Shropshire Assocation Offers Starter Flock Award

The National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association is pleased to announce that through the generosity and vision of several prominent Shropshire breeders, the third Shropshire Starter Flock Award will be given to a lucky youth in the spring of 2016.

The Shropshire Starter Flock Award is presented annually and helps to establish one new Shropshire flock every year.  The award in 2016 will be a credit voucher of $1,500, which can be used to purchase no less than two ewes in one of the following sales:  Shropshire Classic, Great Lakes, Shropshire Spectacular and The Midwest.

In addition, ewes can be purchased at any sale that has ewe lambs nominated for the Shropshire Futurity.

The National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association will identify a local breeder to act as a mentor to the recipient.  The sheep will range in age from lambs to yearling ewes.  The animals selected will be of sound structure and will maintain good breed type.  If you are interested in winning this award flock, you are expected to write an essay to the National Junior Shropshire Sheep Association.  Be sure to include background information about yourself.  This document6 should illustrate your goals and intentions with the animals should you win the award.  There should also be a budget included in the paperwork that is sent in.  Type your essay and email it to shropsec@hotmail.com by April 1.  Please include your mailing address and telephone number.  All applicants should be between the ages of 8 and 20.

Winners are asked to give back to the Starter Flock Award Program in some way in the years to come.  The awarded animals are asked to be shown at a county fair, state fair and a regional national show (All American Junior Show, NAILE, The Big E or the Midwest Regional Show).

All essays will be reviewed and discussed by the board members and the winner will be chosen and contacted to make arrangements to receive their award at a spring sale.  Whichever sale you choose to make your purchase, you will have a $1,500 credit which can be used when you pay for your purchases.  You must purchase at least two ewes with this award.  Whether you are looking to add a second breed to your farm or looking to make a start in the sheep business, you are invited to take a chance and write to win.

For more information contact Alan Bruhin, wabruhin@utk.edu or Becky Peterson, shropsec@hotmail.com

 

Delaware 4-H and FFA Spring Dairy Show

DSC_0163The 2016 Delaware 4-H and FFA Spring Dairy Show is April 2, 2016 at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.  The show is open to all Delmarva Residents who are owners or lessors of Holstein, Jersey, Ayrshire, Guernsey and Brown Swiss cattle.  The show will include both a Junior Division (age 21 & under as of January 1, 2016) and an Open Division which will run concurrently.

It is strongly suggested that all animals be vaccinated for shipping fever.  Out of state exhibitors will need interstate health papers issued within 30 days of the show.  Maryland Intrastate Health Certificates will also be accepted provided it has been checked and signed at a Maryland show within 30 days.

For rules, a complete class list, and entry form, please visit:  http://extension.udel.edu/4h/projects-activities-for-members/4-h-animal-science/

Delaware Holstein Association Annual Meeting March 12

Delaware Holstein Association

2016 Annual Meeting March 12

Host Farm – William Vanderwende & Sons, 4003 Seashore Hwy, Bridgeville, DE – 10:00

The Vanderwende Family has invited the membership to visit their home farm.  Three generations of the family are involved in the operation that includes a 225 cow dairy, a 4,000 acre crop operation and most recently an on farm creamery. The farm is located about 6 miles west of Bridgeville on the north side on Seashore Highway.

Luncheon – Jimmy’s Grille, Bridgeville, DE – 12:30

To reach the restaurant from the farm, take Seashore Hwy east toward Bridgeville, following Business 404. At the first dead end turn left on Market Street and at the second turn right on S. Main Street. Jimmy’s Grille will be on the left at 18541 S. Main Street.  At Walgreens, you’ve gone too far!

Annual Meeting – 1:30   

Reports on 2015 Association Activities  Election of Directors  Junior and Senior Production Awards  Junior Member Awards Program – The Story of Vanderwende Farm Creamery  The Vanderwendes have diversified their dairy operation with the addition of the creamery.  Taylor Vanderwende will be on hand to tell our group about the history of the creamery and their plans for the future.

Jr. Association Annual Meeting – 2:30   All Juniors are welcome to participate in the first meeting of 2016.  Learn what’s in store for the coming year.

Lunch tickets will be $10.00 for adults.  Junior members, under age 21, will be free.  2016 dues can be paid at the meeting.  Dues are based on the number of milking registered cows.  $20.00 is the base fee with an additional charge of $0.15 per cow for each registered milking animal.

