When Can You Start Grazing A New Planting?

Here's a response from Genevieve at Kings Agriseeds for a reader who asked: "When can you start grazing a new planting? What if it’s an oats/peas combo, or some other mix? How do you know it’s good to graze? What is a good way to manage it?" Timing to start grazing varies for each species and mix, as well as whether or not you plan to get regrowth out of the crop, what animal species you are grazing, and what your grazing system looks like. In general, you want to maximize the yield of this first grazing, without sacrificing quality and regrowth potential, but the exact balance of quality and yield will depend on your operation. Quality When managing for maximum yield at a high forage quality level, manage for the species that will lose quality the fastest as the mix matures. For many grass-legume mixes, this is the grass. For example, it's the oats in a pea-oat mix, or the sorghum-sudan and millet in our Ray’s Crazy Summer Mix. As grasses get taller and begin to head out, the stem increases in lignin content, while fiber digestibility and protein take a nosedive. So the best approach is to look for the stage at which the primary grass in the mix is normally ready to graze. That's flag leaf to boot stage for many grasses and small grains, and about waist high for warm season grasses like sorghum-sudan and millet. For cool season perennial grasses and tall growing legumes (al

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One thought on “When Can You Start Grazing A New Planting?

  1. Grazing new seedings with cattle – do a pull test, grab a handful of new growth and tear sideways like a cow would, if it shears off and there are no roots, it’s established well enough to graze. If we no till establish and don’t destroy soil structure, the new seeding is ready to graze sooner than when soil is worked.

    If you’re using a cover crop of peas/oats or something. You would still want to do the same test, but now you’re also trying to manage light & moisture competition between the cover cop and longer term seeding underneath he canopy.

    getting sunlight to the seeding sooner is better than waiting for highest yield from the peas/oats. More often than not I see producers waiting too long to start grazing, shade is no friend to new seedings.

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