Matching Pasture Quality To Animal Needs

Now more than ever, it is important to make the most efficient use of our forage resources. Supplemental feed is very costly and must be used judiciously. We need to keep grazing cattle on pasture for as long a period as possible and feed only as necessary. As we do that, we must be sure that we are meeting the nutritional needs of the cows and calves. Most of our pasture systems are based fescue pastures.

The typical production pattern for a cool season perennial like fescue is shown by figure 1. There is very little growth from February 15 to early April and fescue may almost go dormant from late July through August. Thus, these two periods are critical in the management of beef cattle. If adequate grass isn’t available, stored or purchased feed must be utilized.

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