Other “Dairy Dates” to Mark on the Calendar 

March 30, 2016 – Delaware Dairy Princess Contest – Ag Museum, Dover

April 2, 2016 – Delaware 4-H & FFA Dairy Expo – Delaware State Fairgrounds, Harrington

May 1, 2016 – Final Futurity Entries and Payments Due

July 2 & 3, 2016 – Cow Camp 2016 – Delaware State Fairgrounds, Harrington

July 23, 2016 – Delaware Jr Dairy Futurity & 4th Annual Senior Showmanship Contest!!

A Special Note to Juniors In order to be eligible for the production awards, you must provide the following information on all animals you wish to have considered.  These must be milking animals registered in your name.  Please return the information below to Charmayne Busker, 1676 Drapers Corners Road, Harrington, DE 19952 by March 7th if you wish to be considered. Email is cpbusker@gmail.com  Phone 398-4764. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Registration Name________________________________________ Number________________
305 day record completed in 2015:
_____age_________days  ____________milk  ____%  _______fat  ___%  ________protein
Dam______________________________   Sire____________________________________
DHIA Herd in which record was completed_________________________________________
Junior Member__________________________________   Age__________

November 5th Small Ruminant Health Workshop with Dr. Wendy Freeman, VMD

As part of a larger small ruminant health grant, please join us on the evening of November 5, 2015 at the Paradee Center in Dover, Delaware for our initial workshop in a series of health related workshops to focus on vital signs and health assessments and recognizing the signs and symptoms of pre-parturient diseases (diseases of pregnant ewes/does) and diseases in lambs and kids.  Our featured guest speaker for the evening will be nationally recognized expert on small ruminant veterinary care, Dr. Wendy Freeman, VMD.

Dr. Freeman graduated from the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School in 1985.  After graduation, Dr. Freeman completed an internship and residency in Field Service at the University of Pennsylvania New Bolton Center in 1988.  Following her residency, Wendy joined the faculty at New Bolton Center and became Assistant Professor of Medicine and Field Service in 1992, where she worked on developing and directing the small ruminant program.  Dr. Freeman directed the reproductive program and implemented total health care and clinical studies of the teaching flock.  Wendy is one of the most experienced small ruminant specialists in the United States and sees both large and small animal patients at Longwood Veterinary Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania on a full-time basis.

The Small Ruminant Health Program is a project developed by University of Delaware extension professionals Susan Garey and Dan Severson in response to a deficiency of veterinarians in the region with the desire to treat small ruminants. As a result, producers need to further develop their skills in assessing animal health and treating common diseases.  A Risk Management Grant Proposal was funded by the Northeast Extension for Risk Management Education Center to develop the project. A needs assessment was completed to determine needs for technical training and skill development. If producers can develop knowledge and skills in assessing animal health, recognizing disease symptoms, determining treatment and performing treatment skills, producers can ultimately reduce mortality rates increase productivity of their flocks and herds.

For questions or to register for this free workshop, please contact Susan Garey, Extension Agent Animal Science, University of Delaware (302)730-4000 truehart@udel.edu or Dan Severson, New Castle County Extension Agricultural Agent, (302)831-8860 or severson@udel.edu  If you have any special needs in accessing this program, please let us know two weeks in advance.

Cooperative Extension Education in Agriculture and Home Economics, University of Delaware, Delaware State University, and the United States Department of Agriculture cooperating. Distributed in furtherance of Acts of Congress of May 8 and June 30, 1914. It is the policy of the Delaware Cooperative Extension System that no person shall be subjected to discrimination on the grounds of race, color, sex, disability, age, or national origin.

This material is based upon work supported by USDA/NIFA under Award Number 2012-49200-20031

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Click here for the full brochure for the Small Ruminant Health Workshop

 

 

 

 

Small Ruminant Winter Webinar Series Begins in February

A five part webinar series will be held on consecutive Wednesday evenings in February and March 2015. All webinars will start at 7:00 p.m. EST and last for one hour.  Each webinar will be followed by a question and answer period. The instructors will be Jeff Semler and Susan Schoenian.

