Protect Your Pastures and Hay Fields While Fall Grazing

This piece comes to us from Gene Pirelli, Extension Animal Scientist at Oregon State University and Steve Fransen, Extension Forage Agronomist at Washington State University Fall is one of the most

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4 thoughts on “Protect Your Pastures and Hay Fields While Fall Grazing

  1. 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. 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?

    1. 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.

    2. 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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