Stockpiling grass in the late summer through fall period also benefits the grass plant.
Early August is the time to make a decision about pasture use for stockpiling and winter grazing. The pasture grass best suited for winter stockpiling is tall fescue because it will deteriorate less and retain quality longer than other grasses over the winter period. Stockpiling is simply letting pastures grow and accumulate forage that will be grazed at a later date. The process is straight-forward: take a last grazing pass and then clip the pasture paddock at a 3-4 in. height. Apply some nitrogen fertilizer ahead of a rain to get some additional dry matter accumulation, and then let the forage grow until the end of the growing season. While the actual mechanics of stockpiling are fairly simple, the actual decision to stockpile may not be as simple.
Generally stockpiling a pasture for winter grazing is advocated for economic reasons. The highest cost of maintaining a cowherd in the winter months is stored-feed cost, in particular, the cost of feeding hay. Grazing, on the other hand, is the lowest-cost method of feeding a cow. To get an idea of the economics at work, compare the cost of hay to the cost of stockpiling forage.
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