July Timely Tips

July Timely Tips

Preparing your pastures for winter

In South Central Kentucky, we are getting plentiful rain, and the grass is growing wonderfully, but the weeds/forbs are growing too. The following are some things covered in this note to consider this time of year.

·       Mowing to prepare for stockpiling grass and to reset pastures for fall growth

·        Fly numbers are increasing, and internal parasites thrive in warm moist weather.  

·        Water for livestock

·        Shift focus from seeding warm-season forages to cool-season forages.

·       Timing your introduction of rams and bullies

·    Livestock selection criteria

·    Upcoming grazing events


Now through September 15th is the most important time to clip pastures. This is an important time to return forage to a vegetative state before stockpiling grass for winter. Only mow fields that need a reset; don’t mow down good grass, it may not rain, and any standing grass is better than none. Graze more mature grass first while allowing more vegetative grass to grow. Short-duration high-density grazing reduces mowing, but sometimes there are old stools of grass with brown leaves shading green leaves or plants, shading desirable grass that needs light to grow and last longer for stockpiling grass. Broadleaf plants like wingstem and ironweed shade desirable grass and can reduce grass production. Clipping pastures to a 5” height may also help reduce pink eye.


Peak fly season is now through September, be diligent in controlling flies. In addition to the measures I mentioned in the last timely tips (garlic powder in mineral, mineral oil, fly paper) mop type back rubbers filled with mineral oil works well. A mop tank is superior to sock-type back rubbers because they tend to slick over and not release the oil. Cedar oil added to the mineral oil can enhance fly control. Sometimes I cut a cedar tree for cattle to rub on.


Additional water sources can improve cattle performance. When using a surface pipeline, let some vegetation grow over the pipe to keep the water cooler. Supplemental water also can improve pasture utilization and water intake, increasing animal performance.

Drain and clean water troughs at least every three months and sniff the water for any off smells. Dirty water can harbor some diseases like leptospirosis, e. coli, and others. Livestock sometimes sniff the water, and I’ve heard they take advantage of Oxygen from the water; they should normally take about 20 gulps at the tank.  

Maintaining gravel around the tank is important. Avoid large stones mixed with small ones since this can cause hoof problems, especially when stones are carried in mud onto concrete. A lime pile between the concrete and mud can reduce this issue.

 When my garlic powder clumps up when it’s been exposed to moist air, I place those in the water trough.


The very best time to seed cool-season grass pastures is fall ( one and a half months before the first killing frost). Pasture fields to consider for reseeding will have less than a 50% of desirable grass or be warm-season grass pastures. I prefer to seed into warm-season forages at the end of September (about 15 days before a killing frost). When seeding a perennial stand of grass like tall fescue, seed only perennials since annuals grow faster, they can reduce the stand of perennials. If seeding annuals, consider a mix of small grains like triticale, barley, oats, wheat, or rye with annual ryegrass. A mix of about 150 pounds of small grain with 20 pounds of annual ryegrass gives full cool season production. If seeded early, you may get early winter grazing; if seeded later, you will likely get early spring grazing through June.


Now’s the time to step up your grazing management. This is the most important time to grow and conserve grass for winter.

Rotating pastures and maintaining good residual height will allow you to stockpile every field for winter. If you rotate off fields, maintaining 4” to 6” height cattle won’t be as likely to graze into the more mature forage next grazing so that you can save it for use later in the winter. In the meantime, you will be rewarded with more pasture growth, better soil, and healthier livestock.


If you don’t have shelter for sheep and goats, birthing time is the most important consideration since goats are very prone to hypothermia, and lambs are not as tolerant of cold as calves. Late March and April are good times for lambing or kidding. If they are born in June, internal parasites are a real concern.

My current management is to pull the rams and bucks when I don’t want births. The months I don’t want them to birth small ruminants are January, February, June, July, August, or September. The gestation period is five months, so calculate it back five months from the listed dates to pull rams and bucks. I’m pulling my Rams and Bucks in late July. The problem with exposing ewes and nannies multiple times a year is that it’s much harder to keep good records of who birthed and raised them. Another issue is dealing with lambs and higher nutritional requirements over a longer period.

Now’s the time for the highest availability of goats and sheep. 


When selecting livestock, whether it’s cattle, sheep, goats, or pigs, I use the same selection criteria. I want the animal’s height to be 2/3 body (e.g., a 3’ tall animal would have 2’ of body and 1’ of leg), wide (barrel-shaped), have a flat top, good feet, and a wide muzzle. A healthy goat will have its tail up, and a healthy pig’s tail will be curly. With goats and sheep, check FAMACHA. FAMACHA is a technique to check for anemia, most likely due to barber pole worms. Pull back the bottom eyelid, and it should be pink.  Cherry red is best. If the eyelid isn’t at least pink, don’t buy them, they need deworming. Goats’ eyelids aren’t as red as sheep.


