Tag Archives | livestock

Use Sunny Fall Days to Prepare for Winter

As those rainy days of winter loom on the horizon, take advantage of the sunny, warm fall days to prepare your farm for winter! Tackling maintenance and good management practices now may help you avoid hours of cold, wet emergency repairs this winter.


Take actions now for a healthy pasture next spring!

Take actions now for a healthy pasture next spring!

During the busy days of summer, routine maintenance of fence lines and scouting for trouble spots may have landed on the back burner. Look for broken or sagging wire, unstable posts, and gate problems. If you have electric fences, make sure to mow surrounding weeds and grasses that may short out the system. Clean solar panels to collect as much sunlight as possible. Repost any missing or damaged “no trespassing” or “no hunting” signs. Avoid hunters tragically mistaking livestock for deer or elk.


Fall management of pastures has a great deal to do with the health of your pastures next year. This is the time of year for new root growth and storage of carbohydrates in the lower 3-4 inches of the stem. Any management of a pasture that hinders these two processes will mean problems for your pasture in the spring.

The following advice is from Gene Pirelli, Extension Animal Scientist, Oregon State University, and Steve Fransen, Extension Forage Agronomist, Washington State University taken from their article, PASTURE MANAGEMENT: UNDERSTANDING PLANT AND ROOT GROWTH IN THE FALL.

Grass plants can be grazed down to a minimum height as shown in Table 1, but not grazed below that height. These recommended minimum stubble heights allow the plants the ability to store carbohydrates for vigorous re-growth in the fall. Grazing below this height will decrease your fall feed and subsequent spring growth.

Table 1. Recommended residual heights for some grasses during dormant periods

Grass MinimumStubble Height
Tall Fescue3-4 inches
Smooth Brome3-4 inches
Perennial Rye Grass2 inches
Orchard Grass3-4 inches
Meadow Brome3-4 inches
Bluegrass3-4 inches
Timothy4-6 inches

Fall is a great time to take soil samples to test the fertility of the pasture soil. Soil tests should be taken during the same month each year for consistency. Early fall is also a good time to apply nutrients based on your soil test. Oregon State University Extension Fertilizer Guides can help you decide the type and proper amount of nutrients. Manure or other sources of nitrogen can be applied based on plant nutrient needs, but just make sure that you do not apply too much nitrogen. Vigorously growing plants, resulting from high nitrogen applications late in the fall, are more susceptible to winter damage because the growth retards winter dormancy. An excessive nitrogen application will inhibit the plant from starting into its over-wintering response. High nitrogen tends to reduce sugar concentrations so the plant tries to refill its depleted stubble sugar bank account. If plants are not allowed to rest and prepare for winter, they are very susceptible to winter injury or death from the first major cold winter event. As temperatures change in the fall, plants protect themselves by producing a type of “antifreeze” called “Proline”. This “antifreeze” will accumulate in every living plant cell during the winter period only if excessive nitrogen is not available.
Eastern and western Oregon grass hay growers should follow the same recommendations as folks with pastures. Many grass hay growers with cattle like to move the animals onto the hay field after the last cutting has been removed. This long held practice may do more damage than you realize. The remaining hay stubble is high in storage sugars, just like in the pasture. Livestock tend to readily eat this plant portion because it tastes good. Without adequate storage of basal sugars prior to winter, those plants will have a distinct disadvantage in the spring. If you must graze hay fields in the fall, make sure you’ve given the field adequate time for regrowth to occur and to follow the same guidelines of stubble height minimums as for pastures.
For long-term survival of pastures and hayfields, remember to keep an eye on stubble heights and don’t graze below them. Allow roots to rebuild and shoots to develop by not grazing hard in the fall. Make plans to get on a soil testing schedule, which is usually a test every three to five years. Use that information to make the most economical fertilizer applications. By following some of these management tips, your pasture should be productive for many years.

To read the full text of this autumn pasture management article, click on the link below.

Late Summer-Fall Pastures
Late Summer-Fall Pastures
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Why Manage Manure?

Manure piles can grow quickly

Manure piles can grow quickly

Why manage manure? There are several reasons! Manure can affect your operation in good and bad ways, and it can impact other people and creatures.

The following is from Tips on Land & Water Management for Small Acreages in Oregon. For more information download the full document.

