Press-Republican

Hagar

April 1, 2012

Time for pasture checkup

This is the time of year we look forward to all winter.

The unseasonably warm weather of last week melted the frost out of the ground and dried up the muddy surface. The grasses have started to green up and the coming April showers will give a quick boost to grow tall.

For most folks, that means mowing the lawn, a tedious weekly chore that must get done. For those of us with grazing animals, it means the end of feeding hay! You may be dreading start of lawn-mowing season, but believe me, there are many of us who love to watch the grass grow.

The early warm up offers livestock grazers a great opportunity to assess the pastures, fences and opportunities for this season. Often taken for granted, pasture is an important agricultural resource that many livestock farmers depend on for summer feed.

While many of our larger dairies no longer depend on grazing pasture for a significant part of their feeding program, pastures play a much more important role in raising livestock such as dairy heifers, beef cattle, sheep and goats.

A well-managed pasture can in fact provide excellent feed to growing livestock with little supplementation. But what is well-managed pasture?

Unfortunately, non-tillable, swampy, brushy or rocky fields that are poor in condition or fertility often end up as pasture. While they are probably not suitable for growing other crops, these types of lands also make very poor pastures. All too often, livestock are turned out into one big pasture for the summer and left to their own devices.

If a livestock owner's goal is to grow his animals in the quickest, most efficient way possible, this is unlikely to provide the nutrition needed.

A more modern view that has developed is that pasture should be seen as a perennial crop that deserves the same care and management as other crops on the farm. Pasture management can be complicated. Few other farming activities involve growing a crop, growing livestock and harvesting the crop all at the same time.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Hagar
  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Ideas about soil health changing

    New techniques like no-til and cover crops can make soil healthier than conventional tillage, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Flies more than a nuisance

    Control of these pasture and barnyard pests requires the latest information and an integrated approach, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    August 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Owners show off their animals at fair

    It's no easy task to prepare animals for annual show where judges rate livestock on traits according to breed, according to Columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Making good hay a challenge

    Even with today's technology and weather forecasting, getting in a load of good hay comes with lots of pitfalls, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    July 6, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg New farms take careful planning

    While people start small farm operations for various reasons, it takes plenty of hard work, dedication and information to be successful, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    June 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Science, economics key to farming

    Modern agriculture has been a steady evolution of adaption to changing times, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Warm spring rains bring growth

    But pastures shouldn't just be left alone, they need attention just like other crops, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    May 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Conservation programs offered

    No-till drill allows farmers to enhance their soil and promote conservation at the same time, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo