Utilizing Summer Annuals in Your Grazing System

Thanks go to Ben Beckman, Nebraska Extension Educator, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln's BeefWatch team for this article.   Whether grazed, harvested for hay, or cut for silage, warm season annual grasses are the kings of forage production. Common species like forage sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum/sudangrass hybrids, and millets grow best under warmer temperatures, with peak performance at 75-90°F. All species are highly productive with sudangrass on the lower end producing 3-5 tons per acre and forage sorghum recording yields up to 11 tons per acre. While all three species are able to be used in a variety of different ways, knowing your end goal can make selecting one species over the other a bit easier. Forage sorghum has the highest growth, typically reaching heights of 8-13 feet. Stems and leaves are similar in size to corn, so drying down can be difficult. With this in mind, the primary use of forage sorghum is silage, where quality can be expected to be slightly lower than corn silage. Grazing forage sorghum is also an option, but expect plenty of waste. Animals will strip leaves off the large stems and either leave them standing or trample them to the ground

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