Stockpiled Fescue Demo Completed in 14-15 Results

The Master Grazer program conducted several stockpiling tall fescue research demonstrations across the state last year. The five different counties (Madison, Meade, Oldham, Pulaski, and Warren) completed stockpiling fescue research demonstrations between November 2014 and January 2015. These demonstrations were designed to measure (1) the number of days the grazing season was extended while grazing stockpiled fescue and (2) the impact of applying 100 units of urea (46 lbs. of actual N) would have on stockpiled fescue yield and number of grazing days.

Grazing Small Grains

Small cereal grains, such as wheat, rye, oats, and barley, are multipurpose crops that can be used for grazing, silage, or hay production. Grazing pure stands of small grains is an effective way to extend the grazing season into the late fall and early winter, and then again in February/March for early spring grazing. Small grains are commonly planted in Kentucky as part of the crop rotation with corn and soybeans. They also serve as a cover crop to reduce soil erosion and utilize previous nitrogen applications.

Winter Feeding to Protect Pasture

Sunny fall days make it hard to think about the approaching winter months and the less than ideal feeding conditions that come with the rain, cold and snow of Kentucky winters. Some producers can prolong the grazing season by utilizing stockpiled forages or winter annuals they planted in the fall. However, most producers at some point will have to feed a form of stored forage during the winter months and special consideration should be given to protect pastures while delivering winter feed.

Using Cover Crops for Grazing Cattle

PlantsThe use of cover crops prevents soil erosion, increases soil organic matter and microbial activity, improves soil water retention, recycles nutrients and decreases soil compaction. Cover crops also provide an excellent way to extend the grazing season.

Grazing Cover Crops

The amount of pasture acres has decreased in Kentucky the last several years while the amount of row crop acres has increased. With this increase in row crop acres, grazing cover crops in cropping rotations has generated some interest. People feel that grazing cover crops is the final step in making a cover crop program reach its full potential. Producers who are in the crop business as well as beef cattle industry say that grazing cover crops helps significantly save on feeding costs. Research has shown cover crops help improve the soil health at the same time.

Grazing Corn Residues

Grazing remaining residue following corn harvest is one way to extend the grazing season and lower feed costs. Winter feed costs are the largest expense and grazing corn residues offers a way to significantly reduce those costs. According to the Iowa State University Beef Cattle Center, for every acre of corn residues grazed, approximately a ½ ton of hay will be saved. Grazing crop residues will not impact crop yield the following year. Also, adequate residue is left on the field to reduce soil erosion.

Grazing Corn

Many options exist to provide quality grazing during seasons when many common forages have gone dormant. Some non-traditional forages can provide high quality grazing throughout the early fall, late winter, early spring, or hot summer months. Grazing standing corn or corn residue can be a valuable method to extend the grazing season and reduce stored feed needs without the expenses of harvesting and feeding equipment. Corn is mainly produced in Kentucky by livestock producers for grain or silage but this warm-season annual grass can be successfully grazed in summer, fall, or winter. 

Late Summer Nitrogen Application: Will They Pay in 2015

We are close to the point where some livestock farmers would start to apply nitrogen to tall fescue pastures to boost production levels and stockpile for fall and winter grazing. Since there are many factors that will impact the profitability of this practice, the question at hand is: Under what set of conditions will applying nitrogen to pastures pay this year?

Stockpiling Fescue

This past winter the Master Grazer Educational program conducted several stockpiling demonstrations across KY for producers to see the benefits of extending the grazing season using stockpiled fescue. One of these demonstrations was implemented in Oldham County by producer Dr. Maynard Stetton. He has completed the Master Grazer and Master Cattleman program’s and has been implementing stockpiling fescue on his farm for several years, and was eager to see the impact adding nitrogen could have. His operation consists of a registered Angus cow/calf herd.

Grazing Alfalfa in Fall and Winter

Dairy grazingAlfalfa is one of the most productive forage legumes grown in Kentucky. Traditionally, cutting it for hay has been the preferred method of harvest, but by following simple management practices it makes an excellent quality pasture.