As the lazy, hazy days of summer have been replaced by Jack Frost and thoughts of sugar plums dancing in our heads, our farm chores are also changing.
Pasture growth has slowed down and may be stopped for all practical purposes, however our livestock still have daily needs to be met.
Our efforts in managing our resources this summer will hopefully pay off with several more weeks of grazing in stock piled fields of high quality forages and crop residue.While we have enjoyed a warm, dry late summer and fall, this has been both a blessing and a challenge.
On the blessing side, our soils are dry and stable and we can utilize most any of our fields that have a source of water for grazing this fall.
This is an excellent time to utilize those fields that tend to get wet and muddy during the rainy seasons. It is also a great time to graze those areas along the stream banks that have good forage, before they become wet and muddy this winter.
Recently harvested crop fields also provide many days of good grazing opportunity while the fields are dry, without the compaction issues that we face during rainy weather. Take advantage of these opportunities while we have them.
On the challenge side, some normal water supplies are not flowing again this fall. This is creating some management issues in how to get water to the livestock to keep the rotations going as planned.
This may mean deferring some areas for grazing later this fall or winter after springs start flowing again, or setting up some temporary water systems and hauling water to areas that do not currently have an adequate supply.
Sometimes there are no easy answers, but we know without a clean plentiful supply of water for our livestock all of the feed in the world will not make us a profit.
Take time to review what feed you have available. Review which water systems have adequate water now and which ones will be able to supply the livestock needs in the middle of the coldest part of the winter.
If there is an opportunity to adjust your grazing management or feeding areas to take advantage of the resources that you have, then planning ahead may save you money and aggravation later in the season.
With winter quickly approaching, it is time to review just what resources we have available for our livestock.
When you plan for two to three percent of their body weight in available forage per day, plus fresh water for the weather conditions, it may quickly become apparent that some adjustments are needed in our feeding system.
Perhaps some supplement may be needed to increase the quality of feed when utilizing some late cut, first cutting hay that got rained on a couple of times before it was baled.Perhaps it is just a matter of deciding when to feed certain bales based on the livestock needs during different parts of the winter. Consider when the animals need the highest quality of feed.
Consider whether you can get to it, when you need it or whether you will have already fed it during the early part of winter because it was the hay stored closest to the barn door.
Consider where you will be with your livestock when it starts raining again and the fields get extremely muddy.
Do you have a feed lot or heavy use pad to feed on during the wettest part of the winter? Is that area clean and ready to go when you need it?
If you have not already spread your manure from last year, what are you waiting for? Have you considered attending a Mortality Composting meeting so that you can legally compost any animals you may lose on your farm?
There will be a Livestock Mortality Composting course held at the Rural Services Building in Zanesville, Ohio, Nov. 24.
The registration fee is $10 per farm. Send registration and checks to OSU Extension, Muskingum County, 225 Underwood St., Zanesville, OH 43701, or call 740-454-0144 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Hopefully, after reviewing your available resources and options, you will decide there are truly many blessings to be thankful for this holiday season despite the challenges we face on a daily basis.
Among our blessings we have the freedom to chose to continue farming and to continue enjoying our way of life, a generally favorable climate, and abundant resources to manage along with a source of fresh, safe drinking water for ourselves and our livestock.
And we must not forget we are part of the system that supplies the safest, most affordable and abundant food supply in the world.