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Protect Your Pastures and Hay Fields While Fall Grazing

By   /  September 19, 2016  /  4 Comments

Be careful not to hurt your pasture stand this fall. Read about tips for successful fall pasture management.

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This piece comes to us from Gene Pirelli, Extension Animal Scientist at Oregon State University and
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About the author

Publisher, Editor and Author

Kathy worked with the Bureau of Land Management for 12 years before founding Livestock for Landscapes in 2004. Her twelve years at the agency allowed her to pursue her goal of helping communities find ways to live profitably AND sustainably in their environment. She has been researching and working with livestock as a land management tool for over a decade. When she's not helping farmers, ranchers and land managers on-site, she writes articles, and books, and edits videos to help others turn their livestock into landscape managers.


  1. Jess Jackson Jr says:

    Curt – depending upon where you are geographically there is an opportunity for winter grazing if your forage to animal ratio is balanced. I worked with dairies in Iowa where the cattle had plenty of bunk feed but still loved to go graze in 15 degree weather and 10 inches of snow as long as the dormant forage was several inches long. Stubble height matters so even then never lower than 3-4 inches. I’m a fan of lots of paddocks but you have to see what fits for you.

  2. Curt Gesch says:

    Does it hurt the pasture at all to let the cows have a little exercise on a completely dormant field? A snow-covered field? We have only a few cows and keep their winter quarters very clean, and have space for them to move around, but still. . . it seems that boredom must be a factor, too? What do you think?

    • Kathy Voth says:

      Gene dropped me a note and says that their research showed that “even dormant cool season grasses contain sugars. Grazing dormant grasses is not recommended below the 3 inch level in order to preserve the food reserves for the plant.”

      So it seems that as long as your grass heights stay at or above the 3″ level while the cows are out stretching their legs, things will be ok.

    • Richard Bowling says:

      Excellent Article Kathy! Have been preaching that for years and this ties it all together. Curt, something we encourage at USDA NRCS in KY is having a sacrifice field for the winter to protect the forage base on the rest of the farm. In KY we tend to have the need to renovate fields after 5 or more years. Doing a sacrifice field in one of the upcoming renovation fields is a good option to think about.

      Richard Bowling, Grazing Specialist, KY USDA-NRCS

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