John & Susan Merrell
41390 Hwy 226
Scio, OR 97374
503-394-3790
503-551-7219 (cell)
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Pasture Management

Pasture management will maximize the production of forage and hay on any property. This, in turn, will reduce overall costs to the producer. Good pasture management will result in healthier livestock, reduced costs and increased property values. It has been said that a livestock producer is really nothing more than a grass farmer, meaning that if one maximizes forage production first, improved animal production will follow naturally. Good pasture management simply makes good sense.

A pasture is a grazing area for animals enclosed by a fence and often planted with non-native forages. A healthy pasture is the backbone of any livestock farming operation. Points to keep in mind:

  • If you have irrigation, water at the right time and amount. Practice irrigation water management. Under-irrigating will shorten the life of your pasture. Over-irrigating wastes energy, water, nutrients and your time.
  • Allow irrigated soils to dry before grazing.
  • Fertilize according to fertilizer guidelines and soil test recommendations. Believe the soil test! Over-fertilizing is not better and can damage water quality. (Proper land management may eliminate the need to fertilize.)
  • Maintain at least 3 inches of plant height after haying or grazing.
  • Drag or harrow to spread nutrient-rich manure.
  • Control weeds with a dense, healthy pasture.
  • Reseed. Contact your local soil and water conservation district, USDA Natural Resources Service, or Extension Service Office to determine the most productive seed mixture for your purpose.
  • Graze properly.

Irrigated Pasture Forage and Hay Production

  Fertile Soils Poor Soils
HAY
Tons/Acre
FORAGE
AUMs/Acre
HAY
Tons/Acre
FORAGE
AUMs/Acre
Intensive
Management
3-7 3-7 Less than 2 2-4
Non-intensive
Management
1-3 1-4 .5 or less .5
Range/Woodland - .35 .5 or less .2
These figures are averages and may vary up or down, depending on climate, condition and management.  AUM = Animal Units (approximately one head of cattle)

You can see from the above table that instituting an intensive pasture management plan will maximize forage production. This means stocking pastures at a high enough level that available forage will be consumed within one week, and then moving the livestock on to other pastures for a period of 4 to 6 weeks to allow the forage to regrow.

In other words, each herd or flock will require 5-8 paddocks that they can be continually rotated through. Several small paddocks are far more efficient than one large pasture.

 
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