Pasture is an economical way to feed cattle. However, producers need to actively manage cattle and forage growth to get the most production and return per acre of land. Cattle on pasture selectively graze by first eating the leaves, or most tender and nutritious part of the plant. Letting cattle rotationally graze pasture keeps it in the most nutritious, vegetative state the majority of the growing season.
In rotational grazing cattle graze one section, or paddock, of pasture at a time, allowing the other sections to rest and re-grow. Pastures that are rotationally grazed have higher yields and help improve cattle performance, whether milk production, rate of gain, or reproductive efficiency.
Giving a paddock a rest period of 20 to 30 days enables the forage to renew carbohydrates and rebuild plant vigor. It also increases the quality and life of the stand. Rotational grazing dramatically increases the amount of forage harvested producing up to 1,000 to 2,000 more pounds of dry matter compared to abused and over-grazed pastures.
If you have two pastures now, subdivide each into a total of four separate pastures to help improve forage production and animal performance. Ultimately, producers should strive to have seven to eight different paddocks so each is grazed for a maximum of two to three days and rested for at least 21 days.
It's important to base the decision to move cattle from a paddock on forage growth, not a rigid time frame. The best time for cattle to graze is when the forage is vegetative and before flowering or seed head formation. To keep from putting cattle on a section that's too mature, follow these target heights to begin grazing: six to eight inches for legumes and cool-season grasses such as orchard grass and fescue; 12 to 14 inches for warm-season perennial grasses, and at least 18 to 24 inches for summer-season annuals such as Sudangrass. The closer cattle graze a pasture, the longer it takes the forage to recover. To prevent overgrazing, leave three inches of stubble for cool-season grasses and legumes and four to eight inches of stubble for warm-season grasses.
Cattle will spend the same amount of time grazing, generally about eight hours a day. The heaviest grazing period takes place as soon as it becomes light in the morning. After a certain amount of time, cattle will quit grazing whether or not they've received enough energy to support milk production or growth.
For more information, contact the G.C. Cooperative Extension Service at 259-3492. For a copy of this article by Jack Ewing, please visit our web site at www.ca.uky.edu/grayson and follow the link for Agriculture & Natural Resources and click on News Articles.
Rotating pastures improves cattle performance
KY food companies will exhibit their products before both wholesalers and the public at the 23rd annual Kentucky Crafted: The Market in February in the South Wing-A of the Kentucky Fair and Exposi-tion Center in Louisville. The Market is a combination wholesale/ retail event that features more than 300 exhibitors of the state's finest food products, crafts, books and musical recordings. It is a rare opportunity for buyers to order directly from the producers of KY food products as well as traditional and contemporary folk art. The Market is open to retailers on Feb. 26-27, and to the public Feb. 28-29.
Food products this year will include cheeses, honey, country ham and other pork products, jams and jellies, barbecue sauces, pickles, KY jam cakes and other confectionery, candies, salsas, herb marinades and vinaigrettes, dip mixes, popcorn, bison products, bourbon marinades, and many other items.
Along with the "Kentucky Proud" Marketplace, the show features the Kentucky Craft section, Kentucky music and book publishers, and two-dimensional art. The Market will welcome 57 new exhibitors, including three in the food section, 29 juried craft participants, 17 out-of-state guest exhibitors, two publishers, four visual artists, one KY organization, and one Kentucky Wood Products Competitiveness Corporation exhibitor.
For more information, contact KDA's Division of Agriculture Marketing, Agritourism and Agribusiness Recruitment at (502) 564-6571.
Basis of 4-H youth development emblem
By Donna Durbin, Grayson County Extension Agent for 4-H/Youth Development
Many of you have seen the four-leaf clover with four "H's" that symbolizes Kentucky's 4-H Youth Development program and similar ones in other states and territories. Here's some information on each "H" and vital role it plays in our 4-H Youth Development program.
The first "H" stands for "head," because 4-H challenges youth to think and make decisions as individuals and members of a group. Self-discipline, responsibility, initiative and leadership are an important focus in our program, because these attributes help youth become a positive force in today's world. Members discover new ways to do things and different methods to deal with everyday challenges.
The second "H" represents "hands." In 4-H, youth learn many skills that will benefit them all their lives. Learn by doing is an important philosophy of our program. Members actually become involved in many hands-on activities, rather than just listening to a speaker. They can learn about 100 different skills by choosing from hundreds of projects ranging from computer technology to veterinary science to woodworking to bicycle safety to cooking. Involvement in 4-H can help members discover interests that lead to hobbies and possibly rewarding careers.
The third "H" symbolizes "heart." Our members, club leaders and volunteers have a lot of heart to give youth growing up in today's sometimes tough world.
Through 4-H Youth Development, youth can become friends with other young people and caring adults. Talking to others about what matters to them helps members sort out their ideas and emotions. This program is about building character, accepting people who are different and make your community a better place to live.
The fourth "H" stands for "health." Being healthy means feeling good; trying to balance school, friends and family; and making the right choices. Our program focuses on helping youth develop healthy lifestyles and understanding the consequences of unhealthy choices.
Incidentally, the first emblem was a three-leaf clover introduced sometime between 1907 and 1908. The three "H's" symbolized head, hand and heart. The fourth "H," signifying health, was adopted in 1911 at a club leader meeting in Washington, D.C.
For more information, contact the G.C. Cooperative Extension Service at 259-3492.
Contest helps pupils follow food from farm to table
Across the Common-wealth, students are describing how their food gets from the farm to the table as part of an annual Poster and Essay Contest sponsored by the KDA. Teachers of Ky. students in grades 1-8 are invited to submit posters and essays around the theme, "Agriculture, From Farm to Table," illustrating through words or pictures the message of the theme.
Posters must be in color (use of crayons or colored pencils is prohibited) with total dimensions not exceeding 18 inches x 24 inches. The theme must be prominent in the artwork. Essays around the theme should be no longer than 150 words for students in grades 1-3, and no longer than 250 words for students in grades 4-8. Entry deadline is Feb. 27.
Winners will be notified March 8. Each winner will receive a $100 savings bond.
Interested teachers can log onto the KDA Web site at www.kyagr.com