Wisconsin farmers need to be aware when buying out-of-state corn.  Wisconsin’s DATCP cautions farmers buying whole-kernel corn from any of the six states with FDA aflatoxin blending waivers need to take precautions to avoid feeding livestock corn with dangerous levels of aflatoxin. Aflatoxin is a byproduct of some molds that can grow on corn. Aflatoxin-producing molds are associated with very hot, very dry growing seasons, and are usually found in the more humid southern and central regions of the nation. It is less of a risk in Wisconsin. However, the drought has reduced Wisconsin’s corn crop as it has in other states, and farmers here who mix their own feed rations may be looking across state lines for supplies.The full news release is here

Farmers can harvest hay from approximately 11,500 acres of selected state-owned lands. Farmers may also graze cattle on state-owned land, although they will be responsible for setting up temporary electric fencing and watering tanks to facilitate the grazing. The special harvest ends August 10 for prairie grasses and August 30 for cool season grasses. DNR is limiting haying and grazing to this time period to allow for adequate regrowth of the grass to provide habitat for wildlife and hunting cover to sportsmen and women in the fall. Only one cutting of hay will be allowed during the harvest window. Read the full article here.

2012 Drought Mitigation Options: Haying or Grazing CRP Land. Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) enrolled acres may be a potential source of supplemental hay or acres for grazing livestock which producers might consider utilizing to alleviate short forage supplies due to drought.  Wisconsin FSA has released a factsheet that summarizes 2012 FSA guidelines for both managed and emergency haying and grazing of CRP lands to assist producers with decisions related to use of CRP forages. UW-Extension grazing specialist Rhonda Gildersleeve explains more in this article.

Keep rams cool now for successful late summer and fall breeding. Temperatures higher than 90 degrees, especially combined with higher humidity, over a two week period can result in sterility of rams. Efforts should be taken now to keep rams as cool and comfortable as possible. Rams on pasture should be provided shade under trees or a structure that is high enough for good ventilation that does not trap heat. Housed rams should be in barns with good ventilation. UW-Extension sheep specialist Dave Thomas provides more information here.

Weather-related sales of livestock. Taxpayers who sell livestock due to a feed shortage caused by weather have two options for postponing the income that is realized from the sale. UW-Extension farm tax specialist Phil Harris provides more information in this bulletin.

Effects of Heat Stress on Reproduction in Lactating Dairy Cows. Heat stress or hyperthermia occurs in dairy cows when the metabolic heat produced by the cow in combination with heat from the environment exceeds the cow’s ability to loose heat to the environment. While all mammals can experience heat stress, the temperature threshold at which a lactating dairy cow experiences heat stress is much lower due to the internal heat production that is a byproduct of metabolism associated with milk production. Evaporative cooling is the primary method by which cows can lose heat to the environment. Because cows do not sweat excessively, heat abatement strategies using sprinklers and fans are common on many dairies.

Here is a PowerPoint presentation by Paul Fricke, UW-Extension Specialist in Dairy Cattle Reproduction.

FeedVal is web-based program created by Victor Cabrera, Lou Armentano and Randy Shaver, UW-Extension/Madison dairy scientists. This updated version of FeedVal allows the user to evaluate various feedstuffs based on summative ingredient value.

Buying and Selling Hay and Straw. Information related to marketing hay and obtaining current hay prices can be found here.

Using Soybean as Forage. Soybean is presently grown almost exclusively as a protein and oil-seed crop in the USA, but it was previously a popular summer annual forage legume. Soybean may still be considered a viable alternative forage when alfalfa or clover are in short supply due to winter-killing or drought conditions. Recent research at Arlington, WI has demonstrated that it is possible to produce greater than 4 ton/acre of soybean forage containing 20% CP, 30% ADF, and 40% NDF. This makes soybean a very attractive alternative when high quality forage is in short supply.

Paying for Unexpected Feed Expenses.There are times when crops fail. Drought, winterkill, and flooding are beyond our control. When these conditions combine with low commodity prices, they present a special challenge to the farm checkbook. This article includes some thoughts from agricultural lenders about securing credit to bridge unexpected expenses.

Estimating the Weight of Forage in a Forage Wagon. Most dairy farmers do not have a drive-over scale available on their farms. Frequently it would be useful to know the weight of forage harvested from a field. Measuring alfalfa or corn silage yield is necessary to adjust management practices, to maintain crop inventories, and for crop reporting purposes. Sometimes growers sell hay from a field and require an estimate of the quantity removed or sold.

