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Fall pasture tune up – Audio

Dan Undersander, Extension Forage Agronomist
Department of Agronomy
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
Phone (608) 263-5070, (608) 262-1390

2:51- Total Time
0:14 – Good pasture season
0:54 – Use pastures into winter
1:53 – Get soils tests, prepare for spring
2:42 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Talking about fall pasture management with Dan Undersander, Department of Agronomy University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.  Dan, folks with a bunch of pasture out there, what are they looking at?

Dan Undersander:  Generally speaking, we’ve had pretty good pasture this summer because we’ve had good rains. So, one of the things to keep in mind is to look at the quantity of forage on the pasture and what I see as I drive around the state, a lot of areas that have been very heavily grazed, if there’s really less than about 4 inches of growth out there we should figure that the animals are really only getting exercise. They’re nibbling, it looks like they’re chewing, but they’re getting such little bites that they really are not doing much to affect their daily energy and protein needs.

Sevie Kenyon: What should a producer do in a case like that?

Dan Undersander: Assess what’s there, if it’s less than four inches, you probably pretty well need to be feeding the animal whether it is a horse, or a cow, or whatever, a full ration. Now on the other hand, if we have excess pasture and many people do, even after frost and it turns brown that is very high quality forage. So, we can graze sheep, goats, horses, cattle as long as there’s forage out there. It’s leafy, it’s high in energy, it’s probably going to be about 16% crude protein, so it will meet a lot of animal needs if they have enough yield on their stock pile pasture they can graze into December-January, it’s good pasture. The mistake is to think that because it’s brown it’s low quality, if it’s brown and stemy over summer it’s low quality, if it’s brown in the fall it’s high quality.

Sevie Kenyon: And Dan, are there things that should be done to the pastures this fall yet?

Dan Undersander: The main thing I would encourage people to do is to soil test to see what the status of their pasture is and then maybe to think about applying some fertilizer in the spring.

Often times there’s enough nitrogen for the first growth in the spring, but then a little bit later on we may want nitrogen for the growth the rest of the season. We must remember that pastures take up all the nitrogen that’s available in each growth cycle, so if there’s a whole bunch there they take it all up and then the second growth doesn’t have any. So it’s important to put nitrogen on periodically during the year if we want good growth. This is a plush forage year, but again, we should take care of it and we should make use of the forage that we don’t have to work to get.

Sevie Kenyon: We’ve been visiting with Dan Undersander, Department of Agronomy University of Wisconsin-Madison/Extension in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and I’m Sevie Kenyon.