Submitted to: Arkansas Cattle Business
Publication Type: Popular Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: August 8, 2002
Publication Date: September 1, 2002
Citation: LOOPER, M.L., AIKEN, G.E. 2002. WINTER FORAGE STRATEGIES TO REDUCE FEED COSTS. Arkansas Cattle Business. 38(9):60. Technical Abstract: The major input in a cow/calf operation is cost associated with feeding harvested forages during the winter months. Producers can extend the grazing season into the fall and winter months with decreased dependence on stored or purchased feeds by overseeding winter annuals and (or) stockpiling forages. Annual ryegrass is commonly planted in Arkansas because it provides growth of quality forage from early to late spring. Rye and wheat are small grains that are extensively planted to provide grazing in the late fall and winter months. The most common use of winter forages is to extend the grazing season of bermudagrass pastures. Research indicates that performance of growing cattle is adequate when grazing winter annuals. Stockpiling refers to the practice of allowing forage to accumulate in the pasture until needed for grazing. To optimize stockpiling, cattle should be removed from the forage in late summer, fertilizer applied and the stockpiled grass allowed to accumulate growth until November or December. Nutrient content of the stockpiled forage will depend on time stockpiling is initiated and when nitrogen is applied. Animal performance on stockpiled fescue is somewhat variable and is dependent on the percentage of endophyte infestation in the stand. Stockpiled forages may not provide enough nutrients to meet the requirements of calves and stockers or maintain mature cows and could require feeding supplements. Stockpiling fescue can reduce the amount of hay fed per cow. With lower production costs utilizing winter annuals or stockpiling forages, profitability of the operation can be greater.