Watch grazing systems closely

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Management is critical to effectively manage early-season forage growth.

Here are a few rules of thumb to increase productivity of your management intensive grazing systems:

  • Turn out when forages are 6-8 inches in height if weather conditions are favorable.
  • Watch soil moisture to prevent excessive plant damage in wet conditions.
  • Use the ‘harvest half and leave half’ rule.
  • Time on the paddock should be about 2/3 of the normal grazing time.
  • Your first rotation across all paddocks should be done in 18-22 days.
  • Be ready to pull animals back to dry lot if weather conditions deteriorate.
  • Observe animals for health issues especially when frost occurs on legume pastures.

Providing free-choice dry mineral and access to fresh water will also increase animal performance.

Mineral may need to be diluted with salt the first 2-4 weeks on pasture to prevent overconsumption due to high water content in the new feed source.

Source: Kevin Gould, Michigan State University Extension

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