Multi-Species Grazing

Multi-species Grazing: the How and Why for Soil & Animal Health
Online, Wednesday, June 24

Grazing multiple species both in terms of animals and plants offer many benefits to both animals and the soil. Learn about these benefits as well as considerations and helpful tips for implementing multi-species grazing on your property.

This virtual webinar is part of the Webinar Wednesday Forage and Pasture Series, brought to you by

Delaware State University

and the

University of Delaware


➡️ Register by June 23:

IPM in Sheep and Goats: FAMACHA© Certification From Home

Internal parasites are a major health problem affecting sheep and goats, particularly the blood sucking abomasal parasite, Haemonchus contortus(barber pole worm). This parasite is a major threat because once in the abomasum of the animal, it consumes large amounts of blood causing sickness and death that can hinder production. In addition, this parasite is very difficult to manage. There is data showing that this parasite has shown resistance to all available dewormers in United States and across the world. Local data has demonstrated that there is a high level of resistance to the benzimidazole classes (white drenches) of dewormers and ivermectin in Delaware and surrounding states. Therefore, a more integrated approach is needed to control this parasite.  Deworming by the calendar and rotating classes of dewormers are no longer recommended for sheep and goats. Furthermore these out of date management practices are ineffective and contribute to internal parasite resistance issues.

Fecal Egg Counting and FAMACHA© workshop | Delaware State UniversityThe Delaware Cooperative Extension Small Ruminant Team is holding a FAMACHA© certification workshop via Zoom on Wednesday, June 10, 2020 from 6:00 pm-8:00 pm.  The cost of the workshop is $15.00 to pay for the FAMACHA© cards and the postage to mail them to producers. Registration is required.

This upcoming workshop is designed to help producers learn the basics of selective internal parasite control and covers topics such as types and kinds of parasites, dewormers, the role of pasture management, the 5 Point Check©, FAMACHA© and FEC. Join us as we provide training to certify producers in the use of FAMACHA© score card and an integrated approach to parasite control in small ruminants.

To register visit: Once registered you will receive an email link to access the Zoom training.  After completing the webinar, producers will be required to pass a short web based quiz and submit a short video clip demonstrating their proficiency in the FAMCHA© push-pull-pop eyelid technique in order to complete their certification requirements.  For questions please contact a member of the Delaware Cooperative Extension Small Ruminant Team- Susan Garey , Dr. Kwame Matthews, PhD or Dan Severson

This institution is an equal opportunity provider. If you have special needs that need to be accommodated, please contact the office two weeks prior to the event.

Beef and Small Ruminant Certifications

While we know agriculture doesn’t stop for anything, Delaware Cooperative Extension is taking precautionary measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  We appreciate your support and understanding as we work together to keep our communities safe and healthy. Currently, we are not able to conduct face to face meetings but we encourage you to visit: for Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) certification.  The courses that are available teach methods for raising your cattle in accordance with BQA fundamentals. Topics involve: cattle health, stockmanship, marketing, emergency planning, and meat quality. With three certification classes available, you can choose one that relates to your operation.

In addition, for those small ruminant producers who would like FAMACHA© certification, the University of Rhode Island has an on-line course: Use of the FAMACHA© scoring system allows small ruminant producers to make deworming decisions based on an estimate of the level of anemia in sheep and goats affected by barber pole worm (Haemonchus contortus) infection. As the barberpole worm is most abundant in the warm and humid moths of the year it is very important that small ruminant producers are prepared for the spring and summer months to come.

The FAMACHA© card, developed in South Africa, was introduced to the U.S. by the American Consortium for Small Ruminant Parasite Control  (  This online training program was developed by Dr. Katherine Petersson and Dr. Anne Zajac, DVM, members of the ACSRPC, as part of a Northeast SARE grant and is administered by the University of Rhode Island.  The ACSRPC fully endorses the program for those who are unable to attend a workshop.    

If you have any questions please feel free to contact:

Dan Severson                          Kwame Mathews                                Susan Garey                      

302-299-9158                         302-857-6540                                     (302)242-1510


Baled Corn Stalks Offer Another Feed Option

As winter approaches, some producers are questioning if their hay inventories will last until spring. Cornstalks can extend hay inventories, but their use comes with some important considerations.

“Residual corn left in the field is not going to be captured in the bales, which lowers the feeding value compared to grazing the field,” notes Jeff Lehmkuhler, University of Kentucky extension beef specialist.

