Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Forage Program Works Well in Alabama

One can have quality, productive pastures in December by developing winter forage program (Fig. 1). December is the time when most pastures (without cool-season forages) appear brown, and there is not much available forages for grazing animals in Alabama and other states of the Southeast USA. This situation continues until warm-season perennial forages grow back in April. Figure 2 depicts the situation of most livestock farms in the winter time. 
Figure 1. Marshall ryegrass-winter peas mixed pastures
Dec. 2012, Phenix City, AL, USA

Figure2. Warm-season forages are dormant or dead giving the brown look to
the pasture in Winter, Franklin, AL, USA.
Animals mostly depend on manual feeding at this time.
Winter forages (marshall ryegrass sole crop or mixed with one of the legumes - winter peas, hairy vetch, crimson clover, arrowleaf clover, or berseem clover) planted towards the end of September in one of the producers' farm in Phenix City, AL have grown up to the height of 8 to 12 inches when measured in the third week of December, and ready to be grazed (Fig. 1).  This situation helps producer save money on feeding costs. These winter forages will be producing throughout the spring of next year extending the grazing until the warm-season forages grow back (Fig. 3).

Figure 3. Goats grazing on crimson clover-MaxQ tall fescue mixed pasture
April 2011, Selma, AL, USA.

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