Ice on the windshield is a reminder that winter is growing closer. I wrote last time about the value of assessing pasture utilization that had resulted at the end of the growing season. That information is essential to evaluating whether or not your goals for this year's grazing plan were achieved.
Another end-of-season assessment that should guide grazing plans is the condition of pastures stockpiled for winter grazing. Good growing conditions in the Northern Plains combined with the demand for feed in the Southern Plains have resulted in substantial export of hay from our area to the south. When combined with continued high rates of corn disappearance, market factors will keep costs for supplemental feeds high.
Decisions about winter grazing should consider at least two aspects – the nutritional needs of the livestock and stewardship of resources.
Nutrient content of dormant forage is generally adequate, especially for the needs of a mature, dry cow. Recently weaned, growing animals have higher nutritional needs, but even they can be maintained and grow slowly on dormant forage that is allocated appropriately.