Monday, March 24, 2008

Controlling Weeds in a Drought Winter

The most important to remember in years of drought, such as in 2007 and forecasted for 2008, is to get the optimal production from pastures and hayfields as possible. One of the ways to do that is to control weeds. While many grass varieties do not have a high tolerance to drought conditions, many varieties of weeds do! These weeds will continue to grow without water and compete with grasses for nutrition and what little water is available, sometimes killing out grass stands. If you have weed problems, NOW IS THE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF THEM. When livestock and equine do not have adequate amounts of grass, they will start eating that green stuff that is in the pasture whether it’s trees or even weeds. Many of these weeds can be toxic to livestock and equine, given they eat the right amounts or eat the plant at the right stage of growth. Controlling weeds, not only gives the grass you have a chance to survive but will keep your animals healthy. The right time to start controlling winter annual weeds is IMMEDIATELY. They are growing at the same time as cool season grasses and need controlling.

Winter annuals weeds include: wild garlic, chickweed, henbit, Carolina geranium, horseweed, dandelion, curly dock, buttercup and thistles. If you wish to control these chemically, Cimarron Max, Crossbow, Curtail, ForeFront R&P and Grazon P+D are good options because they all contain 2,4D which means you will get little yellowing and stunting of cool season grasses. See chemical labels for grazing restrictions and application rates.

Should you wish to control these weeds biologically, pasturing goats is the best option. Goats are a browser and not a grazer, meaning they’d rather eat weeds, briars and brambles instead of grass. For this reason you can graze goats and hayfields without grass loss and with other varieties of livestock without grazing competition.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hay Program to end April 1

Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler reminds livestock producers that the state's Emergency Hay Program will end April 1.

Since late December, the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has been selling hay at six locations across the state to help owners of cattle, horses, sheep and goats meet their animals winter feeding needs. The department announced last month that the program would begin scaling back, with a goal of ending on April 1.

With the recent rains across the state and warmer weather on its way, we are optimistic that this program won t be necessary anymore, Troxler said. However, if something like a late snowstorm happens that causes a spike in hay demand, we will act quickly to help.

Hay is being sold on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the following NCDA&CS locations: Mountain Research Station, Waynesville, (828) 456-3943; Upper Mountain Research Station, Laurel Springs, (336) 982-2501; Piedmont Research Station, Salisbury, (704) 278-2624; Piedmont Triad Farmers Market, Colfax, (336) 605-9157; Caswell Research Farm, Kinston, (252) 208-3361; and Oxford Tobacco Research Station, Oxford, (919) 693-2483.

Livestock owners may purchase up to eight large bales and 60 small bales per day. Limits are subject to change depending on supply and demand.

In December, the Council of State unanimously authorized the department to use up to $3.5 million to purchase and transport hay to North Carolina, where it could be resold to farmers for the cost of the hay and transportation.

As of mid-March, the Emergency Hay Program had spent about $478,000 and brought more than 2,400 tons of hay into North Carolina from several states and Canada.

Troxler said the conclusion of the Emergency Hay Program will not affect the department s Ag and Equine Partners Program, which provides transportation cost-share assistance to N.C. livestock producers who purchase hay from outside the state. For information, contact the NCDA&CS Hay Alert hotline toll free at (866) 506-6222 or log on to

Monday, January 14, 2008

Multiflora Rose Control Cost Share Extends Deadline

The Watauga Multiflora Rose Committee has decided to extend the deadline for application to the Watauga Multiflora Rose Control Program to March 1, 2008. This deadline extension will provide an opportunity for landowners and operators to control the noxious weed that is over taking farmland in Watauga County.

The Watauga Multiflora Rose Control Program is designed as a cost share program to help offset the expense accrued in reclaiming grassland. Applications must be for land that is in Watauga County, however landowners/operators do not have to live in Watauga to get funding. First priority will be given to land currently used as farm land (grazing, hay fields, Christmas trees, nurseries, horticulture, etc), however property owners who do not own farmland are still encouraged to apply.

