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Virginia Cooperative Extension -
 Knowledge for the CommonWealth

Beef Management Tips

Livestock Update, April 2006

John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech

Spring Calving Herds

Fall Calving Herds

Pastures and Forages

Grazing Management Important During Dry Spring
This spring in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic appears to be an unusually dry one. Grazing management in early and mid spring is not something we usually worry about. Warm days, cool nights and plentiful rainfall usually make too much grass the problem; not too little. However, allowing cattle to graze early spring pastures too short could mean trouble this dry spring.

When pastures are grazed to shorter than four inches, it creates conditions that magnify the impact of dry weather on grass growth. Grazing below four inches removes too much leaf area so regrowth is slowed or stunted. In addition, removing this much leaf area allows the ground to be exposed to the drying actions of sun and wind. This exposure exacerbates the drought conditions.

Feeding and grazing strategies include rapid rotational grazing and supplementation. Rapid rotational grazing allows cattle to graze the pastures down to four inches then they are moved to the next pasture. If pasture recovery and regrowth are not sufficient by the time the cattle come back to the pasture then they should be supplemented. Periodic hay feeding and grain supplementation on a sacrifice pasture will increase season long grazing productivity and health of the remaining pastures.

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