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  • Writer's pictureMD-DE Forage Council

Feeding Lower Quality Forages & Alfalfa Management: Timely Conference Topics

Updated: Jan 2, 2020

by Les Vough, President of Maryland-Delaware Forage Council

Are you facing feeding lower quality hay or silage this winter? This was a very difficult year for harvesting hay and silage at the proper stage of maturity and without rain damage. Much of this year’s crop has lower quality and nutritional value than normal.

If you are facing feeding lower quality hay or silage, how can you supplement it to meet animal nutritional needs? Which animals should get the better quality and which the lower quality if you have various animal types and/or age groups?

This will be one of the timely topics featured at a series of four hay and pasture conferences being held January 15-18, 2019, at locations throughout Maryland and Delaware. Dr. Jessica Williamson, Penn State University Extension Forage Specialist, will focus her presentation on “Feeding Lower Quality Hay.” If you are a livestock producer or horse owner you will not want to miss this presentation.

It has been some time since alfalfa production and management has been addressed at these conferences. Dr. Dennis Hancock, Forage Extension Specialist at the University of Georgia, will provide an update on “What’s New in Alfalfa Production and Management?” His presentation will focus on:

• Do the new traits in alfalfa varieties that increase the cost of seed also increase forage value?

• What are the economics behind Roundup Ready and reduced lignin varieties?

• What other new trends do we see happening in the alfalfa market?

We have rarely talked at these conferences about clover management and the contributions that they can make in hay and pasture production. So Dr. Hancock will address “Are Clovers Really Worth Seeding and Are Phytoestrogens in Clover Good or Evil?” in a second presentation. This presentation will not only be of interest to beef and dairy producers but the phytoestrogen aspect will be of particular interest to sheep and goat producers. This presentation will focus on:

• Clovers increase individual animal performance but do they increase productivity per acre?

• The nitrogen fixation of clovers is directly tied to their yield

• Is the addition of clovers to cool-season grass pastures cost-effective compared to the alternatives?

• Some clovers produce compounds that mimic estrogen, so is that good or bad?

The new University of Maryland Extension Pasture Management Specialist will be introduced at the conferences and discuss "Forage Yield and Nutritive Value of Reduced Lignin Alfalfa." So come to one of the conferences and meet our new pasture management specialist. Her presentation and Dr. Hancock’s alfalfa presentation will tie together nicely and give you a good picture of the reduced lignin alfalfa trait.

Other topics vary from location to location. You can link to complete program agendas for each conference location.

Conferences dates and locations are:

Delmarva Hay & Pasture Conference, January 15 Delaware State Fairgrounds, 18500 S. Dupont Highway, Harrington, DE

Southern Maryland Hay & Pasture Conference, January 16 Baden Volunteer Fire Department Hall, 16608 Brandywine Road, Brandywine, MD

Tri-State (MD, PA, WV) Hay & Pasture Conference, January 17 Garrett College Career Technology Training Center, 116 Industrial Drive, Accident, MD

Central Maryland Forage & Livestock Conference, January 18 Frederick County 4-H Camp & Activities Center, 3702 Basford Road, Frederick, MD

The Central Maryland Forage & Livestock Conference is a new addition to the conference series this year, replacing the former Maryland Cattle Industry Convention and Hay & Pasture Conference that has ended.

Pre-registration is not necessary for the Delmarva Conference (Jan. 15) but pre-registration is requested for the other conferences and registration fee discounts are offered if you pre-register by the cutoff dates for each location. See the links for the Southern Maryland, Tri-State and Central Maryland conferences fo

r registration information.

I think these conferences will once again be outstanding educational events and encourage you to attend.

Les Vough


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