Pasture Management – by Dwayne Colvin

Good pasture management can add years of life to your pasture. Protect your investment by following these pasture management tips:

  • Start with varieties that suit your soil, moisture, and grazing requirements. Byron Seeds personnel are available to help with the proper selection of varieties.
  • Orchardgrass will stay stronger if allowed to grow taller and make hay once a year
  • Grass tillers are the future of the stand, ryegrass, festulolium, and bluegrass tiller more when the stand is kept short, tall pastures can shade emerging tillers, decreasing pasture life
  • A pasture that is kept short will allow white clover to flourish, a longer pasture favors grasses
  • Good grazing management in the spring will help reduce seed heads

Bluegrass

  • A rhizomatous, sod forming grass that tolerates heavy hoof traffic, heals damaged pastures
  • Is short, very dense with very palatable, fine leaves; can take over if other varieties thin out
  • Is very persistent and can be close grazed, best for rotational grazing with rest periods

Orchardgrass

  • Performs best in rotational grazing with adequate recovery period, don’t overgraze
  • Adapts to the better, well drained soils, light- to medium-textured
  • Works well in mixes because of its shade tolerant qualities
  • Don’t graze too short or overgraze in droughty conditions

Perennial Ryegrass & Festulolium

  • Best for intensive grazing, will fade with lax grazing methods, start at the 3 leaf stage
  • Best forage variety for both yield and animal nutrition, palatability and digestion
  • Keep short, 8 to 10 inches or less for optimum
  • Requires close management and fertility for persistence, expect 3 to 4 years of good production

Tall Fescue

  • Good fall production, can be stockpiled in the fall for winter grazing
  • Does not persist well if overgrazed in drought and high heat conditions
  • Adopted to wetter and heavier soil types than orchardgrass
  • Can be inter-seeded in the fall to boost pasture production
  • Takes lax management better than orchardgrass and ryegrass

Timothy

  • Excellent for hay or pasture, use a late heading variety for grazing
  • Does not do well under heavy grazing pressure
  • Slow to establish, does well on low, wet and heavy textured soils
  • Good for dry cows as it has low potassium uptake

Meadow Fescue

  • Very winter hardy
  • Best pasture grass for the Upper Midwest
  • Very persistent and very palatable
  • Good for wetter areas