Brooks County Ag Connection

Stockpile Forage To Minimize Hay Feeding This Fall/Winter

For those who aren’t subscribed to the Georgia Cattlemen’s Magazine, check out this great article by UGA Forage Extension Specialist Dr. Dennis Hancock covering the practice of stockpiling forage for Fall/Winter feeding

Click here for the link to the full article Stockpiling Forage

stockpiled forage“In the South, we are blessed with a very long grazing season. With periods of drought as the exception, the only “lean times” for forage production is during October through January in South Georgia and late November through March in North Georgia. In most years, forage can be grown in late summer or early fall and saved for grazing later. This is commonly referred to as stockpiling forage, where forage is accumulated so that it can be grazed at a later time. Stockpiling forage is one of the least expensive ways of feeding cattle. Most economists have found that stockpiled forage can be fed at about 1/3 the cost of feeding hay and about 2/3 the cost of grazing winter annuals. But, like so many other things, there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.”

What Should Be Stockpiled?
The two forage species that are most commonly used for stockpiling in Georgia are tall fescue and bermudagrass. Tall fescue is an excellent species to stockpile in North Georgia, where it is used extensively.

Bermudagrass is also a great species for stockpiling forage in the fall, especially below the Fall Line. It is best to use a hybrid or improved bermudagrass variety for stockpiling rather than a common or seeded variety. Hybrid bermudagrasses (e.g., Tifton 85, Tifton 78, Tifton 44, Russell, Coastal, etc.) are generally more productive in the late summer and early fall.  Most (though not all) common ecotypes do not grow well past early September, since most are very daylength sensitive. Hybrid bermudagrasses generally are more resistant to fungal infection. Occasionally, common bermudagrass plants develop a toxin producing fungus that causes animals to become photosensitive, and can cause skin lesions if left unchecked. Therefore, stockpiling is only recommended when a hybrid bermudagrass can be used.

Table 1. Number of grazing days (1 cow per acre per day) for different amounts of available forage when using continuous stocking, rotational stocking, or the frontal grazing method.

Available Forage Continuous Stocking Moderate Rotational Stocking Frontal Grazing
(lbs DM/acre) —————————— (cow-days/acre) ——————————
1500 19-25 31-38 41-47
2000 25-33 42-50 54-63
2500 31-42 52-63 68-78

tips for stockpiling