Making a Feed Inventory. Doing a feed inventory establishes your current stock of various feed ingredients on hand. The process involves determining the volume of each feed stored and then multiplying by the stored density to yield a weight of feed in storage. Brian Holmes, UW-Extension agricultural engineering specialist explains how to do a feed inventory in this article. Information about tools for performing a feed inventory can be found here. Additional forage information can be found here.

Fall Forage Rye for Dairy Heifers and Dry Cows. Many dairy and heifer rearing operations are looking for increased feed production on a limited acreage for their operation. Planting fall grain rye and harvesting the crop as forage the following spring can increase forage yield per acre and reduce forage production costs. Double cropping fall grain rye following soybean or early corn silage harvest is a viable agronomic practice in most regions in Wisconsin. Research and demonstration data does show however, that earlier planted rye will produce more forage tonnage per acre the following spring. If the fall harvest of soybean or corn silage is delayed and planting is delayed, reduction in spring forage yields can be expected. Spring harvested ryelage can be fed to heifers and dry cows, and early harvested ryelage often contains 15% protein and is suitable for lactating dairy cows.

Fall-Grown Oat Forages: Unique Quality Characteristics. For the dairy industry, the options for producing a late-summer emergency forage crop are limited, mostly because the growing season is relatively short. Recent research has shown that oats, seeded in late-summer, can provide an excellent source of emergency forage before winter. Furthermore, fall-grown oats offer some very unique quality characteristics that dairy producers can use to their advantage, either in specific response to a forage deficit, or as a routine part of their forage management program. This Focus on Forage report will outline these unique quality characteristics, and provide some basis for their unique nature.

Fall-Grown Oat Forages: Cultivars, Planting Dates, and Expected Yields. For the dairy industry, the options for producing a late-summer emergency forage crop are limited, mostly because the growing season is relatively short. Traditionally, fall-grown cereal grains can fill this niche; however, most studies evaluating their use address specific management issues related to the backgrounding of stocker cattle, especially within the Southern High Plains. Generally, these efforts have emphasized the use of winter wheat as a fall forage, which then may be utilized as either a forage or grain crop the following spring. Unlike the Southern High Plains, dairy producers in Wisconsin are not bound by this production paradigm, and they largely desire to maximize yield, while maintaining forage quality suitable for either lactating dairy cows or dairy replacement heifers.

Managing pastures during drought stress. As the heat and dry conditions continue in southern Wisconsin, producers with animals on pasture are considering their options as pasture quality and forage production declines.  The combination of high temperatures and moisture stress have placed our perennial pasture grasses and legumes into dormancy mode and little if any regrowth is occurring as plants try to conserve stored carbohydrates in root systems until moisture conditions improve. Here is the full article.

Feeding strategies when forage supplies are short. A drought in south-central Wisconsin has generated many questions about strategies for coping with short forage, especially corn silage, supplies for dairy cattle. This article by Randy Shaver, Professor and Extension Dairy Nutritionist, University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension provides information about coping with short forage supplies for cattle.

Livestock Comfort at the Fair. The heat and drought have hit during fair season, when many people are bringing livestock to fairgrounds around the state. This tip sheet from Cooperative Extension Youth Livestock Specialist Bernie O’Rourke covers ways to keep animals comfortable and healthy while they’re at the fair.

Nitrate poisoning in cattle, sheep and goats. Nitrate poisoning is a condition which may affect ruminants consuming certain forages or water that contain an excessive amount of nitrate. More information can be found here.

Prussic acid poisoning. Individual animals vary in susceptibility to prussic acid poisoning.  Cattle are more susceptible than sheep.  Animals receiving grain with the sorghum forage are less likely to be affected. More information can be found here.

Farmer to Farmer website links buyers and sellers. The Farmer to Farmer Corn and Forage List is free of charge for both buyers and sellers. Users can search for, or list for sale, high moisture corn, corn grain, haylage, hay or straw. Buyers can search for farmers in just one Wisconsin county or in any number of counties at once. The list can be found at

Should beef producers consider early weaning? Producers this summer in southern Wisconsin may want to consider early weaning as a strategy for dealing with drought conditions.  Beef calves can be successfully weaned starting at 60 days of age and there are several advantages to this strategy in a drought situation. Here is the full article.

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