This is a recorded webinar that took place on May 7, 2020. In this webinar, you will learn from Lauren Langley, Livestock Extension Agent about soil sampling, …
Okay, so welcome to the livestock webinar
series. I'm gonna be talking about small
ruminant pasture management tips tonight.
I'm mainly going to focus on pasture
establishment and forage selection, but
if you have any other type of pasture or
grazing questions, feel free to ask me, um,
go ahead and put it in the chat window.
We'll do a Q&A at the end. So if it's not
covered tonight and you've still got
questions, you know, I'll be more than happy to
have a discussion at the end of this
webinar. So my name is Lauren Langley. I'm
the livestock agent here in Alamance
County. If you're not already currently
working with your livestock Extension
agent where you are, I encourage you to
reach out and get to know them. I'll be
happy to connect you to the office if
you send me an email. And yeah, so I'm
excited to be on tonight. So let's go
ahead and dive in. This is gonna be
recorded. I will send out an email
probably tomorrow morning with the
recorded, recording link as well some
handouts and a really short evaluation,
if you wouldn't mind completing that for
me. Okay, so let's start at the beginning.
Any time I give a pasture talk, I start
with soil testing because you cannot
manage a pasture without knowing what's
in the soil. If you just guess, you know,
you're probably not gonna get it and
you're more than likely gonna waste your
time and money. So I always say don't
guess, but soil test. So if you don't have
a current report you need to do soil
testing first before you do anything.
Soil testing is free here in North
Carolina the majority of the year. So it
runs from like April 1st to, towards the
end of November, it's free. The rest of
the year it is $4 a sample,
which is still really inexpensive and
this is all done through the North
Carolina Department of Agriculture.
Talking about the procedure and how that
works … Hold on one second …
Okay, so make sure everybody is muted and
has their video off as you come in to
the to the webinar here. Let me back up.
Okay, so again, it's done through NCDA.
Extension offices usually help implement
this service. We have the forms and we
have the boxes and we can help you
interpret the results. Some Extension
offices will mail the samples off for
you during the free period, but most of
them you're going to have to mail your
own sample through. Okay, so somebody said
that they cannot hear me.
On my end. Okay, so I think that might
just be Michelle because on my end is
showing that my microphone is on. Okay,
if y'all will just hang on one second …
Okay. Okay, I'm sorry about that. That's
the problem if I don't have a moderator,
I've got to present and moderate, and so
I apologize. There's probably gonna be
some breaks throughout. But anyways, if
you haven't done this before it's really
really easy to do. You want to have a
clean plastic bucket. You of course want
to go ahead and get the form and the
sample boxes from the Extension Office.
If the Extension Office doesn't have a
soil probe for you to check out, you can
easily use a shovel or a trowel or
something like that. It definitely helps
if the soil has a little bit of
moisture. In the middle of summer, if it's
dry, it's going really hard to pull soil
samples. You really want to go four to
six inches deep when you're doing these
soil samples. So, what I always suggest is
that you do a box per permanent pastured
area and no more than 10 acres at a
time for a box, because whenever you go
over 10 acres it's just so hard to
represent that entire area. So if you've
got temporary fencing running everywhere,
again, I would not try to soil sample every
single little bitty sliver of land you
have stripped up. I would do it off of
the perimetered area because it's gonna be
much easier to manage and amend the soil
with lime or fertilizer for that area.
You want to zigzag around and take as
many sub-samples as you can stand.
Obviously, the bigger the area the more
sub-samples you need to take. I recommend
at least one to two sub-samples per acre
that you're doing. Again, the more you do
the better because it'll represent that
entire area. So you zigzag around, take
samples four to six inches deep which is
what's going to be available to that
plant, so that's why we're saying four to
six inches deep. Weigh on the side of six
inches versus four if you can. Put it
together in that clean plastic bucket and
mix it up, and then you're gonna pull a
representative sample to fill your box.
You fill to that red line on the box and
make sure that the soil is not really
wet. If it is really wet, you want to lay
it out on a paper towel and let it dry before
it goes in the box.
Do not use plastic bags, tape,
or anything on the box. They rip the
top off, dump out the soil to test it, and
then they recycle, and they don't want
anything on those boxes. For pastures you
want to soil sample every two to three
years. For hay land, you want to probably
do every year, or I'd say every one to
two years, because you're trying to
maximize production every single year
and make as much hay as you can. With the
pastures you want to match your pasture
needs to your grazing needs. If you don't
need a whole lot of grazing then you do
not want to add a lot of nitrogen, for
example, and I'll get to that here in
just a minute.
Okay, so this is what the form looks like
for ag use. There is, um, there is a form
for lawn and garden, so make sure you get
the one that's for ag use because it's
gonna give you the recommendation per
acre or not per square foot. Vice versa,
if you want a lawn or garden sample, make
sure that you get the one for
square footage. Um, so whenever you
complete this, you're gonna put all your
information up here at the top and then
fill out some of this other information
over here like sample date, your county,
the number of samples. And if you have a
farm ID that's fine. If you don't, don't
worry about it. And then down here you
want to give it a sample identification.
Oh, no, I've lost my mouse. There we go.
Sample identification. So it could be
FRONT, it could be BACK, it could be 01.
Make sure that you make a key for
your farm, because if you're doing 10
different pastures and you don't write
down a key, it might be really hard for
you to remember where things go when the
results come back. The lime? If there's been
lime applied within the past 12 months,
that goes here. If not, leave it blank.
First crop, second crop. This is really
set up for field crops. So this is how
you do it for pastures. First crop is
what's growing there now, and the second
crop is what you want to grow there. If
it's the same thing you put the same
thing in both boxes. So if it's a fescue
pasture and you want it to remain a fescue
pasture, you put it in both, you put it in
both boxes. So my chat window's lighting
up. Um, okay. It looks like everybody can hear
now. Okay, good. Alright, so let me go to
the next one here. So this is what the back of
the form looks like. This is where you
pull the codes from. So on that, on that
front page, you know, you saw where it
says code. You go to the back and it's
got for forages and pastures. E stands
for establish. So this is important. If you
are establishing a pasture from the
ground up, from bare soil, your first crop
is gonna be whatever it is comma E for
establish. Then your second crop will be
whatever it is comma M for maintenance.
And then if it's an already established
crop, you would do M for both of them if
you're not changing the crop. And most of
our pastures here in Alamance County in
the Piedmont area are going to be in
this fescue category, so most are gonna
be using the 055 code or 054.
But if you are in Bermudagrass country
they've got codes for that, clover,
sorghum, Sudan. It kind of lumps it with
is it a legume, is it a warm season, is a
cool season, and that sort of thing. And
if you forget everything I've said, it's
all in the back of this form how to
complete it. Okay, so talking about
interpreting your soil test report, the
soil test is only going to test for the
major nutrients. It's going to do
phosphorus and potassium, and it will do
pH. It actually does not test for
nitrogen because it leaches so quickly
or it's taken up by the plant so quickly.
