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Forage trends

Forage advancements and even alternative uses can help the bottom line

More and more land is being converted for growing crops. But with the rising price of all meat animals, livestock owners are looking to maximize productivity with the amount of grazing land available. Paying attention to the latest forage research and trends can help you achieve your goals.

Garry Lacefield is an extension forage specialist at the University of Kentucky. He says one of the trending tools for efficiency and forage quality is to plant more legumes.

"Legumes can provide the nitrogen, provide better quality, and depending on what legume, better root system for the summer grazing," says Lacefield. "Also we’re seeing a much greater emphasis right now on some control measures for this endophyte in tall fescue. It has a fungus growing in it, when our animals consume that we lose a lot of money. We’re seeing much more interest in using fescue varieties now that have a good fungus in it. And that can basically eliminate that endophyte problem."

Trends in climate change are forcing many producers to adjust forage production for extreme temperatures, and either too much rain or too little.
 
Lacefield says he’s seeing rising interest in forages being used as a cover crop.

"This has been a phenomenon that farmers have realized the advantages. We’re seeing a lot more of certain forages for example rye grass and crimson clover and others that have adequate winter hardiness to survive, but yet give a lot of benefits between those two crops, plus save a lot of soil," says Lacefield. "So, that’s been a big interest and a big emphasis over the last few years, another trend."

Cover crops are also becoming a popular, non-traditional source of forage for cattle. The practice helps decrease grazing pressure on pastures, and provides nutrients to both the animals and the soil.

See what else is trending in forages

Learn more about grazing cover crops for cattle

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