Are your grazing pastures coming up short? No matter where you are, several types of pasture grasses are needed to provide forage for animals to graze nearly year-round, says Bruce Anderson, University of Nebraska Extension forage specialist.
Warm-season range grasses offer good summer grazing in some areas, but could use help in early spring and late fall. For livestock producers in many other places, smooth bromegrass, wheatgrass, needlegrass, orchardgrass, fescue and other cool-season grasses grow well in spring and fall, but mid-summer pasture often is limiting, he warns.
To overcome such pasture shortages, pastures should offer variety. For example, warm-season grasses like the bluestems, indiangrass, blue grama, and switchgrass provide excellent summer pasture. Match them with separate pastures or meadows with cool-season grasses for spring and fall grazing, and you will have a good, long grazing season.
“To extend grazing further, plant winter wheat, rye, or triticale next fall to grow pasture as early as late March. Oats planted in late July or August can be grazed through November, while turnips often provide pasture into December or even January. Don’t forget that alfalfa and corn also can be grazed effectively throughout much of the year, giving you even more options for timely pasture,” Anderson says.
“Start looking at your pasture gaps. Maybe next year you can extend your grazing season with new and varied pastures,” he adds.