Cutting Excess Pasture for Hay

Cutting Excess Pasture for Hay May 12, 2016

With all the rain we've had this spring, pastures may have excess grass growth that can be like money in the bank if used efficiently.

The most obvious way to conserve extra growth is by cutting hay from parts of the pasture. Normally I try to avoid extra hay cutting, but if you have the equipment, the time, and more pasture than you can use this spring, cutting hay for use later in summer or winter when pasture becomes scarce is a good option.

If you choose to hay it, cut as seedheads are about to emerge for good hay quality and plant regrowth potential.  Also, fence out the area to be cut from the rest of the pasture soon.  Otherwise, cattle will ignore and waste the taller, stemmier grass as they graze new regrowth after the cutting.  You might even apply a little nitrogen fertilizer to stimulate growth if soil moisture still is good.

Don’t be surprised if certain weeds like common ragweed or foxtails become abundant in areas cut for hay.  Ragweed or other non-palatable broadleaf weeds can be killed easily with herbicides.  Not much can be done about the foxtails or other annual grassy weeds, but cattle will graze them quite well if you allow them access before these weeds begin to head out.  The same holds true for many broadleaf weeds.

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