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Best grazing grasses


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#1 6ncounting

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 06:17 PM

What's the best grazing grasses for cattle?

#2 downtownjr

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 09:12 PM

Depends on where you live and the climate extremes you may encounter. In many parts of the midwest a mix of alfalfa, orchard grass, tall fescue, and some summer native grasses are a good start. I do not know if you use an intensive grazing program, but if you do, having an ample mixture of native cool weather and native warm weather grasses with your legumes and orchard grasses will a good idea. I have attached a link to an intensive grazing book that Purdue sent out this fall that I believe is very good. However, if you live down south or out west you will have some different grasses and resting periods due to the climate. Hope this helps. :)

The booklet link... http://www.ces.purdu...a/AY/ay-328.pdf

#3 Guest_Hoosier Hay Man_*

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Posted 18 May 2008 - 09:34 PM

What part of the country are you?

#4 GeneRector

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Posted 03 June 2008 - 08:20 PM

Howdy! :) I live in Texas on the cusp of central and east about 40 miles east of Bryan/College Station. Most cattle ranchers use Coastal Bermuda Hay or some Bermuda hybrid. Bahia is used; however, it does not seem to have enough protein or other nutrients like other hay such as Coastal. The only downside of Coastal Bermuda is that there are no seeds produced that will benefit wildlife in the off season. In spite of this, Coastal Bermuda is widely used in this part of Texas since Alfalfa can't be raised due to the beetles. Always, Gene

#5 swmnhay

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 08:48 AM

What's the best grazing grasses for cattle?


Here-a mix Perenial ryegrass,meadow brome,orchardgrass.Depends were you are at.

#6 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 01 February 2009 - 09:12 PM

Howdy! :) The only downside of Coastal Bermuda is that there are no seeds produced that will benefit wildlife in the off season.
In spite of this, Coastal Bermuda is widely used in this part of Texas since Alfalfa can't be raised due to the beetles. Always, Gene


Whoa there old horse. Let's back up here.
First off coastal bermudagrass does make seed, just not viable seed. It is a cloned crop.

Second alfalfa can and will grow successfully east of the Brazos River Bottom. It just needs to be treated differently. Lots of lime. phosphate. & potash.
Your statement about the beetles is not accurate and they are a management problem, not a location problem. As a matter of fact the blister beetle eats grasshopper eggs all winter and flower blooms during the summer. Here is the key. Any location in the world that has both grasshoppers and flowering plants will have at least one strain of the blister beetle. The more gaudy the beetle the more poison it produces.
The striped blister beetle is the one currently feared the most. It is easy to manage for. They are done eating grasshopper eggs by early June and emerge as an adult just after mid June, here at this lattitude.
No problem becouse 50% to 66% of the years alfalfa production will be in the barn before mid June.
Now for some management. About mid June put the mower conditioner in the shed and get out a simple mower of some kind. With no conditioning rollers the beetles are no squashed, the blood does not get on the hay and there is no poison problem.
Second management tool is to have someone alive and well driving the mower. You can see the beetles a good 3 or 4 rounds before you get to them. They will be in a group, or more correctly called an Aggregation. They are like a school of minnows. Where there is one there is a bunch, and in the rest of the field there is none.
There are usually no beetles in alfalfa anyway because it is one of their last choices for blooms. The nightshade plants is the plant's blossoms of choice.
So the logical management tool for these critters is simply to pick up the mower and go over the aggregation, or as some call them a swarm. In most cases a pickup truck will completely cover the entire aggregation.
Out Veterinarians, and TAMU academics are not on the same page as other states when it comes to this pest.

If you want click on this link http://www.ca.uky.ed...facts/ef102.asp. It is not the best sourse of information but the horse people give credence to anything that comes out of Kentucky.

http://extension.mis...rops/g04569.htm
Is a good reference.


At the Overton Texas Research Center they have done a lot of work with alfalfa culture in the East Texas Soils. The man who was the leader in this work has retired but surely someone there is continuing his efforts.

Here is a truth. Anyone who tells you they have access to alfalfa grown in a hidden valley of Wyoming, is misinformed at best and most likely a liar.
Anyone who says they can guarantee their alfalfa is beetle free is of the same stripe.
They may have the gray or black beetles which have almost zero toxin. But that is not saying there are no beetles in their little corner of the world.

A Hay Farmer with a 53 year old BS of Agriculture from Southwest Texas State Teachers College.
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#7 chetlenox

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:39 AM

Lots of good info there.

I've got a dumb question for your HayWilson, since Coastal doesn't flower, is there any blister beetle risk? I assume it doesn't and have never heard anybody have any trouble with blister beetles in Coastal, but just wanted to be sure.

Now I know from personal experience that armyworms can be a problem in Coastal. I got my 4th cutting from 2007 wiped out by those little buggers...

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Chet.

#8 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:07 AM

HayWilson, since Coastal doesn't flower, is there any blister beetle risk?

In practice not really but in theory yes.
IF there is the weed Silver Leaf Nightshade in abundance in the bermudagrass hay meadow then it is possible to have blister beetles in bermudagrass hay.
Reason being the favorite food for the adult blister beetle are blooms of the Night Shade Family, which by the way also included potatoes and tomatoes.

