Rucker’s Ramblings

By Phillip Rucker Jr. - For The Yadkin Ripple

Cattle producers meeting

There will be a County Cattle Producers meeting for both Davie and Yadkin producers March 6 at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Center Community Building in Mocksville. We will be discussing utilizing different forages to help fill in the gaps when pasture grasses are a little weak. We all know it’s hard to have a great stand of grass 365 days of the year.

Dr. Deidre Harmon from NC State University will present some different forages and strategies to help “beef-up” your pastures when your grasses might need some help. We all have experienced gaps in our forage production. Come, be ready to join in this discussion as we can always learn some practical ways to “Fill In those Forage Gaps.”

There will be a sponsored meal so make reservations by 3 p.m. on March 2. Contact the Extension Office, Davie (336-753-6100) or Yadkin (336-849-7908) or email to make a reservation or for more information. Cattle performance slows down when the forage supply is less than desired. Come learn how to improve your forage that will produce more pounds of quality cattle. At today’s prices, reduced production can really hinder your bottom line.

The next meeting will be in April so watch your email or mailbox for more information.

Special accommodations will be made for the physically disabled, vision, or hearing impaired person upon request. If special accommodations are required, please call Phil Rucker at 753-6100 or 849-7908, a week before the event.

General management tips

• Work on hay equipment now instead of when you need it.

• Provide livestock plenty of clean water, feed and adequate shelter.

• Keep your horse’s coat clean from mud. Mud reduces the natural insulation properties.

• Make cost effective decisions on fertilizing grassland.

• Utilize feeding strategies to reduce wasted feed.

• Get those hooves checked out by your farrier. Winter is tough on feet and legs.

• Plan your war against flies now. Use the most cost effective method for your operation.

• Think about weeds that were a problem and make plans to control them in 2018.

• Reduce stocking rates to reduce stress on grass and improve forage vigor.

Pasture and hayland projects

Pastures were confused this past year with the dry, then wet, cool then warm and don’t forget the week of really cold. As a result, some pastures might need some renovation. Now is not the best time to plant cool season grasses. Fall is the best time so we need options to get us through till then. Call me if you have questions. We will come up with some options to help your pastures feed your livestock.

Fertilizer is a necessity this year to help with forage growth. The confusing weather in 2017 has weakened many forages. They will need some extra nutrients to perform well this spring. For some, cutting costs can be good, but being more efficient is better. Proper grazing and harvesting management, along with a good weed control program strengthens the forage stand, which increases the effectiveness of fertilizer applications. Utilizing several or even one of these management practices will increase the effectiveness of your fertilizer application. Don’t decide you can’t afford to fertilize this year. You must look at ways to be more cost effective with your fertilizer applications.

Trying to starve a profit into forage production will eventually lead to a weakened stand and unwanted expense to save it or start over. Control weeds to help grass thrive. Good management through fertilizer and proper grazing practices result in a strong stand that can compete with most weeds. If you must use chemicals, now through late March is a good time to spray many cool season weeds. After three days of high temperatures in the 60’s, apply up to 2 pints of 2,4-D per acre for buttercup and a few other weeds. This rate of 2,4-D will not kill established clover but can damage seedling clover.

Mixing additional herbicides, such as Banvel (dicamba), will help control a wider variety of weeds but increases the risk of clover injury. There are many other chemical options but some will hurt clover and/or leave a residue. When utilizing any herbicide; read and follow label directions. Be sure to treat these winter annual weeds before blooms appear or you will be disappointed with the results.

Many other herbicide options are available in addition to 2,4-D and Banvel. Call me if you have questions or need additional information. Sound management will help you keep a strong stand of grass that will work for you for years.

With a few management practices, pastures and hay land can be very productive, providing abundant quality forage to our livestock. Isn’t that what we want? Contact me if I can help or answer any questions. Recommendations for the use of chemicals are included in this publication as a convenience to the reader. The use of brand names and any mention or listing of commercial products or services in this publication does not imply endorsement by the North Carolina Cooperative Extension nor discrimination against similar products or services not mentioned.

Individuals who use chemicals are responsible for ensuring that the intended use complies with current regulations and conforms to the product label. Be sure to obtain current information about usage and examine a current product label before applying any chemical. For assistance, contact an agent of the North Carolina Cooperative Extension in your county.

Grass tetany

When the grass starts to turn green and grow, grass tetany is a threat, especially to cows nursing calves. Magnesium in commercial mineral supplements or home mixtures should be provided. Your goal is to getone ounce of magnesium oxide in the cow each day. Also a mixture of 3 pounds magnesium oxide with 97 pounds of grain or protein supplement fed at 2 pounds per head per day will work. Start feeding high magnesium now, if you are not already. It takes a while to build the levels high enough to resist grass tetany. It’s not an overnight thing and good preparation can save you some headaches later on this spring.

