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Can I graze goats on annual cover crops?

Answer: For cover crop management, I would recommend that you do not let the goats into the cover-crop plot until it is time to terminate the cover crop. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, I would recommend leaving the cover crops undisturbed until they are at the end of their life-cycle.

Annual cover crops generally will not tolerate much grazing while they are still growing. An exception to this would be winter rye, which would tiller (spread out) if exposed to limited grazing. Summer grasses like sorghum-sudangrass would also tolerate occasional grazing during the growth phase. The important thing would be to only graze for a short amount of time and allow ample time for the cover crop to recover and put on new growth before grazing again.

This perspective comes from managing cover cops in the context of vegetable crop production. If you are growing cover crops primarily as forage for your goats, you may want to take a different approach. You may want to grow perennial forage crops that would regrow readily after grazing.

In any case, your cover crop or forage crop would need fertilizer if your soil is deficient in K. The crop will grow best if you provide all of the nutrients it needs. I would recommend that you fertilize with K in the spring. Also make sure that you check the soil test and provide any other essential nutrients.

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