Stockpiling For Fall And Winter Pasture

Setting aside pasture for fall and winter grazing is called stockpiling. Allowing quality forages to grow during this time of the year meets the energy and protein needs of spring-calving cows, dry cows, and replacement heifers.

Garry Lacefield is an extension forage specialist at the University of Kentucky. He says the best grasses to set aside for fall and winter pasture will maintain their growth and quality at lower temperatures.

"Since we're going to be grazing this, it would be a sod-forming grass that would be able to withstand cattle pressure better, and give us better footing," says Lacefield. "So, those are the characteristics that we look for, and that's what we've got here with the two grasses tall fescue, and Kentucky bluegrass. And by far the superior one of these would be tall fescue."

The crude protein and digestibility of tall fescue is better in the fall and winter. In late summer, Lacefield recommends grazing down the designated pasture area or cutting it for hay. Remove the animals, top dress with nitrogen, and let it grow.

In the meantime, use up all other available pasture forages. When they're gone, you may put livestock into the stockpiled area. He suggests a conservative strip grazing program.

"Go out in that field at some designated point and put a polywire across there, and give them access only to that first strip. Then you would simply move the wire to the second strip, and then the third, and the fourth, until you had eventually gotten across the entire field," he explains. "By doing that, you can increase the grazing days off of that same field without any additional input except moving that fence, by up to 50%."