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.

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.

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.

Grazing Stockpiled Forages

The use of stockpiled forages can extend the grazing season and reduce the amount of stored feed needed to feed livestock through the fall and winter months. Stockpiling forages, or allowing forage growth to accumulate for use at a later time, can help extend the grazing season. To stockpile forages, cattle should be removed from these fields starting in August. Forage is allowed to grow and accumulate. Tall fescue is ideal to use for stockpiling as quality and digestibility decline slowly overwinter compared to other common forage species which deteriorate more rapidly after frost.

Managing Rye and Annual Ryegrass

Winter annuals, such as cereal rye and annual ryegrass, can provide a high-quality forage alternative to traditional winter feeding programs that rely heavily on stored forages. These forages can provide valuable grazing time in late fall and early winter, and again in early spring.

Assess Past Grazing Season and Plan Ahead

As the grazing season comes to an end, take time to reflect on and assess the past grazing season. It is important to continually make an effort to improve and advance a managed grazing system. When planning for the upcoming grazing season, decide on a purposed budget and time limitation. If you have little or no budget to make improvements to your grazing system, simple changes to management practices can make significant improvements.

Creep Grazing

Getting beef calves to gain weight as efficient as possible is every producer’s goal, and creep feeding calves can help achieve that. Two main types of creep systems are used; creep grazing and creep feeding a concentrate-based supplement. Creep grazing pastures can add pounds to a calf’s weaning weight. In creep grazing, nurs-ing calves either graze fields before the cows, getting first choice of the more luscious, higher quality pasture, or they have access to different pas-tures that cows cannot graze.

Prepare Now for Optimum Pastures and Hayfields in 2017

By S. Ray Smith Extension Forage Specialist, University of Kentucky - Have you ever given advice and then not taken that advice yourself. I’m sure my kids could tell you a few stories about that. At almost every forage meeting I speak at I emphasize the importance of soil testing hay and pasture fields. I say something like: “if you do not take a soil test, then how do you know if you are over-fertilizing or under-fertilizing.” If you over-fertilize, then you are spending money that could be used for other things.