Jose Dubeux, Erick Santos, David Jaramillo, Liza Garcia, Luana Dantas, UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, Marianna
Rhizoma perennial peanut (Arachis glabrata Benth.) is an important hay crop in Florida. Rhizoma peanut hay is locally produced within Florida, and it has important stakes in the horse and dairy industries. This warm-season perennial legume is also a valuable forage option for grazing systems (Dubeux et al., 2018). In addition to adding N via biological N2-fixation, rhizoma peanut has greater nutritive value than most warm-season perennial grasses. As a result, greater livestock performance is achieved when mixing this legume in grazing systems. Many producers using rhizoma peanut want to overseed their field with cool-season forages when the rhizoma peanut is dormant. Common questions that precede the decision to overseed rhizoma peanut fields are: 1) Will it hurt my rhizoma peanut regrowth in the following season? 2) Does it matter which cool-season forage I plant? How about annual ryegrass and clovers? Would they damage the rhizoma peanut because of their late growth in the season?
In order to address these questions, we set up a trial at the UF IFAS NFREC in Marianna, FL. We assessed different overseeding treatments on rhizoma peanut fields, including the control (no overseeding), Prine ryegrass, FL 401 rye, FL 401 rye/Prine ryegrass mix, Prine ryegrass/Crimson/Red/Ball clover mix, FL 401 rye/Crimson/Red/Ball clover mix, FL 401 rye/Prine ryegrass/Crimson/Red/Ball clover mix, and Crimson/Red/Ball clover mix. Seeding rates used are described in Table 1. These different overseeding treatments were applied on a dormant Florigraze sod using a no-till drill in 17 Nov 2015, after mowing the stand down to a 2-inches stubble height. We applied 150 lb/acre of 20-5-20 and 100 lb/acre of Kmag (22% K2O, 22% S, and 10.8% Mg) in all treatments. Plots were harvested three times: 11 Feb, 17 March, and 21 Apr 2016. After the third harvest, plots were fertilized with 300 lb/acre of Kmag. On 22 July 2016, we harvested the rhizoma peanut to assess whether or not the overseeding treatment affected the regrowth.
Overseeding treatments varied their biomass accumulation along the three harvests (Figure 1). Earlier forage types, such as FL 401 rye, produced more in the first harvest, as expected. Treatments with clovers and annual ryegrass produced more biomass later in the season, at the third harvest. The option of forage type or mixtures will depend on the objective of each operation. For hay producers, earlier forage production during the cool-season may free up the land earlier, allowing regrowth of rhizoma peanut without other forages being present. For grazing operations, mixtures would likely be a better option because they would help bridge the gap during the spring-summer transition.
Figure 1. Cool-season herbage accumulation of different overseeding treatments on Florigraze rhizoma peanut; UF IFAS NFREC Marianna; 2016.
In the summer harvest (July 2016), the rhizoma peanut from all treatments, including the control that was not overseeded, produced similar amounts of biomass across treatments (Figure 2). This result demonstrates the viability of overseeding rhizoma peanut fields with cool-season forages. The major aspect to highlight is the importance of timely harvest the cool-season forages during the springtime, allowing the rhizoma peanut to regrow.
Figure 2. Summer herbage accumulation of Florigraze rhizoma peanut after overseed during the cool-season with different forage options. UF IFAS NFREC Marianna; 2016.
We have been overseeding cool-season forages on strip-planted rhizoma peanut in a grazing trial (Figure 3A). We have been doing this for the last three years, and the rhizoma peanut is vigorous and growing (Figure 3C). The critical phase is the springtime, when rhizoma peanut (and bahiagrass) is starting to regrow (Figure 3B). During this transition, it is important to pay closer attention to the grazing management, in order to reduce the canopy density and open spaces to allow the perennial forages (rhizoma peanut and bahiagrass) to regrow.