It gives you a base recommendation for
nitrogen based on the crop that you list,
but it will give you, it will give you a
phosphorus index, so it'll tell you the
level of phosphorus in the soil and a
potassium index. And it'll also give you
a pH range which is super important. The
recommendations are based on field
experiments conducted in North Carolina,
so everything is is recommended for our
soil and our land here in North Carolina.
So this is a soil test report,
so that you guys can like see an example
of one. This is kind of a typical soil
test report that I see where a pasture
is active and has received chicken
litter as fertilizer.
Chicken litter is pretty common to come
by. Well I say that. It's, it's common here
but you might have a hard time getting
some of it because it's like gold. But a
lot of pastures do receive it so this is
kind of a typical report if it's
received chicken litter. Most of our
pastures again are fescue or cool-season
grasses. The very first thing that I take
a look at is gonna be the pH. So whenever,
you know, you ask me to look at your
report, this is kind of how I go through
it. I'm gonna take a look at the pH, and
what we really want to see is a 6 to a 6.5
for most of our forages.This one is a 6.1, so everything's good there. And it does
not need any lime. And how you kind of
read this report, here's the sample ID
right here, 01. Here's the
recommendations; it's going to be
nutrients pounds per acre and lime would
be tons per acre, right up here. And you
can see that this report was for fescue
M and they had put it on both of the
lines. Sometimes they record that and
sometimes they don't. But nonetheless, so
here's the baseline recommendation for
nitrogen. This will be the recommendation
for phosphorus, for potassium. Then these
are going to be the values that we're
looking at, the test result units. And, um, so I'm
gonna go through that here in just a
second. So next I'm gonna look at your
phosphorus index, so that's the P-I. And this
is 145. So you're probably thinking, well
what the heck does that mean? There's an
index and nutrient status chart that we
go by. So 0 to 10 is a very low and means
if you applied phosphorus, if your index
came back and it was a 0 to 10, if you
applied phosphorus the plant uptake would
be very high. It would be very responsive.
You would see immediate results. Eleven to 25
is low. Plant response will be high. Twenty-six to 50
is medium. So again plant response will be about medium on that. Fifty-one to
100 is considered high, so you would have
low to no plant response, and 100
plus is considered very high and there will
be no plant response. So in this
situation, with it being 145,
my recommendation is no phosphorous
because there's plenty of it available.
If you were to apply it, you would (A) be
wasting money and (B) it could be an
environmental hazard because it could
run off because it's not being taken up.
So you don't want to put out anything
excessive if there is no need there. Okay,
so a little bit about phosphorus. It is
important in helping plants manufacture
food by using sunlight as a source of
energy. It's needed for seed and fruit
formation, proper root growth, and it
increases the survival and the growth of
the seedlings. It usually does not leach
from the soil but it still can. It can
more so run off. So once it's there it
can be available for plant growth for
years to come.
So I will say that while nitrogen will
leach and kind of leave in a hurry,
phosphorous does stick once it is into
the soil. It'll be there for a while so
once your levels get up there you might
not need to apply phosphorus to your
pastures for several years. I honestly,
like our farm we use chicken litter on
our farm and it has, I don't even know
the last time we put out phosphorus or
potassium for that matter, because our
levels are up there in that probably
medium to high range and they've been
like that for a long time because it
does, phosphorus and potassium do stick
around a lot longer than nitrogen. I will
say that even though the soil test
results do not test for nitrogen, you
have to know that there is nitrogen
available in the soil because it is
pulled and fixated from the air. So there
is some available, it's just they do not
test for it to measure for it.
Okay, so the next thing I'm gonna look at is the
potassium index. So this is definitely
needed by plants in really large
amounts. It's essential for a healthy
forage stand. It often gets overlooked. I
can't tell you how, you know, how how much
this gets overlooked. Everybody is
concerned about nitrogen most of the time, but
this is really important. It's needed for
energy production, cold hardiness, root
growth, drought tolerance, and to increase
forage yields. It also helps the plant
fight off disease and encourages more
efficient nitrogen use by the plants. So
what it does is it decreases the
susceptibility to several plant diseases
which is important. The potassium index
here is a 44. So looking back at my chart,
that's going to fall into that medium
range and it's not that far from high so
the recommendation will be to apply a
minimal amount like 50 pounds of
potassium per acre. And so that's right
here where your recommendations are. Okay,
so let's look at … Again, I talked about pH.
So because the pH is a 6.1, you don't
need any lime. But this particular field
would be on your radar, you know. You
would definitely want to keep keep in
touch with it because when that pH
starts to drop down into the fives, you
would then look to add lime to raise the
pH up. And I will tell you, if the pH is not correct, all these other nutrients
are not going to be available to the
plant. So that's how the pH works. If it's
too low, you know, the plant might not be
able to take up phosphorus and potassium
like it normally would, or nitrogen. You
definitely don't want it too high either.
It's like a sweet spot of this 6 to
6.5 that we're looking for. Okay, so
the nitrogen recommendation's 120 to 200
pounds of N per acre. This is probably
more appropriate for a hay crop, and
that's kind of where this is a little
faulty. You've got to apply it to your
particular situation. Nitrogen
fertilization rates for grazing systems
may be reduced
25 to 50% because you have nutrient
recycling. So if you think about it, the
animals are urinating and they are
pooping out on the pasture, and so they
are recycling nutrients where hay crops
do not: you're doing a total nutrient
removal. So the N recommendation for
this farm is going to be determined
based on the current forage production.
If the forage production is high and the
livestock cannot keep up with the growth,
I would say little to no nitrogen.
There's no sense in boosting the forage
if you do not need it. However, if you
need an increase in forage production, I
would recommend like 50 to 100
pounds of nitrogen per acre, with half
being applied in the fall and half in the
spring since this is a cool pasture
system. I feel like for most pastures
folks hang out around that 50 pounds of
nitrogen per acre to boost during the
growing season. So if it's cool season
that's spring and fall, if it's warm season
that's gonna be kind of on the front end
of summer or the tail end of spring or
so to get that forage boosted up. And you
also gotta think, you know, do you have
animals that are currently overweight?
Are you having management issues with
them anyways? Are they easy keepers? Again,
you don't want to boost forage in those
type of situations. So, just kind of a
baseline recommendation for this
particular situation, I would recommend applying potash. So a lot of times you have
to, you might not be able to find a
fertilizer that's gonna do everything in
one, what I call complete fertilizer
like what 10-10-10 is. So for this
whenever you go and meet with somebody
about fertilizer, they're probably gonna have
to blend several together. So you would
look at probably blending some potash.