A webinar is a seminar or short course conducted over the world wide web. Interaction is via a chat box. All webinars will be conducted via Adobe Connect. Anyone (anywhere) with an Internet connection may participate. A high speed connection is recommended. The webinars are open to the first 100 people who log in.  While pre-registration is not required, interested people are asked to subscribe to the University of Maryland’s small ruminant webinar listserv. To subscribe, send an email message to listserv@listserv.umd.edu In the body of the message, type subscribe sheepgoatwebinars. The listserv is used to communicate with webinar participants and to notify subscribers of upcoming webinars. You can always unsubscribe to the webinar listserv by sending an email message to the same address; in the body of the message, type unsubscribe sheepgoatwebinars.

The webinars will be recorded, minimally edited, and made public for viewing. PowerPoint presentations will be available for viewing and downloading at SlideShare. Links to webinar recordings and PowerPoint presentations will be available at http://sheepandgoat.com/recordings.html.

Recordings will also be converted to YouTube videos. In fact, we are in the process of converting all previous webinar recordings into YouTube videos. Visit the Maryland Extension Small Ruminant YouTube Channel to listen to any previously recorded webinar. Previous webinar series have covered ewe and doe management, feeding and nutrition, breeding and genetics, health and diseases, ethnic marketing, foot health, internal parasites (worms), and the National Sheep Improvement Program (NSIP).

For more information contact Susan Schoenian at (301) 432-2767 x343 or sschoen@umd.edu or go to http://www.sheepandgoat.com/programs/2015webinars.html.

#      Date              Time                Topic

I      February 4      7 p.m. EST      Planning a pasture system

II     February 11    7 p.m.              Pasture plants, including alternative forages

III    February 18    7 p .m.             Pasture and grazing management

IV    February 25    7 p.m.              Pasture nutrition

V    March 4           7 p.m.              Pasture health problems

Delaware Ag Week Programs for Livestock Producers

Mark your calendars for the 10th Annual Delaware Agriculture Week, January 12-16, 2015.  This is an excellent educational opportunity for Delaware agriculture stakeholders to learn best practices and new technologies, meet vendors and network with other agricultural producers.  This year’s event will once again be located at the Delaware State Fairgrounds in Harrington.  Delaware Agriculture Week provides numerous sessions that cover a wide array of topics including small fruits, fresh market & processing vegetables, small flock & commercial poultry, grain marketing, grain crops, hay & pasture, beef cattle, irrigation, direct marketing, and much more.  Nutrient management, pesticide, and certified crop adviser continuing education credits will be offered.

Delaware Ag Week is sponsored by the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, Delaware State University Cooperative Extension and the Delaware Department of Agriculture.

Sessions of particular interest to livestock producers are January 12 and 13, 2015 and include the Beef Cattle Producers Session, the Delmarva Hay and Pasture Conference and the Small Ruminant Session.  The program schedule’s are as follows:

Delaware Ag Week Seminar for Beef Cattle Producers, Monday, January 12, 2015- 6:00-9:00 pm

Exhibit Hall Board Room

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.– Selecting and Caring for a Herd Bull- Dr. Dee Whittier, Bovine Specialist and Extension Veterinarian Cattle, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

Break for Light Dinner Sponsored by the Delaware Beef Advisory Board

7:20 p.m. -7:35 p.m. – Delaware Beef Advisory Board Updates

7:35 p.m. -8:35 p.m. Using Available Tools to Take Advantage of the Good Times in the Beef Industry- Dr. Dee Whittier, Bovine Specialist and Extension Veterinarian Cattle, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine

8:45 p.m. – Questions, Evaluations and Adjourn

Please RSVP to Susan Garey by January 9th truehart@udel.edu or (302)730-4000 if you plan on attending so we can make the necessary arrangements for food and materials.

