This Monday the Angelina County Extension office will host a seminar for livestock producers looking to improve yields from their grazing pastures and hay fields. Dr. Vanessa Corriher, Forage Specialist from the Overton Research Station with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension will be the featured speaker.
Summer grasses in our pastures have been slow to start growing this year due to our continued mild weather. Until the nighttime low temperatures consistently stay above the mid 60’s, our standard Bahia and Bermuda grasses will simply not take off. With this cooler weather, we have seen winter annuals, such as ryegrass and clovers, produce very well.
One major effort to encourage the maximum production of summer forages is to reduce competition from weeds. Weeds are always part of the landscape in pastures. They compete for nutrients, sunlight and water. There have been numerous studies that have proven that for every one pound of weeds, you can lose up to ten pounds of forage. Regardless of what study or observation you rely upon, we know that there are definite gains in grass production, carrying capacity and pounds of beef produced per acre if we simply control weeds.
Knowing what products to use is crucial as those decisions can save time and money.
If I had to estimate the stocking rate per acre for our area, based upon what I see and hear, I would say we stock about one cow to three acres. What it should be is a whole different matter. While some cattle producers can successfully attain this with their management practices, this rate is a too optimistic for a number of others.
Operating at one cow per three acres is quite doable at this time of the year, running at that rate in the summer and early fall months when rainfall and grasses are short is simply a stocking rate that won’t work long term.
An alternative idea is to stock your pasture at 70% of what you think it could hold. That way should have enough for all seasons and can ride out the dryer time and be able to harvest the excess grass when you indeed have excess.
And there are two methods to harvest excess grasses. The first, obviously, is to bale it as hay. This baled hay be used to supplement your own herd in the winter or be sold to generate extra income. The other way to harvest excess forage is for those with a little more skill. Producers can buy thin cows or stocker calves to add weight during the spring and early summer months when we have excess forage.
The pasture management seminar starts at 6:30 pm at the Angelina County Extension office at 2201 S. Medford Dr. next to the Farmers Market on south loop 287. Cost is $10. No RSVP is required.
Producers with pesticide applicator licenses can get up to 1.5 CEU’s towards their license.