The ratio is 0-0-60 on potash, so that'd be
about 83 pounds per acre. And if nitrogen
was needed, maybe you could do 147 pounds per acre of ammonium nitrate which is 34-0-0,
and this will give the producer 50
pounds of potassium and 50 pounds of
nitrogen per acre.
And so that is, that ratio, those numbers
10-10-10 or whatever it might be, that's
per 100 pounds, so if you're not familiar
with that. And if you are in Alamance
County and you don't have my pasture
resources guide, please let me know in
the chat window, and if enough people
need it I'll definitely put it in the
handouts folder. But most of the folks, if
if you're in Alamance and you've came to any
of my classes, you probably have it by
now. But if you need it or if you're on a
borderline county and you need to know
where to get fertilizer or lime from or
any pasture type services, just let me
know in that chat window. Okay, so again,
here's, I've highlighted where they put the
recommendations. Okay, so let's talk about
forage selection. So that's kind of
everything on soil testing and how you
go about doing that.
And one other last plug I'll put, it's
always a good idea to bring your soil
sample with you when you go talk to
whoever is going to supply your
fertilizer and, you know, show that to
them. And then if you get my
recommendations or an Extension agent's
recommendations, bring that info with you
as well. And a lot's gonna boil down to
cost. And they will try to work with you
as much as possible to figure out how
can they best meet these needs and also
stay within your budget. And they know
what they have in stock. We give
recommendations, but there's a lot of
different scenarios as to how they can
mix it, and so definitely have a good
conversation with them. And some are
willing to work with small acreage folks
which is really really nice.
They might put together several small
acreage farms in one route that need
similar fertilizer or something like that.
Or they might be willing to fill bags
for you with ag fertilizer or barrels or
something for you to spread on your own
if you have just a few acres. So
definitely reach out and get to know
those those places, those stores. Okay, so on
forage selection, you definitely can get
lost in this. There's a lot of different
types of forages out there.
You want to definitely match forage to
your acreage, the time and equipment that
you that you have, cost, what species
you're raising, and what you're trying to
accomplish, because you definitely can go
overboard. A lot of times you don't need as much as
you think you do. And a lot of people get
sucked into buying stuff that they don't
need and end up spending too much money and things like that. So we're gonna talk about it.
Cool season versus warm season,
annuals versus perennials. And if you're
curious, my photo here is some goats
grazing forage chicory which is a
perennial warm season. And I, a lot of my
photos in this slideshow are from Dr. Heather
Glennon. She used to work for NC
State. She's now at the University of
Mount Olive. And if you're following along with our
goat and sheep webinar series, she'll be
our guest speaker on grazing next week,
so we're excited to have her. But she has
the most beautiful photos, so I asked her
if I could use her photos. Okay, so
some forage selection terms, you might be
wondering like, well, what does she mean
she says cool season or warm season and
what's the definition of that. So cool
season they're gonna grow best from 40
degrees to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm
season's above 75 degrees Fahrenheit. So
right now in Alamance County we, our cool
seasons are doing really really well. And
our warm seasons are kind of peeking
through, trying to see what they want to
do. But our temperatures have kind of
kept them at bay. I know on our farm, and I'll
show some pictures and talk about it later,
but our crabgrass is already germinated
but it's just kind of hanging out 'cause
it's not ready for … we've had some warm
days but it's not consistent yet and our
night temperatures have been getting
cooler. But it's been great for fescue, so
everything comes in time. An annual is
going to complete its growth cycle in
one growing season. So an annual forage,
you're gonna plant it, it's gonna get up
and grow in a hurry, it'll go to seed in
a hurry. You gotta stay on top of it like
you wouldn't believe. A perennial, and if
I had a
comparison, I would say an annual is like
a sprint runner and a perennial is like
a marathon runner. A perennial is gonna
come back here after year. It's definitely, I
think, the best bang for your buck on a
lot of livestock systems. Annuals have
their place and they can be super
helpful, but I think the majority of your
your pasture needs to be perennials so
you don't have to constantly plant, you
don't have a constant cost on seed and
time and all that stuff. But it comes
back year after year from its roots. So
this is kind of the growth pattern for
cool season. So this is starting with
February and ending with January. But it
starts to peak and it is going, it's
definitely like at its peak right now
going into it that April-May time frame,
and then it is going to slump something
hard in the summertime. It's still living
like our fescue is still alive, and then
it'll do about half the production in
the fall, and then, again, it's still
living in the wintertime, so that's why
it's so important not to leave animals
on fescue pasture over winter when it's
still alive but not really growing. They
will eat it into the dirt, and then it
has a super hard time coming up and
growing in the spring. So stop grazing at
three to four inches. Pull them off, put
them in a sacrifice or a dry lot, feed
them hay over the winter if you do not
have a winter annual or stockpiled
fescue to graze. If you add in warm
seasons on your farm, so I typically
recommend like 75% of your farm in cool
seasons here in Alamance County and 25%
in warm season. I definitely think you
get a lot of bang for your buck having
mainly cool season here, mainly fescue,
and then adding some warm season will
give those animals a break and also give
those pastures a break in the summertime.
But it fills that summertime gap. As
fescue is going down your warm season
such as crabgrass is going up and it
fills that summer gap and animals can
continue to thrive and gain and do
really really well. So when you combine
them both you get kind of an optimal
system. But if you are operating on really small
acreage, it can be hard to have dedicated
acreage to both warm and cool season, and
they really don't need to be mixed
together per se. The only one that could
be is if you're doing Bermudagrass or
something that goes dormant, it's a
perennial that goes dormant in the winter
like Bermudagrass,
you can interseed a winter annual, but you
cannot do a warm season perennial and a
cool season perennial. Like you, I wouldn't
recommend putting Bermudagrass and
fescue because fescue's trying to live
year-round. That Bermudagrass is going
to choke it out come the summertime, and
that's a problem. So you would have
dedicated space for each. Now there's
certain compatible species that you can
put in with them together and we'll talk
about that. I'll actually talk about them in
the next slide. So you can kind of see — this
isn't an exhaustive list by any means,
this is kind of a more popular list — but
your cool season grasses, your perennials
are your tall fescue, orchardgrass, bluegrass, perennial ryegrass. I would say
that out of all these, you know, again,
fescue, whether it's Kentucky 31 or novel
endophyte fescue, it just does really well
here in the Piedmont area. And orchardgrass
usually cannot withstand a lot of
grazing. It has to be babied quite a bit.
