It might require more fencing and management, but there are several ways to reap maximum benefit from the extra grass available in many pastures this summer, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage agronomist.
“But you must be able to control when and where your animals graze to take advantage of this grass,” says Anderson.
One option is to cut hay for winter feed. If you select that option, choose the area you plan to cut for hay now and prevent animals from grazing there, both before and after cutting hay, he advises.
Another option is stockpiling extra growth in a pasture for winter grazing. That can save on winter hay and is inexpensive, plus it’s also is a good way to strengthen plants following drought or a hard winter. On summer rangeland, you need to start accumulating growth no later than early July by fencing cows out of the planned winter pasture. If, instead, your winter pasture will be from cool-season grasses like bromegrass, wheatgrass or fescue, be ready to fence off and save the winter grazing portion by late July. And don't overgraze that area this summer or late-season growth will be slow.
“Finally, simply start or improve a planned rotational grazing program this summer,” says Anderson. “Your pasture plants will recover well during their rest periods, building deep and healthy root systems that will maintain production when it finally does turn dry.
“Don't just be satisfied when abundant rain gives you extra grass,” he adds. “Take advantage of this growth for long-term benefits.”