Optimal forage production for either grazing or haying is rooted in some basic fundamentals. Larry Redmon, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, offers these 10 specific strategies to consider for your forage production system.
- Have a written plan.
- Use the right stocking rate. Many ranches and farms are overstocked for various reasons such as increased animal size; lack of fertility and decreased forage production; lack of weed/insect control; distance of water from forage; slope greater than 10% to forage; brush density; rock cover in specific pastures; and drought.
- Soil test and apply fertilizer based on soil test recommendations.
- Protect the forage production investment. Insect control is often overlooked in forage production. Be sure to scout pastures for insects and consider treating for grasshoppers or fall army worm when first noticed.
- Protect the hay investment. Provide some type of covering to protect baled hay from the elements, which reduce quality over time.
- Don’t guess, get a forage analysis for the hay.
- Consider alternatives to feeding hay
- Consider alternatives to inorganic fertilizer
- Include forage legumes where applicable
- Consider your forage base. Choose forage species that don’t require as many inputs, such as fertilizer.