STOCKTON, Mo. — “The excess snow and rain have led to muddy pastures which if not managed properly can negatively impact grazing the rest of the year,” says Patrick Davis MU Extension regional livestock field specialist. Below, Davis discusses proper management of pastures coming out of the winter for successful cattle grazing during the season.
“Cattle producers need to evaluate their pastures,” says Davis. Identify pastures that are thin and in need of renovation and consider using those as sacrifice pastures. Davis urges consultation with an MU Extension agronomy field specialist to grade pastures and make decisions on potential pastures that need renovation.
“Utilize sacrifice pastures and move cattle to these pastures for hay feeding until grass is at proper grazing height,” says Davis. This management strategy helps provide fertility in the form of manure and hay in these areas which helps in the renovation process. Also, this strategy reduces the destruction of good pastures which could affect their productivity throughout the grazing season.
“Wait to turn cattle onto good cool season grass pastures until proper forage height is achieved,” says Davis. At turn-out, cool-season forages should have about 6 inches of growth. Furthermore, during the grazing season, cool season grass heights should range between 4 to 8 inches. Davis urges cattle producers to stay within this range during the grazing season to maintain optimum grass growth and quality for optimum cattle performance and productivity.
“Proper seeding and management of sacrifice pastures is important to promote grass growth so those pastures can be brought back into the grazing system,” says Davis. Davis urges cattle producers to consult MU Extension regional agronomy field specialists as well as MU Extension guide sheets G4650 and G4652 when making plans to reseed sacrifice pastures.
“Forage management is key to profitably of your cattle operation,” says Davis. For more information on these topics, contact your local MU Extension agronomy or livestock field specialist. Find additional resources at https://extension.missouri.edu/programs/nrcs-mu-grasslands-project.
— Patrick Davis, Missouri Extension
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