Upcoming events

March 3 Iredell Select Cattle Sale, noon, Turnersburg

March 6 Cattle Producers Meeting, 6:30 p.m., Mocksville

March 7-8 Artificial Insemination School, Mount Airy

March 14 Novel Fescue Renovation Workshop, Raleigh

March 24 NC Herford Sale, Statesville

May 2 Pesticide Collection Day, Yadkinville

May 5 Spring Fever Angus Sale, Reidsville

Free pesticide collection day in Yadkin

If you have old pesticides that are taking up space in your barn, garage or storage shed, make plans to bring them to the free Pesticide Disposal Day. NCDA&CS will accept any pesticide, (insecticide, fungicide, herbicide, etc.) in original containers and clearly labeled. There is no charge for this service: however, we cannot accept products with unknown identities, or not in pesticide containers. Paints, oils and other hazardous waste will NOT be accepted. The collection day is not just for Yadkin County but for Davie and surrounding counties as well.

The collection is May 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Yadkin County Landfill. Call the Yadkin Extension Office (336-849-7908) for more information or directions. Come and properly dispose of any unwanted pesticides.

Flies affect everyone

Flies are attracted to all livestock and poultry because manure and leftover feed are food sources for them. Flies can reduce animal performance as well as irritate human and animal alike. The recent weather has been pretty wet, setting-up a potential banner year for flies. Make your battle plans now. Don’t wait until the animals are covered, your outside activities are invaded or even worse, your neighbors complain and relationships might be strained. Please contact me for fly control options before they become a major problem.

Grazing horses this spring

The horse is at a higher health risk during periods of lush grass growth. Through photosynthesis, grass makes fructane (simple carbohydrate) all day while the sun is shining. High levels of fructanes can cause laminitis and other serious issues. At night, those fructanes are used by the grass to grow or are stored in the root system. Thus, you can decrease the risks by grazing during the night and early morning while fructane levels are low. It would be a good idea to stable the horse during the day, during periods of lush growth or otherwise limit free access to pasture. Maybe use poly-wire temporary cross fencing to allow only a little fresh grass each day during lush growth. Using a grazing muzzle during daytime turnout would help reduce the risks also.

Beginners beekeeper course

The Yadkin County Beekeepers will be holding a Beginners Beekeeper Course on March 10, 17 and 24 at Union Cross Friends Church in Yadkinville. The class begins at 9 a.m. and goes to noon each day. The Bee Yard will be March 31 and April 7 from 9 a.m. to noon. There is a $35 fee which includes an information book. For more information, call Ron Duncan at 704-402-8645 or email at

Don’t drift off to spring yet

We have experienced some warmer temperatures than we had in the recent past. I have started seeing a little green in the pastures. Don’t be fooled. We are not done with winter yet. Keep tabs on your feed supply and make sure you have enough to get you through until we have adequate grass growth. Wouldn’t surprise me for another cold snap or even some snow or ice to make one last guest appearance before we really get into spring.

Farmer energy usage survey

Dr. Mark Knauer asked agents to pass along this survey to farmers to help this student gather research information. If you feel so led to help, I’m sure your answers will be appreciated. I am not saying to do or not do the survey. Just passing it along. Brianna King (Ohio farmer and current Duke University student) is looking to survey NC farmers on energy usage. I think this is an excellent opportunity for farmers to tell their story through an “agvocate.” She is hoping to get it filled out by as many livestock farmers in North Carolina as possible! Here is the link to the survey:

Novel tall fescue renovation workshop

Please find attached information regarding the Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop to the held at the Martin Building (NC State Fair Grounds) on March 14. This event is designed for producers and folks working with producers who are serious about replacing KY 31 Fescue with an improved novel endophyte varieties. The training is very detailed and will feature nationally known experts as well as local producers with renovation experience. This one day workshop will give you the tools and information needed to remove toxic fescue and replace it with novel tall fescue varieties.

Topics include: Fescue Toxicosis – Symptoms and Causes, Economics, Establishment and First Year Management, Company Products and a Producer Panel. The workshop starts at 8:30 a.m. and concludes around 5 p.m. It will be a very comprehensive workshop. Register at Registration fee before March 2 is $60 per person and after March 2 is $75 per person. This includes lunch, snacks and proceedings. This is a great opportunity to hear nationally known speakers discuss solutions to a forage problem we have known about for a long time but have just tried to learn how to cope instead of solve the problem. Come be part of the solution. Let me know if you have questions about this event.

Cattle artificial insemination course

There will be a two-day Cattle AI course offered at the Mount Airy Livestock Exchange on March 7 and 8 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will have hands-on training to learn proper insemination techniques, semen handling, sire selection, heat synchronization programs and much more. The course costs $250 and advanced registration is required by March 2. There is a minimum and maximum number of participants. Reserve a spot now. If not enough participants, they will cancel the class. When the maximum limit is reached, no more registrations will be accepted. Register by calling 336-593-8179 or by

Phil Rucker is an extension agent with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension. He can be reached at 336-849-7908 or 336-753-6100 or by email at

Agriculture news and tips

By Phillip Rucker Jr.

For The Yadkin Ripple