Answer: Rotational grazing gives the livestock manager flexibility in responding to the changing forage supply. During periods of rapid plant growth, cattle are moved quickly through paddocks. Alternatively, if equipment is available or the work can be hired, excess forage can be harvested for feeding later. During periods of slow plant growth, delayed rotation allows plants in each paddock a longer time to recover after each grazing period.
Various strategies or specialized forages can delay having to feed harvested forages. In late fall, stockpiled fescue or other winter grasses can be strip-grazed. Grain and stalks left in corn or milo fields after harvest, offered as strips, provide another source of good-quality feed into the winter months. Small grains, grown alone or with brassicas, are a third option in some parts of the country for extending the grazing season.
In some regions, providing excellent grazing through the hottest summer months is the biggest challenge. Native grasses, summer annuals, and interseeded legumes can offset this slump. However, the costs of establishment — in time and money — are justified only if the resulting increase in livestock production translates into sufficient profit. A good resource for learning more about extending the grazing season with alternative forage systems is the publication Extending Grazing and Reducing Stored Feed Needs, by Don Ball, Ed Ballard, Mark Kennedy, Garry Lacefield, and Dan Undersander.
To explore this topic further, refer to the ATTRA publication Rotational Grazing.
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