Make Plans Now for Fall, Winter, and Spring Cattle Grazing

Stockton, Mo.- “Forage seeding and management now will affect fall, winter, and spring cattle grazing,” says Patrick Davis MU Extension Regional Livestock Field Specialist.  Davis will discuss forage management and seedings that will improve cattle grazing potential through the fall, winter, and spring to decrease feed input cost as well as maintain optimum profit potential.

“Stockpile tall fescue now for a cheap cattle grazing forage resource this winter,” says Davis.  August is the time to clip or graze those pastures to 3 inches in order to prepare to stockpile tall fescue.  Then apply no more than 40 lbs. of nitrogen/acre to the fescue and remove the cattle from the pasture to allow the stockpile to develop.  Davis urges cattle producers to defer grazing the stockpile till January when concentrations of ergovaline, which is toxic to cattle, have likely fallen below the toxic threshold level of 200 ppb.

“Add cover crops to crop ground to improve soil health as well as provide a cheap feed resource for cattle to graze through the winter and spring,” says Davis.  August is the time to begin plans to seed cover crops to crop ground that will be idle this winter.  Consult your local MU Extension agronomy specialist on proper ways to seed and manage these cover crops to provide adequate winter and spring cattle grazing opportunities.

“Efficiently graze these forages through management intensive grazing or strip grazing,” says Davis.  This type of grazing involves using temporary electric wire to allocate forage based on cattle needs.  Davis urges cattle producers to allocate 3% of cattle body weight daily on a forage dry matter basis for grazing.

“Development and efficient grazing of these forage resources reduces nutritional input cost leading to optimum cattle operation profitability,” says Davis.  Cattle grazing to meet their nutritional needs is cheaper than providing supplement or stored forages.  Consult your local MU Extension livestock or agronomy field specialist for more information related to utilizing stockpile tall fescue or cover crops in your fall, winter, and spring cattle grazing program.  You may also find more information on how to improve your cattle grazing potential at