Stockpiling warm season forages

The recent buzz seems to be utilizing stockpiled forages as a substitute for hay in the winter months. When you look at fuel costs, fertilizer costs, equipment wear and tear, and the overall nutrients in a typical roll of hay, it is easy to see why hay is the most expensive commodity we can purchase on a nutrient basis. Based upon the data from Auburn economically speaking stockpiling may be the best way to go. This has been an interest of mine for some time. I feel that anytime we can manipulate nutrient delivery to enhance uptake we are ahead. Perhaps by stockpiling we can increase our efficiency and reduce our production costs. The data ate interesting enough, however there are some things that need to be addressed to make it “fit” in the South MS world in which we live in. Most pastures in this part of the world are going to be predominantly Bahiagrass, with some Bermudagrass in the forage composition. The nutrient values shown for the Tifton 85 in November are much higher than what we typically see in our summer forages at optimum growing points (data from three years at White Sand sow our warm season forages to have a maximum of 13-14%. And in looking at forage quality last October our Bahiagrass pastures were still around 10-11%. Additional concerns regarding mud/rain, trampling all need to be evaluated as well So will stockpiling fit in in South MS? I will let you know in May, as we are gearing up to run a demonstration of sorts. We will stockpile our Bahiagrass pastures and rotate cows in and out of there into ryegrass pastures as part of our normal winter management. Our goal is to see if it can be done and what the challenges will be in doing something like this. If it is feasible, then we will plan a study to see how this type of system might fit into cow calf production in South MS.

Appreciation is expressed to Dr. Kim Mullenix of Auburn for the excellent article. The link is attached.