Fall Pasture Management Tips

Three Angus beef calves in fall pasture sceneWhile summer may be over and the main grazing season concluded, the fall is one of the best times of the year to evaluate the condition of your pasture and complete pasture management tasks that will pay dividends the next grazing season.  Spend some time now before it gets cold preparing your pastures for spring growth.

  1. Soil Test After a summer of grazing, fall is a great time to take soil samples to check and see where you stand on soil pH, nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.  This is important information to have when making management decisions such as how much fertilizer or lime to apply and if your pasture needs to be renovated. It also allows to apply what is needed to avoid over application which can have negative environmental impacts with runoff and leaching and also result in unnecessary spending.  Testing should be done routinely every 2-3 years or prior to undertaking a partial or full pasture renovation. The University of Delaware offers soil testing as well as several private labs including Agrolab in Harrington.


  1. Assess- Take a walk through your pasture. Observe and inventory what desirable pasture species are present, the ratio of grass to legumes, the types of weeds present, the stage of maturity of desirable species and weeds, how much bare soil there is and possibly use a compaction meter to see what the soil compaction levels look like from hoof pressure after a wet growing season.


  1. Weed Control- The fall is a great time to do some weed control. Perennial weeds such as horse nettle, dogbane and thistle respond well to fall herbicide applications (as long as it hasn’t been too dry) because they are translocating energy to store in their roots in preparation for overwintering. Herbicides should be applied according to label instructions and prior to the first frost. The Mid-Atlantic Weed Management Guide is an excellent regional resource and has a chapter devoted to forage weed management: http://extension.udel.edu/ag/weed-science/weed-management-guides/


  1. Lime- Based on your soil test results, apply lime in quantities to increase soil pH appropriately. Over time without the application of lime, soils generally become more acidic. The addition of certain fertilizers such as ammonium sulfate can also make soil more acidic.  Acidic soils make nutrients less available for pasture species to uptake. Most pasture species prefer a soil pH between 6.0-6.5.  Raising soil pH not only makes nutrients more available to pasture grasses and legumes for uptake but can also make soil bacteria more active which helps to release nutrients.  Based on your soil test results you will apply either high calcium lime or high magnesium (high mag) lime depending on your needs. Additional recommendations for liming pastures can be found here: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/forage-and-hay-crops/


  1. FertilizeBased on your soil test results, and provided there is adequate soil moisture, apply nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) as needed. Soil test results allow you to apply the correct amounts of fertilizer needed which saves money and avoids over application. Fall is widely recognized as one of the best times to apply fertilizer.  Fall applications of fertilizer help pasture stands to be hardier, overwinter better and be more productive in the spring.  Phosphorus helps with root growth and development which in turn helps with pasture persistence and longevity of a stand.  Potassium functions much like anti-freeze in a plant and assists it in coping with hot dry or extremely cold weather.  Nitrogen provides for leaf growth and development and fall applications of nitrogen help boost pasture production the following spring.  Fall applications should be completed by early November. Remember that Delaware nutrient management laws do not permit commercial fertilizers to be applied between December 7 and February 15. Additional recommendations for fertilizing pastures can be found here: http://extension.udel.edu/factsheets/forage-and-hay-crops/


  1. Mow/Drag– Mowing pastures promotes more even growth after a summer of grazing and can assist in weed control by clipping weed seed heads before they are viable. Pastures should be mowed no shorter than 3-4 inches to allow enough residual plant material for pasture species to store energy reserves for the winter. Dragging a pasture spreads manure more evenly then a cow or horse will. It also offers some benefit for internal parasite control by exposing parasites and their eggs to sunlight and desiccation or drying.


  1. Rotationally Graze or Strip Graze- Develop a grazing plan based on your visual evaluation of your pastures to rest and rotate your pastures. Divide your pastures into smaller areas to reduce selectivity and force animals to graze more evenly if you find that forage is becoming too mature and being wasted in some areas of your field and overgrazed in others. Pastures should never be grazed less than 3-4 inches as it causes stress to the plant because they begin to use their root reserves instead of using their leaf material to produce more energy for growth.  If a pasture is continuously overgrazed eventually the desirable pasture species utilize all of their root reserves causing them to die and leave bare spots in the pasture.  Rotational grazing gives pastures a must needed rest in between episodes of grazing.  The length of time regrowth between grazing episodes is dependent on environmental growth conditions.  Strip grazing is a type of rotational grazing and is a great technique for rationing pasture during times of less growth such as winter months. Animals are offered a portion of a field to graze and then are moved on a regular basis once that area is consumed. This is generally high intensity grazing for shorter periods of time.


  1. Overseed/Reseed- Fall is actually the best time of the year to reseed a pasture. Seed germinates faster as soil temperatures are warmer than in the spring. Pasture seedlings get several months of a head start on spring weed growth which makes them able to compete better in the stand.  If the existing stand simply needs thickening, then overseeding is a good option.  If soil pH and fertility need dramatic adjustments, soil compaction is severe, weed pressure is heavy and desirable pasture species are thin then a full renovation with conventional tillage is probably in order.  A common mistake is grazing newly renovated pastures too soon. Plants need time for strong root development so they aren’t pulled out by grazing animals or damaged by hooves.  Full renovations require a good year of careful mowing, etc. prior to grazing animals being turned out. If you do not have the room to wait a full year, but still need a full renovation, considering breaking your pasture into sections, seeding one section per year. This way, the new section will be ready for animals as you prepare to renovate the next section the following year. This also helps with expenses, since full renovations can be costly.


  1. Stockpile-Tall fescue grass pastures offer the ability to stockpile or grow forage and store it in the field to be grazed in late fall or winter. Tall fescue is uniquely suited to this practice as it actually maintains nutritional content and increases in palatability to the horse after the first frost. In order to stockpile tall fescue in the field for later grazing, an early fall application of nitrogen to stimulate leaf growth is necessary. Wait to graze until late fall or winter and consider utilizing strip grazing to maximize the utilization of stockpiled tall fescue.


  1. Choose the Right Forage Species– This is one of the most costly inputs for pasture, yet is also the most important choice you can make for your pasture. Unfortunately, we do not share the same climate as Pennsylvania, Kentucky, or Western Virginia, which provide excellent conditions for perennial, cool season grasses. Our warm, humid environment tends to stress cool season grasses during the summer months, reducing the longevity of some species such as orchardgrass, timothy, and perennial ryegrass. There is an exception-tall fescue, particularly varieties containing the friendly (novel) endophyte, which tend to persist much longer when established correctly. Please note these are different than endophyte-free varieties, which tend to have less vigor. There are many pasture mixes available on the market so be sure to do your homework and be familiar with what is in the mix you are being sold or consider a custom mix of appropriate species for our growing conditions.


In conclusion, fall is a great time to evaluate your past grazing season. Think back- did you have times where pasture growth was in excess of what was being utilized by grazing animals?  A time of deficiency?  How can you overcome those times in the future?  What did your pasture look like by the end of the summer?  Often times when asked to make recommendations to help producers manage their pastures more effectively, we discover that pastures are greatly overstocked and continuously grazed.  Even when you follow good management practices, pastures that are overstocked will result in overgrazed, damaged stands that do not persist.  Weeds are opportunists and bare soil allows them to germinate from existing soil reserves or propagate if they are not controlled.  If you do not already have one, consider establishing a sacrifice lot or a place to put animals and feed hay when pastures cannot be grazed for a variety of reasons (too wet, too dry/droughty, no growth, when a pasture has been recently seeded or fertilized, or it is too cold and limiting growth rates).  This practice will help extend the useful lifetime of your pastures.  Hoof pressure on wet pastures in the winter damage the desirable plants and result in soil compaction.  Pastures that are grazed year round are less productive and need to be reseeded more often.

Susan Garey, Extension Agent Animal Science and Phillip Sylvester, Kent County Agriculture Agent

University of Delaware


Land O’ Lakes Raises $100,000 with ‘She-I-O’ Video

Giving the classic children’s song a twist, Land O’Lakes changes the lyrics of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” for Women’s Equality Day.
( Maggie Rose – YouTube )

Recognizing female farmers for Women’s Equality Day, Land O’ Lakes has raised $100,000 for Feeding America with their popular video “She-I-O”, a spin on “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.”

As part of Land O’Lakes new All Together Better Initiative program, which includes a partnership with Feeding America, Land O’Lakes has donated $1 to Feeding America for every share, tag or comment on any of the “She-I-O” music video content on Land O’Lakes social channels, as well as the “She-I-O” music track, available on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Taking less than a month to reach their $100,000 goal, the song was rewritten by artist Maggie Rose and Grammy Award-winning Warner/Chappel songwriter Liz Rose. Taking social media by storm “She-I-O” has garnered more than 133,580 views on Facebook alone and more than 97,000 on YouTube.

Small Ruminant Field Day


Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Infectious Disease in Sheep and Goats

This workshop is designed to help producers learn good ways to create and maintain biosecurity on their operations, understand and improve the administration of vaccines, and learn about the most prevalent infectious and  zoonotic diseases diseases affecting small ruminants.


Presented jointly by

Delaware State University and University of Delaware


Saturday, October 20, 2018

DSU Hickory Hill Farm 2065 Seven Hickories Rd.

Dover, DE 19904

Registration: 9:00 – 9:30 a.m.

Program: 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.

$15 per person / Lunch included


Register using the link below by October 15, 2018:


– OR –


For more information, to register, or for assistance due to disabilities, contact:



Kwame Matthews, Ph.D. Small Ruminant Program Cooperative Extension Delaware State University 1200 N. DuPont Hwy Dover, DE 19901 kmatthews@desu.edu 302.857.6540

Susan Garey

Animal Science

Kent County Extension University of Delaware 69 Transportation Circle

Dover, DE 19901 truehart@udel.edu 302.730.4000

Daniel Severson

Agriculture and Natural Resources New Castle County Extension University of Delaware

461 Wyoming Road

Newark, DE 19716 severson@udel.edu 302.831.8860



Delaware Cooperative Extension: Education in agriculture, 4-H and home economics; Delaware State University, University of Delaware and United States Department of Agriculture cooperating.

It is the policy of Delaware Cooperative Extension that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national o

USDA Prepared to Respond to Hurricane Florence

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Release No. 0183.18

Contact: USDA Press
Email: press@oc.usda.gov

USDA Prepared to Respond to Hurricane Florence

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reminds rural communities, farmers and ranchers, families and small businesses potentially impacted by Hurricane Florence of programs to provide assistance in the wake of disasters. USDA staff in the regional, State and county offices stand ready and eager to help. Additionally, USDA’s Operations Center will function around the clock.

“Our farmers and ranchers take financial risks every year to help feed and clothe the U.S. and the world, and a hurricane makes their situations even more perilous,” U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said. “At USDA, it’s our job to be there for them when they need help. All of our relevant agencies are ready to assist when natural disasters strike.”

USDA has important roles in both response to hurricanes and recovery efforts. USDA also is staffing the Regional Response Coordination Center in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Region IV, which covers eight states including North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. USDA is providing 24-hour staffing to the FEMA National Response Coordination Center, and has personnel supporting the North Carolina and South Carolina State Emergency Operations Centers. USDA also is supporting FEMA Region II Regional Response Coordination Center in New Jersey to assist response efforts for Tropical Storm Isaac and Hurricane Florence. Additionally, personnel from the U.S. Forest Service and USDA Office of the Inspector General are pre-staging in Charlotte, North Carolina to assist with public safety and security efforts.