You'll see some volunteer, and if you're
a really good grazing manager you could
probably have it in your pastures
planted, but it's a compatible species to
tall fescue because they're both cool
season perennials. You'll see
volunteer bluegrass, volunteer ryegrass
sometimes in your pastures as well. So
most of time, even if you have a fescue
pasture I can walk out there and I can
probably find all of these species even
if you didn't plant them. So they do
volunteer, they do come in and give some
diversification to that pasture. Um, let's
see. So as far as annual cool seasons
you've got ryegrass, and you've got
small grains like rye and wheat,
oats, things like that. When when we talk
about our warm season grasses, our
perennials, our Bermudagrass, dallisgrass,
switchgrass, big bluestem, chicory …
Switchgrass and big bluestem are native
warm seasons. They are really awesome but
really hard to get established, and so
don't hang, get hung up on the word
native. I don't really see them, you know,
as a volunteer native species around, and
I think the main reason is they like to
be really tall and you have to graze
them very differently than what we're
used to. And I think if when they come into most
pastures, they're grazed out because we tend
to let our animals graze a lot lower
than those species like. When I say they
like to be grazed tall, usually you don't
start grazing them till they're probably
12 inches or more and then you stop
probably around eight inches. Whereas, with fescue you start at six to eight inches and you
stop at three to four, so you can kind of
see how, you know, that it would just get
selected out. But, you know, if you can go
through the process of getting them
established, which usually takes a couple
years to do, they're definitely great to
have for summer species. I would say that
in North Carolina there's a lot of
Bermudagrass that's out there as a warm
season perennial. Dallisgrass volunteers.
I find it in every pasture I ever walk
into. I've never heard of anybody seeding
it. I know that it can be done. I think
it's hard to come by but it's, it
volunteers easy here.
Our annuals are stuff like pearl millet,
sorghum, Sudangrass, sorghum-Sudan
hybrids, crabgrass, brassicas. Crabgrass is
one that definitely can act like a
perennial which is super cool. You can
plant it as an annual and if you let it
go to seed late in the season like August-
September and let it drop seed, you
can put the animals through and they'll
kind of help to put the seed down into
the ground. And then you disturb the
ground the following year, it usually
comes back. So I've seeded a whole bunch
of crabgrass, but I've also worked with it to
see if it will come back and
it does well in both situations. You can
seed it because it doesn't take a lot of
seed per acre and you can just do it for
insurance, or you can try to get it to
come back by letting it drop seed. Perennial legumes. You've got white and red clover
alfalfa, lespedeza, vetch, annual
legumes, crimson clover, hairy vetch, peas.
These are great compatible species with
whatever season you're going with. So
like if you want to have a fescue
pasture but you want to dilute it a little
bit and boost protein digestibility, I
would recommend tall fescue with like a
white or ladino clover. Red clover is
typically done in hay production versus
grazing. That white or that ladino clover
usually does better for grazing. As far
as when it comes to choosing a seed
variety it's best to talk with, um, the
seed supplier to figure out, you know,
what variety's been proven for your area.
Don't just get on the internet and go
buy some seed from like Oregon or
something like that without knowing has
it been planted and put on trial here in
North Carolina. So NC State does a lot of
forage work, but a lot of the companies do
do work as well and they usually work
with the University so that's kind of
how a lot of that's done. But just talk to
them and figure out well what's planted
in my area, and if you're not certain,
just reach out to Extension we'll be
happy to talk you through all that. But
some like common varieties of fescue, the
one that you can just go pick up anywhere
is Kentucky 31. That's mainly what all
our pastures are. But if you want an
improved variety that's a novel endophyte
without the fescue toxicosis
issues, MaxQ, BarOptima®, uh, MaxQ or
BarOptima® are two varieties that are
out there. Orchardgrass. The varieties
that are, that I see quite a bit are Persist
and Benchmark. Bermudagrass.
Cheyenne II I know has been planted
quite a bit here. And that's just the
tip of the iceberg. There's tons of
varieties out there.
Oh, and mixes. So mixes have became
popular in the past few years
to add, you know, diversity and to also
build soil health which is super
important. So having different types of
root structures, you know, tap roots and
fibrous roots and things like that. Also
legumes and grasses. You know, legumes can
fix nitrogen and there's some that have
tubers that can also help if you've got
some compaction issues. And then you also
have a lot of different forage variety
which animals really enjoy. They love
having some variety, especially goats and
sheep. They are not gonna love a fescue
pasture, and I'll get to that here in a
minute. They're gonna want some variety.
You've just got to make sure it's
compatible. So, Ray's crazy mixes. One, they have a summer mix and they have a fall mix.
So if you're into annuals or you're
wanting to build soil health or
transition your field or just play with
it in a small area, that's a really cool
one that has a lot of different seed in
it. I think it even has like sunflower, it
has all these different things in it. So
look into that. And you can also make
your own mixes. Again, as long as it's
compatible. And one last thing: Be careful
when you choose pasture blends. I hear
this all the time. "You know I went to the
feed store and I picked up this pasture
blend and …" You know, I have went around
to the feed stores and looked at a lot of
these pasture blends, and a lot of them
include species that don't do well here
or aren't meant for pastures here. An
example is Timothy. Timothy is, can be
grown as an annual crop in like the
mountains here in North Carolina. It's
technically a perennial but they can't,
we can't get it to really work like one
down here. It is something that's grown up
north in a lot cooler climate. So that's
just kind of a waste. You're not gonna
find it in pastures here. So stuff like
that. Be careful when you're buying those
pasture blends. So I ran across this study
that was done 2006, and of course when I
ran across that I forgot to write down
who did it so I don't know and I can't
figure it out. It was a university. I just
can't figure out who it was. They did
this whole study on
ranking the palatability of forages with,
I believe they did it with goats, but it might have been goats and sheep or just small
ruminants in general. But this is ranked
from most to least palatable. Most is
sorhum Sudan; least is Bermudagrass.
So you can kind of look at this list.
It's very interesting where things fall.
And I could have guessed on quite a bit
of it. But they definitely just don't
care a whole lot for fescue, bluegrass,
Bermudagrass, basically the stuff that
grows pretty well in North Carolina. And
then when you start moving up the list,
you know, you see orchardgrass. Orchardgrass
is so palatable. Um, all the species
love orchardgrass, canarygrass. Then your
native warm seasons fall in there. Of
course alfalfa. Oatgrass is not really
something here so that's in some
different states so you can kind of x that one
out. But lespedeza is definitely very
palatable, chicory, and then you get into
your clovers which you know is a give-me.
Turnips and sorghum Sudan. You do have to
be very careful with forages in the
sorghum family because of the prussic
acid issues. So I don't know why pearl
millet is not on here. Maybe they
didn't use it in the trial. But pearl
millet is a summer annual that I
would probably recommend over anything
in the sorghum family just because the
prussic acid issue which can come out
if we have drought conditions, it comes
out with frost. It's any time it's real
stressed and you just have to be very
careful grazing it. And Extension can
give guidance on that. Alright, so let's
talk a little bit about tall fescue. I mean I've
mentioned it quite a bit, but I want to
talk about the fescue toxicosis issue. So
I think I've already mentioned everything
on the slide there, but about the fescue
toxicosis. It is a fungus in the fescue
that makes it super hardy and it makes
it able to persist really well in our
environment here. But because of that it
does cause a problem for livestock. So
I'm gonna kind of go through what that
looks like for the different species. For
cattle, I feel like it affects
cattle and probably horses more than any
other species. But cattle have poor
weight gains on it, they'll produce less
milk, they'll have a really high internal
body temperature, higher respiratory rate.
