I know everyone is tired of hearing about low-quality forages. Much of the published information so far has discussed low protein and energy values. High ash content is the new concern that has shown up in recent articles. Ash is simply the percentage of minerals in the forage. Allen Gahler, OSU Extension educator in Sandusky County addresses this in his November 2019 article, "Should Your Forage Analysis Include Ash?" He notes many cover crop sample results from this year have ash content in the 16%-20% range (8%-12% is normal). Consider including ash in your forage analysis.
Bill Weiss, Department of Animal Sciences, OSU, just published a list of potential concerns regarding high ash forages in his November article "Feeding High Ash Forages." He starts by saying ash content from soil contamination is more of a concern than the mineral contents within the plants.
First, "Ash has no energy. If everything else is equal, as ash concentration increases energy concentration decreases linearly." Second, excess trace minerals (iron, copper or aluminum) can be harmful to rumen bacteria and reduce feed efficiency. Third, forages contaminated by heavy clay soils reduces copper and zinc absorption. Next, extreme levels of iron could be toxic to cattle as observed in a North Carolina State University study, though this risk is minimal on the farm. Finally, Weiss warns "the greatest potential risk of high ash forages is ruminal or abomasal impaction." Essentially the soil particles can block or obstruct normal digestive functions. Symptoms may include "lethargy, inappetence, constipation and eventually death."
Many people are wondering about grazing corn stalks this year. Ash content can be problematic in corn stalks as well after trampling and precipitation. Freitas, Williamson and Felix discuss corn stalk grazing in their October 2018 Penn State article, "Grazing Corn Stalks with Beef Cattle." Corn stalk residue nutritional values vary by plant structures. Cattle will selectively consume any missed grain followed by husks and leaves and finally stalks and cobs. Husks and leaves are higher in TDN and protein, though not high enough to meet all the livestock nutritional requirements. Feed values decrease rapidly as time passes and weather events occur. Grazing within 45 days after harvest is optimal. Supplementing with distillers grains, soybeans or other high value feeds along with minerals and salt is advised. View the article for listed values. Dry dairy cows and heifers, goats, sheep and swine can also graze corn stalks, though less research is available.
Other articles I came across last week focused on antibiotics and vaccines. Be aware that all antibiotics will soon require a veterinarian’s prescription. The FDA law took effect in 2017 with a 5-year phase-out of over-the-counter livestock antibiotics. Most OTC antibiotics will no longer be available as soon as next year. Make arrangements with your veterinarian to update your animal health plans as necessary, if not routinely. Having a good veterinarian-client-patient relationship will be extremely important to provide your livestock with timely preventative care and treatment.
Administering antibiotics and vaccines on your farm can save you money — if done correctly. Lisa Guenther, editor at Canadian Cattlemen, published a Nov. 7 article, "Keep Syringes and Needles Clean and Working During Vaccination," sharing several tips with producers. Choose the right gauge and length needle for the application. A 16-gauge needle is ideal for most mature livestock (horses: 18, poultry: 22) and 18- or 20-gauge for young animals. Also review proper injection route and site. Review charts here: Hypodermic Needle Size and Injection Site Charts (below needle picture) or consult your veterinarian. Inserting a "dirty" or used needle into a bottle will contaminate the contents. Do not use the same multi-use syringe for both antibiotics and vaccines. Antibiotic residue, which is extremely difficult to completely remove, will render many vaccines inactive. Detergent or soap residue inside the syringe barrel also will reduce vaccine effectiveness. Multi-use needles and syringes can be sterilized using distilled water and a microwave. Dispose of bent or burred needles. See the article for full details.
Extension is hosting several events this winter.
There are seven opportunities to attend an ARC/PLC Farm Bill Meeting between Dec. 2 and Jan. 14.
Pesticide License Testing is scheduled once a month, December through May in the Wayne County Administration building.
Ohio Pesticide and Fertilizer Recertification dates are also set for winter 2020.
The Farm Financial Management School will run six consecutive Wednesday evenings, Jan. 15-Feb. 19.
Finally, the Ag Outlook Meeting is scheduled for Jan. 24 at Kidron Park.
For more information on any of the above content, visit our website: wayne.osu.edu or give us a call at 330-264-8722 or send me an email at email@example.com or Rory at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consider subscribing to our email list to receive regular ag updates or specific livestock updates from Extension.
We are also collecting data on the voluntary 2019 Planting Date and Yield Survey. More details and the forms can be found online at go.osu.edu/yield19 and a printable version at go.osu.edu/yield19form. Data is due by Dec. 31.
— Matthew Nussbaum is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Program Assistant and may be reached at 330-264-8722.