Even though it might not feel like it yet in some places and certainly most mornings, spring will soon certainly be upon us. Are we ready? Is the pasture ready? I know the livestock are ready and probably have been dreaming of green pastures and warmer weather a lot lately.
We enter this spring in slightly different circumstances than most years after the majority of the past summer and fall being extremely droughty and little or no forage growth during that time period. This sets us up . . . well rather the livestock up, for potentially slightly different forage availability and growth rates, and some changes in nutritional balances.
Let's first take a look at these pastures. I think a lot of the pastures and hay fields actually look a lot worse than they really are. Most of the tall cool-season forages like orchardgrass and tall fescue went dormant fairly early in that drought period, and, if not totally overgrazed, a good percentage should come back, especially the fescue. Forages that are not near as drought tolerant such as bluegrass or perennial ryegrass were hit the hardest and may have died out. Droughty soils such as sand and strip-mined ground will also show more damage due to poor water-holding capacity. Thin stands will, of course, result in poorer yields.
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