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Grasses and Grazing

Learn about pasture management, stocking rates and grass production from beef and dairy specialists and agronomists around the country.

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Dr. Carl Hoveland, a pioneer in forage livestock research, said: “Beef cattle production in the southeastern U.S. is an inefficient and often unprofitable enterprise.

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A few years ago, I visited the beautiful area around Lexington, Kentucky, and spent time looking at, well, horses. And pastures. I saw fields of early spring grass with lots of horses playing and galloping.

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I was spot-spraying autumn olive that had encroached into the field when I noticed a bobwhite quail scurry through the grasses and into the fencerow.

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A number of events are converging these days, resulting in constricted budgets for forage producers. Cattle markets are reflecting these occurrences while hay prices continue to be high. But as history has proven, the sun will continue to shine, and the grass will continue to grow – along with the weeds. Fortunately, weeds are something we can control.

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In my part of the country, the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio, first cutting hay yields were very short. Late freezes and timely harvests likely contributed to this problem. If your hay supplies are likely to be short this winter, what are some options?

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In Oklahoma and other surrounding states, summer prescribed fires are a common form of mitigation for cedar trees, which hinder cattle producers. Along with cedar-tree control, prescribed burns offer a number of benefits to livestock producers and wildlife habitats, says John Weir, associate extension specialist of prescribed fire at Oklahoma State University (OSU).

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