Stockpiling Forages for Fall and Winter Pasture

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Livestock producers can take advantage of late summer and early fall growing conditions to obtain high quality pasture for late fall and early winter grazing. This practice is called stockpiling.

The best grasses for stockpiling are cool-season grasses because they will retain good quality and palatability into winter. Late July and August are the best times to begin stockpiling for fall and winter use. Simply remove livestock from the pasture, apply the necessary fertilizer and allow grass to accumulate growth until November or December. Make sure to remove summer growth down to 3 to 4 inches by grazing or clipping so stockpile production comes from new grass growth. Growers also need to top-dress at a rate of 40 to 100 pounds of nitrogen per acre on tall fescue before August 15. Research results have shown following these guidelines can increase dry matter production by 25 pounds per acre for each pound of nitrogen applied to tall fescue, respectively.

To maximize stockpiled forage use, be sure to graze the grass-legume fields quickly after the first frost. Pure grass stands will maintain palatability and quality much longer into the winter so you should graze these last. Also, you need to maintain a high stocking rate to prevent waste as a result of trampling. Strip grazing can help to reduce trampling losses. In this time of high costs, stockpiling cool-season grasses extends the grazing season, reduces winter hay feeding, provides a good return of high quality forage for each pound of nitrogen applied and provides your cowherd an ideal place for wintering and calving.