Pastures with complex forage mixtures may yield well throughout the grazing season. But choosing the right species is more important than the number of them in the mix.

That’s according to Penn State University researchers. They compared the yield and seasonal forage distribution of simple (two or three species) vs. complex (six or nine species) mixtures for rotationally grazed pastures.

In two grazing seasons, seasonal forage distribution was affected more by weather than by mixture complexity. Complex mixtures produced more dry matter than simple mixtures. But the most important factor determining forage yield was the particular species in the mixture.

In this study, red clover appeared to be the best-adapted species to the environment, say the researchers. So mixtures with red clover as one of their components yielded more forage than other mixtures.