Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
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Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358 Fax: (859) 323-1952
Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-2853 Fax: (859) 257-3412
The Western KY Grazing Network held their third pasture walk of the 2012 grazing season on September 26, 2012. The pasture walk was held on Wayne Burkholder’s dairy near Hopkinsville, KY. The morning started off with a tour of the farm. Wayne discussed the practices he was currently using as the group walked through pastures of forage sorghum, red clover, tall fescue, turnips, and more. Wayne discussed the effect the summer’s drought had on his forages and feeding program. The farmers and specialists present also talked about damage and loss of forages due to armyworms and Aspergillus ear rot in corn. During hot, dry years, stressed corn plants may be at risk of developing Aspergillus ear rot. An olive-green mold will form on ears. This is a fungus called Aspergillus flavus which can produce aflatoxin. This can be toxic to animals and can cause health issues or death. Contact your county agent if you suspect there is a risk to your livestock. See http://www.uky.edu/Ag/IPM/scoutinfo/corn/disease/asperrot/asperrt1.htm for more information on Aspergillus ear rot in Kentucky and the article in the October issue of UK’s Dairy Notes at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/afsdairy/extension/nutrition/milkingcows/forage/aflatoxincornquestions for common questions regarding aflatoxin on corn grain and silage.
After lunch, Dr. Garry Lacefield, UK Extension Forage Specialist, discussed the use of clovers for forage. Some of the benefits of incorporating legumes into pastures include increased forage quality, reduced nitrogen fertilizer needs, and increased yields. These species are usually higher in crude protein, digestibility, and many minerals and vitamins compared to grasses. Legumes nitrogen-fixing abilities can lower fertilizer costs and increase pasture health. Different species of clover fix different amounts of nitrogen in the soil. For example, studies have shown white or ladino clover to fix up to 150 lb/acre/year and red clover to fix up to 200 lb/acre/year. The use of clovers often extends the grazing season and reduces the risk of stand loss due to disease or pest problems when mixed into a grass stand. Risk of common forage disorders, including grass tetany, endophyte toxicity caused by endophyte infected tall fescue, and prussic acid (cyanide) poisoning, can be reduced by incorporating clovers into the diet. While bloat is a threat when grazing clover, basic bloat prevention practices can greatly reduce this risk. When used correctly, clovers has the capability to increase overall animal performance.
Dr. Edwin Ritchey, UK extension soils specialist, educated the group on nutrient management concepts. Dr. Ritchey stressed the importance of soil testing and using the correct method when soil sampling. If utilizing a no-till seeding method, soil samples should be taken to 4 inches from the soil surface and at 6 inches in a tilled area. Soil samples also need to be representative of the entire field for best recommendations. There are several companies who analyze soil samples and provide recommendations. These recommendations are based on research and tests done by the individual company which alters recommendations. The group discussed use of manure fertilizer and regulations on application of manure. If applying incorrect amounts of manure, phosphorus (P) may be over applied which is detrimental to the environment. P levels in manure are increased in animals consuming high amounts of this nutrient. The group also discussed nitrogen (N) and potassium (K) in manure fertilizer. See ARG-1 2012-2013 Lime and Nutrient Recommendations at http://www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/agr/agr1/agr1.pdf for more information.