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Grazing Stockpiled Forages to Reduce Hay Feeding During Fall and Winter

Feeding livestock can be expensive. Stockpiling forage is one way to reduce the cost.

Nashville, Ark. – Are you looking for a way to reduce the cost of your winter feed bill? The cost of hay and purchased feed for winter feeding is the largest expense of maintaining a livestock herd.

All too often, producers finish harvesting hay in the fall and then begin feeding it soon afterward. Adopting pasture management practices that extend the grazing season avoids investing more cost into forage that could be grazed instead of being harvested for hay. In Arkansas, the use of stockpiled forages has reduced winter feeding expenses for producers across the entire state.

Stockpiling forage is the practice of accumulating forage growth intended for grazing in a later season. Stockpiling forages beginning in late summer works well in Arkansas for providing late fall and winter grazing. During the spring and summer, stockpiling is seldom advantageous, except during severe drought, because forages become mature and poor quality due to stem and seedhead production. However, cooling night temperatures and shorter days of late summer and fall tend to reduce forage fiber content, thus promoting leafy, high quality forage.

Tall fescue and bermudagrass are the most commonly stockpiled forages, but bahiagrass and dallisgrass have also been stockpiled successfully. Other forages may produce good fall growth but deteriorate quickly after frost. Some forages, such as crabgrass, are excellent quality during the growing season but become unpalatable and degrade quickly after a killing frost and are often refused by cattle. Bermudagrass is the most popular perennial warm-season grass in Arkansas. It is persistent, productive and is adapted to a wide range of conditions. It produces most of its annual yield during late spring and summer with little growth occurring during early spring and fall. However, research in Arkansas showed stockpiled bermudagrass can produce significant forage yield in late summer that can be grazed during late fall to reduce hay feeding. Bahiagrass and dallisgrass have similar growing seasons as bermudagrass and can also be stockpiled for fall grazing by following the same recommendations as for stockpiling bermudagrass.

Download the publication for more information, or you can send an email to Howard County Extension office is still working and is there for all the residences in Howard County during this time.  

By Samantha Horn
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Samantha Horn
County Extension Agent - Agriculture
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
421 N. Main Nashville AR 71852
(870) 845-7517


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