Seeding Oats and Clovers Now Improves Spring Grazing

Now is the time to seed oats and clovers to improve spring cattle grazing resources and reduce costs, says University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Patrick Davis.

Oats and clovers are forages to seed now for spring grazing to help reduce supplemental feed costs.

Graze oats approximately 60 days after planting. Begin grazing oats at 5 to 6 inches for optimum cattle performance. Initial stocking rate can be one animal to three acres. Adjust as growth changes. However, drilling is the preferred method. Drilling improves seed-to-soil contact and results in better establishment.

Grazing red clover when approximately half the plants are blooming will yield a feeding value similar to alfalfa. Longer periods between grazing white clover plants in grass stands will reduce its proportion also.

White clover is a low dry matter, high digestibility forage that has potential to cause cattle bloat. One way to prevent this is to slowly adapt the cattle to grazing the white clover.

Other preventative measures include providing supplemental proxalene or bloat blocks to cattle. Place white clover in a mixed grass stand to reduce the chance of bloat.

Red clover, a high quality legume, improves spring grazing resources with less bloat potential. Red clover, which is high in magnesium, can reduce the incidence of grass tetany. Cattle face greater risk of grass tetany during spring grazing because of low magnesium levels in lush grass. In addition, older early lactation cows are more susceptible to grass tetany due to reduced ability to mobilize magnesium and high nutrient demand.

In addition to adding red clover to pastures, producers should feed a high magnesium mineral 30 days prior to green up until grass growth is past the lush growing period to prevent grass tetany.