Figure 3. Overseeding of cool-season forages on strip-planted rhizoma peanut in Marianna, FL. A. Cool-season mixture of FL401 rye-RAM oat-Dixie Crimson-Southern Belle red clover-Ball clover; B. transition period during the Spring; C. strip-planted rhizoma peanut growing during the summer. Photo Credit: Jose Dubeux, UF/IFAS
Rhizoma peanut can be overseeded during the cool-season with different forage options without reducing the warm-season regrowth. However, if the cool-season forages form a dense stand during the spring, it is important to graze it off or remove the excess forage with hay equipment. Harvest management during the spring is critical to allow regrowth of the rhizoma peanut.
Dubeux, J., L.E. Sollenberger, J. Vendramini, M. Wallau, A. Blount, L. Garcia-Jimenez, E. Santos, and D. Jaramillo. 2018. Strip-planting rhizoma peanut into grazing systems. EDIS SS-AGR-421. Printer friendly pdf version: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/AG/AG42100.pdf
Just like soil sampling before purchasing fertilizer, hay should be sampled and sent to a lab for evaluation before purchasing supplemental feeds. As Dr. Jennifer Tucker from UGA often says, “Don’t guess, forage test!” Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
The summer of 2018 has been very challenging for hay production. The combination of frequent rainfall, and heavy downpours have prevented timely harvest, and also diminished the quality of the hay produced. The days are getting shorter, grass growth has slowed, so it is time to start planning for cool-season supplementation. Because of the rainy summer, many producers will have to feed at least some lower quality hay this year. Since hay serves as the base for the winter feeding program on most operations, it will be even more critical this year to balance low quality hay with adequate supplemental feeds. This conundrum has many producers asking, “What is the best way to do that?”
In the modern area of precision agriculture, many crop farms have implemented the technique of precision fertilization. Using grid soil sampling, GPS maps can be generated with variable rate fertilization zones. Once the maps are paired with high-tech application equipment that responds to the data, crop farmers can fertilize more efficiently than ever before. While most livestock producers are familiar with high-tech genetic and breeding technologies, many farms are not utilizing the available technology for what I call “Precision Feeding.” Whether you produce your own hay, or buy it from a local farm or supply dealer, you should have your hay tested for nutritional quality. As Dr. Jennifer Tucker, UGA Beef Specialist, often says, “Don’t guess. Forage test!” Once you know how good or bad your hay is, you can precisely determine the type and amount of supplement needed to balance the nutritional needs of the animals you are feeding.
So where do you begin this process of fine-tuning your winter nutrition program? The first step is to sample each cutting or purchased lot of hay to determine the nutritional quality. Contact your local county agent to get some help with this. A number of the agents in the Florida Panhandle have forage probes at their office, or can get one to use from a nearby county. If you want to purchase your own equipment, there are a number of different companies that sell forage sampling probes. The one I use, was ordered from Nasco and fits on the end of a 1/2″ cordless drill. The combined cost of the forage probe ($130) and a heavy duty 1/2″ cordless drill is around $350.
To send in a forage sample to a lab for analysis you need a 1/2″ cordless drill, forage probe, and a submission form from the lab of choice. Credit: Doug Mayo, UF/IFAS
To submit a hay sample to a lab for testing, you will need to fill a 1-quart Ziploc bag with ground hay from probing 7-10 random hay bales from each cutting or purchased lots. Samples of hay from the exterior of a bale will not provide an adequate representation of the hay you will be feeding. You also don’t want to sample only a single bale. Just as with soil testing, you want to try to get a representative sample from each cutting by taking core samples from bales produced from different parts of the field. If you purchased the hay to be tested, just randomly sample from as many different bales as possible from each load.