They'll retain a rough hair coat, they'll
appear unthrifty. Poor reproductive
performance. It's so hard to breed cattle
on fescue in the summertime, let me, you
know, and in certain times of the year. So
you can breed them on fescue in the fall,
in the wintertime, early spring. It's just
more so when that plant is really
stressed which is in the summertime. They
can lose blood flow to their extremities,
and so you've probably heard about fescue foot. You may have seen where tail
switches will come off. I actually had a
producer call me saying that they were
finding like tail switches in their pasture, and I was like oh my goodness, you know. I was
thinking a predator or something like
that. The more we got to talking, they had
turned out their entire cow herd on a
fescue field that had seeded out in the
summertime because they got behind on
mowing hay and they were like, well, we
don't want to waste it, we'll just turn the
cows out. So the toxins live in the base
of the plant, but they shoot up to
the seed heads whenever whenever it
seeds out. So those cows were consuming a lot of toxins and they were losing blood
flow to their extremities. So they were
losing their tail switches. So my
recommendation is to definitely mow off
those seed heads if the grass gets away
from you and seeds out. And we'll talk
about that more in a minute. But on
horses, particularly brood mares, they'll
have late-term abortions, stillb-,
stillborn foals, prolonged gestation
periods and dystocia, thickened or
retained placentas, poor conception rates,
and problems with the foals if they're
born alive. So if you're breeding horses,
you want to pull them off while they're
bred, you want to pull them off fescue
and you want to feed them, you know,
either a legume or orchardgrass, anything
but fescue, just so you don't have any
of these issues down the road with them.
With sheep what I have found is they appear to
be less affected, but they're still
prone to fescue foot, poor wool
production. So if you're into wool breeds, um, that can be an issue. They can have
reproductive problems and also poor
weight gains. Be mindful, if you're trying
to grow out lambs in the summer, that you're
not gonna be able to do that really well
on fescue alone. Like you've got to have
a game plan for some summer grazing.
Goats. Little is known about fes- fescue
toxicosis in goats. They're very
selective and they will avoid fescue if
at all possible, which, if you have goats,
you know this about goats. They're so
selective. They also have the ability to
rapidly eliminate plant metabolic
chemicals from their body. And it's been
shown to have reduced weight gains.
That's been shown in research studies
with goats. So fescue's here to stay
and unless you want to make a good plan
to switch over to novel endophyte
fescue, which is so much easier to do if
you're starting from bare ground versus
a Kentucky 31 pasture to try to convert,
but I myself or anybody in Extension can
talk you through that. But how you can
live with fescue if you already have it.
Plant diversity. Make sure that you have
other compatible species, you know, add in
clover or something like that to just
help diversify those species.
Supplementation. You can supplement them,
you know, with protein or energy while
they're on fescue and that will kind of
help. You can supplement them with a different
type of hay and that will help. Mowing
the pastures or seed head suppression. So
there is a herbicide out there,
the chemical's metsulfuron. It will
actually, if you spray it, it'll keep the
grass from seeding out. You just cannot do
it year after year. You have to do it in
rotation. But if you mow the seed heads
off, this promotes the plant back to
vegetative growth which is really
important. When the grass seeds out it
actually stops putting out leaf and it loses
protein in a hurry. So if you clip the
seed heads, it puts it back in a
vegetative state and increases the
nutritional value. It also helps with weed
control because the grass is back growing. And
it'll prevent pinkeye or any kind of eye issues. Pinkeye is definitely I feel like more of an
issue with cattle around here. But you
can still, if seed heads are slapping
them in the eye, it'll open them up to
infection and having eye problems. Always
provide minerals, free choice minerals on
pasture, and water and shade. Water and
shade will help with heat stress if
they're experiencing that. Okay, so
let's talk about forage selection and
kind of how you go about the process of
selecting what's going to work for you.
When we talk about the current situation,
I mean is the land being converted from
woods to pasture land? You might, if that
is your situation, you probably want to
consider annuals to begin with until
your soil is amended and your
nutrients have been added and your pH
has came up, because land that's been in
trees, the pH is gonna be low, the
nutrients are gonna be low, and you can't
do that overnight.
It's gonna take probably a year or two
to get it right, and so using annuals to
fill in that gap … not only will the
annuals add organic matter and they'll
start working on your soil health, they
usually are, some of them are pretty
forgiving forgiving if there's not a
correct pH or correct soil nutrients or
things like that. So we've been using, I
know on our farm crabgrass whenever
we're doing, going from woods to pasture
to buy some time on getting the soil the
way we want it before we put in a
perennial, and it's worked really well.
But a lot of the annuals will work in
that situation. They just might not be as
productive as they would be if your pH
was higher or you had nutrients. But it's
more about keeping the ground covered
while you're trying to get this all done
and hopefully provide a little bit of
grazing. If the land's being renovated or if the
weeds have taken it over or something
like that, you can make forage decisions
for the short term until you can plan
for the long term. If you have a major
weed invasion you can actually, if you
want to kind of avoid spraying a whole lot,
you could plant annuals that get tall,
that can smother out the weeds, and then
you can, after that you can then plant
some more of the desirable species that
you want. So there's ways to work annuals to
your advantage while you're renovating
or switching forage species or something
like that. It's kind of an in-between a
lot, or it can be used to fill a forage
gap. For acreage, if you have smaller
acreage you're gonna want to consider a
cool season perennial if you're here. If
you're down east, it would be kind of the opposite. You
would want that warm season perennial
such as a Bermudagrass base. Farms with
larger acreage, again, you know, 25% warm
season, 75% cool season. Management. Some
species you have to manage more
carefully because they cannot tolerate
low nutrient levels, overgrazing, weed
pressure, etc. So if you are a really good
grazing manager and, you know, you're
moving your animals and you're watching
the height of the forage, you can
definitely do a lot more of these
forages. If you work all the time and you
kind of get behind on farm chores and
you're not able to keep up with things
like you would want to, then you've got
to take that into account whenever you
pick your forages. Something that's super
sensitive like orchardgrass you would
want to stay away from because it's
sensitive to grazing, it's sensitive to
nutrients and things like that. And if
you're also not on top of your weeds, that's
also something to consider. Some of these
don't do well competing against weeds
and things like that. Time and equipment.
