Stockpile Extra Summer Growth For Additional Winter Grazing

No-till planting forages in wheat stubble is another way to increase feed supplies.

Published on: Jul 19, 2013

In areas of Nebraska, especially the eastern part of the state, which have had abundant rain and warm, sunny weather, pastures may produce more growth than needed for your current summer stocking rates. You should consider options to use the extra growth, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska-Lincoln forage specialist.

"Sometimes we cut and bale extra growth as hay," he says. "This is a good plan if you need the hay. Other times, we simply let cattle graze what they want and leave the excess in the field.  Rebuilding surface litter that was burned up by last year's drought can be healthy for the pasture."

Here's another option, Anderson says. Try stockpiling, or saving some extra pasture growth for grazing during the winter. There are lots of advantages to winter grazing.  Less hay needs to be fed next winter. Thus, you will not need to make as much hay this summer.  And stockpiling in summer and fall followed by winter grazing is one of the best methods to improve the health of your grasslands.

Stockpile Extra Summer Growth For Additional Winter Grazing
Stockpile Extra Summer Growth For Additional Winter Grazing

If you have some run down, poor condition, low producing pastures, these often are the best candidates for winter grazing. Grasses that need invigorating will be strengthened by not grazing them during the growing season.  Your winter grazing will clean off much of the frozen growth during winter. Cattle even eat some plants like yucca and ragweed during winter that they won't hardly touch during summer. Cattle do a pretty good job of picking high quality plant parts to eat while winter grazing.

 

Post-Drought Livestock, Range And Pasture Insight. No single group of producers has been more impacted by the 2012 drought than those who raise livestock. Download our FREE report, 5 Post-Drought Strategies For A Better 2013.

 

Another idea to extend forage supplies is no-tilling forages into wheat stubble, according to Anderson

No-till planting of alfalfa, turnips, summer annual grasses, or other cover crops into wheat stubble has many advantages. Soil moisture is conserved, erosion is reduced, weed seeds remain buried, and tillage expenses are eliminated.  But despite these advantages, many growers still experience spotty stands.

To help ensure success when planting into wheat stubble, take a few extra steps. One of the biggest challenges is heavy residue, residue that might limit proper drill operation and seed placement or even might partly smother new seedlings. Residue can be especially troublesome right behind the combine even when using a good straw chopper. The best way to minimize this problem is to bale the straw and remove excess residue.

Another challenge is weeds, either annual weeds that develop after wheat is combined or volunteer wheat that sprouts later in the summer. Control weeds prior to planting with herbicides like glyphosate, Anderson recommends.  And be ready with postemerge herbicides like Select or Poast Plus when appropriate for latter emerging weeds or volunteer wheat, he adds.

 

Post-Drought Livestock, Range And Pasture Insight. No single group of producers has been more impacted by the 2012 drought than those who raise livestock. Download our FREE report, 5 Post-Drought Strategies For A Better 2013.