Take Time To Self Evaluate Your Pasture Management

This information is in honor of Dave Forgey and Dave Nuhring, producers who taught a young forage specialist (me) and thousands of others the value of rotational stocking.

dairy cow

Managing pasture properly requires much skill, just like any agronomic crop. I think it requires more skill to do it in an “A” grade fashion than row crops because there is a livestock component to the agricultural system, too. Proper pasture management is more than opening the gate to the pasture and letting livestock graze season long.

The following table includes several statements that I consider essential for a very successful pasture program. Take the time to do a self evaluation of how good a job you are doing with each statement given. Rankings “Strongly Disagree” or “Disagree” require some attention to have topnotch pasture for your livestock.

If you have not developed a team of resource people that can help you with your questions about forage management, a good starting point is to contact your county’s Purdue Extension Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator and Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel. These individuals have a network within their own organizations and know local-regional agribusinesses and producers that will be able to help you with your questions.

Developing excellent pasture management skills require much effort, but the well being of your livestock will improve because you do.

 

Statement Strongly Disagree Disagree Undecided Agree Strongly Agree
I soil test at least every third year and apply lime and fertilize based on the test results.
I know the major soil types on my farm by name and know their strengths and weaknesses.
I can identify the major forages growing in my pasture and know their strengths and weaknesses.
I remove livestock from a paddock when cool-season grass/legume forage growth is around 4 inches in height.
I stockpile perennial pasture in the late summer and early fall.
I evaluate pasture growth and potential concerns (overgrazing, weeds, insects, diseases) in the pasture weekly and take action if needed.
I document when livestock are moved from paddock to paddock.
Where possible and applicable, I graze crop residues and double crop forages to full potential on my farm.
I analyze nutrient composition of my hay and use the information to balance rations.
I have an agronomist on my list of professionals that has a passion for forage crops.

 

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