There are a number of both commercial and university forage laboratories that can be used to provide a summary of the nutritional quality of your hay. The main things you need to know are the moisture content or dry matter (%DM), crude protein (CP), and the energy level reported as total digestible nutrients (TDN). The University of Florida has a forage testing lab at the Range Cattle Research and Education Center in Central Florida, that provides a basic test for $7/sample: UF Forage Test Submission Form. You can also send in hay samples through the Southeast Hay Contest that are analyzed by the University of Georgia’s Forage Lab: SE Hay Contest Entry Form. For $22 you get the forage analysis, a nitrate level test, and may win recognition at the Sun Belt Ag Expo as one of the top forage producers in the region. The entry deadline is the third week in September each year. If you want to use a commercial service, you can also submit samples to Waters Ag Lab in Camilla, GA: Waters Feed Test Submission Form. No matter which lab you select, the goal is find out what level of protein and energy is provided by the hay, so you can calculate the level of supplemental feed needed to complement it.
Forage Analysis Results
Most all forage labs provide sample analysis results in two formats: as-sampled and dry-matter. The as-sampled column would be useful for actual ration formulation of a total mixed ration. In general though, you should focus on the dry-matter columns for comparisons between forages, and for basic supplementation calculations. Moisture levels of forages are rarely identical, so removing the moisture gives a more accurate comparison. For basic supplementation program development, you would use the highlighted dry-matter protein and energy values. If you want to know more about the other information provided in a forage test, Understanding Your Forage Test Report is an article that was published a while back that more completely explains what each of the reported values represent in a standard forage test lab report.
The forage analysis report above is fairly typical quality for average quality Bahia or low quality Bermudagrass hay that was more mature because of frequent summer rains. If you were going to feed this hay to lactating cows, or growing animals you would expect those animals to be deficient in both protein and energy. These numbers mean very little, however, without also knowing the nutrient requirements of the animals you are feeding.
Decision Aids for Supplement Calculations
There are a number of commercial software options for livestock ration balancing, as well as private nutrition consultants that provide very precise calculations for complete ration balancing. For feedlots and dairy operations, having very precise mixing recipes is essential. For most cow-calf operations, however, determining the right amounts of supplements to provide is not that complicated. Since you typically feed hay free-choice, all you really need to know is whether the hay is adequate or deficient in protein and energy. Once you know that, a simple spreadsheet can be used to provide a good estimate of the type and amount of supplement required to maintain body weight. Dr. Nicolas DiLorenzo, UF/IFAS Beef Specialist recently developed a very simple spread sheet called the UF HAY BALANCER that can be used to help cattle producers make decisions on supplement choices for mature cows on a free-choice hay diet. The University of Georgia also has a decision aid spreadsheet called the UGA BASIC BALANCER that is a little more complex, but it can be used to compare supplements for brood cows, bulls, heifers, and stockers, as well as providing some feedstuff cost comparisons. Both of these are Microsoft Excel spreadsheets that come with information pre-loaded for use. Commodity prices do fluctuate, so you may need to update the prices in the feed list provided.
Putting it All Together
In closing, I wanted to share an example of the end results of this process to demonstrate how the UF Hay Balancer can be used to help cattle producers become more precise with feeding supplements to compliment the hay they produce or purchase. For this example lets assume that you must purchase hay to feed 25 cows for 30 days that will be in their 2nd month, or peak lactation. This would be the time of most concern, because if you don’t supply adequate nutrition for these cows they will lose weight, reduce milk production, delay cycling and calve later for the following season. The following is a comparison of two types of hay at different prices, and a comparison of different supplement options. You can purchase 850 pound Bahia hay for $43 per bale or 1,000 pound Bermudagrass bales for $67 per bale (based on Alabama Weekly Hay Report). Which would be the best to purchase?
As you can see from this summary, this was not a simple scenario to answer. The end result of this exercise was that even though the bahiagrass hay was lower in quality, the cheaper price compensated for the lack of quality. The Bahia hay required a supplement that offered both protein and energy such as whole cottonseed, that can be purchased from local cotton gins, to balance the diet for these cows. The Bermudagrass hay provided adequate protein, so an energy supplement such as corn or molasses was all that required for a balanced diet. However, using 4 pounds/head/day of whole cottonseed, a rancher could feed his or her herd for 30 days cheaper with Bahia hay than with Bermudagrass hay, even though the supplement costs were $45 lower. If you had worked through this scenario with hay you have grown yourself, with similar production costs, the Bermudagrass hay would have been the better option.
