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By Dave EdmarkThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
LITTLE ROCK – Poor weather conditions have taken a toll on the quality of the state’s
hay crop for the second consecutive year, so livestock producers should consider stockpiling
bermudagrass or fescue pastures as an alternative for fall and winter grazing. August
is the time to get started.
“Hay harvest conditions have been terrible this year and hay quality is low in many
cases,” said John Jennings, an extension forages professor at the University of Arkansas
System Division of Agriculture. “Last year, many producers relied on a good hay crop
of low quality to winter their herds. But the winter was colder and longer than in
recent years, so livestock didn’t fare well.”
Jennings explained that many times producers cut hay as late as October and begin
feeding with it in November. With stockpiling, producers manage the bermudagrass and
fescue for livestock grazing to eliminate the harvest cost and allow cattle to graze
the forage through fall and winter.
Stockpiling can provide good quality for producers. The forage quality of stockpiled
bermudagrass can be more than 15 percent crude protein in October and November. The
forage quality of stockpiled fescue in February is usually higher than that of the
hay on hand.
To prepare bermudagrass for stockpiling, Jennings advised producers to clip or graze
fields to a 3-inch stubble and fertilize them by mid-August to achieve the best growth
potential. Fertilizer can be applied even during hot weather to produce a good forage
return, he said.
“The growth potential of stockpiled forage is usually 2,000 to 3,000 pounds of dry
matter per acre, so the recommended fertilizer is 50 to 60 pounds per acre of nitrogen
to match that yield potential,” Jennings said. “Don’t delay because waiting until
September to fertilize for stockpiled bermuda will reduce yield potential by 60 to
Jennings called stockpiling one of the most consistent forage management practices
in the 300 Days of Grazing program, a Division of Agriculture effort to enhance the
use of grown forages. Only one out of 150 stockpiled forage demonstrations managed
by the division failed to pay a positive return over the cost of feeding hay.
More information about stockpiling forages is available at county extension offices
in the bulletin FSA 3133, “Grazing Stockpiled Forages to reduce Hay Feeding in Fall
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension
and Research programs and services without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity,
sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran
status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative
Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
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Media Contact: Mary HightowerDir. of Communication ServicesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service(501) email@example.com