Listed below are some key traits to consider in the pursuit of managing our forages.
- Use the best forage genetics available. Low quality forages do not have a place in rations for today’s prolific livestock. Forage quality starts with the genetics in the seed that many take for granted.
- Maintain good soil fertility and balance. Soil fertility does affect forage yields and quality.
- Plan a crop rotation to fit your ration goals. Use a variety of forages to increase soil organic matter and reduce weed pressure, disease problems, crop failures, and enhance nutrient management plans, etc.
- Use good management to grow, harvest, and store top quality forages. Forages can lose 20% or more of their nutrient value during a poor fermentation.
- Feed a high forage ration. Forage DM should make up 60% or more of the ration. Well-eared corn silage should be figured at approximately 50% grain and 50% forage on a DM basis. An accurate way to calculate this is divide the starch percent of the corn silage by .70 (the amount of starch in corn. Eg 37% (starch in your corn silage) divided by 0.7 = approximately 53% corn and 47% fodder.
- Feed sources of starch that are highly available, such as the starch found in Masters Choice corn hybrids. The % of starch when using MC corn hybrids should not exceed 25% of ration dry matter.
- Target sugar concentrations of 6-10% of the ration DM. Take advantage of the high sugars in the NDF of grasses
- Feed a combination of warm season and cool season grasses to maximize rumen function.
Management of a grass stand will dictate which grasses survive. How tall should grasses be to start grazing depends on: grass species, weather and the time of year.
- When a pasture gets “out of control”, up to 70% will produce seed heads.
- In a well managed pasture, 20 % will produce seed heads.
- When Perennial Ryegrass has 2 ½ – 3 new leaves, grazing can be started.
- For Tall Fescue, 3 – 3 ½ leaves.
- After the 4th leaf comes on, the 1st leaf dies.
- Do not cut or graze below the growing point.
- Orchardgrasses have bigger tillers, but not as many.
Keep plants on the rapid growth curve.
Original Source:Byron Seeds 2010 Resource Guide.