If you work off the farm full-time and
have limited equipment a perennial
system it's gonna work better for you so
you don't have to try to figure out how
to plant pastures all the time. Planting
annuals does require time and equipment.
You can get by with the minimal equipment, and
I'll show some examples here in a little
bit, but nonetheless you still have to be
available when that crop needs to go in
the ground.
So if you're just like super slammed, you know,
during these planting windows with other
things then, again, that's not going to be
for you, and a perennial that just keeps
on, you know, chugging along and all you've got to do is look at every once a while, maybe
add some fertilizer and lime, that might
be a better situation. These annuals are
a little bit more tricky to manage
because you got to put them in, keep the
animals off, wait till it's at the
appropriate time to graze. You might have
to apply fertilizer at a different time and
things like that. Cost is definitely a
huge one. If you're wanting to keep your
costs really minimal, some of these
improved varieties can get quite
expensive, and annuals can get quite
expensive if you're putting in annuals
all the time. So consider that. Perennials
are a long-term investment. So while
there may be costs associated, you have
to then span it out over, you know, will
that stand last you five years, 10
years, you know, that sort of thing.
Species and goals. Again, if you have
brood mares, which I know you guys are
goat and sheep folks, but you would want to
consider, you know, maybe a novel endophyte fescue so you don't have to worry about
Kentucky 31 fescue. If you are, again, like
finishing, grass-finishing lambs or kids
and you're trying to do that in the
summertime if you're, you know, if they're
being born in the spring and you're
trying to finish them through the summer,
you want to have a summer grass
available for sure. You don't want to try
to do that on fescue. They're just not
going to perform and gain as well. I'm trying
to think if there's anything else … I
think a lot of it's just thinking through
what you're trying to do with your
animals, where you are with your
management, what's your budget, and that's
kind of where you go from there. Okay, so
let's talk a little bit about establishment.
So there's conventional seedbed
preparation steps, and this is, uh, this is
definitely one of those things that's
situation specific. I'm more than likely
not going to tell you to go out and plow
an already established pasture. We'll try
to figure it out while
keeping the sod in place. But if you're
going from trees to pasture, that's kind
of where this conventional seedbed prep
will usually come into play. Or if you
just got a major catastrophe and you
need to kill off everything and start
literally from the ground zero, meaning,
you know, you've got to get rid of all
your Kentucky 31, or you have weeds taking
over everything, stuff like that.
So step one is going to be to clear the
land, clean up the land or spray the
vegetation. And so you will want to, with
that step one you would definitely want
to graze or mow that grass really
really low before you start doing all
this. And then you would spray any
regrowth with a non-selective herbicide
such as glyphosate if you're wanting
to kill off everything before you get
started. So soil sampling is gonna be
very important so that you know your
lime and fertilizer needs and to give
yourself time to amend the soil and get
it ready in order to plant. Step two is
going to be liming. Um, so you want to
incorporate the lime as early as
possible, ideally six to 12 months
ahead of planting. It takes a long time
to get down into the soil and to become
available for the plant. Step three, you
want to prepare the soil by plowing/
disking and then allow time for the soil
to settle, or use a cultipacker/roller to
firm the seed bed. This is so important.
You definitely don't want the soil to be
too fluffy. It'll be hard for the seed to
take root and grow in that situation. And
you want to incorporate fertilizer and
any remaining lime in this stage. Lastly,
the step four is to drill or broadcast
the seed. So with open soil like that you
can do either method. And it really
depends on what you're seeding. Some seed
is really small and, you know, might not
do as well in a drill or might not do as
well in a, you know, spreader so you have
to have to look at what you're trying to seed
and what's the preferred method of
seeding. If you broadcast, you want to
make sure you increase your seeding rate
because some of it will wash away, some
of it won't take, that sort of thing. But
you wanna make sure it makes good seed
to soil contact. So it definitely will in
this situation when there's a lot of bare
ground. But you might need to go over it
with the cultipacker to kind of mash
it into the ground a little bit. With the
drill, you want to make sure you do not
drill the seed too deep. You should be
able to walk behind the drill for a lot
of these grasses. They only need to go
like a quarter to a half an inch in the
ground. You should be able to walk behind it and
find seed on the ground. If you don't,
you might have planted too deep. So
there's a footprint. When you walk across
it after it's packed, you really don't
want your footprint any deeper than this
right here. If it's if it's deeper than
that … I know I've got a measurement … yeah,
boot tracks should be a quarter of an
inch deep. So if it's deeper than that,
your soil's too fluffy and you need to
either let a good rainfall pack it or
drag something over and pack it. For
no-till prep, you're you're gonna want to
do the same thing in the beginning. Take your
soil samples and make adjustments as
needed. Mow or graze the grass close or
apply a non-selective herbicide, again,
like glyphosate. And then you're going
to, in that third step, you're going to
drill your seed. In some cases you can
broadcast. If there's enough bare ground
they'll have good seed to soil contact.
