LINCOLN, Neb. — Precipitation and temperature play major roles in pasture productivity and knowing how to adjust grazing to match current conditions is key. Are you shifting your management to meet recent weather?
Stocking and grazing management are not static things. When production is limited — especially during a drought period — stretching forage resources is a high priority. By this point in the year, our pastures have produced the vast majority of forage that we will get. Using temporary electric fence to cross fence can increase utilization, slowing down a grazing rotation and stretching forage considerably.
This is especially true when plants become dormant due to lack of precipitation or heat. Typically, utilization seeks to balance animal demand and plant health, but taking more of a dormant plant without damaging the crown has little impact on overall plant health.
On the flip side, grass that is getting tall and lanky ahead of a grazing rotation could benefit from flash grazing. Moving animals on and off quickly can help keep plants from getting over-mature. Keep up this fast pace while growth is rapid. Once growth slows, then the rotation can slow down as well.
Speeding up grazing when things are wet and slowing down during dry times is a great strategy to use as we adjust to the weather Mother Nature throws our way. Doing so can help you find the perfect balance for your pasture and animal health.
— Ben Beckman, Extension Educator, University of Nebraska-Lincoln