DE/MD NM Credits: 0 CCA Credits:  PD: 2

Delmarva Hay & Pasture Conference, Tuesday, January 13, 2015 9:00 am-3:30 pm

Commodities Building

 9:00 a.m. – 9:15 a.m. “Welcome, Housekeeping Details and Evaluations” Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomy Specialist, University of Delaware

9:15 a.m. -10:15 a.m.Managing Forage Quality with Fluctuating Weather” Dr. Sid Bosworth, Extension Agronomist, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

10:15- a.m. – 11:00 a.m. “Improving Hay and Pasture Quality Through New Developments in AlfalfaDick Kaufman, Regional Manager, W-L Research, Columbia, PA

11:00-a.m- 11:30 am. “Weather Patterns that Influence Hay Making” Kevin Brinson, Associate State Climatologist and Director Delaware Environmental Observing System (DEOS), University of Delaware

DE Pesticide Certification Credits: 0 MD Pesticide Credits 1 DE NM Credits 1.25 MD NM Credits 1 CCA Credits: 2

 11:30 a.m.           LUNCH IN DOVER Building

1:00 p.m.-1:15 p.m.Greetings From the National Maryland-Delaware Forage Council” Dr. Les Vough, President, Maryland-Delaware Forage Council

1:15 p.m.-2:00 p.m. “Improving Farm Viability Through Advanced Forage Crop Selection and Management” Dr. Sid Bosworth, Extension Agronomist, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT

2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. “When and How to Fertilize Your Pastures to Maintain Stands and Increase Productivity” Dr. Les Vough, Forage Agronomist, Southern Maryland, Resource Conservation and Development, Inc.

2:45 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. “Nutrient Needs and Common Deficiencies of Forage Crops” Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomy Specialist, University of Delaware

DE/MD Pesticide Certification Credits: 0 DE NM Credits 2.25 MD NM Credits: 2 CCA Credits: NM: 1.5 CM: 0.5

Delaware Ag Week Seminar for Small Ruminant Producers, Tuesday, January 13, 2015- 6:00-9:00 pm

Exhibit Hall Board Room

6:00 p.m. – 6:50 p.m. An Annual Management Calendar for Sheep and Goats- Susan Garey, Extension Agent Animal Science and Dan Severson, New Castle County Extension Agricultural Agent, University of Delaware

Break for Light Dinner

7:05 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Using Anthelmintics Effectively in Small Ruminants- Dan Severson, New Castle County Extension Agricultural Agent, University of Delaware

7:30 p.m. -8:45 p.m. – Value Added Sheep and Goat Producer Panel– hear from producers who have had success with value added sheep and goats products such as cheese, skin care products and meat.

Jackie Jackson, Owner, Fresh ‘N Fancy Goats Milk Soap and Lotion

Dr. Thomas Schaer, Owner, Meadowset Farm and Apiary

Colleen and Michael Histon, Owners, Shepherds Manor Creamery

8:45 p.m. – Questions, Evaluations and Adjourn

Please RSVP to Susan Garey by January 9th truehart@udel.edu or (302)730-4000 if you plan on attending so we can make the necessary arrangements for food and materials.

Free Small Flock Poultry Winter Webinar Series

EXtension logoHealth Problems With the Digestive System of Poultry: Tuesday, January 6, 2:00 pm EST

As the first in a four part webinar series on poultry health, Dr. Frame will start this webinar with an introduction to chicken health programs. The remainder of the webinar with discuss problems with the digestive system. The digestive system of poultry is exposed to a variety of pathogens on a daily basis. Dr. Frame will be discussing how some of these digestive-related diseases are manifested in poultry

Salmonella and Backyard Poultry Flocks: Tuesday, January 13, 3:00 pm EST

The summer of 2014 saw many cases of Salmonellosis traced back to backyard poultry flocks – see CDC website: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-05-14/index.html. Dr. Colin Basler of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention will be speaking about preventing salmonellosis while maintaining a backyard poultry flock.

Quality of Eggs from Different Production Systems: Wednesday, January 14, 11:00 am EST

When it comes to buying eggs for your family there are many different types to chose from – conventional, brown, white, green, free-range, cage-free, omega-3 enriched, pasture-raised. What are the differences between these eggs? Why do some cost more than others? Which type of eggs would you like to produce for sale. Dr. Jacquie Jacob from the University of Kentucky will be discussing this nutritious topic. Dr. Jacob is a poultry extension project manager with a heavy focus on small and backyard poultry flocks.

Health Problems with the Respiratory System of Poultry: Tuesday, February 3, 2:00 pm EST

The avian respiratory system of birds is very different from that of mammals with a rigid lung, air sacs and extends into the bones (Pneumatic bones). This is the second in a poultry-related health series looking at health problems associated with the poultry respiratory system.

