He adds that this year is the time for rotational grazing to extend forage. Graze the grass down to a 3-inch stubble, remove the herd, and let the grass rest for 30 days. Farmers should manage growth of pasture grasses to extend grazing well into June. Turning cattle into pastures too soon can hurt that process. He says farmers should be patient before turning cattle out and wait for warmer days and more pasture grass growth.
Weeds present a problem
However, one thing that is growing in pastures is weeds. Kallenbach says this is due to a hot, dry summer last year. Weeds in pasture are filling bare spots caused when grass died in the drought.
Winter annuals, such as henbit and chickweed, are nature's way of filling a void. The seed was already in the soil, waiting for a chance to grow. Cows will graze chickweed, which is nutritious. The only problem is that there is not much growth there. Cattle avoid henbit.
The concern is what will fill those bare spots after winter annuals are gone, Kallenbach says. If crabgrass grows, that is good. If horse nettle grows, that is not good. Tall weeds shade grass and reduce growth.
Some grasses, such as fescue, can be aggressive in reclaiming bare spots, given some good grass-growing weather.
While the long-range outlook calls for a return to normal temperatures and an opportunity for more growth of pasture grasses, Missouri's weather is full of surprises, like snow in May.
Source: University of Missouri Extension