Ag Connection
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Volume 6, Number 2
February 2000


This Month in Ag Connection

Spring Grazing Schools

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April 4 & 5
Contact Cole County NRCS Office @ 573-634-7979

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April 11 & 12
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April 13, 14, & 15
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August 1 & 2
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Useful Web Sites

blueball.gif (303 bytes) Agricultural Update: A Weekly Update on current ag. issues written by Joe Parcell, Extension Economist, University Outreach and Extension.

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We welcome Wayne Crook to our region as agronomist in Chariton County. Wayne brings a good agronomy background to the job and we welcome him to our region.

1999 Thompson Farm Fall Grazing Summary
Forage Tips
Spring Grazing Schools
Useful Web Sites

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1999 Thompson Farm Fall Grazing Summary

Fall grazing demonstrations utilizing stockpiled tall fescue-based pastures continued during 1999 at the University of Missouri's Thompson Farm near Spickard. Two twelve-acre pastures were grazed as part of a larger rotational grazing system through July, and then rested until grazing resumed in October. No nitrogen fertilizer was applied during August due to the summer drought. Pregnant, three-year old cows were weaned of their calves on September 29 and returned to pasture. Twenty-five of these cows were selected on October 21 for use in this demonstration. Cows were weighed and body condition scores were taken. The animals were then taken to the first of the 12-acre pastures. The pastures were divided with temporary fencing material to provide forage for approximately one week of grazing, then the ribbon was moved ahead. No back fence was maintained. The animals received no other supplement with the exception of approximately 2500 pounds of hay which was fed following a 12-inch snowfall that occurred during early December. Cow weights and body condition scores were taken at the start of the demonstration, when animals were moved to the second pasture on November 18, and at the end of the demonstration on December 20. Beginning and ending forage samples were collected from pasture one. Beginning forage samples were collected from pasture two in mid-November. Ending samples were not able to be collected in December due to snow cover.

Animal Performance Summary
Animal performance, weight gain and body condition score change, is summarized in Table 1. Cow weight gain in previous years has been approximately 125 pounds for a similar grazing period. However, during previous year's demonstrations, cows were started on stockpile demonstrations within two weeks after weaning. During 1999, cows were not started on demonstrations until approximately one month after weaning. This was due to changes in the timing of some management practices in response to drought conditions at the farm. Average weight gain during the 60-day demonstration during 1999 was 80 pounds or 1.33 pounds per day. Animal performance was noticeably lower during the last 32 days of the demonstration. This is probably due to a combination of weather and a decline in forage quality in the second pasture. However, this sharp decline in animal performance from late November through December has also been noted in previous years. Body condition score changes are similar to previous year's demonstrations.

Table 1. 1999 Cow Performance on Stockpiled Tall Fescue Pastures


Weight, lbs.

Body Condition Score










Pasture Quality
In pasture one, forage samples were collected at the beginning and end of grazing in the pasture (October 21 and November 18). Forage samples were collected in Pasture Two on November 19. Due to snow cover, no December samples were able to be collected in Pasture Two. Ten, one-square-foot clipped samples were collected at random. Individual sample weights were recorded for use in estimating forage availability. Samples were then composted and a sub-sample was taken and sent to a commercial laboratory for NIR analysis. The results are shown in Table 2. All data are shown on a dry matter basis.

Table 2. 1999 Stockpiled Tall Fescue Forage Quality

Item Start, N. Pasture10-21-99 End, N. Pasture11-18-99 Start S. Pasture11-19-99
Yield, lbs, D.M./acre 2523 830 2245
DM, % 41.33 58.47 52.98
ADF, % 33.42 37.78 35.95
NDF, % 50.74 54.99 54.30
CP, % 11.05 9.58 9.82
TDN, % 65.12 60.26 62.30
NEm, Mcal/lb. .67 .62 .63
Neg, Mcal/lb. .40 .41 .37
CA, % .40 .41 .43
P. % .28 .23 .25
K, % 1.62 1.42 1.50
Mg, % .22 .23 .22

(Authors: Gene Schmitz, David McAtte, Jon Schreffler, & Jerry Nelson)

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Forage Tips

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  • Frost seed legumes in pastures that are less than 30% legumes.
  • If cows weren’t removed from stalk fields earlier, remove them now to avoid soil compaction.
  • Frost seed legumes into small-grain fields.
  • Apply herbicides for control of winter-annual grass and broadleaf weeds in alfalfa.