  • Manure problems create an unhealthy environment for horses and livestock. Poor health may mean more vet bills and increased feed bills for unhealthy animals.
  • Leaving manure on the ground creates more mud.
  • Manure, like mud, creates a breeding ground for insects, especially filth flies. Insects are annoying at best and, at worst, carry disease or can cause serious allergies.
  • Internal parasites hatch from the manure as often as every three days and can reinfest animals as soon as 24 hours after worming.
  • Mud and manure problems are inconvenient for the farm owner, can make chores difficult, and are unpleasant for neighbors.
  • Nutrient runoff from manure has a negative impact on the environment. It contaminates surface water and groundwater, is detrimental to fish and other aquatic wildlife, and fertilizes aquatic weeds.
  • Applying manure back to pastures creates a natural nutrient cycle; one horse’s manure represents approximately $150 in fertilizer value/year.

The featured image of the manure pile with a horse in the background is very nice, isn’t it? We think so, too. The source image is available at Wikipedia and was uploaded by Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene.

Tips on Land & Water Management for Small Acreages in Oregon
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Pretty but Deadly: Tansy Ragwort

Tansy ragwort billboard

Tansy ragwort billboard

The bright yellow flowers of Tansy Ragwort (Senecio jacobaea) may provide a striking view, but don’t let the looks fool you. This invasive weed is deadly to many grazing animals. Tansy ragwort contains alkaloids that are lethal to most livestock, with death occurring after consuming 3-8% of body weight. As such, it is very important for landowners across Clackamas County to control this invasive weed, especially near grazing animals or in areas where hay is produced.

Tansy ragwort has a long history in Clackamas County. It was once regulated under the weed control district formed in 1949. At that time, landowners across Clackamas County could be cited for having flowering plants on their property. Back then, neighbors would come together for community tansy pulls to keep their horses and livestock safe and to avoid the dreaded visit from the weed inspector.

Photo courtesy of Samuel Leininger, Clackamas SWCD

Cinnabar moth caterpillar on flowering Tansy ragwort

In the 1960s, several insects were introduced as biological controls to reduce the abundance of Tansy ragwort. These insects feed on the plants and weaken or kill the Tansy ragwort. The most recognizable of these is the crimson red Cinnabar moth, that feeds on the flowering plants as a caterpillar during the summer months.

The introduction of these insects have proven to be effective at reducing Tansy ragwort to relatively low levels. With the reduction of Tansy ragwort, Clackamas County dissolved the Weed Control District in 1989 citing the effectiveness of the biological controls as well as budget constraints as the chief reasons for its dissolution. In the 23 years since the Weed Control District was dissolved, Tansy ragwort has continued to persist in Clackamas County, but fortunately at much lower levels than those encountered in previous generations. The biological controls introduced in the 1960s are still working on our behalf!

Even with widespread biological controls, we do have periodic increases in Tansy ragwort abundance. In these years we need landowners to take the initative to control Tansy ragwort on thier property. So join your neighbors and take action now! Survey your property and control your Tansy ragwort before it begins to flower.

Photo courtesy of Eric Coombs, Oregon Department of Agriculture

Tansy ragwort is manageable

Tansy ragwort is manageable. If you have a lot of Tansy ragwort plants and are feeling overwhelmed, focus first on areas where grazing animals are present or along fence lines to help your neighborly relations. Then visit our Tansy Ragwort Best Management Practices page for more information about how you can control Tansy ragwort on your property.

Don’t let Tansy ragwort poison your livestock, or your relationship with your neighbors. Do the neighborly thing and control your Tansy ragwort.

Check out the WeedWise Program’s Tansy Ragwort brochure today!

Tansy Ragwort Brochure
Tansy Ragwort Brochure
tansy ragwort.pdf
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Top Ten Tips to Give Weeds the Brush-off

The term “weeds” is commonly used to refer to any undesirable plants, but fails to describe the onslaught of non-native invasive plants we see transforming our landscape today. More than just a gardener’s dilemma, invasive weeds are having a profound impact on the world around us.

Pretty_but_Deadly-Tansy_Ragwort-webIt has been estimated that invasive species cost the United States 143 billion dollars per year. These expenses are absorbed by all of us through increased costs of food, forestry products, and livestock feed. We see increased taxes for state and local weed control, decreased property values.

