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 and Roundup Ready® Alfalfa are subject to planting and use restrictions. Visit ForageGenetics.com/legal for the full legal, stewardship and trademark statements for these products.

Untitled-2 1

2/11/22 11:32 AM


NO MATTER WHAT. With the lineup of Hesston by Massey Ferguson® windrowers available, you get added power and capacity. That means quality hay, faster and more comfortably, whether you’re feeding your own livestock or selling to a neighbor. No matter what, DEMAND HESSTON HAY.

Learn more at www.masseyferguson.us, or visit your Hesston by Massey Ferguson dealer.

©2022 AGCO Corporation. Massey Ferguson is a worldwide brand of AGCO Corporation. AGCO and Massey Ferguson are trademarks of AGCO. All rights reserved.

sheet with entries for each pasture and consider coding your map. Forecast what your pastures can produce and how many cattle they can handle without using as much hay or substitute feeding to get through the winter. Grazeable acres: Determine the number of grazeable acres that are in the areas where the selected grazing animal could forage. To do this, use one of the aerial photo websites (preferably Google Earth or Daft Logic) or a phone app to outline these areas. If the grazing animals are cattle, outline the acres not dominated by trees, brush, water, or other nongrazable cover. If goats are used, the entire property minus water and infrastructure is fair game. Once all the areas are drawn, total them for the grazeable acres. Be conservative because overestimating the number of grazeable acres will lead to properties being overgrazed. Stocking rate: Proper stocking rate is the most important management decision, no matter your goals. Defined as the total number of animals that can use the whole grazeable area for

the entire grazing period, typically estimated per year, it impacts not only livestock production but every aspect of the operation — soil and plant health, wildlife, economics, and so forth. Each year is different, so forage production varies considerably from year to year. Therefore, proper stocking rate varies annually and should be adjusted according to forage production, unless very conservatively stocked. In working with ranchers who are using continuous grazing, we observe there’s a great tendency to stock more livestock than their pastures can handle without feeding hay or doing a lot of substitute feeding. It’s not unusual to be aggressive with stocking rates and less proactive in adjusting rates relative to forage growing conditions. When overstocking results in overgrazing, the whole system suffers. Overgrazing is a significant cause of poor forage and livestock production, wildlife habitat loss, low rainfall infiltration, soil erosion, weed problems, and lower profitability on millions of acres across the country. It’s simply

not conducive to successful regenerative grazing. Setting the right stocking rate, and adapting it as conditions change, provides flexibility in wildlife habitat management, prescribed fire implementation, preparation for drought or other adverse weather conditions, and allows room for a temporary boost in livestock numbers during years of better-than-average growing conditions. For regenerative grazing, it also allows for the intentional feeding for other organisms near the surface and in the soil, which contributes to their rebuilding. As you move to higher stocking densities that are often used in regenerative grazing, you’ll likely need more temporary fencing and possibly additional water sources to optimize grazing performance results. •

IN FUTURE ISSUES: Part 2: Moving cattle, resting grass, and AMPing up Part 3: When to consider and use high stock density grazing

4 Safe practices 4 Educational Resources




March 2022 | hayandforage.com | 19

F3 18-19B Mar 2022 New Mindset copy.indd 3

2/16/22 3:08 PM

HFG-full.indd 1

2/10/2022 4:17:38 PM

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.