DSC_0905.jpg

Gain Soil Health Benefits, Extra Income by Grazing Cover Crops

Extending the grazing season either later into the fall and early winter or starting earlier in the spring can be a cost savings for livestock producers, while also improving soil health.

Grazing livestock in the fall is a well-known method for livestock producers to go a few weeks longer without having to resort to feeding their stored hay and forage. Raising cover crops can further extend that window into late fall and even through the winter to spring, allowing livestock producers to graze their animals even longer.

Choosing a Cover Crop

If you are looking to graze livestock on covers, your objective should be maximizing efficiency and productivity — probably a different goal than if you are raising covers in conjunction or rotation with row crops, says Rocky Lemus, a research professor and Extension educator who specializes in grazing systems and hay production at Mississippi State University.

“You want to be selective about which type of cover crop you use for grazing,” Lemus says. “You may have to manage early termination of the cover crop so you can plant a row crop after it.”

Annual cover crop mixtures can make very nutritious and economical grazing crops for any season, says Jerry Lindquist, Michigan State University Extension grazing educator. The best cover crop blend from a livestock nutrition perspective is a mixture of brassicas, small grains, legumes and cool season grasses. Multi-species mixes with at least four species of covers are especially good for finishing grass-fed beef cattle.

“Most hay and bermuda grass won’t be active for summer grazing until May, so try to plant early-maturing mixes with a small grain as part of the system,” Lemus recommends. “Oats, triticale, and cereal…

To view the content, please subscribe or login.
 Premium content is for our Digital-only and Premium subscribers. A Print-only subscription doesn't qualify. Please purchase/upgrade a subscription with the Digital product to get access to all No-Till Farmer content and archives online. Learn more about the different versions and what is included.

Sarah Hill

Associate Editor

Top Articles

Current Issue

Cover_CTG_February_0220_web.jpg

No-Till Farmer

Get full access NOW to the most comprehensive, powerful and easy-to-use online resource for no-tillage practices. Just one good idea will pay for your subscription hundreds of times over.

View More

Must Read Free Eguides

Download these helpful knowledge building tools

View More
Top Directory Listings