As producers begin to stack their barns full of hay, they reflect about the summer season, and think about what is ahead for the winter.
Livestock producers were pleased this summer with the mild, wet weather, until the rain progressively slowed and then stopped.
Evaluating pastures this fall grazing will be crucial and will affect the forage producers will have stored for the winter.
Warm season grasses such as Bermudagrass, are drying out and beginning to go dormant early because the lack of rain.
In fear of a severe winter – producers are preparing forage for their herds.
University of Arkansas Animal Science Professor Dr. Ken Coffey, said it is a good time to move herds off of fescue.
“As soon as we get rain, new green fescue will grow. To conserve as much as we can, it is a good time to get herds off fescue pastures to save the pastures for winter,” Coffey said.
Moving herds off of fescue would give them time to grow into a better forage for the winter months.
“Low production cows that have weaned off their calves, can be left on dormant summer grasses, letting the cool grasses grow for a while and hold the cattle for higher quality forage,” Coffey said.
Most producers think about feeding hay during the winter months, however Coffey suggests supplementing the summer grasses by feeding hay as well.
“If a producer has plenty of hay, it is a good idea to feed hay now and strip graze hay later,” he said.
Many producers depend on one last good rain – however they did not receive that this year.
“Usually we get a good rain around Labor Day, but we didn’t this year,” Coffey said.
Annual forages haven’t had enough moisture and are limited quality Coffey said.
“Moving the cattle off fescue and feeding hay are the most important things right now,” Coffey said.
Coffey said he is putting his recommendations into practice with his own herd.
“That is what I am doing at home,” Coffey said. “Holding off until we get a good rain and limit into the winter.”


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