Brace Yourself for SPRING!

Published on: 16:24PM Dec 05, 2013

 Increase your GRASS Profit$


The cost of cattle production is rising and producers seeking to put more grass weight on their cattle are finding that sound pasture management has never been more attractive and/or profitable.


Here are some tips on increasing the profitability of your forages.


-          Consult your neighbors/grazing experts about the specifics of your local area before proceeding.

-          Attend "Local" grazing conferences.  This is the time of the year when most of them are held.

-          Stockpile some forages.   Next August begin setting aside a supply of forage ( an extra pasture), to use after forage growth has ended in the fall. This practice is also referred to as "deferred grazing."


Forages adaptable to stockpiling include perennials such as…


-          Tall fescue

-          Orchardgrass

-          Ryegrass


Overseeding/Frost seeding a pasture or hayfield will increase both quantity and quality of forage.  But beware!  As I learned from adding too much clover and alfalfa to our pasture mix, if you plan to take a "1st cutting" off your pastures in the spring prior to turning out your cattle, It’ll take forever to dry and bail.  And if you do small square bales,  your wife will complain the whole time your unloading the wagons!  Up here in the North-East sometimes dry-down can take as long as 5-6 day’s depending on the relative humidity and overnight temperatures.  However, summer pastures over-seeded with Legumes work best for providing a nitrogen source and improving over-all pasture quality.   The legumes that work best, no matter where in the country you live, are red and white clovers.


Cool season pastures. "Cool season grasses can help you extend the green period across as much of the growing period as possible and improve livestock weight gain.   Perennial cool season pasture grasses grow in dry land conditions not drought stricken area’s and can supplement native range by providing a month or more of nutritious grazing in the spring and possibly again in the fall.  Kinda like growing lettuce and broccoli in your garden.


Rotational grazing.   A rotational grazing program such as what we use on our farm/ranch, uses several pastures or "paddocks" with one being grazed while the others are rested for a minimum of 3 weeks.  We divide our pasture into smaller areas called paddocks and move our cattle from one to the next, determined by the number, size and condition of our cattle, rate of forage growth which is directly related to weather, or the lack thereof and layout of the paddocks.


The practice of rotational grazing can increase net profit

by reducing the cost of machinery, fuel and storage facilities;

and by cutting back on supplemental feeding and pasture waste.


Extended Grazing.  We leave our herd on pasture into the fall and winter, utilizing perennial pastures held in reserve, remember "stockpiling forages".   For those of you who supplement your cattle with feed, STOP!

It has been estimated that each day your cattle graze on pasture, your feed costs could be cut in half.


Another advantage to grazing your cattle in rotational pastures/paddocks.  Costs of hauling manure is reduced, and nutrients are returned to the land naturally to be used by growing forages while in the rest cycle of your rotational grazing program.