When green pastures turn brown, your management strategy should change, too, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
Recent hot, dry weather in parts of Nebraska has stressed pastures, and some are, or soon will be, completely grazed out, says Anderson. He normally recommends leaving some growth in a grazed pasture so it can regrow more quickly. That advice holds as soils begin to dry, but not when they get so dry that a heavy rain is needed for regrowth to begin.
“At that point I suggest grazing pastures completely, leaving behind only enough grass and litter to protect your soil from eroding,” he says. “Any extra grass left behind will not regrow when it gets this dry, and probably will be gone or worthless by the time cattle return later.”
If you graze completely and it does rain, don’t graze the regrowth until at least six weeks after grass growth resumes to avoid injuring plants. He stresses that six weeks are needed after regrowth starts, not just after grazing ended.
“Drought causes changes in the way plants grow,” says Anderson. “Your grazing management should change also to get the best use of your grass.”