Winter may not be kind to your pastures, especially when your herd heads out to the fields after a rainy or snowy night. They can turn your fields into muddy messes in a hurry.
Take a look at some practical tips to prep your hay pastures for the spring thaw by caring for them through the winter.
Stockpiling Through Species Diversification
Before winter hits, consider diversifying the species in your fields to prevent a summer slump. Cool-season grasses decline in July and August when it’s unbearably hot. However, if you add tall fescue to your growing season, it can prevent a summer slump by peaking during the hottest parts of the summer. This keeps your cool-season grasses more vital through October and even November.
Move Hay & Cattle More Often
When you throw bales of hay into your fields, your herd will move to where you placed the hay. It’s a great way for them to get some exercise and get acclimated to the cold, particularly for new calves.
However, when they congregate in one place it can pug the soil. Make sure to move the hay daily to spread any damage over a wider area. Rather than hay every day you do this, think about placing mineral tubs apart from the water and hay to encourage your animals to move around to different areas.
Maintain a Sacrificed Area
Even if you plan to have a sacrificed area of your field this winter, it’s still essential to maintain it. Hard, frozen ground is the easiest to maintain, but a lot of body heat from your cattle and plenty of walking around can turn it into a mudfest by evening. Then there is the animal waste.
Come up with a plan for the location of the food and water. You could rotate it to different quadrants of the pasture on subsequent days. Keep your herd away from streams because they could become contaminated with the manure. Also, look at how the land lays when it gets wet. Will the water or mud run off? Or will it sit there and create a muddy mess that gets more problematic as each day passes?
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SoMo Farm & Ranch Can Help You Maintain Winter Herds
Our Springfield farm and ranch supply store can supply your farm, fields, and herd with minerals and feeds to help them winter more efficiently and effectively. Contact us or call (417) 865-0312, and we’re happy to help.