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High quality forage mixtures extend grazing season


Supplementation with preserved forages and other feedstuffs is the number one input cost in beef cattle operations. Extending the grazing season into the fall and early winter with annual forages is a means of significantly reducing those costs.

In an article recently published in Agronomy Journal, a two-year study evaluated nine combinations of annual forages seeded into pearl millet stubble that was either sprayed or allowed to regrow. The forages evaluated were comprised of cool-season grasses (triticale, winter wheat, and barley); brassicas (rape, turnip, radish, and a hybrid); and legumes (hairy vetch and Austrian winter pea) that were seeded as monocultures (grass only), five-species (grass plus brassicas), and seven-species mixtures (grass plus brassicas and legumes).

All forages evaluated yielded sufficient biomass for stockpiled grazing. Greater yields and nutritive values were measured when the pearl millet was sprayed prior to seeding. By allowing the pearl millet to regrow, the establishment of the cool-season forages was suppressed which resulted in lower yields and nutritive values.

Although nutritive values were lower, mixtures with pearl millet regrowth still met the nutrient requirements of beef cattle.  The greater yields and nutritive values associated with control of millet regrowth must be weighed against the cost of spraying.

Read the full article in Agronomy JournalFree preview March 31 - April 7