We have all seen the dreaded sight of buzzards circling above the calving pasture. This should cause alarm, especially with the increased presence of the black headed buzzards (technically called the black vulture).
Thanks to the help of the University of Kentucky Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, we were able to try out one of the black vulture effigies (a replica of a dead black vulture). Vultures have a strong sense of mortality and if they see one of their own dead somewhere, they tend to leave that area alone so that they too don't have the same fate.
We hung the effigy on a power pole next to the calving barn. The ideal scenario is to have the effigy next to the area you are trying to protect, and have the decoy hanging so that it is free to move with the wind. This will draw more attention to the effigy and have a stronger effect at deterring the vultures.
We made a homemade bracket to hang it off of using some scrap 2x6's for a fencing project. We used one with a knot hole so that the rope would not slide around and it would hold the rope out from the pole at a consistent length.
We used the tractor to hang the effigy so that it is approximately 10 foot off the ground.
Since hanging the effigy we have noticed that it has been successful in keeping the black vultures away from the calving pasture. We have not had any instances of black vultures landing, or harassing the new born calves. Interestingly, the effigy did not seem to deter the red headed turkey vultures. They will still land and eat baby calf manure and afterbirth. I consider this a success since the turkey vultures do not kill animals, they only eat things that are already dead.
After we finish calving we will take the effigy down so that the vultures do not get used to it being there all the time. Then next calving season we will hang it back up and hopefully we will experience the same success as we have this year. If you wish to leave it up year round it is recommended that you move the effigy to different locations to keep the vultures form getting used to it, and therefore keeping it effective.
If you are interested in building your own effigy you can follow the link below for the directions, provided by the UK Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.
- Dr. Jimmy Henning, Adapted from Grazing News
Literally thousands of acres of Kentucky pasture and hay fields are overseeded with clover, much of it frost-seeded in late winter. Yet this is one of the few times where crops are seeded where we halfway expect not to get a stand. You would not accept this for corn or soybeans. Here are a few tips to ensure you have the best chance of getting clover established from a frost-seeding.
1) Address soil fertility needs. Get a current soil test, and apply the needed nutrients. Clovers need soil that is pH 6.5 to 7 and medium or better in P and K. Do not apply additional N except for that supplied from diammonium phosphate (DAP) if used to supply the needed P. But get the soil test; anything else is just a guess.
2) Select a good variety. Choose an improved variety with known performance and genetics. Choosing a better red clover variety can mean as much as three tons of additional hay and longer stand life. Spread enough seed. UK recommends 6 to 8 pounds of red and 1 to 2 pounds of white/ladino clover per acre. Apply higher rates if using only one clover type. Applying the minimum (6 lb. red and 1 lb. white) will put over 50 seeds per square foot on the field (37 red, 18 white).
3) Make sure seed lands on bare soil. Excess grass or thatch must be grazed and/or disturbed until there is bare ground showing prior to overseeding. The biggest cause of seeding failure with frost seedings is too much ground cover. Judicious cattle traffic or dragging with a chain harrow can accomplish this.
4) Get good seed-soil contact. With frost seeding, we depend on the rain and snow or freeze-thaw action of the soil surface to work the clover seed into the top ¼ inch of soil. A corrugated roller can also be used soon after seeding to ensure good soil contact.
5) Control competition next spring. Do not apply additional N on overseeded fields next spring, and be prepared to do some timely mowing if grass or spring weeds get up above the clover. Clover is an aggressive seeding but will establish faster and thicker if grass and weed competition is controlled.
Clover can be reliably established into existing grass pastures with a little attention to detail. Soil fertility, variety, seeding rate, seed placement and competition control are the major keys to success.