The best forage quality from the corn crop residues is in the leaves and husks, he says. The cobs and stalks are lower in digestibility with protein concentration ranging from only 3 to 6 percent, which is too low to meet the needs of cattle. The highest quality forage portions of corn crop residues are the leaves and husks.

Lehmkuhler explains that energy levels in cornstalk bales vary depending on the stalk to leaf ratio within the bale. Typical ranges are from 48 to 58 percent. Additionally, the high moisture levels of the stalks make baling and storing corn residue more difficult.

Feeding cornstalk bales can result in high levels of waste, according to Lehmkuhler. Cattle will pick through a bale, eating the leaves and husks while leaving behind the stalks. For this reason, the best way to utilize corn crop residues for feed is having the bales processed or by flail chopping the residue in the field to improve drying. Processed bales can be fed in a total mixed ration or along a feedbunk.

The extension specialist recommends feeding baled corn residues to dry, mid-gestation cows, remembering to supplement nutrients to meet diet requirements. Cattle fed cornstalks should be in good body condition and not be experiencing any environmental stresses, such as cold and mud. Environmental stresses on cattle will require additional supplementation.

Lehmkuhler offers an example diet for a mid-gestation cow of 15 pounds of cornstalks, 1.5 gallons of condensed distillers solubles (distillers syrup), and 2 pounds of soybean hulls plus minerals to meet requirements.

“Significant energy and protein supplementation are needed for lactating, fall-calving cows,” Lehmkuhler notes. “Producers should work with a nutritionist to ensure nutrient needs are being met.”

Lehmkuhler recommends hay for lactating cows, but he notes that cornstalks may be worked into the diet to stretch hay supplies with proper supplementation.

To extend hay inventories, feeding cornstalk bales is a reasonable option. Remember to work with a nutritionist to meet all nutritional requirements and supplement as needed. Lehmkuhler advises to not overpay for cornstalks since supplements, along with additional feed costs, will often be needed.

Some Thoughts on Halloween Hay

Many regions have now or will soon reach the point when significant alfalfa regrowth won’t occur if the crop is cut one more time. Research has historically shown that cutting when the chances for regrowth are low is safer from a winter injury or kill standpoint than cutting earlier in the fall when regrowth is still possible.

There are three primary reasons why farmers decide to cut alfalfa late in the fall. They are:

1. Don’t want to leave money on the table.

In the case where favorable weather has contributed to significant fall growth, it’s hard to leave an apparent high-yielding, high-quality crop out in the field. However, the reality is that late fall-cut alfalfa is rarely high yielding.

Yes, the crop can sometimes be tall, but the stems are usually small and there are fewer of them. What looks like a high-yield crop usually shrinks to nearly nothing when put into a swath or windrow. This makes for expensive forage when harvest costs are considered.

On the flip side, late fall-cut forage is almost always excellent quality. With the extended cool temperatures, there is low fiber deposition and plant digestibility stays high.

2. It will smother out if not cut.

There’s been a long-held concern by some that fall alfalfa growth will smother and kill a stand over winter. This simply does not happen with a legume such as alfalfa. Rather, leaves freeze and eventually drop off the plant. Stems, for the most part, stand erect. The old, fall aftermath growth may impact forage quality in the next year’s first cutting, but if harvested early enough the reduction in quality is minimal.

3. There’s a need for feed.

Following a year of severe winterkill or drought, sometimes alfalfa is cut in late fall simply to meet a need for additional feed. This may apply to many in 2019.

Is there risk?

Though the risk to cut alfalfa in the late fall has proven to be less than when regrowth potential is high, the practice is not without some downside. Already mentioned is the fact that yields are typically low; they will be even lower if the cutting height is raised as is often recommended for a late-fall cut.

Also consider that fields cut in the late fall generally break dormancy later during the following spring and have a lower first-cut yield compared to not being fall cut. The gain in fall yield is about equal to the loss in spring yield. This is not to say that the fields are winter injured but rather less vigorous come spring.

Leaving the fall aftermath growth over winter is beneficial to not just catching and holding snow cover, but it also has the effect of moderating soil temperature fluctuations during winter and early spring. It is extreme soil temperature fluctuations that may cause alfalfa to break dormancy too early or cause plant heaving.

