Seldom do we talk about forage shortages and above normal precipitation in the same breath. Regardless, that’s where we find ourselves now throughout Ohio and much of the Midwest. Over the past year abundant rainfall has allowed us to grow lots of forage. Unfortunately, the weather has seldom allowed us to harvest it as high quality feed.
Since the fall of 2018 demand for quality forages and bedding has been on the increase. It began with a wet fall that forced us from pasture fields early. Followed by constantly muddy conditions, cattle were requiring more feed and energy than normal. At the same time, even though temperatures were moderate during much of the fall of 2018, cows with a constantly wet hair coat were, yet again, expending more energy than normal to remain in their comfort zone. Then, as a cold late January 2019 evolved into February, in many cases mud had matted down the winter coats of cattle reducing their hair’s insulating properties, thus causing them to require even more energy in the cold weather.
Reduced supplies of quality forages coupled with increased demand over the past year have led us to a perfect storm that’s resulted in the lowest inventory of hay in Ohio since the 2012 drought, and the 4th lowest in 70 years. The spring of 2019 weather didn’t provide the opportunity to improve that situation. Today, cattlemen throughout the Midwest border on having a forage and feed crisis.
Visit the following link to the OSU Extension BEEF Team webpage to find a compilation of the forage, feed and cattle management strategy articles and videos we’ve published that will aid you in addressing the situation. Check back often . . . the list you see below will continue to grow as the year progresses. u.osu.edu/beefteam/addressing-feed-forage-shortages
The OSU Extension BEEF Team