Is Spring Grazing Hard or Easy?

Spring — the time of year when pastures are green, growing, and soil moisture is plentiful. So, does that make grazing decisions easier or more difficult compared to mid-summer or fall when pastures are slower to grow and moisture may be lacking? Long-time grazing consultant Jim Gerrish likes to turn out at the two- to three-leaf stage of grass development. Others have suggested when grasses are about 6 inches tall.

“The grazing strategy we have used to minimize the effect of an explosive spring flush is to get across all of our pastures twice in the first 45 to 60 days of the growing season,” explains Gerrish in the upcoming issue of Hay & Forage Grower. “We move our cattle every day and have been doing so for over 30 years. We give fairly large areas and expect to make the first cycle in just 20 to 25 days. Utilization rate is low as we are just trying to get a bite off of most plants.

“We slow down on the second cycle by giving smaller areas while taking 25 to 35 days to get around. Our objective on this cycle is to take a little deeper bite to remove elongating stems. When undeveloped seedheads are being elevated from the base of the plant, they are highly nutritious and palatable. As we make paddocks smaller and increase stock density, the likelihood of grazing stock removing undeveloped seedheads is high,” he adds.

Ultimately, the goal of spring grazing is to stay ahead of the growth flush and avoid having cattle in paddock after paddock that consist of a sea of seedheads by late spring.  ~ excerpt from Mike Rankin, Hay and Forage Grower, 4/7/20

Read the full article here.