Greener Pastures

Stockpiling Fescue

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Stockpiling Fescue

Stockpiling fescue is a great way to save forage in the field when it is growing for grazing later in the year as needed. The purpose of stockpiling is to delay hay feeding by one to two months, which will decrease the amount of hay needed during the winter.

The guidelines for stockpiling are simple and straightforward:

  1. Graze or clip fescue pastures short in early August. Make sure all of the old, mature forage has been removed.
  2. Apply 60 pounds of nitrogen per acre in mid to late August. This will promote as much new growth as possible.
  3. Keep cattle off one or two of the pastures, which will allow the fescue to accumulate.

Late in the fall or winter when the forage is needed, it can then be grazed. Nitrogen should be applied to tall fescue pastures in the fall, even if not to be stockpiled. Apply nitrogen will help increase fall growth, some which can be grazed early and some which can be stockpiled for later.

Fall stockpiled tall fescue is higher quality than in the spring because it is more leafy, higher in protein and carbohydrates, and lower in fiber. A fall application of nitrogen on fescue will help lengthen the grazing season, and decrease hay needs and winter feed bills. Hay production and feeding is one of the major expenses of cattle production. Stockpiling fescue can help us decrease the amount of time and money that will be "eaten up" by hay.

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