And this is really great for over-
seeding. So say you have a pretty good
established pasture but you notice
there's quite a bit of bare ground, you
know, in spots and things like that. This
keeps your existing sod in place. So you
can see the drill down here. This is
actually Alamance County Soil and Water
drill that you can rent, um, here in
Alamance County. I think it can be rented
out of County as well just for a higher
fee. But this is really awesome. What it
does is it basically cuts a slit into
the ground. It drops the seed through the
little seed tubes right here. It has a
big box on it and a small box. That's for the
different seed sizes, and it's going to
drop the seed down, and it has this press
wheel that presses
the soil, presses the seed to the soil so there's
good contact. So seed drills are really
expensive. Most livestock farms do not
have them. However, most counties have
them available for rent, and they are
fabulous. And they're very affordable to
rent. As long as you've got a tractor to
pull it or can borrow a tractor to pull
it, I highly recommend it. There's there's
only a few situations where you really
need to totally tear up your pasture. We
really want to keep sod on these
pastures while we're working on them so
we prevent runoff or any kind of erosion
type issues. So I talked about, you know,
working with what you have. This is
actually a set up photo borrowed from
Brad Moore who's in Soil and Water in
Alamance County. He put this together so
he'd only have to go over the pasture
one time and I love it. I use it all the
time as an example. If you do not have a
no-till drill but you've got access to
some old equipment, this is an example. So
he has this little disker behind there,
and it's basically cutting open the, a slit
of ground. Then he's got a drill right
here, but it's not a no-till drill. So
it's just a conventional drill so it's
just gonna drop the seed. And then he's
got tires back here and that's what
packs it into the ground. So essentially
he's made a no-till drill,
um, and I love it. I think it's great. This
is stuff he had, you know, available to
him and he hooked it all together and it
works wonderfully. So look around, see
what you got, see what your neighbor's got
available and you can make some stuff
happen. But you can see he mowed off this
field. You definitely want to mow it or
graze it down to do any of this so that
the seed can easily get down to the
ground. I've got some pictures here. This
is a MaxQ
fescue no-till drill that was done, or
using a no-till drill. So you can see the
rows. What I recommend for pastures, if
you're doing this from bare ground, so this
one was from bare ground. This is
actually a sheep farm that planted
this. This is a novel endophyte. So,
again, novel endophyte means that that
bad fungus has been replaced with a
friendly one or that the bad endophyte
has been replaced with a friendly endophyte,
and so all that fescue toxicosis
stuff goes away. It also is more
palatable to the animals and they
perform really well on it. However, it
takes an upper level of management to do
novel endophyte because of the fact
that that really hardy endophyte is
now gone. I will say they've improved a
lot with novel endophytes and they're
doing a whole lot better now. They're on
like the second and third generation, I
think, of breeding those plants, so. But you
can see the rows, okay. The issue with
that is, you know, that there's still a
lot of bare ground, could allow weeds and
things like that. I recommend doing a
crisscross pattern. So go rows one way. If
you're doing this from bare ground. If you're over-
seeding it's fine just to make one pass
through, but then crisscross it so that
you're adding more plants into that
population and minimizing how much bare
ground is still out there. This field did
still have some residue on the ground
which is really nice. Again, organic
matter helps do some weed suppression,
that sort of thing. So this field was
sprayed with a non-selective herbicide
and all that was allowed to just kind of
compost down to the ground and then they
planted. Okay,
I did a pasture class back in, I want to say it
was 2018 now. And we did two
different ones, and we based it around, you
know, using the drill, and, because we had just gotten the drill in Soil and Water. And then
also talking about crabgrass. And we did two
different little trials. We did crabgrass
in a prepared seed bed area that was
where cows were being fed hay, so
sacrifice area, can go same with sheep
and goats. And then we put in crabgrass
in the area where there was just like
thin fescue, and we did that with the
no-till drill since it was existing
existing sod. And so these pictures show
the progression of the prepared
seedbed area. Crabgrass does like a
prepared seedbed with like, usually right
after a lot of disturbance like a
sacrifice or a hay feeding area. It is
phenomenal to put in those situations
because it comes up quickly. It'll also
provide grazing, it'll compete with weeds.
I basically took a sacrifice lot on our
farm that was just Weed City. I mean it had
every weed in the book, and by using
crabgrass every single year, it is now a
super productive field even though it is
still used as a sacrifice lot. We only
spray it for buttercups and that's it,
and it is now just really productive. It
still has some fescue in it but it's
mainly comes back with crabgrass. So
here's that that blank slate after
feeding hay. You can see where the
crabgrass is coming up. And then this is
what it looked like in August. So I mean
it rolls pretty quickly. You usually can get
two to three grazings out of it before it
kind of seeds out and starts to play out
in the fall. And usually you want to
plant crabgrass at the end of April,
beginning of May time frame. That's
usually a good time to get it in. However,
you can plant it much later than that.
You're just not going to get as much
grazing out of it. When you, a little bit
about crabgrass for those that might be
interested, and there are improved
varieties of crabgrass so I'm not
talking about your front yard crabgrass.
There are improved varieties such as
Quick-N-Big® and Red River that's out
there, sold through our local seed
companies. But you can also purchase
online as well. But check with those
local companies first to see if they
can get it to save you on shipping. But
because the seed is so light and fluffy
and pretty small and you only need like
five or six pounds per acre in most
situations, it's hard to put that small of an
amount out over an acre, and then it also
doesn't sling very far. So what I
recommend is, and it does broadcast
really well, you just have to do this. You
want to mix it with a pelleted lime.
I've heard some people mixing it with
sand or other carrying agents. Pelleted
lime works really well and it's super
cheap and it also benefits a pasture a tiny
bit. So I'm all for it. But this is what
it looks like mixing it together and
putting that out on the pasture. It
will go OK in the drill. In that pasture
workshop that I talked about here,
it definitely did better broadcast on
the prepared seedbed. It did come up
with the no-till drill, but it didn't do
as well and some of that I feel like was
just the situation we put it in. But, I
don't know, I've always broadcast it and
had really good luck with that. This is
some orchardgrass and clover that was
planted I believe for a hay crop. This is
the summer annuals with a no-till drill.
I think this was pearl millet. So you see
that. That is some really good palatable
stuff right there, especially for sheep
and goats. Planting dates for common
forages. So you definitely want to make
sure that you do not try to plant fescue
in the spring or any of our cool season
perennials, fescue, orchardgrass, because
it doesn't have time to grow the roots
that it needs in order to make it
through our hot dry summer, so a lot of
it'll die. So you want to make sure you
wait till the fall.
Hardly ever can we plant in August, so
it's more like September, October. But you
would plant in the fall and you would
pull the animals from it and, you know,
it'd have all winter to grow roots. It's
barely gonna grow any kind of top growth.
It's gonna work on growing roots. Again,
think about a marathon. It takes a long
time. And by the spring you should be
able to lightly graze it, you know, six
months later, but it's not gonna be in
full blown production probably for a
whole year. So you got to keep that in
mind. When you're planting or renovating,
don't do all your pastures at once. Kind
of rotate them so you are not having to
dry lot and feed animals throughout
that whole time if you can. Ryegrass,
August 20-October 31st. Small grains like
oats, wheat, rye, August 20-October 31st.
Again, rarely do we have the right
temperature and soil moisture in August,
so it's usually September, October. Summer
annuals go in the ground about now, um,
so April 25th to June 30th. You really
want, that's, you want to be grazing in
June so I suggest you go on the front
side or the early side, once we start
tracking with warmer temperatures. So
we're like teetering right now and it's
about to start happening. Bermudagrass
will be April 1 to June 15th and there
are seeded varieties where you, I don't
know how much y'all know about Bermudagrass,
but you can sprig seed it or you
can seed it by seed. And so there's two
different ways to go about establishing
that. And then clover is a little bit
more flexible. You can do clover in the
fall or you can do clover in what we
call frost seeding time frame or on the
later part of that window. And these
dates are flexible. These are just kind
of recommended dates. I'm, I'm gonna put
in y'all's handouts the planting guide from
North Carolina if you haven't seen that
before. And I'll link you to our forages
website from NC State with a lot of info
on there too. So, again, a new pasture, do
not expect to get on it earlier than
12 months if it's a perennial, okay.
Annuals is a whole different ballgame.
Annuals are meant to graze quick, you
know, that sort of thing. But on these
perennials I would say 12 months if
it's a bare-bones deal. Overseeding. So
if you already have sod out there and
you're overseeding, you can get back on in
six months, and then 12 months will
be when those plants mature. You can
lightly graze at the six-month mark if
you're very very careful and you're a
good manager. But in most situations, you
know, I would just like mow it and baby
it because you want it for the long haul.