If you would like assistance with forage testing, or balancing cattle herd supplementation, contact your local county extension agent. They can help you develop a precision feeding program for your herd.
Every livestock producer has daydreamed about automatic gates to make travel around ranches faster and easier. But, it is too expensive to provide power and hydraulic cylinders for each pasture gate. This week’s featured video was produced by the Wrangler Company in New Zealand to introduce their Ride Over Gate. The ride over gate is a small, spring loaded gate that allows four wheelers, utility vehicles, and center pivot irrigation wheels to pass through fences to access pastures without ever having to stop to open and close the gate, with no electricity needed. With their gate system, checking livestock on a utility vehicle can be much more convenient.
If you enjoyed this video, you might want to check out the featured videos from previous weeks: Friday Features
If you come across an interesting or humorous video, or a new product innovation related to agriculture, please send in a link, so we can share it with our readers. Send video links to: Doug Mayo
Historical photo of ranchers spraying cattle for ticks in Florida. Photos from the Smathers Archives.
The bacteria that cause Lyme disease is transmitted by the black-legged tick, Ixodes scapularis. Credit: James M. Newman, UF/IFAS FMEL
Most people can probably tell you that ticks carry Lyme disease. This bacterial disease can cause long-term health problems for humans if left untreated, but it is thankfully relatively rare to find in Florida (132 confirmed cases in 2016). Though Lyme disease may be the best known tick-borne disease, there are others, such as Ehrlichia and Anaplasma, that are potentially harmful to both humans and animals, including livestock.
Ticks are not insects. They are arachnids, closely related to spiders, but with the bad habit of feeding on blood. Humans are not the preferred source of blood for ticks, but most species are perfectly happy settling for human blood. Of the ticks found in our area, the brown dog tick and American dog tick cause the most trouble. That being said, you might also find other species such as the Gulf Coast tick or lone star tick, but these are less likely to be problematic.
The cattle tick may be of interest to livestock owners, as it may transmit disease to not only cattle but also horses, sheep, and goats. Introduced to the United States along with the cattle that accompanied early explorers, this tick was originally native to the Mediterranean region and the Near East. It stays on one host, feeding for 18-20 days before females drop off to lay their eggs. They may produce up to four generations every year, meaning that a small population, once established, has the potential to grow very large very quickly. This makes them dangerous, coupled with the fact that they can carry diseases such as anaplasmosis, caused by the bacteria Anaplasma marginale, and Texas cattle fever, caused by the haemoprotozoan parasites Babesia bigmina and Babesia bovis.
Texas cattle fever devastated herds in the late 1800s, spread by the cattle tick. Eradication programs in place since 1906 have limited this species of tick to a few counties in south Texas, but the danger exists that deer or other wildlife could carry these pests to other areas. Part of what helps keep this danger to a minimum are ongoing eradication and surveillance efforts, including surveillance by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). You can help these efforts, whether or not you own livestock, by turning ticks you find in for testing to FDACS. Their Division of Animal Industry can be reached at (850) 573-0299.
To help control ticks of any sort, try maintaining the landscape to deter them. Keep wildlife out with fences or deterrents, and ensure the edge of lawns, fields, and pastures are free of leaf litter and debris. Keep lawns mowed and don’t let pets out into the woods where they can pick up ticks to bring home. Use insecticides if needed; repellents may work for personal use. Livestock may be treated with pyrethroid sprays or wipe-on products. Ticks may attach to any part of an animal, but in livestock tend to prefer the tail, head, neck, chest, and belly, particularly near the legs. Heavy infestations may require an application of insecticides to the area, indoors or out, to reduce major infestations.
