Spring Turnout

Jeff McCutcheon, Extension Educator, Knox County

With the stretch of warmer weather I have started to notice a greener color to the pasture fields. I have even noticed livestock grazing in fields you would swear there was nothing to graze. Soon it will be time for the question ‘When should you start grazing cool-season pastures in the spring?’

The recommendation to graze a field is usually given in forage height. Depending on the forage species and the animals used to graze, the general recommendation is to turn animals into a field when the forage height is between six and ten inches. Continue reading

February Pasture Management

Bob Hendershot, State Grassland Conservationist, USADA Natural Resources Conservation Service

Ohio pastures have been under stress from the dry summer, very cold November and a warm January. The dry conditions last summer and early fall did not allow for much growth. The very cold November stopped growth much earlier than normal. We all saw some grass growth this past January with the warmer than normal temperatures. The growth was not enough to help the plants with their energy reserves. The normal February weather will freeze off that growth if your animals did not already eat it.

How you managed your pastures the last six months will determine how well they will grow this spring and summer. If they were overgrazed in the summer and fall, pugged up by the animals in January and not allowed any rest, there will be little bud or root development. These plants will be slow to start to grow this spring. These pastures will need to be rested this spring. Utilizing portable fencing and rotating paddocks quickly so not to hurt or stunt early spring growth will pay big dividends later in the grazing season. Controlling the animal movement the rest of this winter can also help trampling the stressed pasture. Moving the feeding, watering and mineral locations will reduce the concentrated impact on the pasture. If a sacrificed area is used, be sure the water runoff and soil erosion is controlled. Continue reading