Invasive weeds also have a negative impact on wildlife. Weeds adversely affect our forests and natural areas by replacing the native plants that are important to wildlife. These invasive weeds disrupt complex food webs and alter natural processes which have a ripple effect on a wide variety of wildlife. Ultimately, invasive weed infestation results in land that is severely degraded and less “Oregon-like”.

February 23-28 is National Invasive Species Awareness Week which serves as a reminder of the impact that invasive weeds have on our landscape and on our society. We encourage you to take the opportunity this week to learn how you can help spread the word and not the weeds.

The top 10 WeedWise tips to give invasive weeds the brush-off

  1. Recognize invasiveness. Look for new or aggressive plants that spread rapidly and displace other vegetation. Familiarize yourself with invasive weeds in your area. Use online resources to learn how to identify invasive weeds or attend local weed watcher trainings available in your area.
  2. Stop them before they start. Avoid disturbing the ground, and maintain healthy ground cover to prevent many invasive weeds from establishing.
  3. Know what you grow. Many of our invasive weeds have been introduced by a curious gardener. Research new plantings and only purchase seeds and plants from reputable vendors.
  4. Start small and finish small. Control invasive weeds when you first see them. By controlling small patches you reduce the time and expenses needed to eradicate them.
  5. Heed the seed. Prevent invasive weeds from setting seed to reduce the number of weeds in next year. Pull, dig, cut, or spray flowering weeds before they set viable seed. If weeds do set manage to set seed, remove and bag up any seed heads and dispose of them in your trash.
  6. Don’t spread as you tread. Invasive weeds are most commonly associated with people. Recognize that you could be moving seed around during your day to day activities. If you are traveling through weed infested areas, be sure to clean your shoes, clothing, equipment, and vehicles to prevent spreading invasive weeds to other locations.
  7. Be patient and diligent. Controlling invasive weeds can be a long term process. It is easy to get discouraged when tackling large infestations, but recognize that controlling invasive weeds gets easier with each subsequent year.
  8. Report your invasive weeds. Help in the statewide effort to combat invasive weeds. If you spot new and aggressive invaders, report them to your local weed expert through the Oregon Invasive Species Hotline.
  9. Know when to seek help. Some weeds can be difficult to control and may require particular methods or techniques for eradication efforts to be successfully. Contact your local weed control specialists for assistance.
  10. Get with the organization. There are many organizations actively working to combat these invasive species. Volunteer at a local park or natural area, or contact organizations like watershed councils and SOLVE to learn about invasive weed removal parties in your area.

Everything You Need to Know About…Rural Fences

Got animals? Got neighbors? Then you need fences!

Join Clair Klock and Kenn Evans as they review aspects of good country fencing. High-tensile New Zealand fencing is demonstrated, along with electric fencing and various woven wire fences.

The Clackamas County SWCD can help design fences and systems to keep farm animals from harming surface water. For help, contact us.

This video was developed in partnership with the Clackamas County Government Channel, and we appreciate their help and support!

Last Chance to Register: Train Livestock to Eat Weeds!

Registration closes this Friday (August 17th) so take action today to participate in this unique workshop for livestock owners!

Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District is offering a unique solution to weed control for organic farms. Livestock for Landscapes consultant, Kathy Voth, will present a cutting edge grazing tool based on research by Fred Provenza at Utah State University. Ms. Voth will share techniques in teaching livestock to eat nutritious weeds and know not to eat toxic weeds.

Attendees will leave the workshop with a better understanding of the science behind teaching animals to eat nutritious, not toxic weeds. An individualized plan will be created during the workshop to address your farm, animals and the particular weeds you want to control. The workshop includes the book and DVD, “Teaching Cows to Eat Weeds” and access to consultant, Kathy Voth, for questions after the workshop, while you are training your animals.

Cost is $50 per farm (two attendees from each farm is allowed)

Attendance is limited to 15 farms, so do not delay in reserving your space!

Registration includes lunch.

To register, Train Livestock to Eat Weeds registration form and send to the Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District. The address is on the form.

Have questions? Contact Jeremy Baker at Clackamas County Soil and Water Conservation District or call 503-210-6009.

We hope to see you there!