USDA recently launched a disaster assistance discovery tool through its new website Farmers.gov that walks producers through five questions to help them identify personalized results of which USDA disaster assistance programs can help them recover after a natural disaster.

In a continuing effort to serve the public, USDA also partnered with FEMA and other disaster-focused organizations and created the Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster. This central source of information utilizes a searchable knowledgebase of disaster-related resources powered by agents with subject matter expertise. The Disaster Resource Center website and web tool now provide an easy access point to find USDA disaster information and assistance.

USDA also encourages residents and small businesses in impact zones to contact USDA offices which meet their individual needs.

Food Safety and Food Assistance

Severe weather forecasts often present the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recommends consumers take necessary steps before, during, and after a power outage to reduce food waste and minimize the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS offers tips for keeping frozen and refrigerated food safe and A Consumer’s Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes brochure that can be downloaded and printed for reference at home. Owners of meat and poultry producing businesses who have questions or concerns may contact the FSIS Small Plant Help Desk by phone at 1-877-FSIS-HELP (1-877-374-7435), by email at infosource@fsis.usda.gov, or 24/7 online at: www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/svsp/sphelpdesk.

The USDA Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) coordinates with state, local and voluntary organizations to provide food for shelters and other mass feeding sites. Under certain circumstances, states also may request to operate a disaster household distribution program to distribute USDA Foods directly to households in need. As disaster response moves into the recovery phase, FNS may approve a state’s request to implement a Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) when the President declares a major disaster for individual assistance under the Stafford Act in areas affected by a disaster. State agencies also may request a number of disaster-related waivers to help provide temporary assistance to impacted households already receiving SNAP benefits at the time of the disaster, and to provide flexibilities in administering school meals, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, and other programs. Resources for disaster feeding partners as well as available FNS disaster nutrition assistance can be found on the FNS Disaster Assistance website.

Crop and Livestock Loss

The USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) administers many safety-net programs to help producers recover from eligible losses, including the Livestock Indemnity Program, the Emergency Assistance for Livestock, Honeybees, and Farm-Raised Fish Program, Emergency Forest Restoration Program (PDF, 257 KB) and the Tree Assistance Program. The FSA Emergency Conservation Program provides funding and technical assistance for farmers and ranchers to rehabilitate farmland damaged by natural disasters. Producers located in counties that receive a primary or contiguous disaster designation are eligible for low-interest emergency loans to help them recover from production and physical losses. Compensation also is available to producers who purchased coverage through the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program, which protects non-insurable crops against natural disasters that result in lower yields, crop losses or prevented planting. USDA encourages farmers and ranchers to contact their local FSA office to learn what documents can help the local office expedite assistance, such as farm records, receipts and pictures of damages or losses.

Producers with coverage through the federal crop insurance program administered by the Risk Management Agency should contact their crop insurance agent. Those who purchased crop insurance will be paid for covered losses. Producers should report crop damage within 72 hours of damage discovery and follow up in writing within 15 days.

Community Recovery Resources

For declared natural disasters that lead to imminent threats to life and property, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) can assist local government sponsors with the cost of implementing recovery efforts like debris removal and streambank stabilization to address natural resource concerns and hazards through the Emergency Watershed Protection Program. NRCS had made available nearly $2 million in advance funding under the Emergency Watershed Protection program to help local communities immediately begin relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods and is coordinating with state partners to complete damage assessments in preparation for sponsor assistance requests. NRCS also can help producers with damaged agricultural lands caused by natural disasters, such as floods.

The NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial assistance to repair and prevent excessive soil erosion that can result from high rainfall events and flooding. Conservation practices supported through EQIP protect the land and aid in recovery, can build the natural resource base, and might help mitigate loss in future events.

USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture provides support for disaster education through the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN). EDEN is a collaborative multi-state effort with land-grant universities and Cooperative Extension Services across the country, using research-based education and resources to improve the delivery of services to citizens affected by disasters. EDEN’s goal is to improve the nation’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, prevent, respond to and recover from disasters. EDEN equips county-based Extension educators to share research-based resources in local disaster management and recovery efforts. The EDEN website offers a searchable database of Extension professionals, resources, member universities and disaster agency websites, education materials to help people deal with a wide range of hazards, and food and agricultural defense educational resources.

Many of USDA Rural Development programs can help provide financial relief to rural communities hit by natural disasters by offering low-interest loans to rural community facilities, rural businesses and cooperatives and to rural utilities. More information can be found on the Rural Development website, located at www.rd.usda.gov.

For complete details and eligibility requirements regarding USDA’s disaster assistance programs, contact a local USDA Service Center. More information about USDA disaster assistance, as well as other disaster resources, is available on the USDA Disaster Resource Center website, located at www.usda.gov/topics/disaster.

Potentials for Plant and Other Toxicities in Cattle

While Johnsongrass is a good quality forage, it can be challenging to control in pastures where the perennial, warm-season grass is not desired. Prussic acid production under stress can pose a risk to livestock when grazing Johnsongrass, especially during prolonged droughts or after a frost.
( Dirk Philipp, University of Arkansas )

Fortunately, there has been plenty of rain this year. However, heading into late summer and fall are times of the year to watch out for plant toxicity in cattle.  In some cases, plants can become more toxic during drought and heat stress.  In addition, there is the increased potential for cattle to ingest toxic plants due to lack of other feedstuffs.  There may also be more access to toxic plants.  With droughts come increased weed infestation of pastures, hay and crop fields.   Penned cattle may also be in corrals or drawn to low lying areas that are still green, both of which are where toxic plants are likely to grow.  Differentiating “good” vs. “bad” plants is a learned behavior, so toxicity is more likely in young animals and animals moved to a new location.  A grazing management and supplemental feeding plan is essential to minimize problems.  Veterinarians and producers should be familiar with which plants can cause problems in their area, and try to avoid them.  The following discussion covers some of the plants and situations to watch for during drought situations.  There may be plants that grow some regions that are not covered.

Stressed plants more readily accumulate nitrates and prussic acid (cyanide).  Drought stress can cause both pasture forages and weeds to accumulate toxic amounts of nitrates.  Recently fertilized pastures are also at higher risk.  Plants that have accumulated nitrates remain toxic after baling or ensiling.  Test forages for nitrates to prevent poisoning.  Prussic acid accumulates most often in sorghums, sudans and Johnsongrasses, but these plants can accumulate nitrates also.  There is no test for prussic acid, but it dissipates when plants are baled or ensiled, so harvested forages are safe.  Cattle poisoned by nitrates or prussic acid are usually found dead, so prevention of these toxicities is critical.   Cattle with nitrate toxicity have methemoglobinemia (brown blood) and cattle with prussic acid toxicity have cyanohemoglobinemia (bright, cherry red blood).  Nitrate and prussic acid both interfere with oxygen carrying capacity in the blood, so pregnant cattle surviving these poisonings often abort.

Two of the most toxic plants found in croplands and pastures are coffeeweed and sickle pod.  Cattle will generally not graze the green plant unless other forages are scarce.  However, they will readily eat the seedpods that are dry after a frost.  The plant remains toxic when harvested in hay/balage/silage.   Coffeeweed and sicklepod are toxic to muscles and cause weakness, diarrhea, dark urine, and inability to rise.  There is no specific treatment or antidote, and once animals are down, they rarely recover.

Pigweed or carelessweed is very common in areas where cattle congregate.  Cattle will readily eat the young plants, but avoid the older plants unless forced to eat them.  A common pigweed poisoning is when cattle are penned where pigweed is the predominant plant and no alternative hay or feed is provided.  Red root pigweed is more toxic than spiny root pigweed, but is less common.  Pigweed can accumulate nitrates, so sudden death is the most common outcome.  It also contains oxalates, so renal failure can also occur.

