"Pastures might be green and growing, but their ability to handle further stress has lessened," Anderson explains.
Anderson suggests waiting 10 to 14 days later to let animals out for grazing. Feeding on leftover hay or other forages from winter for this extra time will give permanent pastures much needed recovery time.
"Any permanent pasture that was really stressed last year is going to have some really weak plants in it," Anderson says. "And we've got to be careful that we don't overstress those plants early in the spring."
Planting annual forages also can help relieve some of the pressure on stressed pastures and forage supplies. The drought severely depleted hay supplies last year, so planting oats, grasses and millets can compensate for some of that problem.
"These annuals can be very productive in terms of the amount of forage they produce to rebuild that hay supply," he adds.
With the recent rain, Anderson thinks some pastures might hold an opportunity for fertilizer. Application will not be appropriate in all fields, but might stimulate growth in others. In pastures that have enough moisture in normal years, fertilizer will help take advantage of existing rain moisture to help pastures recover.
"We have to keep the stocking rate conservative to give plants a chance for a lengthy, long-term recovery," he says. "They cannot be continually grazed short."
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