Even though we’re living through mid-summer, our thoughts need to be on the coming winter.  Strive for each grazing to be better!


October 19, Big Spring Farm Pasture Walk, Adolphus, KY; Preregister events@gregbrann.com

October 31, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Elizabethtown, KY, UKForageExtension@uky.edu

November 1, Kentucky Grazing Conference, Low-Stress Livestock Handling, Lexington, KY, UKForageExtension@uky.edu

February 16, Grazing for Profit, Harriman, TN (865) 248-3159,

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September 2022 Timely Tips

September 2022 Timely Tips


As a consultant, I am often asked, “Do I need to reseed.” Many times, the pasture is fine; they just need to manage what they have. My recommendation is always to evaluate your management before you reseed. Consider whether your nutrients are balanced, have you managed your minimum grazing heights, and do you have good ground cover present. 

Fall Seeding

As the price of seed continues to increase, it’s important to your bottom line to first determine your objective for seeding. Do you need more forage, is weed suppression needed, is soil health diminishing?

Forage production and weed suppression

If you have areas with over 50% undesirable plants, now’s the time to seed. Annual ryegrass is excellent for competing and smothering undesirable vegetation, but hairy vetch, Austrian winter peas, barley, triticale, rape, and cereal rye also work well for weed suppression.

Soil health

I like planting different species in rotation or as a mix. Plant both grasses and legumes, but first, evaluate your mix by determining whether the soil lacks carbon (ground cover). Legumes typically should make up 30 to 50% of the biomass. Grasses add carbon to the soil, and legumes contribute nitrogen.


     Fall Hay Feeding

Hay feeding in the fall is counter-intuitive to most farmers, but the benefits can be very rewarding. Fall growth can reduce cattle cost the most since total hay feeding is reduced. Feeding hay when moisture is available, and temperatures are 60 to 75 degrees F will promote the most growth. While feeding hay, don’t graze over 20% of the total pasture acreage. This allows stockpiling fall growth on the remaining 80% of your pastures. This time of year, pastures grow 20-40 pounds per acre per day, so we can grow up to twice as much as we feed during this same period.

In January, we can’t grow grass, so fall hay feeding extends the growing season, and less hay is fed when we can’t grow grass. Feed the hay on lower fertility pastures or weedy fields.



Currently, warm season grasses and weeds are still growing, but we are on the cusp of transitioning into the cool season growth period. Cool season growth is ideal between 60 and 75 degrees F. The saying is “rotate fast when growth is fast and slow when growth is slow.” Growth in my area is fast right now, so rotate fast to control warm season growth and expose cool season forages to light. To keep light to your desirable forages, if you cannot graze, you may need to mow. We need to grow grass now to carry us through fall and winter. Cool season growth will slow or stop in early December. So ideally, at that point, we will have 120 days of grazing stockpiled for winter.


An acre inch of good grass weighs about 300 pounds. Twenty head of 1,000-pound cows will eat 26 pounds of forage per day (20 x 26 = 520 pounds of forage per day with 50% utilization), so you need 1040 pounds of forage presented to the cattle. 1040 pounds of grass needed, divided by 300 pounds per acre inch = 3.5” per acre. So, if the grass is 8” tall, paddock off half acre allotments for the 20 cows. That’s an animal density of 40,000 pounds per acre, a good stock density for excellent pasture management.

An open discussion about symptoms and root causes

My annual pasture walk is Thursday, October 20, from 10 am ct till about 3 pm. This year, I’m finishing cattle, sheep, and hogs. I’ve seeded winter annuals in several fields for forage production and weed control and overseeded some orchard grass fields with tall fescue. Fields were grazed first and then seeded.

I’ve made cross-fencing across steep drainage ways much more manageable by installing what I call “master links.” We’ll evaluate fields deciding what went right and what went wrong. Fall hay feeding will be discussed to help make sense of all the figures, and we’ll examine the cost-effectiveness of best management practices.


In summary, grow grass when you can grow grass. Stockpile grass for drought and winter. Ration grass to conserve your stockpile and extend the grazing season. Come join the conversation on October 20. Bring your questions and unidentified plants, and we’ll talk soil, plant, and animal management. We’ll have a hardy lunch from the farm, cooked up by Brayden Apple with River Cottage Farm.