How to Time Your Grazing to Improve Plant Yield and Quality

As our livestock head out to pasture, we're all thinking about how to time our grazing to get the most out of our pastures. To help with that, here's an edited excerpt from "Pastures for profit: A Guide to rotational grazing." This publication was written with graziers in the upper mid-west in mind (Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio). If that's not you, the principles of rest, grazing at the best heights, and length of grazing periods still apply. You may just need to adapt to your own growing seasons, precipitation and forages. Plant Yield and Quality Forage growth is slow when plants are small and have few leaves (early spring growth or after grazing) and yield is low. As leaves get bigger, photosynthesis increases dramatically, allowing for rapid growth and increased yields. Prior to flowering, most pasture plants are growing as fast as possible if other factors are not limiting. As plants mature, growth slows since most energy is diverted to flower and seed production. While yield is highest at heading, quality is very low. Quality is high when plants are small and vegetative and declines as plants mature. This occurs because, as plants get larger and stemmier, a greater percentage of nutrients and dry matter is tied up in undigestible forms (such as lignin). Greater amounts of undigestible fiber result in lower quality forage with decreased amounts of total digestible nutrients (TDN). The goal of a good grazing program

All the grazing management tips you need

Subscribe to read this article and over 2,500 more!

Subscribe today!

If you're already a subscriber, log in here.

One thought on “How to Time Your Grazing to Improve Plant Yield and Quality

  1. Kathy, Great article, as are most of yours! We just moved to a farm (located in Middle TN) that has been neglected for many years. I already have cattle on it and am rotating them daily. There is good forage in spots but bad in other. I’m trying to jump start regrow this of the good and knock out the bad, obviously everyone’s call when start to restore pastures. I’m letting them take the good down to about 6 inches but the bad is standing 12 inches and they don’t want it. My question: should I leave them longer so they eat down some of the bad? Should I move them when they’ve eaten the good down the 6in or less? Should I mow behind them to bring the bad down to 6in so the good gets better sunlight to regrow? Thanks!

Comments are closed.

Translate »