Mid-August is the best time to get pastures in shape for growing winter stockpile grass, says Justin Sexten, University of Missouri (MU) beef nutritionist.

He’ll tell why and how at one stop of a beef tour that will be part of the university’s Aug. 9 Greenley Memorial Research Center field day. Three tours will be repeated all morning at the center just east of Novelty. A tour on drainage and sub-irrigation will be held after lunch.

“There is a window, starting Aug. 15, when grass should be grazed down or mown of all growth before applying nitrogen fertilizer,” Sexten says. “Get the fertilizer applied before the September rains.”

Winter pasture cuts the cost of winter feeding, he says, reducing the need for hay and grain supplement. The first step is to determine how much pasture to stockpile. That requires an inventory of available feed.

“Stockpiling need not be all or nothing,” says Sexten. “Strip grazing of grass can be used to supplement the winter hay supply.”

With delayed spring haying on most farms, there will be lots of hay that needs a supplement. Sexten will work the math so producers can decide what they can afford to grow. Adding 50 lbs of nitrogen per acre can produce 1,000 lbs of forage. Out-of-pocket expense will be about $30 per acre.

“That makes the forage cost about $60 per ton of dry matter,” he says. “Compare that with alternative winter feed.”

Sexten will tell of a new program using rising-plate meters and grazing-wedge software to determine available forage in pasture paddocks. The method is used by dairy producers who change paddocks at least once a day.

Other stops on the beef tour include a look at heat stress in cattle by Zac Erwin, regional livestock specialist, Monticello. Craig Payne, MU Extension veterinarian, will tell of new laws restricting hauling bulls because of a trichomoniasis outbreak.

The other two morning tours will cover crop and pest management. For the field-day program, go to the Greenley Web site at http://aes.missouri.edu/greenley/ or call Randall Smoot at 660-739-4410.