Determine pasture needs in June to be ready for fall

Determine pasture needs in June to be ready for fall

grazing livestockgrazing livestock
(File photo of the farm and dairy)

As we work in the heat from June through July, many of our cool season forages begin to enter a period of low production.

Continuous monitoring of pasture fields to determine forage levels will help us anticipate the likely decline in production.

Improve pastures

With the lack of production from our cool-season perennial pastures, we can turn to no-till seeding to supplement and enhance the nutrition we provide to grazing livestock.

At this time of year we can make two management choices: plan to increase the forage stock for this year only and maximize the amount of pasture production to make it a “grass factory” or take a long-term stance. term to increase biodiversity within a pasture. or even convert part of it into a habitat that thrives in the summer heat.

Potential options and benefits include:

Crimson clover. Sow at a rate of 20 to 25 pounds/acre. Widely adopted cool-season annual legumes increase yields with good crude protein while providing nitrogen to the soil.

Pearl millet. Sow at a rate of 15 to 20 pounds/acre. It should be grazed once it approaches 20 to 24 inches and allowed to begin regrowth once grazed to 8 to 10 inches.

Teff. Sow at a rate of 5 pounds/acre. Caution is advised here, as the floor must perform very well. The teff seed is very small and must have excellent seed-to-soil contact to become established. It produces the best dry fodder. If desired, it can also be suitable for grazing with good management.

Big blue trunk. Sow at a rate of 7 to 10 pounds/acre. This is a warm season grass native to Ohio.

This is an example of long-term improvement, because the implementation phase is often cumbersome and costly. The success of the Big Bluestem must employ rotational or intensively managed grazing strategies, as it cannot tolerate close, continuous grazing.

Note that the seeding rates for this purpose are late June and early July, based on one seeder. If you are considering seed broadcasting, consult your county Extension educator for a more detailed plan based on your county.

Feed for need

These five examples cover a wide range of demands on our pastures. When considering pasture as a feed source to meet needs, we need to consider where our livestock are in their life cycle.

For example, my beef cattle have calves alongside them and are exposed to mature bulls, so their nutritional requirements would be considered high.

Conversely, the ewes in the flock are dry and at maintenance levels. This period is before the start of the breeding season in the coming months, so nutritional requirements are considered low.

Note that there are many variables to consider for the livestock on my operation, and your needs may differ at this time of year. One of the most critical elements, besides testing your pasture crops, is testing your soil and forage.

Keeping records allows you, as a grower, to understand nutritional needs or deficits to supplement when needed.

It offers potentially better long-term performance with more benefits for your pasture forage and livestock operation.

As always, consult and develop a relationship with your Ohio State University Agricultural Extension and Natural Resources Educator for the most current research-based information.

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