Whether its fescue in the Midsouth, coastal Bermuda in central Texas or Buffalo grass farther west, the availability of sufficient grass and a little rainfall can enable ranchers to maintain rotational grazing.

“Producers should utilize rotational grazing when possible,” Clark says. “Depending on your location and rainfall, rotational grazing will enable you to obtain more efficient gains. If it’s possible, development a rotational program where you’re grazing all year long instead of depending on supplemental hay. That can help save a lot on input costs.”

Stocking rates should be based on regional forage recommendations. They should be altered if pastures have been stressed due to drought or other situations. Restocking too early after drought, or even a range fire, can prevent grass from regaining a good root system.

Of course, there are many benefits of good forage management. And you’ll see them in your cows and their calves. “Our goal is to see every cow with a BCS 5,” Clark says. “At that condition, they are more likely to produce a good calf that should have a high weaning weight.

“A good forage program will help cows maintain that condition. Their BCS should be monitored every time they enter the chute. With a BCS 5, cows have a 90% or better conception rate.

“Proactive management will help get them back to BCS 5 more efficiently, through a good nutrition program, along with a good vaccination protocol and proper animal health plan. It’s important to remember it takes roughly 75-100 pounds of weight to increase a BCS by one score. The availability of good forage from the pasture will promote that and enable the producer to depend less on supplemental feeding.”

Along with helping cows maintain a good BCS, good pasture forage enables their calves or stocker placements to see higher average daily gains. “We know there is a correlation between a cow’s nutritional status and the calf’s health and weaning weights.”

Clark says. “Weaning weight will be higher, which helps calves approach puberty sooner.

“Cows that calve later in the calving season have to work harder to wean a calf at the same weight as those calves that are calved earlier in the calving season.”

She encourages producers to preg check their heifers and cows through conventional or newer blood testing methods. “However, these tests only tell you whether she’s open,” Clark says, “not necessarily if she has conceived in the 85-day period.”