The Richmond Register

Lifestyles & Community

November 21, 2012

Time to graze dormant alfalfa

RICHMOND — After temperatures dipped into the mid 20s last week, now is the time to graze off alfalfa fields.

In general, we recommend allowing alfalfa growth to accumulate for about six weeks before the first killing frost is anticipated (No grazing or cutting after Sept. 15).

This allows alfalfa plants to replenish root carbohydrate reserves before winter. However, once plants are dormant, the accumulated growth can be grazed by livestock. This should be done promptly, before the frozen leaves drop off. Allow three days after a 25-degree freeze to graze. This will reduce bloat potential.

An added benefit of grazing the frosted forage is that it tends to reduce alfalfa weevil populations the following spring. If possible, leave roughly 3 to 4 inches of stubble to catch and hold snow to reduce winter damage and minimize temperature fluctuations that may result in plant heaving.

To reduce bloat potential, fill cattle up on hay and wait until the dew has burned off to turn them in, offer free choice hay if possible while grazing occurs, offer Rumensin or Bovatec prior to and during grazing and finally consider providing bloat blocks. Utilize strip grazing methods for maximum efficiency.

Use stockpiled forage efficiently

Late summer and fall of this year were generally good times to stockpile grass pastures. However, using it efficiently is important in developing a low-cost winter feeding system. The most economical way is to strip graze the pastures. By allocating forage in strips sized so that cattle can graze them within 3 days, animals consume 70 percent or more of the forage; by comparison, when given access to a 2-week feed supply, animals will consume 40 percent or less of the forage. That difference allows a significantly longer grazing period of quality forage for livestock. Many producers like to allocate a new strip every other day, which works well. If stockpiled grass is available, hay will only need to be fed if there is a cover of snow or ice.

Wait to graze stockpiled tall fescue forage until late fall or winter. Be sure to properly use forage growth in other pastures before beginning to use stockpiled forage. The quality of stockpiled tall fescue can remain high even if grazed later in January. Generally, quality does decline into February however.

Text Only
Lifestyles & Community
AP Video
Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kerry: No Deal Yet on 7-Day Gaza Truce Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Gaza Residents Mourn Dead Amid Airstrikes Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe Raw: Big Rig Stuck in Illinois Swamp Cumberbatch Brings 'Penguins' to Comic-Con Raw: Air Algerie Crash Site in Mali Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Poll

What county fair attraction do you like most?

Amusement rides
Beauty pageants
Flora Hall craft exhibits
Horse shows
Livestock, poultry shows
Truck, tractor pulls
Mud, dirt races
Gospel sing
I like them all
     View Results