Long-term thinking required on pasture rejuvenation during a drought

While some rainfall has returned to very dry areas of the Prairies, many ranchers have already made some tough calls on downsizing herds and flocks to conserve what grass is available for grazing and winter feed.

Taking the pressure off existing pasture and hay ground is a smart move to make early. Janice Bruynooghe, of Silver Creek Consulting, says that long-term drought management of pastures is all about rest. Even a decent rain event this late and in this dry of a season (and, in some cases, seasons) might only be enough to encourage forage to break dormancy. Actual regrowth is going to take some time, and grazing too soon — even though feed is scarce — could have long-term negative impacts on total forage production this year and next.

In the audio below, Bruynooghe shares some management strategies for pasture rejuvenation not only in this dry year but with next spring and summer’s grazing needs in mind, too. Allowing ample rest and regrowth between grazing or cutting is vital, she says, but so is checking on fertility levels and perhaps planning wintering sites to address some nutrient shortfalls. There’s always the option of over-seeding and complete re-seeding of fields, but that really is a less ideal option — after all, seed needs moisture to germinate and establish.

Listen on for more:

Looking for more? Check out the Beef Cattle Research Council’s forage rejuvenation info page here.

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