First Steps to Pasture Improvement

This article comes to us from staff at the Noble Research Institute in Oklahoma. I recently went on a consultation visit to a producer's farm near Noble, Okla. The last time I had been on his property was 2004. Some of his bermudagrass pastures were infested with threeawn, but for the most part, they were in fair to good condition. At that time, we assisted him with fine tuning his fertilizer applications through soil testing and recommending the appropriate nutrients to apply for his production goals. We also recommended he rotate between haying and grazing on these pastures. His native grass pastures were only in fair condition, and he wanted to improve them. We recommended he rest his better native grass pastures for at least half the growing season and rest those in the poorest condition for the entire growing season, and only graze them from frost until May 1. What a difference six years has made. His bermudagrass pastures are in excellent condition with little evidence of threeawn. They are still being managed for both bermudagrass and ryegrass for haying and grazing. The native grass pastures are in good to excellent condition and are now dominated by Indiangrass, switchgrass, big bluestem and little bluestem. Overall, his total forage production has increased significantly from 2004 to 2010. Introduced pastures, such as bermudagrass, can be rapidly improved through proper fertility, weed control and grazing management. However, native grass pastures are

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One thought on “First Steps to Pasture Improvement

  1. I think we are finding out in the Texas Gulf Coast region that all Bermuda grass is not created equal and the amount of rest required to optimize animal performance, production goals, and plant vigor can vary greatly based on the species and growing conditions. I know of one producer that had been given the advice to extend his rest periods to 80 days on a coastal/tifton 85 mix to improve grass production and had a wreck with his cows. He now uses rest periods as short as 14 days under favorable growing conditions when grazing periodically at 200,000lb/ac stock density worm multiple moves per day and only taking the top 30% of the forage and his pastures are continuously improving and his animals maintain body condition. On the other hand, I have grazed a naturally occurring lower producing Bermuda hybrid that was rested for 90 days utilizing about 75% of the forage with protein supplementation with very little loss in animal condition.

    My experience has been that most Bermuda hybrids have a low nutritional value after resting 60 days. I have seen tifton 85 grow 2 inches in one day under container grown conditions, so very short rest periods are required for tifton 85 under very favorable growing conditions to maintain forage quality and animal performance.

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