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Ohio Ag News Headlines
Winterizing Grazing Plan
USAgNet - 11/13/2023

Is your grazing plan ready for winter? As autumn hues and the first frost hint at the impending cold weather, it's crucial to ensure that both your livestock and pastures are well-prepared for the winter months. Here's a checklist to guide you through the essential steps for a successful transition into winter.
  1. Assess Winter Feed Supplies:
    • Estimate livestock needs and check the availability of winter feed supplies.
    • Ensure you have enough feed for the entire winter period.
  2. Prepare Winter Feeding Areas:
    • Clean and ready winter feeding areas to minimize soil and forage damage.
    • Verify that any winter feeding equipment is in good working condition.
  3. Check Stockpile for Bale Grazing:
    • Confirm fields for bale grazing have enough stockpile to reduce soil and forage damage.
    • Ensure bale grazing areas are well-prepared and set out bales while soil conditions are favorable.
  4. Evaluate Winter Watering Systems:
    • Check all winter watering equipment to ensure functionality.
    • Consider using all-weather tanks or heated tanks to extend grazing season and for winter feeding areas.
    • Spring developments make excellent winter watering systems, ensuring water remains open and fresh.
  5. Consider Grazing Options:
    • Start grazing stockpiled forages when cool-season grasses slow down and carbohydrate movement towards root reserves is complete.
    • Prioritize grazing less valuable forages first, such as orchardgrass, timothy hay aftermath, or perennial ryegrass.
    • If available, graze fall-seeded brassicas and alfalfa hay aftermath after dormancy.
  6. Optimize Pasture Conditions:
    • Graze down pastures with excess grass, especially if considering frost seeding in the spring.
    • Leave at least three to four inches of forage behind for winter cover, reducing runoff and increasing infiltration.
    • Consider skipping fields that will be the first grazed next spring or leave as much as possible for a mix of dry forage and fresh new growth.
  7. Monitor Water Quality and Temperature:
    • Ensure water quality and quantity are adequate for winter months.
    • Optimal water temperature for livestock is between 37 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
    • Check all-weather tanks or heated tanks for continuous water flow, especially in spring developments.
  8. Bale Grazing Considerations:
    • Set out bales while soil conditions are good and excess moisture is not an issue.
    • Use temporary electric fences to allocate bales efficiently, reducing waste.
    • Bale rings can be beneficial if conditions are dry or if bales will be consumed fairly quickly.
  9. Plan for Grazing Season Maximization:
    • Focus on maximizing the entire grazing season rather than individual events.
    • Implement strategies like bale grazing to return nutrients to harvested areas or where needed.
    • Allow fields used for bale grazing to recover, deferring use until early next year.
As winter approaches, it's not just about maximizing a grazing event but optimizing the entire grazing season. By following this checklist and adapting it to your specific conditions, you can ensure a smooth and successful transition into winter, promoting the health of your livestock and the productivity of your pastures. Keep on grazing!


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