Before a Frost

  • Cool-season grasses, such as Tall Fescue and Orchardgrass, are starting to regrow with the cooler fall temperatures. These grasses should be utilized, but not over grazed in the ground (leave 3–4" residue height after grazing). Evaluate pastures for clover content and assess the risk for bloat as fall regrowth occurs (when pastures are >65% clover). Continue to supply shade and plenty of cool water to reduce heat stress in herds while temperatures are s above 70 °F during the middle of the day.
  • Winter annuals can be planted as a cover crop used for grazing, hay, or silage as well. Some of the more popular winter annuals are ryegrass, wheat, kale, turnips, winter and spring oats, and triticale. These are usually seeded during late August through mid-September.

After a Non-Killing Frost (when temperatures are between 28 °F and 32 °F)

  • Do not graze summer annuals, such as sorghum sudangrass or pastures with high populations of john-songrass, for 2 weeks after a non-killing frost to reduce the threat of cyanide (prussic acid) poisoning. For more information on cyanide poisoning refer the UK publication ID-220 Cyanide Poisoning in Rumi-nants.

After a Killing Frost (when temperatures are below 28 °F)

  • Do not graze or cut alfalfa after September 15 to allow adequate time for plants to replenish root reserves. Animals can be turned back into an alfalfa stand for grazing after a killing frost.
  • Cool-season grasses will not grow much until the next spring after a killing frost, so during this time either use that forage by grazing it down short, or lose it.
  • Do not graze summer annuals, such as sorghum-sudangrass or pastures with high populations of johsongrass after a killing frost until the plant material is completely dry (toxins usually dissipate in 72 hours).
  • Continue to restrict access on tall fescue pastures that are being stockpiled. Cattle can be turned into the stockpiled pasture after November 1 after other pastures have been grazed. For best results use the strip grazing method where temporary fence is used to provide a small portion of the pasture at a time. Ideally each strip should supply the herd enough forage for 2–3 days before being moved. Stockpiled fescue usually yields 1–1.5 tons/ac. which will carry a cow for 50–75 days.

General Reminders

  • To reduce soil erosion and damage to forages remove animals from wet pastures. Consider utilizing a sacrifice paddock during wet periods.
  • Before pastures have been depleted and stored hay is fed, take forage samples to ensure quality meets the nutritional needs of the animals and supplement as needed.
  • Follow up on soil test recommendations and apply phosphate, potash, and lime as needed.