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.

Fall Pasture Management Affects Spring Growth

The UK Forage publication Rotational Grazing ID-143 provides a good overview of the goals of grazing management. “Good grazing management achieves the right balance between standing availability of forage, forage utilization, and animal performance. A good manager stocks pastures heavily enough to graze available forage down to a target height that will allow rapid and maximum forage regrowth (during the growing season) without compromising nutritional needs of livestock.

Harvesting Drought Stressed Soybeans for Hay

SoybeansWith much of the country affected by the drought conditions this summer, many grain producers are facing the problem of low grain yields while many livestock producers are experiencing hay shortages and may be seeking alternatives for winter feed.

Identify Fields for Stockpiling

Identify fieldsWith the rising cost and limited availability of hay over the past few years, Kentucky cattle farmers have been looking for ways to extend the grazing season and reduce the need to feed hay during the fall/winter months. Stockpiling forage is one way to meet both of these objectives.

Grazing Green Corn

Green cornSeveral options exist to provide quality grazing during seasons when many common forages have gone dormant or are less productive. Non-traditional forages can provide high quality grazing throughout the hot summer months and into the fall. Corn is mainly used in Kentucky for grain or silage.

Managing Warm Season Annuals

Warm-season annuals, such as sudangrass, sorghum X sudan-grass hybrids, and millets, are useful forages for summer graz-ing because they flourish when cool season grasses experience “summer slump”. When deciding which of these forages might fit into your grazing system, recognizing the different traits and common uses of each is important. 

Producing Quality Hay

Hay is the most commonly stored forage on most Kentucky farms. Since hay is widely utilized, understanding the factors that affect the quality of hay is important, as well as how to produce high quality hay. The ulti-mate test of hay quality is animal performance.

Starting the Grazing Season off Right

Turning livestock onto pastures as soon as forages begin to green up in the spring can be tempting. Research has shown that most cool-season grasses produce two - thirds of their season long yield during the spring of the year. Growth of these grasses slows as temperatures rise above 75°F. Properly managing stocking density during the rapid spring growth can help extend the stand of your grass. Being proactive in the spring will give positive results all year long.

Cattle Management Practices When Grazing Alfalfa

Dr. Donna Amaral-Phillips, UK Dairy Specialist - Alfalfa is a versatile crop that can be planted in pure or mixed stands with cool-season grasses (i.e. orchardgrass/tall fescue) for grazing or harvesting as stored forage. These fields can be harvested for hay when excess pasture exists and re-enter the grazing rotation when the growth of other forages slow. When alfalfa stands are starting to thin, they can be grazed instead of being preserved as hay, which can extend the use of the stand by a year or more.

Stockpiling Tall Fescue

Every day spent grazing can mean money saved. Using stockpiled forages is a great way to extend the grazing season and reduce the use of stored feed in the fall and winter months. Stockpiling is allowing vegetative growth to accumulate to be used at a later time. Using stockpiled forages can maximize utilization of pastures. Other benefits may include decreased labor, equipment use, and possibly reduce overall cost. Cost of buying hay and feed is usually the main expense for livestock producers. If hay is cut on-farm, equipment and labor costs need to be taken into consideration.