Extra rain produces extra grass, something many of us didn’t count on this spring. As pastures grow faster than cattle can eat, finding ways to use this extra grass efficiently can be like money in the bank.
The most obvious way to conserve extra growth is by cutting hay from parts of the pasture. Normally I try to avoid extra hay cutting but if you have the equipment and more pasture than you can use this spring, and some time, cutting hay for use later in summer or winter when pasture becomes scarce is a good option.
If you choose the hay option, cut as seedheads are about to emerge for good hay quality and plant regrowth potential. Also, fence out soon the area to be cut from the rest of the pasture. Otherwise, cattle will ignore and waste the taller, stemmier grass as they just graze new regrowth after cutting hay. You might even apply a little nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate growth if soil moisture still is good.
Don’t be surprised if certain weeds like common ragweed or foxtails become abundant in areas cut for hay. Ragweed or other non-palatable broadleaf weeds can be killed easily with herbicides. Not much can be done about the foxtails or other annual grassy weeds, but cattle will graze them quite well if you allow them access before these weeds begin to head out. And the same holds true for many broadleaf weeds.
Don’t let extra spring pasture go to waste. Cutting the excess as hay is one way to save and stretch your forage supply.