Rob Kallenbach, MU Extension forage specialist, agrees. "Grass that is nipped too short too early removes plant reserves needed for spring growth. Cool-season grasses stored sugar reserves in the lower stems last growing season. The reserves jump-start growth."
Nipping too early removes reserves and the green leaves needed for photosynthesis. Early removal slows growth all season.
Early grazing makes a lose-lose situation, the specialists say.
Management may be more critical than usual this year as pastures recover from last summer's record-breaking drought.
Sexten says to delay turning herds onto pasture until at least a 5-inch growth shows.
Nutrient needs of cows
"Allow 2,000 pounds of dry matter per acre to accumulate," he says. "Focus on the nutrient needs of the cows."
A lactating cow's daily nutrient demand equals 2.5%of her body weight. A dry cow requires 2% of body weight. Accurate cow-weight estimates are needed. Many producers underestimate how big their cows are when calculating feed needs.
Meeting nutrient demands may require buying more feed, or culling herd numbers.
Cows nursing a calf and preparing for rebreeding later this spring need nutrients. Cows with poor body condition scores are less likely to rebreed on time.
Spring-calving cow herds reach their highest nutrient requirements in April and May. Late snows delayed grass growth but brought moisture needed for that growth.
Both Sexten and Kallenbach advocate weekly or biweekly measurements of pasture dry matter growth and plotting the forage accumulation. That data guides the turn-in date for the next grazing paddock.
An MU website allows producers to enter their forage measurements to create a grazing wedge.
Source: University of Missouri Extension