You’ve heard of stockpiling forage for grazing through the winter. But now, with prices for harvesting hay averaging $78 per ton, and diesel fuel prices increasing, more producers are considering this option for maintaining their livestock through the winter. You might be like Brad Storie, who introduces himself as a “Beef Cattle/Hay producer” who said, “Haying is getting more and more expensive. I had to look for other options because of the economic factor.”
In addition to saving money on equipment, fuel, and labor, graziers who stockpile have also found that their cattle do better in this system. That’s because stockpiled forage is nutritionally better than hay. Beef producer Johnny Rogers says, “One of the reasons we like stockpiling is because from a nutritional standpoint it’s just simply better than hay. If you do a side by ide nutritional analysis you’ll see just about any component you want to look at, the stockpile is going to have an advantage over dry hay.” Tests show Total Digestible Nutrients at 70% in stockpile to 59% in hay and crude protein in stockpile at 15% compared to 11 % or less in hay.
Brad Storie agrees saying that at the end of the winter his cattle look better than they ever have in the past. After turning to stockpiling forage and then strip grazing it through the winter, he says, “The hay that I have made, I’m not going to make again because I’ve seen this system work.” He highly recommends the system to other farmers and ranchers saying, “The biggest thing is it’s going to be a big improvement for your pastures and your cattle.”
His comment about improved pastures is based on improved manure and nutrient distribution. Stockpile grazing means being able to recycle nitrogen and phosphorous. In fact, just 25 cows can excrete the fertilizer equivalent of 1200-300-1000 lbs over 4 months.
To learn more about stockpiling and strip grazing and it’s benefits, check out this great video from the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s East Nation Technology Support Center. Then be sure to check with your local NRCS office or your extension service staff to find out about how your pasture’s forages can be used for stockpiling. Even if you can’t start to make changes this year, it can get you on the road to planning for the future.