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The Cattle Connection

The cattlemen's connection to timely topics, current research, and profitable management strategies

I love fall grazing

Grazing cattle in the fall of the year is one of my favorite things. Tree leaves changing color, the crisp morning air, and smells of harvest all factor in, but there are other reasons I like grazing in the fall.

First, cornstalks become available. What a great way to carry cows cheap. Run a little hotwire and make sure water is available, even if you have to haul it, and you have some cheap cow feed. If you are not grazing cornstalks, you are giving up some low-cost grazing days that could be adding to your pocket roll.

Next, stockpiling fescue while on cornstalks helps continue to extend the grazing season. On the other hand, if you have abused pastures, this late-season rest will help the forage recover and come back strong next spring. Fescue becomes much more palatable after a hard freeze and the cattle perform very well on increased intakes. I sure do like fescue this time of the year.

Also, annuals seeded earlier in the year, such as oats and turnips, make excellent feed late in the year. In a year like this, most of these annuals would have been seeded following wheat or corn silage. What a great second crop they make. Cattle perform well on the mix of small grains and brassicas. Be aware fields heavy with brassicas may need some dry, high energy feed to help slow passage rate and avoid a protein-energy imbalance.

Finally, Strip-grazing will be a tactic you will want to utilize when grazing this fall. It will help increase harvest efficiency of these forages and stretch them as far as possible. Strip-grazing will also help evenly distribute manure piles, helping to evenly apply nutrients back to the field.

Best of luck as you embark on the fall grazing season. Utilize crop residues to rest or stockpile pastures. Small grains mixed with brassicas can be a huge hay saver later in the season. Take inventory of what grazing opportunities you have and plan to use that acreage efficiently.

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