Black nightshade is common in croplands, and like pigweed, in often in high traffic areas.   The green fruit is most toxic, so cattle should not have access to nightshade during this stage, and nightshade remains toxic in harvested forages.  Nightshade is toxic to the nervous and gastrointestinal systems, and causes weakness, depression, diarrhea, and muscle trembling among other signs.  Bullnettle and horsenettle are in the same plant family as nightshade.  They are also toxic, although less so, and are usually avoided by livestock unless other forages are not available.

Blue-green algae blooms in ponds can also occur in hot weather.  They are most common in ponds with high organic matter, such as ponds where cattle are allowed to wade, or where fertilizer runoff occurs.  The blue-green algae accumulates along pond edges, especially in windy conditions, and exposes cattle when they drink.  Both the live and dead algae are toxic.  The toxins can affect the neurologic system causing convulsions and death, sometimes right next to the source.  They can also affect the liver, causing a delayed syndrome of weight loss, and photosensitization (skin peeling in sparsely haired or white haired areas).

Perilla mint causes acute bovine pulmonary edema and emphysema (ABPE), usually in late summer.  It grows in most of the central and eastern United States and is common in partial shade in sparsely wooded areas, and around barns and corrals.   There is no treatment, so prevention is critical.

Cattle with access to wooded areas may eat bracken fern.  Cattle must eat roughly their body weight over time before toxicity occurs, but may do this in situations where other forage is not available. Braken fern toxicosis causes aplastic anemia.  Fever, anemia, hematuria, and secondary infections are some of the most common signs.

As summer moves into fall, the potential for acorn toxicosis increases.  Cattle have to eat large amounts usually to become sick, but those that are in poor body condition and hungry are more likely to do so.  Clinical signs include constipation or dark, foul-smelling diarrhea, dark nasal discharge, depression, weakness and weight loss.

The lack of summer forages and the need for supplemental feeding during a drought can increase the likelihood of feeding “accidents” and toxicities.  Producers may be tempted to feed cattle pruning’s of ornamental plants, many of which are highly toxic.  Grain overload is also a potential problem if access to concentrate feeds are not controlled.  Salt toxicity can occur if hungry cattle are allowed free access to high salt containing “hotmixes”.  Even though these are meant to limit intake, initial intake can be high enough to cause toxicity in starved or salt deprived cattle.  Feeding byproduct feeds, candy, bread, screenings, etc. may also be more common, all of which have the potential to cause problems.  Producers may also be tempted to feed moldy hay or feed, which can lead to toxicity problems.

With careful planning, plant toxicities can be avoided. If you have questions on toxic plants and how to identify/avoid them, please contact your local veterinarian or Extension agent. If you have further questions please feel free to contact me at, lstrick5@utk.edu, or 865-974-3538.

Moisture the Critical Component to Good Silage

One of the most important steps to make good silage is to cut it at the proper moisture level. The optimum moisture range for cutting corn and making silage is between 60-70% moisture (30-40% dry matter). Given the genetics of today’s corn varieties, utilization of the old relationship between the milk line and plant moisture content may not always be accurate.

An easy, quick and relatively inexpensive method to determine the actual moisture content of the whole corn plant is using a microwave oven. One additional advantage is that it takes typically less than 20 minutes to run the test.

So what equipment will you need to facilitate the moisture test?