Participation is free and brought to you by eXtension.org but requires a high speed internet connection.  To participate, simply click on the link and enter the virtual meeting room as a guest.  https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/poultry  You will be asked to type in your name.  You may want to attempt to join 5-10 minutes in advance of the start time in case you need to download an abode connect add in or update your software.  These webinars are also recorded and made available through the http://www.extension.org/poultry website when you click on the small flock resource area.

Free Small Flock Poultry Webinar- December 10

EXtension logoFeeds and Feeding of Pullets and Layers: Wednesday December 10, 11 am EST

Feed represents over 70% of the production costs in an egg production operation. Dr. Paul Patterson from Penn State University will be discussing the feeding of replacement pullets and laying hens. Dr. Patterson is a nutritionist. The central theme of his extension and research programs is environmental poultry management. Efforts focus on discovering and promoting efficient poultry production systems that place minimum burden on the environment.

Participation is free and brought to you by eXtension.org but requires a high speed internet connection.  To participate, simply click on the link and enter the virtual meeting room as a guest.  https://connect.extension.iastate.edu/poultry  You will be asked to type in your name.  You may want to attempt to join 5-10 minutes in advance of the start time in case you need to download an abode connect add in or update your software.  These webinars are also recorded and made available through the http://www.extension.org/poultry website when you click on the small flock resource area.

Planting a New Pasture of Hayfield? Part 6: Managing Pasture and Hay Fields for Long-term Health

Part 6: How Do I Manage My Stand So It Stays Healthy and Productive?

In Part IV, I discussed the advantages of planting into moist soil during the ideal planting window for the selected forage species. I then discussed the planting options such as conventional seedbed preparation and no-till seeding. Along with these options, I discussed the need for calibration of the planter or drill to ensure the use of the proper number of pure live seed (PLS) per acre. Let us assume that the new planting has emerged from the soil so it is time to think about how to properly manage the new seeding to ensure a successful establishment and long-term productivity.

Usually even before the seed germinates, grazers want to know when they can return animal to the pasture to graze it. Hay producers have an easier time deciding when to begin using a new field especially for fall planted fields since cool-season grasses will signal their successful establishment by flowering in late spring or early summer the year following seeding.

For new pastures, the key to long-term health of the pasture is to wait about 12 to 18 months before grazing a new field. This means that the new pasture will need to be hayed at least once and possibly several times in the year following fall seeding. From a practical viewpoint, few grazers will wait 12+ months since it means not grazing the field until the second spring following fall seeding. At a minimum, a new fall-seeded pasture should be hayed in late spring or early summer the year following seeding and then allowed to regrow to a height of 8 to 12 inches before grazing is begun. It is possible to plant in the fall and begin grazing first thing the following spring but you will be sacrificing stand health and longevity with this practice.

Nutrient management plans call for a new soil test once every three years but a yearly sample will help the grazer manage the pasture better. This is very important if nitrogen (N) fertilizer inputs are used to stimulate the productivity of a pasture. Even without N fertilizer applications, the natural deposition of urine and feces in a pasture creates small areas where the process of nitrification produces acidity that can significantly lower soil pH in the small area. Higher stocking rates and intensive pasture rotations will result in more uniform spreading of the urine and feces (especially for ruminant animals); and therefore, a greater proportion of the pasture will be impacted by lower pH (more acid soil conditions). Since it can take a year for lime to move an inch down through the soil, yearly soil testing will allow the grazer to begin neutralizing soil acidity as it is produced by the soil N-cycle.

Another aspect of soil fertility to consider is the use of fall applied N to improve the rooting of pasture plants as well as help stimulate growth the following spring for early grazing. Although the practice has long been used in the turfgrass industry, those of us in forage management are just realizing the potential benefits to pastures of fall N applications. Small amounts of fall N (about 30 lbs N/acre) should be applied in mid-October and mid-November since at these times topgrowth has ceased but the deep soil layers are still relatively warm. The N stimulates further root growth creating pasture plants with deeper and larger root systems as they enter the winter period. Some of the N is stored in the plant and available to stimulate topgrowth the following spring as the hours of daylight increase and air temperatures warm. This type of fertilization makes for a stronger plant going into the summer months (greater rooting depth and therefore greater available soil water to draw on) and can improve the competitiveness of the pasture grasses against weeds.