Finally, consider the condition of the alfalfa stand before taking a late-fall cut. If it’s already been stressed by intensive cutting, pest issues, or low soil fertility, stress from an additional cutting will likely accelerate stand decline.

All factors considered, the need for feed prior to the next year’s harvest may be the only good reason to cut alfalfa in late fall.

FDA Proposes Banning Over-the-counter Antibiotic Sales

Milk splash. ( Farm Journal, Inc. )

In just a few years, you will no longer be able to buy over-the-counter (OTC) antibiotics from your local farm supply store or mail order catalogue.

In a draft guidance issued in late September, the Food and Drug Administration is proposing to ban the OTC sale of more than 100 animal drugs. Some of the more common OTC drugs on FDA’s list are formulations that include cephapirin, penicillin G procaine, sulfamethazine and tetracycline. The ban will take at least two years to implement—if not longer.

In effect, FDA’s proposal would require livestock producers to obtain veterinary prescriptions for these medications if they want to continue their use. Note: Some of these drugs might become unavailable if their manufacturers opt to pull them the market.

The purpose of the FDA action is to reduce the use of medically-important antimicrobials in animal agriculture and ensure that they are only used when necessary for the treatment, control or prevention of specific diseases. By moving these drugs to prescription-only, it assures the drugs will be administered to animals under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian.

The proposal sounds more ominous than it really is, say veterinarians and pharmaceutical companies. “Moving these drugs from over-the-counter to prescription will have a minor impact on dairy farmers,” says Ron Erskine, a veterinary and mastitis specialist with Michigan State University.

To start with, most of the antibiotics sold OTC are old drugs. Most, if not all, of the drugs on the list are decades old formulations approved prior to the mid-1990s.

Under the FARM (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management) program, dairy farmers are already required to have a valid, signed veterinary/client/patient relationship with their local veterinarian and have established written protocols for the use of antibiotics, he notes. “Everybody wants protocols in place for FARM audits,” Erskine says.

Drug residues in milk has become almost a non-issue, with residue rates dropping steadily over the past decade. In fiscal year 2018, just 364 tanker loads of milk tested positive antibiotic residues out of the 3,598,188 tankers tested. That’s a positive rate of 0.01%, reports the National Milk Drug Residue Data Base. A pilot project looking for tetracycline residues in raw milk conducted in 2017 and 2018 found just six positives in the 304,289 tankers tested, for a positive rate of 0.002%.

The bigger problem is antibiotic residues in cull dairy cows. When USDA veterinarians conduct follow-up investigations of carcass residues, they find the majority of farms investigated have not had veterinarian involvement or direction in the use of antibiotics to treat sick animals nor do the farms have appropriate treatment and drug withdrawal records, says Mike Lormore, Director, Dairy Cattle Technical Services at Zoetis.

Bringing all antibiotic use under the umbrella of the veterinary/client/patient relationship is simply prudent, responsible use, he says.

FDA is accepting comments on the proposal until December 24, 2019. The agency will then issue a final guidance followed by a two-year implementation period.

Prevent Pasture Damage During Wet Weather

It might seem odd to be thinking about preventing damage to pastures from  wet weather in mid- to late summer, but heavy, persistent rains across some portions of the country in July are posing potential problems.

In the worst case scenario, cattle can be moved to a sacrifice area and fed stored feeds until pasture soil returns to acceptable conditions, says David Hartman, a livestock Extension educator with Pennsylvania State University. “The area should eventually be repaired with tillage if necessary and then reseeded to either an annual or perennial mixture, depending on your goals,” he says.

The other key is to move cattle more frequently during wet weather. Some farmers prefer grouping cattle into a high stocking density area to contain damage to a small area. Others prefer to spread cattle out over a larger area. “Regardless of [your] management decision, moving cattle more frequently than usual helps to avoid or reduce the concentration of damage,” says Hartman.

He also urges farmers to maintain heavy sod conditions to withstand grazing pressure. Keeping stands thick might involve over-seeding, soil testing and maintaining adequate fertility and avoiding overgrazing, he says.

Using no-till seed establishment is generally recommended. “Cattle traffic during wet weather will be much less damaging on land that has been planted no-till versus with tillage,” Hartman says.

“Finally, good grazing management should always include leaving a considerable amount of residual forage when moving cattle to the next paddock,” he says. “Overgrazed pastures not only recover more slowly from grazing during droughty conditions, they also sustain more damage from grazing in wet conditions.”