  • Microwave, with a turntable (preferably). Your wife or significant other will appreciate you NOT using the kitchen microwave or doing this in the house kitchen, as it does produce an unpleasant odor. It is thus recommend to have a microwave in the shop or barn to run the moisture test.
  • Scale, one that weighs in grams is best.
  • Container, something that is microwave safe such as paper plate, paper boat, or a glass or plastic dish.
  • Water – 8 oz glass to protect the microwave oven
  • Paper & Pencil to record weights
  • Calculator

Next you need to collect a sample. Collect at random 10-20 plants throughout the field. You will need to chop these plants and this can be done by either shredding them in a brush chopper/branch shredder or by running them through your chopper. Please keep in mind that this can be a very dangerous process and care should be taken when doing this. The other option is to chop test areas in your field. Then take random grab samples from the green chopped silage. You should have about 2 gallons worth of product to mix and collect your test sample from. Once you have collected a representative sample you can start the process to run the moisture test.

Follow these steps to determine the moisture content of your corn silage or forage. Please note that this method can also be used to determine moisture content in any other forage.

Microwave Moisture Testing of Forages

  1. Take your gram scale and weigh the container you will use to hold the sample. This weight is known as Value A.
  2. Mix your sample and place about 100 grams in the container. Collect the total weight of the container and wet sample, record the weight as Value B.
  3. Put an 8oz. glass of water in the corner of the oven.
  4. Put the container with the sample in the microwave oven. Using a medium to high heat setting start drying the sample, starting with approximately 3-4 minutes if you suspect the sample is above 35% moisture.
  5. Remove the container and sample, weigh them, and record the weight. It should weigh less than the Value B that you initially recorded.
  6. Gently stir the sample and place back in the microwave.
  7. Reheat the sample again for another 30 seconds. Remove, reweight, and record the weight. You should continue this process, recording the weight every time. (You will need to be careful not to char or burn the sample. If you do, then either start over or take the previous recorded weight prior to charring the sample. You do not want your sample to be charred, so a hint is to go in time increments of less than 30 seconds once you feel your sample is getting close to dry.)
  8. Once you have two continuous weights that are equal, the sample is considered dry. Record this final weight as Value C.

Lastly you will need to calculate the percent moisture using the following formula:

  • Value A = weight of container
  • Value B = weight of container + initial wet sample weight
  • Value C = weight of container + dry sample weight

%Moisture = B - C divided by B - A times 100

Producers need to remember that if the silage is too wet there is a risk of butyric acid forming and nutrients being lost due to seepage. Silage that is over 70% moisture should not be harvested and should stand in the field for a few more days. On the other hand if it is too dry it will not ferment or pack adequately resulting in mold development. You may then need to add water to get an adequate pack and fermentation process. Therefore, having an accurate determination of what your corn silage moisture is running is critical in putting up good silage in a timely manner.

Flavored Milk is Back in Session for Pennsylvania Schools

As kids make their way back to the classroom, flavored milks are making their way back to the lunchroom. ( iStock )

As kids make their way back to the classroom, flavored milks are making their way back to the lunchroom.


Due to federal regulation last year, schools in Pennsylvania previously had to sign a waiver in order to serve flavored milk during breakfast and lunch, according to abc27News.This year, the waiver has been lifted and school districts are encouraged to take advantage of it.

“There are few foods or beverages that can offer the substantial nutritional benefits of milk,” said Michael Smith, the Executive Deputy Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture in a news interview. “It’s also important, again, from an economic perspective. Dairy by far is the largest contributor to our agriculture economy.”


In 2011, Los Angeles school districts banned flavored milk in cafeterias because of their sugar content. The district also reported that kids were not consuming the milk and were discarding approximately 600 tons of half-full cartons away.


Five years later, L.A. schools lifted the ban as an attempt to encourage school children to drink more milk.


Introduced in 2017, the School Milk Nutrition Act has allowed schools to offer low-fat and fat-free milk, including flavored milk with no more than 150 calories per 8-ounce serving, to participants in the federal school lunch and breakfast programs.


“Milk is the number-one source of nine essential vitamins and minerals in children’s diets, and when its consumption drops, the overall nutritional intake of America’s kids is jeopardized,” said Jim Mulhern, president and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation.


With more milk options available for Pennsylvania school children, could we see a rise in dairy consumption in schools?