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  • Finish renovation of pastures by mid-March.
  • Scout alfalfa fields for heaving and winter injury; if severe damage is present, introduce another legume or grass, or make plans to rotate to another crop.
  • Soil test areas for late-summer seedings and apply lime now if necessary.
  • Apply pre-plant herbicides for legume seedings or consider use of a companion crop like spring oats.
  • Apply two-thirds of the annual nitrogen fertilizer to grasswpe4.jpg (3827 bytes) pastures in late March; also apply needed phosphorous and potassium to all pastures.
  • Seed new pastures or hay land to recommended forages when soil conditions permit.
  • In grass tetany problem areas, be sure all cows get at least 1 ounce of magnesium oxide per head daily in mineral mix or protein supplement.

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  • Move cattle to newly seeded pastures with legumes to reduce competition from grasses.
  • Feed supplemental energy, like corn silage, hay, or corn, if animals are thin or if pasture quality is low.
  • Begin scouting for alfalfa weevil early in the month.
  • Remove livestock from fall-seeded small grains prior to jointing.
  • Seed warm-season perennial grasses.
  • Apply spring fertilizer to pastures as recommended by soil tests.
  • Provide poloxalene or use other bloat-reducing management practices when bloat causing legumes are grazed.

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  • Rotation graze pastures newly seeded with legumes to reduce competition.
  • If more forage is available than can be fully utilized, limitwpe7.jpg (2608 bytes) pasture size and harvest excess forage as hay.
  • Continue scouting for alfalfa weevil and begin scouting for potato leafhopper in late May.
  • For top quality, harvest first cutting of established alfalfa in late bud, red clover in early bloom, and grasses at the boot stage (when seedhead is just ready to emerge).
  • Apply fertilizer (phosphorous, potassium), and possibly boron to alfalfa after harvest.
  • Finish seeding warm-season perennial grass pastures by June 15.
  • Seed summer-annual grasses in late May.
  • Harvest winter-annual small grains for forage at the boot stage for top quality.
  • Test each harvested forage crop for nutritive value. Remember to do this throughout the season.
  • Scout pastures and hay fields for weeds. Give special attention to newly seeded fields. If herbicide is used, follow grazing and harvest restrictions.

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  • Clip mature forage that was not grazed. This will encourage new growth, reduce the incidence of eye irritation, and setback weed growth.
  • Drag the pasture after clipping to spreadwpe6.jpg (3955 bytes) manure piles, destroy internal parasite eggs, and reduce selective grazing.
  • Harvest established alfalfa approximately 30 days following first harvest. For top quality, harvest when in the late bud stage.
  • Continue scouting for potato leafhopper.
  • Harvest spring seeded legumes approximately 70 days following seeding.
  • Inventory pastures for poisonous weeds. See UMC Guide 4970, Plants Poisonous to Livestock. Pick it up at your local University Outreach and Extension Center or click here to find it on the web.
  • Remove livestock from cool-season grass pasture and place on warm-season perennial grass pasture if available.wpe8.jpg (3243 bytes)
  • Control grazing—pasture forage yields are affected by excessive and untimely grazing.
  • Harvest spring oats for forage at the boot stage for top quality.
  • If pasture or hay fields have not been soil tested for several years, test them now. Fields to be planted in August should be tested now.

Author: This material was adapted from material developed by Greg Bossaer and Keith Johnson, Purdue University.

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University Outreach and ExtensionAg Connection - February 2000 -- Revised: September 30, 2002