The life cycle for the striped blister beetle (the really dangerous one) is it spends most of it's life in the ground eating grasshopper eggs.
The adult emerges from the ground in June at which time it looses all interest in grasshoppers and is now interested in procreation. For this they need energy more than protein and so go to the blooms of flowering plants. As I mentioned their favorite food is of the night shade family, but an alfalfa field with it's wall to wall blooms is an attraction.
They will be in a swarm or more accurately an aggregations. Usually you can hide the entire aggregation under one maybe two Pick Up Trucks.
In a pasture the beetle is not a problem, because the only domestic animal dumb enough to eat a live blister beetle is a chicken or turkey. Now if you ate that chicken you would not have a lethal dose of poison but you would have a very uncomfortable week.
The blister beetle at one time was associated with medicine and it was called the Spanish Fly.
To avoid contaminated hay when you see the aggregation just pick up the mower and skip over where they are. I always switch to a simple mower and leave the mower conditioner in the shed starting in June. HERE (in CenTex) the June cutting is the second cutting possibly the third cutting.

#9 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:30 AM

Bermuda hybrid. Bahia is used; however, it does not seem to have enough protein or other nutrients like other hay such as Coastal. The only downside of Coastal Bermuda is that there are no seeds produced that will benefit wildlife in the off season.
Coastal bermudagrass and other hybrid bermuda grasses do produce seed, it is just that their seed is not viable. Their seed are essentially a mule. An empty mule at that.

If you are interested in birds then plant Easter Gammagrass and Sideoats Gramagrass.

Managed for high quality bermudagrass can have over 20% CP. I have seen bermudagrass test above 24% CP for a hay show sample. More practical cutting bermudagrass at 6 week intervals can result in 12% CP hay, which is as high a protein practical for cattle and a leisure horse.

Generally bermudagrass uses roughly the same amount of P, K, & Mg as alfalfa but only about a third as much calcium. HERE on my calcareous soil with it's excessive amounts of calcium the bermudagrass will have close to the levels for alfalfa and our alfalfa will have almost double the level of calcium normally associated with alfalfa.

#10 mlappin

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 07:51 AM

Hmm...sounds like a person needs to encourage plants of the nightshade family to grow around the borders of alfalfa fields.

Would drive me nuts though leaving any hay in a field.

#11 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 08:19 AM

Hmm...sounds like a person needs to encourage plants of the nightshade family to grow around the borders of alfalfa fields.

Would drive me nuts though leaving any hay in a field.


It is called an attitude adjustment :-)
You really may not want to attract the critters to your Golden Corral.

Picking up a 7 ft cutter bar of a 9 ft MOCO for maybe 10 yards is not all that much hay left standing, besides it will be there in 4 weeks when you cut again.

The Organic system is to leave a 3 foot wide swath standing on one border of a field to protect the benificials. I usualy leave the back swath on first one side than the other at each cutting.

If it were not for the odd ideas of the organic types I would could claim to organic alfalfa.
But if they want to maintain a closed shop then they can have it all to their selves.

#12 Nitram

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Posted 18 May 2011 - 11:21 AM

"There are usually no beetles in alfalfa anyway because it is one of their last choices for blooms. The nightshade plants is the plant's blossoms of choice."
Question...Could one cut just before the bloom after the bugs emergence and be reasonably secure? provided the nightshade plants are not present in the field? Or is that just wishful thinking? Thank you for all the great info

#13 hay wilson in TX

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:11 PM

Could one cut just before the bloom after the bugs emergence and be reasonably secure?

Not only yes but Hail Yes (Quoating Justin Wilson)

Not only that but the odds of having blister beetles in an alfalfa field are slim to none, even if in ful bloom.

IF you are uniquely blessed with blister beetles for that cutting, out of 1,000 bales in the field there might be 10 bales that are contaminated to any degree.
Load out two truck loads of alfalfa hay, and odds are good the contaminated hay will all be on just one truck.
Buy 20 bales of hay off that one truck and the odds of of any of your hay being contaminated are still small.
BUT if you are the one or two lucky buyers you have a problem.

Realistically the greatest percentage of alfalfa hay goes to the dairies. Their hay is normally in large squares. From the same circle maybe 2 bales out of the 640 bales will be contaminated. If only one is used in that day's TMR the potential for a lethal dose being fed to any of the cows is slim due to the TMR diluting the alfalfa. The usual penalty is a few cows will go off feed and have some symptoms, only to recover in a week ten days. When you are milking 3,000 cows this will hardly be noticed.

For the leisure horse owner who bought 10 bales of alfalfa and all were contaminated they have a disaster.
The family pet probably will not consume a full lethal dose of poison but will die at a sub lethal dose from colic. A very tragic disaster. The kids are crying, the wife is screaming, and the husband is looking for someone to beat to a pulp.

Buy one of those bales at the feed store for your pet goat and the end will be quick but not pretty.
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#14 SvdSinner

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Posted 19 May 2011 - 05:28 PM

As far as hay goes, are these blister beetles unique to pure alfalfa fields? Are red clover fields susceptible? What about mixed grass/legume fields? Does lowering the density of flowering legume my mixing grass reduce/eliminate the risks?




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