More pasture utilization tips

Last week’s article addressed factors affecting utilization of pasture and ways to improve that utilization.
The following is part two of the article on utilizing your pasture from Jack Kyle, grazier specialist, OMAF/MRA:
Factors that influence pasture utilization are the number of paddocks and the frequency of moves.
According to the Purdue Extension Forage Field Guide, continuously grazed pasture will result in 40 percent utilization of the forage.
A four-paddock system will result in 45 percent utilization, an eight-paddock system will have about 60 percent utilization, and a 12-paddock system will have about 65 percent utilization.
Moving to a 24+ paddock system will bring the utilization rate up to about 75 percent.
This is a huge increase in productivity of your pastures—almost doubling it.
Increasing the number of paddocks also allows you to increase the frequency of moves to fresh pasture.
According to the Purdue Extension Forage Field Guide, moving every three days to fresh pasture will give a 70 percent utilization rate.
Moving every seven days reduces the pasture utilization rate to 50 percent while 14-day moves result in only 40 percent utilization of the pasture.
The number of paddocks and frequency of moves go together. More paddocks allow for more frequent moves.
This results in a longer rest period for the grass to recover from the previous grazing, and more growth of fresh grass for the next grazing.
Take half and leave half are seasonal utilization rates. At each grazing pass, the best results are achieved when you have the livestock remove about 50 percent of the available forage to allow the plant to quickly recover and re-grow.
There is minimal impact on the root system when grazing about 50 percent of the top growth. But when more than 50 percent is removed, the impact on the roots is much more significant.
The more paddocks you can organize for each group of livestock, and the more frequent the moves to a fresh paddock, the better the performance you will see from your pastures.
Dates to remember
•Aug. 15-17–Rainy River Valley Agricultural Society Fall Fair, Emo.

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