Probably the number one key to maintaining the health and competitiveness of a pasture is to use rotational grazing where plants are allowed to fully recover from the prior grazing period (grow to a height of 8 to 12 inches or more) and the grazing interval is kept short enough that the same plants are not grazed over and over again during a rotation cycle. Generally, this means rotating livestock out of a paddock or grazing cell within three days of moving the animals into the paddock. This time can be stretched to as much as a week but the more rapidly the animals are moved among paddocks in the rotational grazing scheme the healthier the pasture. Another aspect to using rotational grazing is to not put animals on pasture when soil conditions are too wet when the presence of animals can lead to compaction issues. Not grazing when plants are under drought stress is also a key consideration. Use the extra forage produced during the spring and fall to make hay that can support animals on a heavy use pad during periods of wet weather, drought, or other conditions leading to poor pasture growth.

Another method used to maintain healthy and vigorous pastures is to periodically overseed pastures in the fall with grasses and/or legumes. Some producers do this every year while others do it every couple of years. In most cases, the new seedlings must compete against the established plants in the pasture so that there is often limited ‘take’ from the germinating seed. However in the weaker areas of the pasture stand, there will be more light, water, nutrients, and space for the seedlings so establishment will be better in these areas. The weak areas would be where weeds could become established but by overseeding the pastures weed encroachment is limited or prevented.

The species to use for overseeding should be those species that can grow rapidly especially in the cool conditions of late summer and early fall. This would include such species as the ryegrasses, festulolium, ladino white clover, and red clover. Although just broadcasting the seed over the surface and then using a chain harrow or other implement to slightly cover the seed has been used, the best seeding method is to use a no-till drill and drill the seed into the soil. Seeding rates typically used are about one-quarter that of a normal new pasture seeding rate since most of the seed will be planted where established plant competition will not allow the new seedlings to establish successfully.

Finally, the producer can manage the balance of legumes and grasses in the pasture by his/her fertilization practices. Potassium and phosphorus applications along with 1 to 2 lbs of boron per acre per year and maintaining a near neutral soil pH (6.5-7.0) will encourage legume growth. If the percentage of legume is too high and the risk of bloat is too great, N application to encourage grass growth can be used to lower the percentage of legume in a pasture. Grasses with their fibrous root system are much more competitive for applied N than are the tap-rooted legumes. The available N will stimulate the grass and help it shade the legumes as well as change the proportion of legume to grass biomass.

This article was submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist, University of Delaware.  Dr. Taylor can be reached at rtaylor@udel.edu

Is It Time to Plant a New Pasture or Hay Field? Part 5: Planting the Crop

Part 5:  When Do I Plant and How Much Seed Do I Use?

In the earlier posts in this series, I discussed some of the decisions and planning that need to be taken ahead of planting hay and pasture fields.  For this article, we have entered the ideal planting time for forage grasses and legumes.  However although we are in the ideal window for planting, there will be areas that have received enough rainfall to recharge the topsoil with moisture as well as areas that have not received enough rainfall for a successful seeding.  For those areas that remain dry until mid- to late-October, the best decision is likely to postpone planting until next year.

Some species have specific requirements that limit how late in the fall you can plant.  For example, reed canarygrass requires at least six weeks between planting and the average date of the first frost; otherwise, the crop could be winterkilled or severely weakened over the winter leaving the crop unable to compete with the usual spring flush of weeds.  Other species, such as Kentucky bluegrass, just take a very long time (21 to 28 days) to germinate and should not be planted late in the fall.  Before deciding to plant a species or mixture, be sure to study the species in question to avoid missing the ideal planting window.

In areas that have received enough rainfall to replace soil moisture reserves, planting can begin.  Early planting can lead to well established forage seedlings that are able to survive winter temperature extremes and get off to an early vigorous start next spring.  Early planted stands are better at competing against weeds next spring and often produce higher yields as well.  Work by Dr. Marvin Hall at the Pennsylvania State University showed significant yield decreases for all forage species tested as the date of fall planting was delayed with higher losses occurring the further north the site was located.

If planting into a prepared or tilled seedbed, be sure that all weeds have been killed during soil preparation and that a good smooth (clod-free), firm (your shoe should not sink deeper than the sole level) seedbed is prepared for planting.  Seed is then broadcast on the seedbed and firmed or pressed into the soil with any number of devices.  Seed of small seeded forages should not be buried more than 1/8 to ¼ inch deep.  Covering the seed is ideal since seed in contact with moist soil readily absorbs water but is not quickly dried again by the heat from the sun.  Seed can also be planted using a Brillion seeder followed by a cultipacker or roller or seed can be placed in the soil using a drill with packing wheels that firm soil over the seed.

