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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Switchgrass, Big Bluestem, and Indiangrass for Grazing and Hay

Authors
item Mitchell, Robert
item Anderson, Bruce - UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA

Submitted to: Extension Circular
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: December 11, 2008
Publication Date: December 29, 2008
Citation: Mitchell, R., Anderson, B. 2008. Switchgrass, Big Bluestem, and Indiangrass for Grazing and Hay. Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, IANR NebGuide G1908. 2008. (Extension Circular) ARIS Log 233883

Interpretive Summary: Switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass are native warm-season grasses that can provide abundant, high-quality forage during summer. Warm-season grasses produce 70 to 80 percent of their growth after June 1 in Nebraska, while more than 75 percent of cool-season grass growth, such as bromegrass and bluegrass, often occurs before June 1. Therefore, warm-season grasses can provide forage to graze after cool-season pastures have been utilized. Warm-season grasses must be managed differently than cool-season grasses. Poor management will cause productivity and stand persistence to decline, and forage quality will be poor. Proper grazing management and cultural practices will optimize production, maintain a healthy stand, and provide adequate forage quality.

Technical Abstract: Switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass are adapted to most soils throughout the eastern half of Nebraska. They are native warm-season grasses that can provide abundant, high-quality forage during summer. They produce 70 to 80 percent of their growth after June 1 in Nebraska, while more than 75 percent of growth from cool-season grasses such as bromegrass and bluegrass often occurs before June 1. Yields vary considerably among sites due to soil and precipitation differences. Proper grazing management is crucial to maintain dense stands of warm-season grasses. Before grazing, consider type of grazing system, season of use, duration of use, level of defoliation, and type of grazing livestock. Warm-season grass pastures can be stocked continuously or rotationally. Continuous stocking, with its lower stocking density, requires the least management because livestock remain on the same pasture of warm-season grass throughout their grazing season. Average daily gains of yearling steers typically range from 1.4 to 2.8 pounds per day when warm-season grass pastures are stocked continuously with the proper number of animals grazing during the summer. Proper grazing management and cultural practices will optimize switchgrass, big bluestem, and indiangrass production, maintain healthy stands, and provide quality forage for summer grazing.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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