Can We Graze Now?

  Yes, there is green grass. Yes, both you and the livestock are more than eager to utilize it. Yes, you both should wait before grazing it. It is one of the hardest times of the season for some people, me included. We are tired of mud and tired of feeding hay. There is an increasing amount of fresh new lush green grass beckoning to be grazed. Why shouldn’t you allow the cows to partake in this new growth? When is the ideal time to start grazing? Let’s think this over a little. What is the real problem with grazing too early? Forages have just woken up from a long winter’s nap, and now they're making new food. That early growth does not come from photosynthesis, but from from energy reserves stored in the roots and lower shoots. You probably remember some past conversations we’ve had about not overgrazing last fall, especially before the forages went dormant. Why? You wanted your plants to build root reserves to sustain themselves over winter and provide energy for new growth in the spring. Whatever energy was stored in the roots is now expressed in the speed of new spring growth. If reserves were withdrawn last fall, then it will take longer for plants to jump start this spring. If you turn around and let livestock graze too early, especially if energy reserves were withdrawn last fall, then not only is spring production going to be reduced, tot

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2 thoughts on “Can We Graze Now?

  1. Hi! My problem is that winters are pretty mild in my region lately – Hungary, Europe – (probably due to climate change; normally we used to have weather something like in Wisconsin), so I don’t know when it would be wise to start grazing stockpiling. Do grasses go dormant if there is hardly no frost till december? And if there is a couple of cold days followed by spring-like weather? Do I consume root reserves by grazing in mild winters?

  2. Great piece Victor! Always need this annual reminder to folks to be patient and to wait before grazing too soon in spring. So tempting once the green starts to show…but it sure can set back a pasture growth faster than an Easter rabbit hiding eggs….

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