Applicants for the program must be willing to reclaim land after suppressing stands of Multiflora Rose in a ground cover of their choice (grass, Christmas trees, timber, etc).

Persons interested in the program or wanting more information should contact the Watauga Cooperative Extension Office, 828.264.3061, for an application. The Watauga Multiflora Rose Control Program is a joint effort with the Watauga Board of County Commissioners, Cooperative Extension, Watauga Farm Bureau, Soil & Water Conservation, Natural Resource Conservation Service and USDA Farm Service Agency.

2008 VA & NC Grasslands Council Conferences

Building Robust Grazing Systems: Drought Proofing Your Pastures

January 23, 2008
Southern Livestock Center
Oxford, NC

1:00 pm Registration

1:30 pm Managing Pastures for Drought-Sue Ellen Johnson, NCSU and Chris Teutsch, Southern Piedmont AREC

2:15 pm Forage Species for Robust Grazing Systems-Ben Tracy, Virginia Tech Break and visit sponsors

3:00 pm Break and visit with sponsors

3:30 pm Stocking Rate: Getting it Right- Ed Rayburn, WVU

4:15 pm Drought Tolerant Grazing Systems for Grass Finished Beef-Mac Baldwin, Baldwin Family Farms, Yanceyville, NC

5:00 pm Grazing Lands Conservation- Lane Price, Assistant State Conservationist for Technology, NRCS, Raleigh, NC

5:15 pm Cost Effective Watering Systems- Jim Green, Professor Emeritus NCSU.

5:30 pm Dinner and visit sponsors

6:30 pm Cost Effective Fencing Systems-Lewis Sapp, Stay Tuff Fence Manufacturing, Winston-Salem, NC

6:50 pm Conserved Forage, Crop Residues, and Byproducts as a Component of Drought Management Strategy-Matt Poore, NCSU

7:30 pm Complete survey and adjourn

If you plan on attending, please contact Kim Burge, 919-552-9111 or e-mail

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Emergency Hay Supplies Available

The NCDA has announced that emergency hay supplies are currently in transit to North Carolina and are available for pick up at six locations (for a complete list of pickup sites, please click here). Large and small square bales are available. Large square bales measure 3' x 3' x 8', weight around 800 pounds and are $60 per bale. Prices for small square bales have not yet been announced. Individuals purchasing bales are limited to 4 large bales or 20 small bales per day, however limits may be adjusted based on supply and demand. The closest pickup location to Watauga is the Upper Mountain Research Station in Laurel Springs. To contact UMRS, please call (336) 982-2501.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

BioPryn Testing Lab Opens in NC

Rocky Creek Veterinary Services, Olin, NC, are now offering BioPRYN livestock pregnancy testing services. Rocky Creek is located less than one mile from Harward Brother's Livestock Market in Turnersburg, NC and they are receiving samples via mail or on-site drop off. To mail samples, simply package following BioPRYN mailing instructions and address to:

Rocky Creek Veterinary Services
178 Holstein Lane
Olin, NC 28660.

If you have any questions, you can contact Rocky Creek directly at 704/546-2210.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Watauga 4-H Livestock Competes at State Fair

The Watauga 4-H Livestock Club traveled to Raleigh on October 26th and 27th to compete in the NC State Fair Skillathon and Judging Competitions. Pictured from left to right: Callie Birdsell (coach), Titus Mough, Andrew Critcher, Ethan Critcher, Daniel Brown and Amanda Munday.

The Watauga Junior Team (Amanda Munday, Titus Mough and Andrew Critcher) placed 3rd Overall in Skillathon, 5th Overall in Goat Judging and 3rd Overall in Cattle Judging. Individually, Andrew Critcher placed 15th and Daniel Brown placed 10th in Skillathon, with Andrew Citcher placing 13th in Cattle Judging and Amanda Munday placing 14th in Goat Judging.