Especially if you do have some horses on
your farm, they will pull stuff up by the
roots. So you just have to be careful
what species you do have. Goats and sheep and ruminants in general … the cows are
probably the most gentle on grass, but
goats and sheep have lips and they can
definitely be very selective and they
can do a little bit of damage on a
pasture so you've gotta be careful. Okay,
top five causes of stand loss that I see. Poor
fertilization practices, so not a soil
sampling, just doing whatever, not paying
attention to potassium or things like that.
Low soil pH, just not pay attention to it,
you know, not soil sampling so you don't
know what your pH is, you're not adding lime. If you've got broomsedge out in your pasture,
that's an indicator species that either
you have a low pH and/or low phosphorous.
So there are some species, and I'll walk
out in a pasture, if I see them and you
don't have a soil sample, I can almost
guarantee you that something's going on
like that, and nothing will eat that, and
you have to amend your soil to get that
to go away. Frequent overgrazing or
scalping with the mower. I can't tell you
how many times I go to farms where they
have front pastures they want to look
pretty so they mom them with a lawn mower.
It's definitely not our goal with
pastures. You want that forage maintained
at a higher level and you don't want to
mow it like a pasture because what
you're seeing on the top is what's going
on underneath. So if you're constantly
mowing it to two to three inches, that
also mimics what overgrazing would do,
and the roots are only two to three
inches long so they're not going to
withstand much and they're gonna
eventually go away. So the name of the
game is, especially in these, depending on
what you have, but let's just do cool
seasons for example. For fescue you want
to start grazing at six to eight inches
you want stop at three to four, rotate,
get them off, let the grass rest, let it
come back, and then you go back on it
again. That allows it to have enough leaf
to photosynthesize, to continue to grow
good roots, and to continue to persist
and be a productive pasture for you.
Lack of topsoil, rooting depth. So you know,
again, if you're inheriting a field that
has a lot of compaction or something
like that, you might want to look to use some
annuals to help break up compaction, to
build some organic matter. Think about
soil health. We've got to feed what's in the
ground before it's gonna feed our
forages, before it's gonna feed our
animals. So we're really soil, grass
managers before we're livestock producers.
And weed pressure is huge. So luckily
with goats and sheep, sheep really like
broadleafs,
goats really like browse. And so they
both kind of have their good qualities.
Sheep do graze a little bit better than
goats but it depends on what you have
out there. Um, goats can graze really
well too but luckily they will go after
some of this other stuff that's pretty
palatable that we consider weeds, so you
shouldn't have a ton of weed pressure if
you've got goats and sheep around. And
with that I'm gonna open it up to
questions. So let me go to the chat window
and see if we've got any questions in
here. I don't think we have any questions
right now. If you um, so, it's just talking
about the microphone. If you've got a
question go ahead and type that in the
chat window and we'll do a little Q&A.
Any questions about pastures, anything I
discussed,
grazing. Okay, so Claire says, "I'll be
trying to establish pasture from mulched
woods." Yeah, soil sample. Work on, you know,
figuring out what kind of fertilizer and lime
you're gonna need and start doing that.
And then you want to make sure that
you're clearing the area, filling in any
holes, getting up stumps if you can, rocks,
working on making things level. And then
you want to get something planted. So if
that's happening right now and say you
want it to be a fescue pasture down the
road, don't plant fescue. Look about doing
some kind of a summer annual just to
bridge the gap, and if you can get your
soil amended, you know, if it's not too
bad you might can go ahead and get the
fescue in this fall. But if you have a
long window to go, you might have to plant
a winter annual and just continue to
bridge the gap until you get to the
right planting window when you know your
pH is right and your soil nutrients are
right. But I'm gonna tell you it is, it
takes years. It takes probably two years
on average for woods to pasture but you
might be looking at three for it to
become real productive. So it's not gonna
happen overnight. Kennedy said, "After the
next harvest
I'm planning on converting a crop field
into a fenced in pasture for cattle. I was
just going to drill seed fescue but if
there's another species or something you
recommend …" Um, so a lot would depend on
where you're at, what your goals are,
everything I discuss in this
presentation, and then you would go from
there on what your recommendation is. If
you're here in Alamance County for
cattle you're definitely gonna get the best
bang for your buck with some fescue. If
you're trying to do a grass-finished
beef operation you're gonna want to
steer clear of Kentucky 31 and you're
gonna want to make sure that you've got
some dedicated land to warm season
forage production. So, again, a lot just
has to do with like what your goals are
and that sort of thing. So feel free to
email me on something like that and we can
talk through it because it's gonna be
kind of a back and forth conversation.
Michelle said, "Fennel grass has been a
weed we are struggling with. Any ideas to
control this without chemicals organically?"
Um, I'm thinking you're talking about dog
fennel? If you're talking about dog
fennel, do you have sheep or goats that you are currently grazing? Feel free to
unmute yourself. That'll probably be a
little bit easier. Okay, you said just
cows. Cows are not gonna eat dog fennel. I
have witnessed, you know, our small
ruminants eating it when it's young. So dog fennel is definitely going to be
something that's hard to control without
chemicals. You can definitely, you can
look at adding sheep or goats. That's one
way to do it. The other way would be
frequent mowing but you will wear
yourself out.
The third thing would be amending your
soil and improving your pasture. So dog
fennel is coming in for a reason you
know. Is there bare ground? Is your, is
your grass being overgrazed? Is it a
weakend stand? So if you focus on
managing your grass and making sure
there's no bare soil and things like
that, that'll also help keep the weeds
back. So hopefully that helps. If you
still have questions about that, you know,
feel free to ask me some more questions.
Um, "How do you feel about this new
liquid lime?" I'm not a fan of some of
these products that are getting pushed
out on producers. You've got to read into it.
Reach out to me if you got a specific
one you're looking at.
Every one I've investigated does not do
the same thing that ag lime does for the
money. They promise you a lot and it's
typically not going to work out the way
the ag lime works out on the pasture.
Okay, "So what takes care of the broom
straw?" Again, it's usually a pH or
phosphorous issue. That's the only thing that's
gonna take care of it. Get your soil
tested. Figure out does your pH need to
come up so you need to add lime? Or is it
a phosphorus issue, you will need to add
phosphorus, and in some cases both. That's
the only thing that's gonna get rid of
it. No chemical, no grazing, nothing like
that, mowing. It comes in in the fall and
it's green and then it turns that golden
color. And so that's kind of when everybody
notices it. But it is something going
on with your pasture as far as nutrients
or pH. Okay, are there any other questions?
Okay, if there's no other questions, thank
y'all so much. I will definitely be
sending more information. Please complete
my short evaluation. It definitely helps
justify these type of programs. And if
you've got ideas for future programs
I'll be more than happy to address that,
hopefully, in the future. Thank you and
y'all have a great night.

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