Rebuild Pastures for Drought-Stressed Cows

Feeding cows hay now allows grass to recover, allows more nutrition when grazing later

Published on: Oct 1, 2012

Delaying grazing is a win-win, he said. The growth will aid pasture recovery. And more stockpile will accumulate than if the grass is grazed as it emerges this fall.

Pastures that didn't grow for months during drought will be in weak condition. Many pastures may need renovation in addition to recovery time, Kallenbach says. "Likely there are bare spots and more weeds. That adds to reduced productivity on pastures recovering from drought."

Be careful when interseeding
The MU specialists urge caution in interseeding another grass variety into a weakened stand. Vigorous new growth shades and further weakens surviving grass.

Kallenbach recommends complete renovation if grass covers less than 75 percent of the ground. That may require a yearlong process if converting from toxic endophyte-infected Kentucky 31 to new novel-endophyte fescues that don't contain toxins.

Renovation must assure none of the old fescue survives in the newly seeded pastures. That requires the proven spray-smother-spray recipe developed at MU. The old surviving fescue is sprayed with glyphosate herbicide to start eradication. Then a winter annual grass, such as wheat or cereal rye, is drilled into the surviving fescue sprigs. This growth smothers most remaining fescue.

Next spring, after grazing or baling the cereal-grain forage, any surviving toxic fescue is sprayed again. Only then should the field be replanted to new grass.

"Toxic fescue is tough to kill," Kallenbach says. "Those 50-year-old stands have survived more than one drought. If you renovate fescue sod, do it right the first time."

Source: University of Missouri Extension