Now is the time of year to make plans for stockpiling forage. This year’s weather pattern made it difficult to put up good quality first cutting dry hay. There is a lot of overly mature low quality hay. This hay is not going to meet the nutrient needs of late lactation and early lactation livestock. Some of this hay may not meet mid-gestation needs, especially if there are environmental conditions that increase an animal’s nutrient requirements. Consider feeding poor quality hay in the late summer through fall period when most of our spring calving and lambing cows and ewes have low nutrient needs. Another benefit of feeding hay at this time is that pastures can be allowed to stockpile growth for late fall and winter grazing. Stockpiling allows the grass plant to build up necessary storage carbohydrates and root reserves while growing forage for later grazing.
Graze stockpiled growth after soil temperatures have dropped below 40 degrees F. Depending upon when stockpiling begins, and if supplemental nitrogen is added, stockpiled forage quality often meets or exceeds late gestation nutrient requirements. Tall fescue is the cool season grass species best suited to stockpiling because quality will actually hold up through late winter and even into early spring. Orchardgrass can also be stockpiled but is best used in the late fall through early winter period. Typically, if the goal is to maximize forage quantity, stockpiling should begin around August 1. Lower dry matter accumulation, but higher forage quality is obtained when stockpiling begins in the mid to late August period. Adding 50 pounds of actual nitrogen per acre will increase both the quantity of forage as well as improve the crude protein content of the forage.
For more information about stockpiling forage, contact the Wayne County Extension office at 330-264-8722.