Extending the grazing season for livestock into late fall or early winter can substantially reduce production costs compared with ending the grazing season in October. Most of the published research about fall or early-winter production of grasses was derived from simulated grazing studies (i.e., frequent mechanical harvesting) and may not be indicative of results obtained with actual grazing. The objective of this research was to evaluate the whole-year production of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.), prairie grass [Bromus unioloides (Willd.) H.B.K.; syn. B. willdenowii Kunth], and tall rescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) under different fall grazing management schemes. In 1994, 1995, and 1996 fall grazing treatments consisting of: 1. stockpile (accumulation forage in the field after the August grazing and then grazing once in November); 2. lax (grazing once in September and then not grazing again until spring); and 3. intensive (continue grazing on approximately 30 d schedule through November) were imposed on established stands of 'Barcel' tall fescue, 'Citadel' perennial ryegrass, and 'Grasslands Matua' prairie grass at the Haller Livestock and Forage Research Center near State College, PA. Perennial ryegrass and tall fescue responded similarly within and across grazing treatments. Total season yield (averaged 7490 lb/acre per year) and persistence of perennial ryegrass were equal to tall fescue regardless of the fall grazing management. During the first year after implementing the grazing treatments, prairie grass survival was only 15% in the stockpile treatment and by the second year, prairie grass had not survived in any of the grazing treatments. Fall grazing and stockpiling tall rescue or perennial ryegrass lengthened the grazing season. However, this increased fall production resulted in 15% less forage production the following spring than pastures not grazed in the fall. A combination of lax, intensive, and stockpile grazing in separate paddocks may be most desirable. Intensive and stockpile grazing would allow continued grazing into the fall and early winter, respectively, and lax grazing would permit early spring grazing while the fall-grazed pastures recover.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Plant Science