UACES Facebook Fall and winter forage is expensive; plan stockpiling program now

Fall and winter forage is expensive; plan stockpiling program now

July 14, 2014

Fast Facts:

  • It is expensive to provide hay for animals during late fall and winter
  • Stockpiling forage may help reducing feeding costs for cattle
  • Start planning stockpiling forage program in July
  • Start stockpiling bermudagrass in early August; and tall fescue in early September

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The month of July is the perfect time to start planning ahead for stockpiling forage that can save growers a lot of money during the winter.

“Stockpiling forage can lower costs and provide grazing for animals during late fall and winter,” said Dirk Philipp, assistant professor for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture. Forage doesn’t grow much anymore in late fall and early winter.

“Stockpiling just means that the forage is allowed to grow without being harvested in any form,” he said.

During late summer and middle of fall, when the temperatures are cooler and the days are shorter, forages accumulate more leafy tissue but less fiber. This is why the process of saving forage growth towards the end of the season is also beneficial from a nutritional standpoint.

In Arkansas, tall fescue and bermudagrass are the most commonly stockpiled forages, since they are present on many farms. However, there are different characteristics that growers should pay attention to, depending on whether they want to stockpile tall fescue or bermudagrass.

Bermudagrass stockpiling

Start stockpiling bermudagrass by applying 50-60 lbs of nitrogen fertilizer per acre on around August 1.

“As a warm season grass, with declining growth during the cooler fall months, stockpiling needs to start earlier than fescue,” he said. In late July, cut existing bermudagrass forage to a stubble height of 2-3 inches.

Don’t start grazing until late October. The grazing period lasts through December.

Fescue stockpiling

Start stockpiling tall fescue in early September to graze from late November through February, Philipp said.

Remove existing forage to a stubble height of 3-4 inches in late August and apply 50-60 lbs of nitrogen per acre on around September 1.

Maximizing forage utilization

Strip-graze forage by running a polywire across the stockpiled area to apportion forage for about 2-3 days. This method will minimize trampling, prevent animals from having access to more than just 2-3 days of forage at a time, and increase forage utilization compared to continuous or rotational stocking schemes.

To learn more about forages, visit www.uaex.edu or contact your county extension office.

The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin, religion, gender, age, disability, marital or veteran status, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.

By Kezia Nanda
For the Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Mary Hightower
Dir. of Communication Services
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
(501) 671-2126
mhightower@uaex.edu

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