Select field(s) to stockpile by early August
Select the field that you are going to use for stockpiling fescue. Selecting the field or area to be allocated for stockpiling fescue in early August allows one to adjust grazing rotations or management as needed ahead of time.

Calculate the number of grazing days expected. Grazing days are determined by the number of cattle grazed and length of time you wish to graze using some general assumptions for forage availability. Remember, if you wish to move fences on weekends only, a larger area will be required.

During the fall months (August-October), cattle will need to be kept off the field that is being stockpiled. Many options are available during this time, such as grazing corn, cereal grains, annual ryegrass, alfalfa, and warm-season forages. Some may even consider feeding hay during this time instead of waiting until the winter months. It will not be as muddy and cold when setting out hay bales. Also, hay will have less exposure to weather when stored outside, which will lower hay losses.

When selecting the field be sure that cattle will have readily available access to water, especially during cold periods when open water sources could freeze.

Prepare field(s) for stockpiling in August
Graze, harvest for hay, clip or mow the pasture in early August to remove previous forage growth to a height of 3 to 4 inches. This field will not be placed into the grazing rotation until November or December after all other fields have been grazed.

Apply nitrogen in mid-August to pastures after they have been grazed, harvested for hay, or mowed, assuming adequate moisture is available. Recommended nitrogen rates range from 40 to 100 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre. Other nutrients (i.e. P & K) and lime should be added based on soil test recommendations.

Plan on beginning to graze in November or December
As alternative forages are being grazed, begin thinking about the date to begin using the stockpiled fescue.

Don’t wait too late to begin grazing stockpiled fescue. Stockpiled fescue will decline in quality over time due to weather conditions, so grazing should begin during November or December. Stockpiled fescue is generally higher quality than the average stored hay, and should be used before that quality declines. Use it or lose it! Once a killing frost occurs, fescue goes dormant until the next spring. Use the forage that is there because it will only be wasted if you don’t.

Stockpiled fescue should be strip grazed or rotationally grazed. Strip grazing is achieved by fencing off a small portion of the pasture using temporary fencing supplies and forcing cattle to be less selective. Once this area is grazed, the fence is then moved to include more of the ungrazed pasture. Plan your movements to your schedule while ensuring sufficient forage is available to maintain cattle (i.e. moving fence every day or two for maximum efficiently, or you may only wish to move the fence on weekends only).

Remember that providing mineral while cattle are grazing stockpiled fescue is still important, and the use of a portable mineral feeder may be needed depending on field design.

Always have hay in reserve. Ice and deep snow can limit or prevent grazing of stockpiled forages and hay will be required to supplement the grazing.