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Getting away from hay?
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Posted 5/15/2022 08:09 (#9661051 - in reply to #9660365)
Subject: RE: Getting away from hay?

Athens, TX
I have been working at 365 day grazing with no hay for years and still have not had full success. Be careful about recommendations from outside of your area. I am in East Texas, probably pretty similar to you. My base grass is Coastal and Tifton bermuda. I hay or graze this short, then fertilize this mid to end August, Start strip grazing after frost, usually mid Nov. I run about 300 cows. If we have fall rain, it does great, have I have plenty of forage to go until first of Jan without hay. Have to fight army worms. I no till rye grass / clover into other pastures, start calving in February, turn pairs onto the ryegrass / clover. Forage quality really declines in January so have to start supplementing with cubes or whole CS then. You need energy, not just protein. I start feeding hay in January, and keep those that are in the big group on hay until they calve, and this group gets smaller and 'pair group' gets larger as ryegrass / clover starts growing well 'here' in February most years.

My problem is January. A lot of cool season annuals will freeze during cold spells then not re-grow. Oats, ryegrass, clover, turnips don't work for Jan. Cereal rye can, depending on how cold it gets and how much moisture before really cold spell, but it can 'burn' during less than 20 degree weather. A guy a bit west of me planted a grain sorghum, stockpiled this, and strip grazed the grain in January. This seemed to work well, but I can't grow that well here. What will work for you will depend on how cold it gets in January and what you can grow.

I want to try something like Winfred forage brassica. Couldn't get any seed last fall, and had drought so that I could not plant at the right time. It is supposed to have good cold tolerance but I have no personal experience. I think a guy could have stockpiled burmuda and Winfred in 2 pastures next to each other, graze the green one day, then brown 1 or 2 days depending on how cold, then back to green like that and do well. The brassica is high energy and low in fiber, so they will 'seek out' the brown and keep utilizing it after quality declines. For this to really work well, I need irrigation as timing or rain and planting during the fall when temps are dropping gives you a fairly narrow window.

Hope these thoughts help.
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