Farm Store | articles | Spring Pasture Management 'Must Do's'

Spring Pasture Management 'Must Do's'

A woman manages her cattle pasturePastures are more than a food source to livestock, in many instances pastures are where the livestock spend their days, exercise and socialize. It's up to the livestock owner to ensure that pastures provide not only a safe environment for the animals, but also adequate nutrition. For most, pasture management comes to mind during the spring when temperatures start to rise, however if you want to ensure you have productive pastures, proper pasture management practices must be adhered to every day of the year.

Even if you look out your window and all you see is a snow covered, frozen tundra-looking pasture, it's not too early to begin thinking about how to prepare pastures for spring. For cattle farmers, depending on your breeding season, spring can be an especially busy time on the farm therefore it's best to have a plan in place for your pastures. So what should you do to be ready for spring?

Test Your Soil

Soil is the foundation of a good pasture management program. You must know what nutrient levels are present in your soil. A soil test will help you better understand the needs of your pasture. Make sure you take samples that are representative of your entire pasture area.

"Soil testing will help determine soil pH and appropriate lime requirements, as well as fertilizer needs (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium), based on the size of your pasture," explains Southern States® Agronomist Ken Sechler.

Once you have your results you can apply your fertilizer, phosphorus, potassium or other nutrients when the snow melts. Remember - if your soil results call for lime application, lime should be applied 6-12 months prior to seeding to allow adequate time for it to react with the soil. Contact your local Southern States store for more information regarding soil testing and how to implement test results.

Walk the Fence

Now that you know the soil composition of your pastures, you need to take a hands-on approach and physically inspect each pasture. Winter storms and heavy snows can wreak havoc on your existing fence lines and change the landscape of your pasture areas as trees and limbs fall from the weight of the snow. Therefore, you may need to improve some fencing and provide new shade sources for your livestock. If you notice areas that are more heavily grazed than others, you may want to add additional fencing (either permanent or temporary) to allow for pasture rotation. Rotating pastures is a great way to try and limit overgrazing of pastures.

Get Weeds under Control

Weed control is an important part of spring pasture management as you want spring growth to be free of weeds. Picking the right seed for your need is the first way to control weed growth. Plants that are appropriate for your soil will be hearty and out-compete weeds. Weeds indicate a problem with your soil, as desirable grasses and legumes aren't thriving while weeds are. Making corrections to your growing conditions following soil testing should put a hamper on weed growth.

Two other methods of weed controls are herbicides and mowing. Herbicides are effective in controlling annual, biennial and perennial broadleaved weeds in early spring when leaves are actively growing. Use caution when applying herbicides as they can also kill desirable legumes in your pasture. Additionally, you will want to remove livestock from herbicide treated pastures to make sure they don't injest the chemicals or eat less desirable poisonous plants in place of the treated plants.

Mowing helps shorten weed height on a temporary basis. If properly timed, mowing prevents weeds from producing seed and temporarily increases forage production. While mowing can be extremely helpful in managing your weed population, large weeds with well developed root systems cannot be controlled by mowing alone.

Frost Seed Your Pastures

If you didn't seed your pastures in the fall, it's not too late. Just make sure you seed early. Frost seeding, also known as "overseeding", is a good way to add to or improve forage in your existing pastures. Typically done in February or early March, frost seeding is simply broadcasting grass or legume seed on existing pastures when the ground is still frozen. The goal of frost seeding is to place seeds on bare soil, so although the name seems to suggest differently, do not put seed directly on the snow. The cooler the soil and air temperatures are the higher probability of frost seeding success.

Not Just One and Done

Once you lay the foundation for good spring pastures your work isn't done. You will need to make a plan to rest and rotate your pastures to prevent overgrazing. Additionally manure management will be something to consider throughout the year, one of the leading causes of uneven pasture growth and grazing is manure piles in your fields. Managing your manure will not only encourage even grazing, but also recycle nutrients into the soil. The more TLC you give your pastures the better they will treat your livestock.

Have more questions about what you should do to get ready for spring? To speak to one of our agronomists or livestock specialists in your area find your local Southern States store.

Shop Grass Seed

Related Products

More Products Like This:
Grid View
List View
  • Bullzeye 2.5 gal

    SKU 11101643
    Bullzeye is a non-selective herbicide containing 41% glyphosate along with some surfactant. It may be used to control grass and broadleaf weed species. Application rates vary with weed size, application timing, and formulation. If applied postemergence use only on glyphosate-resistant crops.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Roundup QuikPro 6.8 lb

    SKU 11110419
    Used on parks and golf courses nationwide, Roundup QuikPRO provides visible results in as little as 24 hours. The quick uptake speeds weed-killing power right to the root, where it can’t wash away. This dustless, dry granular formula easily mixes with water and is rainfast in one hour.
    to see pricing & availability
  • GrazonNext HL Specialty Herbicide 2 gal

    SKU 11100530
    GrazonNext HL Specialty Herbicide is a complete broadleaf weed solution for range and pasture. GrazonNext HL provides season-long performance on over 60 species of broadleaf weeds to help get the job done effectively and efficiently. Safe to desirable grasses, GrazonNext HL eliminates weed competition, to help grow more, higher quality forage. Use GrazonNext HL to improve your land, whether it’s for livestock, private hunting grounds or wildlife habitat.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Roundup QuikPro 1.5 oz

    SKU 11110457
    Roundup QuikPRO provides complete weed control from leaves to roots. This special formula will deliver symptoms up to 4 times faster than Roundup Pro. This no-hassle formula requires no measuring, mixing or handling because it comes in a convenient dry formula. Visible symptoms in as little as 24 hours, rainfast in one hour.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Brushmaster 12 x 1 qt

    SKU 11103833
    Brushmaster is for post-emergent control of woody brush and broadleaf weeds in fencerows, firebreaks, farmyards, roadsides, airports, rights-of-way, industrial sites and similar non-crop areas.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Nufarm Weedmaster Herbicide 2.5 gal

    SKU 11100310
    Provide tough, long lasting control with Nufarm Weedmaster Herbicide. This specially formulated herbicide is guaranteed to combat a broad spectrum of annual, biennial and perennial broadleaf weeds, as well as brush in grass forages and selected row crops. Weedmaster features growth regulating effects of 2,4-D and dicamba, which acts at interference with the development of broadleaf weeds and ultimately causes plant death.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Remedy Ultra Specialty Herbicide 1 gal

    SKU 11100176
    Remedy Ultra Specialty Herbicide is perfect for the control of woody plants and broadleaf weeds on rangeland, permanent grass pastures, and Conservation Reserve Program acres. This herbicide works to control more than 35 brush species, as well as important broadleaf weeds. Additionally, this specialty herbicide mixes well with other herbicides for an even broader spectrum control.
    to see pricing & availability
  • Tordon RTU Specialty Herbicide 1 qt

    SKU 11103832
    Tordon RTU Specialty Herbicide effectively kills cut stumps along fence lines and non-cropland areas. This ready-to-use herbicide does not require any mixing or measuring, and can be applied nearly year-round. Tordon features a blue dye to help keep track of treated stumps and is ideal for keeping more than 20 woody species at bay while preventing resprouts.
    to see pricing & availability

Find Your Nearest Southern States Location

Sales & Offers