Friday, July 19, 2024
HomePasture HealthForageIt's Time To Start Thinking About Stockpiling to Extend Your Grazing Season

It’s Time To Start Thinking About Stockpiling to Extend Your Grazing Season

In this 5:00 video two On Pasture authors, Troy Bishopp and John Suscovich, talk about how it is that on December 8, they’re standing in a pasture watching Troy’s cattle graze.

As Troy says, it takes planning, timely rains, and good fertility. First, you need enough land to be able to defer grazing in some of your pastures so the forage can grow into the fall and be there for you after the first frost. If you get good moisture, your stockpile will grow better. And as Troy mentions, you can give your stockpile a boost with fertilizer. One study in Wisconsin showed that 60 pounds/acre of nitrogen applied on August 1 increased yield of stockpiled forage by nearly 75% over non-fertilized pastures. Different locations may require different amounts of nitrogen, so contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office, Conservation District Office or an extension agent in your area.

Best Forages for Stockpiling

The much maligned tall fescue is actually one of the most preferred stockpile grasses. In the Wisconsin experiment mentioned above, tall fescue was followed by early-maturing orchardgrass, with late-maturing orchardgrass usually ranked third. Nitrogen application increase crude protein across all grass species.

Will You Be Perfect in Year One?

You heard it from Troy, he’s gotten better with every year he’s practiced stockpile grazing. So don’t expect perfection from yourself either. Be sure you have a backup plan in case there’s not enough fall moisture, or something unexpected happens.

More Resources

To help you out, here’s a link to Troy’s series of On Pasture articles mentioned in the video following him through his 2014 stockpiled grazing season.

And if you’re interested in reading Jim Gerrish’s book “Kick the Hay Habit,” click on over to the On Pasture Shop where there’s a link so you can order your copy.

Finally, here’s an article by Laura Paine and Ken Barnett of the University of Wisconsin with more details about the Wisconsin stockpile experiment.


Have questions, suggestions, or experiences to share? Let your On Pasture Community know in the comments below.

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Kathy Voth
Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.

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