The long stretch of hot and dry weather has impacted the condition of pastures across the state. The most recent Indiana Crop and Weather Report (June 11, 2012) showed that 60% of the pasture were in very poor, poor or fair condition. Producers must plan and carefully manage their grazing strategies.
One way producers can be proactive is by caring for pastures through rotational grazing, Ron Lemenager, a Purdue beef specialist, said. With rotational grazing, herds are moved from one section of pasture to another to maximize quality and quantity of forage growth. This practice helps prevent overgrazing.
“I think most of us realize that if cows are continuous grazing, they are going to always go for the lush, young plant, and that continuous grazing will reduce root growth and root reserves of that plant, and the regrowth is going to be significantly retarded,” Lemenager said. “Rotational grazing gives these plants an opportunity to rest and grow again. But obviously, rain is going to play a big role in that.”
Without rain to rejuvenate pastures, livestock producers will have to look for other forage options, such as hay. But the dry weather also is limiting hay supplies.
Lemenager said that producers can limit hay feeding access time to eight hours per day to significantly reduce waste and still provide all the dry matter that the cow can consume in a 24 hour period. From his research, total daily hay disappearance will be reduced by 15-20 percent.
He said cows and calves are most at risk from low-quality and low-quantity forages. One of the first animal performance parameters affected is calf growth. Without proper nutrition, cow milk production will decrease, ultimately affecting weaning weights.
In addition to rotational grazing and limiting hay access, Lemenager said in the short term producers can consider creep feeding calves. According to North Dakota State University Extension Web site, the definition of creep feeding is providing supplemental nutrients to nursing calves, usually in the form of grain, protein supplements, commercial calf creeps, or high quality forages.
If the dry conditions persist, a longer term strategy would be to consider early weaning. Early-wean rations that contain feeds such as corn, oats, soybean hulls, corn gluten feed or dry distillers grains can be formulated to create cost effective gains. Early weaning lowers the cow’s nutrient requirements, reduces forage intake of the cow, reduces trampling losses caused by the calves, and can take significant pressure off stressed pastures.
More information about managing pastures can be found in Purdue Extension’s free publication, “Management-Intensive Grazing in Indiana.” It’s available at http://www.extension.purdue.edu/extmedia/AY/AY-328.pdf
For more information, contact Ed Farris, Agriculture and Natural Resource Educator, Purdue Extension – Huntington County Office, 354 N Jefferson – Suite 202, Huntington by calling 260-358-4826.
Be the first to post a comment!
Your email address will never be displayed or shared.
Once your comment has been reviewed, it will be published.
Web Design and Development by LIQUA Web Solutions