THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT RYEGRASS

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT RYEGRASS

If there was an “All Star List” for forage crops, ryegrass would have to be on it. Ryegrass can be grown in many areas, it has the potential to produce a good forage yield, it is easy to establish, and it provides excellent nutrition for forage-consuming animals. Given these attributes, it is not surprising that […]

EXCLUSION CAGES

FORAGING AHEAD WITH DR. DON BALL: EXCLUSION CAGES

Photo Credit: Marion Barnes. One of the challenges faced by a cattleman or other producer of grazing animals is assessing the productivity of pastures. The reason is that grazing animals “eat the evidence” (i.e. they eat the pasture forage). But a forage-livestock producer at least knows the size of the pasture area and how many […]

MINIMIZING FERTILIZER EXPENSES

University budgets reveal that fertilizer usually accounts for 40 percent or more of the cost of producing forage, and N alone can account for 20 to 40 percent of the cost of producing grass forages. The extent to which a livestock producer is able to minimize fertilizer expenses may mean the difference between profit and […]

Outside Hay Storage

FORAGING AHEAD WITH DR. DON BALL: OUTSIDE HAY STORAGE

Hay is the most commonly used stored feed on livestock farms in the USA, with a total annual value of billions of dollars. Most hay (especially hay intended for use with beef cattle herds) is packaged in large round bales and stored for several months before it is fed. Round balers are popular because they […]

WINTER ANNUAL MANAGEMENT MATTERS

FORAGING AHEAD WITH DR. DON BALL: WINTER ANNUAL MANAGEMENT MATTERS

Winter annual forages such as the small grains (rye, wheat, and oats), annual ryegrass, and several Brassica species (including turnips, rape, and kale) benefit many livestock farms. These species are widely adapted, easy to grow, and produce highly nutritious forage. In addition, they make most of their growth during the cooler months of the year […]

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Flooding of Forage Crops

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Flooding of Forage Crops

Flooding of pastures or hayfields occurs with regularity in some or many areas in most years, especially in fields located near creeks or rivers. Obviously, there are limits to the amount of flooding a forage stand can tolerate. Therefore, it is common for questions regarding this topic to arise. In particular, this often occurs when […]

Trampling Clover Seed

FORAGING AHEAD With Dr. Don Ball: TRAMPLING CLOVER SEED

Livestock producers spend a lot of time taking care of their animals, but the idea of giving the animals a job to do usually doesn’t come to mind.   I am referring to the “trampling” or “walk in” approach to establishing clover. I first observed this technique during a trip to New Zealand in 1988, in […]

Keys To A Profitable Forage Program

FORAGING AHEAD WITH DR. DON BALL: KEYS TO A PROFITABLE FORAGE PROGRAM

Forage programs vary greatly, even on adjacent farms. Reasons include that soils and other resources vary, the objectives and inclinations of producers may not be the same, and the species, classes, and breeds of livestock differ from one farm to another. However, despite diversity regarding the details, forage producers who have the most profitable forage […]

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Hay Feeding Deserves Attention

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Hay Feeding Deserves Attention

Most of the cost of raising livestock is associated with feeding them. Pasture forage is generally the least expensive source of nutrition, which provides an incentive for producers to seek options to extend grazing to the extent possible. Using warm-season and cool-season forages, using annuals to provide grazing when perennials are not productive, and stockpiling […]

Overseeding

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Overseeding Winter Annuals – A Practice Worth Considering

Annual ryegrass is often planted on the dormant pastures of warm-season forages, especially bahiagrass and bermudagrass. However, other warm-season forage crops including dallisgrass, crabgrass, broadleaf signalgrass, and sericea lespedeza can also be overseeded. The dependability and value of this practice has been thoroughly verified by university research, and thousands of livestock producers have benefitted from […]

Key Steps In Overseeding Winter Annuals

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Key Steps In Overseeding Winter Annuals

Fields selected for overseeding should not be excessively wet or subject to flooding.  A soil test should be taken from each field, and any needed lime should be applied several months before planting.  Most winter annuals are best suited to a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5.   Any legume seed planted should be inoculated with […]

Information Determines Results With Dr. Don Ball

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Information Determines Results

During a recent review of forage crop planting recommendations, it occurred to me that such guidelines have a lot in common with driving directions. If we decide to take a trip to a place we have never (or rarely) been before and don’t have a map or GPS unit, we will need some help.

Forage Crop Diversity

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Forage Crop Diversity Provides Benefits

In some situations, striving for uniformity is highly desirable, but development of a forge program for a livestock farm generally doesn’t fall into this category. In fact, planting and growing a diverse crops on such a farm, and in many cases in the same field, offers some distinct advantages to your forage.

Broiler Litter

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: Fertilizing Forages With Broiler Litter

Poultry and beef are in competition in the grocery store, but on individual farms they are often quite compatible enterprises.  One reason for this pertains to the litter generated in broiler production houses.  Broiler litter (normally a combination of sawdust, wood shavings, or peanut hulls, plus poultry manure, feathers, and wasted feed), builds upon the […]

A Factor That Limits Legumes

Foraging Ahead With Dr. Don Ball: A Factor That Limits Legumes

Most livestock producers understand the desirability of having forage legumes such as clovers and vetches present in pastures. As compared to grasses and non-leguminous forbs, biological nitrogen fixation and improved forage quality provided by legumes are major attributes. In addition, in some cases legumes can extend the growing season and increase forage yield. These are […]

Holdover Seed

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: Holdover seed

Each year, many cattlemen and other livestock producers purchase cool-season forage seed they intend to use in autumn plantings. For various reasons, some of this seed doesn’t get planted (the most common reason being dry weather at planting time, which happens fairly regularly in autumn in the Southeast). So when you have holdover seed, what […]

Foraging Ahead: Nutrients in Forage

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: Getting the most out of forage nutrients

In recent years, increases in the cost of fertilizer nutrients have caused cattlemen and other livestock producers to create and discover economical ways to provide nutrients for production of forage. Since it appears that fertilizer costs are not likely to decrease significantly in the foreseeable future, these methods are more important than ever when it […]

Planting Food Plots for Wildlife

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: Planting food plots for wildlife

Wildlife management has evolved greatly in recent years. Twenty-five years ago, the amount of acreage of wildlife food plots planted in the Southeast was much smaller than it is today. When such plantings were made, they usually consisted of cool-season annuals (often a small grain and/or annual ryegrass). These species are easy to establish and […]

Feeding seed to livestock

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: The realities of feeding seed

Most cattlemen know that livestock can spread seeds by eating them, then depositing them in feces wherever they wander. This can be a problem! Cattle often place unwanted bahiagrass in Bermudagrass hayfields, introduce toxic endophyte-infected fescue into nontoxic fescue, and spread seed of many types of weeds into pastures of various types. However, livestock sometimes […]

Drag Harrows: Big uses on small properties

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: Drag harrows aren’t a drag for the livestock farmer

Drag harrows (often referred to as chain harrows, spike harrows or spring-toothed harrows) were once widely used in connection with the planting of many different crops. Today, they are rarely used in connection with growing row crops or horticultural crops, but still have a place on many livestock farms. On small farms, drag harrows are […]

Productive Pastures: The dangers of drought

Foraging Ahead with Dr. Don Ball: Dry pasture can lead to poisoned livestock

Drought is an annual problem on many livestock farms, typically occurring in summer or early autumn. Obviously, when drought occurs, pasture forage growth slows or stops and livestock may not have enough to eat. This can lead to significant problems as the animals seek alternatives. Numerous plant species are poisonous or can become poisonous under […]