Extend Grazing With The Right Blend of Forages

Forages and controlled grazing work together to offer good nutrition throughout the year.

Published on: Sep 12, 2012
Using the Virginia Cooperative Extension publication Controlled Grazing of Virginia's Pastures by Extension agronomists Harlan White and Dale Wolf as a guide (Publication 418-012) Teutsch looks at how various forages can fit together in a best management menu.

Cool season grasses like Kentucky bluegrass, orchardgrass and tall fescue have peak growing seasons around May and September with dips in growth between, around July. Legumes with comparable growing seasons are ladino clover, red clover and alfalfa.

He counts ryegrass and small grains as cool-season annual grasses with peaks around the middle of March and between October and November.

These can be filled in during the summer with warm season grasses like bermudagrass, switchgrass and caucasian bluestem, as well as annual grasses such as sorghum-sudan, pearl millet and crabgrass. The annual grasses generally have peak growing times somewhere between May and July or August.

Stockpiling cool-season grasses in the fall allows forage growth to accumulate and offers an option for seasonal distribution. These are used to fill in between about November through the end of February.

Teutsch considers tall fescue as one of the best adapted cool-season grass and he lists its following positive traits this way:

• Tall fescue is drought tolerant.|
• It forms tough sod.
• It tolerates abuse.
• It is persistent.
• Tall fescue also stockpiles well.

On the negative side of the register tall fescue is less palatable.

For more information the Extension publication Controlled Grazing of Virginia's Pastures is available on the Internet.

Teutsch has notes from his presentation, Shrinking Feed Costs With Extended Grazing Systems, available for download in pdf form.