As we have experienced this year, forage quantity is drastically down as a result of dry conditions.
In previous articles, writers have suggested ways to extend the grazing season using annual forages and managed grazing.
However, along with drought, we often find variation in forage quality.
Forage losses. Recently, as a member of the Guernsey County Farm Services Agency Disaster Committee, I was asked to submit my thoughts on forage losses thus far for the 2005 growing season.
Do you think we have had a 35 percent or more loss in forage production?
If so, I would hope our Ohio farmers would qualify for disaster assistance.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture forage quality loss program attempts to compensate farmers for quality and quantity losses.
If you have not verified your production, you may not be eligible for participation in this program.
Sampling. As part of this program, you must provide forage analysis test results.
The Ohio State University Extension offices have kits that can be mailed to a forage testing laboratory and will provide the results needed for participation in this program.
The procedures for taking a proper forage sample are described in Ohio State University Extension fact sheet ANR-002-98, Forage Testing for Beef Cattle, available online at http://ohioline.osu.edu/anr-fact/0002.html.
Another informational extension fact sheet you should read is AS-1-99, Winter Supplementation of Beef Cows, at http://ohioline.osu.edu/as-fact/0001.html.
After reading these fact sheets, I hope you will see how important forage sampling is.
Reasons to test. The top four reasons to have your forage tested are:
1. It may be needed for eligibility in USDA quality loss programs.
2. It must be done in order to formulate a supplementation program.
3. It allows for comparison of value when buying or selling hay.
4. It must be done in order to formulate a proper mineral mix.
For more information, contact your local Extension office.
(The author is an OSU Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Agent in Guernsey County. Questions or comments can be sent in care of Farm and Dairy, P.O. Box 38, Salem OH 44460.)
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