Why Test Forage Quality?

For nearly four decades scientists have been refining their ability to test forage quality. This has been done in an effort to improve animal nutrition and consequently animal production. Analytical procedures that previously required a week, or more, to complete can now be done in less than 10 minutes and with more accuracy than before. As the ability to analyze forages has improved, the understanding of how to use the test results to improve animal efficiency and performance has also improved. Unfortunately though, forage quality testing is a valuable management tool that many livestock producers still do not utilize.

Greater net profit is the bottom line for why livestock producers need to know the quality of the forages they are feeding! Not knowing the exact quality of the forage being fed is a two-edged sword that can cut into profits either way it swings. A dairy producer who guesses that the crude protein (CP) content of the haylage is 2% units lower and corn silage is 1% unit lower will be feeding more supplemental protein than is necessary. This extra CP to the ration will add $0.09/cow/day in feed costs. With a herd of 100 cows, this is equivalent to $9.00/day. It would take just a little over 3 days of not knowing the quality of the forages and feeding extra protein, as in this example, to pay for the cost of quality analyses (forage quality testing usually costs less than $15.00/sample).

The other edge of this two-edged sword of not knowing forage quality, is over estimating forage quality. Guessing that forage crude protein is greater than what it actually is resultes in adding insufficient supplemental protein to the ration and saving feed costs. Unfortunately, the cows are being “short changed” on CP which could have a negative impact on milk production, especially in early lactation.

It is also important to note that guessing at fiber and mineral content will also have enormous economical impact. For example, the neutral detergent fiber (NDF) content of forages helps determine how much of the forage an animal will consume. Guessing too high or too low can have tremendous implication on intake, animal performance, and health. Knowing the quality of the forage being fed to animals not only saves or makes more money it also allows managers to provide better animal nutrition which will result in greater animal production and improved animal efficiency (lb milk or weight gain per pound of feed consumed).

Knowing the quality of forages when selling or buying them has also proven to be economically smart. At Pennsylvania hay auctions, where the quality of the hay is analyzed, and the results posted on each load prior to the auction confirms the economic value of knowing hay quality. At these auctions, each percentage unit increase in crude protein resulted in $8.00 more per ton. Selling 10 ton of 20% CP hay as 18% CP hay because the quality was not tested will cost the seller about $160! On the other hand, buying 10 ton 18% CP hay as 20% CP hay cost the buyer $160! A similar relationship between quality and price did not occur at hay auctions when the quality of the hay was unknown. Establishing a “fair” price for hay, if you are buying or selling, involves both parties knowing the quality of the hay.

Spring Pasture Walk

Spring Pasture Walk

What: Pasture Walk

Mark your Calendar and call (302) 831-2506 to register by Friday, May 10!!

When: Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Where: Whitehead Cattle Company

1303 Dexter Corner Rd, Townsend, DE 19734

Time: 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Credits: Nutrient Management (0.75) Pesticide credit(1.0)

Come and see how Whitehead Cattle Company uses pasture to effectively feed their beef herd.  Learn how to identify weeds and how to control them in a pasture setting. In addition, learn about soil health and how healthy soil is the key to making farms more productive, profitable and resilient—and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Learn how to take a hay sample and visually evaluate hay.  The workshop will also feature a talk on Pesticide safety – responsible decision-making and actions to protect pesticide users, public health, plant and animal health, and the environment

The meeting is free and everyone interested in attending is welcome.  If you have special needs in accessing this program, please call the office two weeks in advance.

To register or request more information, please call our office at (302)831-2506.

Thank you and see you there.  Dan Severson

Welcome and Introductions 6:00-6:05

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Tour of Pastures and Pasture Management 6:05-6:20

George and Lynda Whitehead, Whitehead Cattle Company

Weed Identification and Control in Pastures 6:20-6:50

Quintin Johnson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Pesticide Safety 6:50-7:15

Dr. Kerry Richards, University of Delaware Pesticide Safety Education Program


Soil Health 7:15-7:40

Jayme Arthurs, NRCS Research Conservationist

Proper Hay Sampling and How to Visually Evaluate Hay 7:40-7:55

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension

Wrap up and Evaluations 7:55-8:00

Dan Severson, University of Delaware Cooperative Extension