Frost Seeding Red Clover in Hay Fields and Pastures

Livestock producers in the Northeast tend to have very few legumes in their hay fields, and often fewer than they would like in their pastures.  Universities and popular press have extensively promoted alfalfa to dairy farmers over the last several generations, and companies have heavily invested in developing new varieties.  Under the best of conditions, alfalfa plants typically do not live more than 6 or 7 years; in situations where drainage is poor and/or pH is low, the plants will not yield well and most will disappear in less than four years.  The result of this has been that many farmers in the Northeast do not like alfalfa and many have ceased to be concerned about whether they have any legumes whatsoever. Why red clover? When discussing the merits and demerits of different pasture grass and legume species, New England dairy farmers are quick to point out that the feed quality of alfalfa is often over-stated (given lower NDF digestibility) and that grass haylage can offer tremendous quality.  If you have great grass on your farm, why consider clover at all? Compared to N-fertilized grass alone, red clover grown in combination with grass can increase annual forage dry matter yields by 30% in addition to boosting overall protei

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