Hay quality and quantity a concern for central Missouri

A livestock specialist with the University of Missouri Extension says producers might consider using grazing management and clipping to manage hay and pasture ground this spring.

Gene Schmitz tells Brownfield seed heads are starting to emerge when grasses are less than 10 inches tall and that can limit yields.

“That really shuts down the tillering, leaf and forage quality that comes with that. Not all species are doing that, but I’ve seen bluegrass and orchard grass hitting that. I don’t think fescue is too far behind.”

Schmitz says producers can use rotational grazing to quickly move animals onto fields and the livestock can graze on seed heads.

“It’s not 100% effective, but it can be used as a tool to extend some of the leaf production we get with cool season grasses.”

He says it’s important to leave about four inches of cool season grasses in those fields to encourage more growth for hay season in May or June.

Schmitz says it’s unclear if it will be another drought year and livestock producers are trying to plan for forage needs.

The latest U.S. Drought Monitor says 33% of Missouri is experiencing drought.

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