Since drills (no-till and conventional drills) place the seed in rows from 4 to 8 inches apart, depending on the drill, I generally recommend that you drill at half the recommended seeding rate and run the drill twice over the field at about a 45 degree angle.  This will help new seedlings to cover the soil surface more quickly and reduce the chances for weed seed to germinate and compete with the new forage crop.

Another method of seeding is to use a no-till drill following an herbicide burn-down program.  This is especially useful when perennial weeds with underground rhizome systems are present.  Examples of these weeds are hemp dogbane, Canada thistle, and horsenettle.  Often several herbicide applications will be needed to get these weeds under control so plan a weed control program well ahead of seeding.  One of the best times to apply a translocated herbicide is in fall when weeds are sending carbohydrates (sugars) down to underground storage organs (rhizomes).  If a systemic herbicide that can move inside the plant is used, it will be taken with the sugars down to the rhizomes and help kill the meristem buds that are next year’s growing sites for the weed.  Read the herbicide label for the exact interval between treatment and seeding.  Generally for Roundup® or glyphosate you should wait several weeks after herbicide application before planting.  Since the herbicides used for control of these perennial broadleaf weeds will kill legumes that often are included as a component of pasture mixtures, it is best to work on controlling these weeds a year or two before spending the money to establish a new seeding or to renovate an existing stand.

In all cases I’ve talked about, be certain to calibrate your seeding equipment and make sure the drills and other equipment are clean and functional before entering the field.  These days forage seed is quite expensive so make the most of the money you spend by accurately calibrating your equipment.  This involves the following procedure:  weigh out some seed to add to the planting equipment, determine the width of area covered with seed by the equipment (in feet), run it for a certain number of feet (the length—say 50 or 100 feet); multiplying the two numbers together to get the number of square feet covered by the seed; divide that number by 43,560 (number of square feet in one acre); and finally weigh the amount of seed remaining in the equipment.  Subtract the final weight from initial weight and divide that number by the number of acres you covered (usually this will be a number such as 0.15 or even 0.015 or other very small number).  If your seed weights were in pounds of seed then the number you calculate at the end will be in pounds per acre or if you had access to an egg scale or something that measures in grams then divide the number of grams of seed used by 454 (grams per pound) to obtain pounds of seed and then divide that number by the number of acres planted in the calibration test.  If all else fails, email me or give me a call and I’ll help you do the calculations.

In summary, I’ll list some of the key points to keep in mind.

  • Make adjustments to soil fertility well in advance of seeding or renovating.
  • Have all perennial weeds under control before establishing a new seeding or conducting a major renovation in a field.
  • Monitor soil moisture levels to be sure an adequate reserve of soil water is available to establish the crop.
  • Understand the requirements for the forage specie or species chosen especially as it relates to fall planting date.
  • Start with a weed-free seedbed whether for conventional tillage or no-till.
  • Unless the site is known to be very low in available soil nitrogen (N), allow the new seedlings to develop 2 to 3 leaves before applying N in the fall.
  • Don’t delay planting; try to hit the optimum planting window.
  • Ideally, cover the seed with just a little soil but at the very least press the seed into the soil to ensure good soil to seed contact.
  • Most seeding rates really refer to the numbers of pure live seed (viable potential seedlings) that should be planted per acre so do the proper calculations to plant the correct amount especially when using coated seed.
  • If using preinoculated, lime-coated legume seed as a component of the pasture/hay mix, you should check to be certain the seed has been stored away from heat and high humidity and is not more than a year old, otherwise fresh legume inoculant should be applied to the seed just prior to planting.
  • Many small seeded species now come with a range of coatings (lime, moisture control compounds, etc.) that can halve the weight of pure live seed in the container so you should be sure to account for this when calculating the correct seeding rate.

In the last installment of this series, I’ll discuss how to manage new pasture and hay fields for long-term healthy stands.

This article was submitted by Dr. Richard Taylor, Extension Agronomist, University of Delaware.  Dr. Taylor can be reached at rtaylor@udel.edu