Get off that section after it’s grazed down. Reading Time: 7 minutes With Spencer Smith – Creating the right blend of forages and grasses in a pasture to finish (fatten for slaughter) cattle is not as simple as turning the cattle out to grass.It requires timing the “finishing season” for maximum flavor and health benefits. Once the plant has set a seed head, the quality of the grass, especially the stem and seed head, is low. My colleagues Mark Landefeld, Ted Wiseman, and Jeff McCutcheon are in the fourth year of trying to determine when is the best time to mow pastures to control weeds. No producer in today’s environment wants to see big areas of grazing land go unused. This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. If we mow or graze too close, we may eventually kill off that plant and possibly favor growth of fescue, bluegrass and weeds. If your pasture falls into this category, Luginbuhl advocates providing a mineral mix containing 5 to 10 percent magnesium. Now that we have addressed the needs of the grasses, how about our other problem with pastures: weeds. Pasture is the predominant feed source for cattle, sheep, goats and horses in West Virginia. At that point, the plant wants to store enough energy in the roots or base of the plant to survive through the winter. Bottom line: Don't keep cattle on the same patch of pasture for more than a few days. What time of year do you top pasture? Published on Jun 9, 2017. If perennial weeds are a problem, consider mowing them just before their seed heads become viable. However, now may be a great time to mow pastures. Once the plant has set a seed head, the quality of the grass, especially the stem and seed head is low. Pasture grasses and legumes are more expensive, too, because that land has to compete with corn. Neither text, nor links to other websites, is reviewed or endorsed by The Ohio State University. Broadcast from now to Christmas if you need that long. Biennials (Common burdock, bull and musk thistle, poison hemlock) Mow after plants have bolted but before seed set to prevent seed production. It is at that point of transition that it is a great time to mow pastures. Yes, will work great if you can tighten the cattle down with polywire and graze the grass down hard. For many of us, we are lucky to be able to mow pastures once a year but consider the needs and your priorities for your pastures. With all of the other activities we have to accomplish on our farms, sometimes mowing pastures falls down on the list of things to do. Dragging pastures can also be a tool to help control parasites and pests, Williamson says. Spring pasture management is the key to grazing season success long term. For many of us, we are lucky if we’re able to mow pastures once a year, but consider what the needs and priorities are for your pastures. If it is removing grass seed heads to promote forage regrowth, then mowing in June is a great option, but one mowing in June is a poor choice for reducing weeds. Links and all references to outside content do not constitute (i) incorporation by reference of information contained on or in such outside content and such information should not be considered part of U.OSU.EDU or (ii) endorsement of such content by The Ohio State University. Reseeding can be necessary to increase nutritional value, eradicate weeds, fill in bare spots, and improve the stand after disease problems or poor management. We have research plots at the Eastern Agricultural Research Station near Caldwell, Ohio, that are mowed at different times. Finally, mowing helps you to get that overview of what kind of vegetation you have in your pasture. Once it has produced a seed head, it will transition from the reproductive stage to the vegetative stage, and hopefully the net movement of energy will be down. The results of the 2017 study suggests that mowing in June and August works as good as mowing every month to control weeds, and the June mowing will remove the seed heads. I would have a hard time justifying clipping for this reason unless you have an active pink eye problem. Please contact site owner for help. If you can evaluate the needs such as seed head removal and weed control, maybe we can better time our pasture mowings. The content of this site is published by the site owner(s) and is not a statement of advice, opinion, or information pertaining to The Ohio State University. We need to keep in mind the three big grazing principles to make pasture management successful: avoiding seed heads, residual management, and rest periods. I have started to cover the first principle, but as I transition to residual management, cutting height can play a big role with how close animals will graze and what type of forage will be favored. During the growing season, use a rest and rotation grazing system or a rotation grazing system to keep cattle fed and to keep grasses and vegetation cover from getting out of control. I need to write a lease for 200 acres of pasture and hay ground that I have inherited. You really need to develop a step by step plan that addresses the challenges and management requirements of a new pasture. Always read and carefully follow label instructions on any chemical additive. With the late start of the season we have had this year, this strategy may be an option depending on your weed pressure. However, pasture is often not well managed and its productivity is low and animal productivity off the pasture does not meet its potential. Should We Mow/Clip Pastures? Forages should not be mowed between certain dates in the fall before dormancy as well depending on you growing zone. By this time of year, most have made the decision on whether to clip pastures or not. ‐ Any winter pastures not fertilized in October or November – top‐dress with 50 lbs Nitrogen per acre (do not re‐apply to winter pastures already fertilized). If you mow too often and too short you can actually hurt the grass also depending on the hieght of the growth points of forages and legumes vs. grass, ie. At this point, new growth will be leaves, which will be high in quality for livestock, and the leaves will capture sunlight and provide energy for the plant. You can also spot weed with an herbicide spray that is appropriate for your area, existing vegetation, and animal use. Spam protection has stopped this request. With the late start of the season we have had this year, this strategy may be an option depending on your weed pressure. warm or cool season grasses. At this point, new growth will be leaves which will be high in quality for livestock and the leaves will capture sunlight and provide energy for the plant. The third reason to clip or mow is help control pink eye in cattle. If we mow or graze too close, we may eventually kill off that plant and possibly favor growth of fescue, bluegrass, and weeds. This will allow the plants to store energy in the roots or base as the leaves grow. Get An Overview of Pasture Vegetation It is at that point of transition when it is a great time to mow pastures. The net movement of energy is up. Asked June 4, 2016, 1:38 PM EDT. Supporting Ohio sheep producers by providing educational information, sheep research conducted at Ohio State, resources, and contact information for leaders in Ohio's sheep industry. 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