The lone star tick feeds on the blood of various animals including humans. This tick does not transmit Lyme disease, but can transmit various other pathogens such as ehrlichiosis, rickettsiosis, tularemia, and theileriosis. Adult lone star ticks: male (left) and female (right). Source: EDIS Lone Star Tick Photo credit: Lyle Buss, UF/IFAS
For more information on this subject, use the following links:
Photo Credit: Tennessee Vascular Plants Eugene Wofford
Perilla Mint is a toxic ornamental that has escaped from landscapes in the Southern U.S. and is now an established pasture weed. As a summer annual it grows in shaded areas up to a height of 2 feet tall. It is often identified by its purple shading on the undersides of the leaves. All parts of the plant are toxic to livestock, with symptoms including labored breathing and death. Late April to early June is the ideal time to scout your pastures for Perilla Mint.
For help identifying weeds or developing a control plan for your operation, please contact your county extension agent.
For more information on this topic please use the links for the following publications:
Figure 1. Pawpaws are typically small shrubs that range from 2 to 4 feet tall in pastures. Photograph by B. Sellers.
Pawpaws (Asimina spp.) are members of the custard family, and 10 species are known to occur in the state. Of these 10, fourpetal pawpaw (Asimina tetramera) is on the endangered species list, but this species is found primarily in coastal pine scrub habitats in Martin and Palm Beach counties. Most pawpaw species in Florida are considered to be small shrubs and are 2-4 feet tall (Figure 1).
While pawpaw species are native, serve as a host for the zebra swallowtail butterfly, and the fruit are edible, they can become problematic in grazing areas (Figure 2). In fact, the problem seems to be increasing, based on calls coming into to County Extension Offices.
Figure 2. Illustration of pawpaw plants invading a pasture. Photograph by B. Sellers.
These woody species are usually multi-stemmed and stems arise from a very deep taproot that can be as big as 3 inches in diameter (Figure 3).
Figure 3. Pawpaw roots have a very large taproot, and once established are extremely difficult to control.
Leaves are present from early April through October, but may exist through December in some areas of the state. Flowering occurs in April to May, and seed production is reportedly low. Flowering often occurs before leaves begin to grow in the spring (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Flower formation in pawpaw typically occurs before leaves begin to grow in the spring. Photograph by B. Sellers.
As with lantana, pawpaw control appears to be somewhat difficult. Mowing typically results in an increase in the number of stems, and hand digging is likely the only “mechanical” method of removing pawpaw plants from improved pastures, as they do not tolerate root cutting. Considering the long and deep taproot of pawpaw, control with a single herbicide application should not be expected.
Experiments were conducted in a pasture that was heavily infested with pawpaw in central Florida. Herbicide treatments included 1 qt/A triclopyr (Remedy Ultra), and triclopyr at 1 qt/A followed by triclopyr at 1 qt/A 6 months later, Pasturegard HL at 1 qt/A, and Pasturegard HL at 1 qt/A followed by an additional 1 qt/A 6 months later. Methylated seed oil (MSO) was added to each spray mixture at 1% v/v. The initial treatment was applied in May and the sequential treatments were applied in late November. To evaluate the level of pawpaw control, the number of pawpaw stems were counted in each plot on the day of application, 6 months after treatment (MAT), and 12 MAT.
Living stems in plots were very low at 6 MAT (at the time of the sequential application), with all treatments providing >90% reduction in stems, as compared to pre-treatment numbers. However, stems densities increased by 12 MAT (6 months after sequential treatment). A single application of Remedy or Pasturegard HL resulted in 49 and 40% less stems compared to pre-treatment stem counts, respectively. A sequential application of either herbicide resulted in >70% reduction in pawpaw stems counts compared to pre-treatment levels. Although stem densities did not differ significantly between Remedy and Pasturegard HL plots, pawpaw plants were typically shorter in plots treated with Pasturegard HL, indicating that regrowth of pawpaw plants was slower when treated with this herbicide as compared to Remedy.
In a separate study, these same treatments were applied in late November, but virtually no reduction in living stems was observed 6 MAT. This indicates that early Spring (April to May) application may be the best application timing for this species.
For more information on pasture weed control, and the herbicides registered for use in Florida pastures, use the following link: