As we have a few weeks under our belt in the 2014 grazing season here at Orr Beef Research Center, it is apparent that the similarities to last year are numerous.
- The persistence of cold weather has caused a delay in pasture growth
- Pastures are wet, low in dry matter and very lush
- Some drought in the fall opened areas for weed penetration into stands
- Quick spurts of heat have hastened grasses to maturity early (finding seed heads on grass 10-14 inches tall)
Realizing these conditions, it is important that we learn from the past and better our management of the current scenario. We have been investigating a low-level supplement to balance the nutritional offering of lush, spring pasture here at OBRC since 2013. The results were favorable last year and thus, I suggest to producers to consider some low-level supplement to transition cows to pasture. The supplement needs to be high in energy, low-moderate in protein, and contain a high %DM. We are utilizing a soybean hull/ground corn cob mix with a small inclusion of dry molasses. Corn grain can work as well… just do not exceed 3 lb/hd/d. This low level will avoid negative associative effects. Check out the results of last year's trial
Keep in mind that quick rotation will be necessary to keep grass vegitative. Managing pastures in early spring will help compensate for the summer slump and help producers keep cows productive on grass. Pasture management and identifying potential deficiency in pastures can mitigate losses in performance, pregnancy rate, and weaning weights.