Fertilizing pastures

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Lucky

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Has anyone noticed better conception rates or weaning weights when running cattle on fertilized pastures?
 
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Lucky

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Lot of directions from which to look at this question.

I can see it helping both.

Are you thinking it can hurt conception rates?
I definitely don’t think it could hurt conception rates. I’m just trying to look at ways that’ll it’ll pay back. I’m seriously looking at moving from feeding hay and supplementing with 3# feed a day to feeding 10-12# of feed a day and only putting hay out when it’s really nasty. I know a few doing this and they claim better conception rates and weaning weights. Most hay is just pasture grass someone rolled up and doesn’t have much nutritional value. I was thinking if the hay doesn’t have much value the green grass probably doesn’t have allot more.
 

1982vett

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I definitely don’t think it could hurt conception rates. I’m just trying to look at ways that’ll it’ll pay back. I’m seriously looking at moving from feeding hay and supplementing with 3# feed a day to feeding 10-12# of feed a day and only putting hay out when it’s really nasty. I know a few doing this and they claim better conception rates and weaning weights. Most hay is just pasture grass someone rolled up and doesn’t have much nutritional value. I was thinking if the hay doesn’t have much value the green grass probably doesn’t have allot more.
Probably does as much good as an inch of rain in January....If you can't get enough forage to grow without fertilizer (assuming it rains regularly for your climate) your overstocked.

Nutritional value in hay...well, fertilizer will help their, but $$ is a tradeoff. Again, stocking rate. Fewer mouths to feed, less hay needed. I don't think spending your way to profits is a viable option anymore.
 
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Rydero

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We don't exactly fertilize any old pasture but have got to the point where hay fields that still had decent legume populations and were fertilized every year are starting to be utilized as pastures as we renovate pastures into cover crops and eventually hay.

Weaning weights have definitely been Increasing as this is being done. Conception rates were already high and we don't typically utilize these improved pastures until after most of the breeding is done so I can't really speak to that.

We stop fertilizing when we transition the fields to pasture and I'd have to agree it may not pencil on it's own but you'll likely see some benefits if the overall ration is improved.
 

Stocker Steve

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Most producers are overstocked considering the current price of calves, and not feeding cows hay is one way to force you to dial back the herd size. That said - - zero hay is usually not an optimum.

Jim Gerrish did a can I afford pasture fertilizer analysis years ago when he was in Missouri - - comparing renting more pasture to fertilizing existing pasture for thee limiting macro nutrient. The fertilizer answer per acre was not zero. Local results might vary with recent the fertilizer pricing.

U of K did a recent analysis for the fescue belt - - looking at the most profitable length of hay feeding period for different stocking rates. The hay answer per acre was not zero.

I take credit for half of the fertilizer content of hay when I run feeding purchased hay numbers. This can make some non drought hay reasonable as long as you work cheap and you have some low fertility pastures to address.
 
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Lucky

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If you are P deficient then topdressing P will certainly help conception.

Ken
Last test was very low on P. I fertilized and tested pastures but didn’t really see much improvement. I can get all the litter I want for $20 a ton from the laying houses down the road but I’ll have to spread it. Seems like the consensus here is just to keep running less and less cows per acre. That really doesn’t make much sense to me as cattle is a numbers game.
 

Dave

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I went to a grazing workshop some years ago. One of the things we did was take a field trip to a ranch. They did not do hay themselves. They were very near a big hay exporter. They had a contract with the exporter for the kick outs. (They don't ship blemished or off color bales) That export hay was either alfalfa or Timothy. People raising hay for that premium export market certainly don't short the fertilizer. They had plenty of legumes in their pastures. And they were on a three year rotation as to which fields they fed the hay on. The pastures looked great. They said they never buy fertilizer. They let the hay growers mine the nutrients out of their fields.
 
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Lucky

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I fed some really good Tifton and Jiggs hay that my neighbor raises two years in a row. First year I paid $55 second year $70, both delivered. He cuts and fertilizes every 30 days and irrigates with pivots. The cattle loved that hay and it definitely improved my pastures from unrolling it. $70 a roll just isn’t feasible though. I don’t mind spending a million dollars on something if it has a pay back but at the same time I don’t want to spend $5 if there’s no payback. I’m just wondering about fertilizing grazing pastures. Some say you can’t afford some say you can’t afford not to do it.
 

ClinchValley86

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Last test was very low on P. I fertilized and tested pastures but didn’t really see much improvement. I can get all the litter I want for $20 a ton from the laying houses down the road but I’ll have to spread it. Seems like the consensus here is just to keep running less and less cows per acre. That really doesn’t make much sense to me as cattle is a numbers game.
I am looking at chicken litter for this spring. Does a manure spreader handle chicken litter alright?

Have you used the litter option before? Like it?
 

ClinchValley86

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I fed some really good Tifton and Jiggs hay that my neighbor raises two years in a row. First year I paid $55 second year $70, both delivered. He cuts and fertilizes every 30 days and irrigates with pivots. The cattle loved that hay and it definitely improved my pastures from unrolling it. $70 a roll just isn’t feasible though. I don’t mind spending a million dollars on something if it has a pay back but at the same time I don’t want to spend $5 if there’s no payback. I’m just wondering about fertilizing grazing pastures. Some say you can’t afford some say you can’t afford not to do it.
I did fertilize pastures lightly the first 2 years I was here at the farm. First year I put triple 19 across @ 100 lbs per acre. And 12-24-24 @ 150 pounds per acre. Very light applications. It did help. I can still see where I didn't put any.

The way you manage your grazing. If you were to get your NPK to acceptable levels, they shouldn't go anywhere fast.

PH good?
 

ClinchValley86

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I went to a grazing workshop some years ago. One of the things we did was take a field trip to a ranch. They did not do hay themselves. They were very near a big hay exporter. They had a contract with the exporter for the kick outs. (They don't ship blemished or off color bales) That export hay was either alfalfa or Timothy. People raising hay for that premium export market certainly don't short the fertilizer. They had plenty of legumes in their pastures. And they were on a three year rotation as to which fields they fed the hay on. The pastures looked great. They said they never buy fertilizer. They let the hay growers mine the nutrients out of their fields.

This is my approach the last couple years. It is certainly the most affordable way for me.

3 birds with one stone. Feed cows, deposit nutrients and organic matter, and deposit seed.
 
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Lucky

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I am looking at chicken litter for this spring. Does a manure spreader handle chicken litter alright?

Have you used the litter option before? Like it?
Not yet. The chicken farm hasn’t been there too many years and I just haven’t had the extra money. Had plans of fertilizing this fall but the land next to me came up for sale so that idea got axed. They recommend 2 tons to the acre but I’ve talked to several people that said it was too hot and had better luck doing 1 ton 2 yrs in a row. I did go over about 150 acres with a Lawson aerator to try and free up the soil. Hopefully that will help. I’m on old neglected farm ground and the soil is really tight.
 

J+ Cattle

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I can get all the litter I want for $20 a ton from the laying houses down the road but I’ll have to spread it
Compared to the price of commercial fertilizer I would say that’s a bargain. One ton per acre for $20 I wish there was a litter supply close to me.
 

Stocker Steve

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I am looking at chicken litter for this spring. Does a manure spreader handle chicken litter alright?

Have you used the litter option before? Like it?
No, not a standard box spreader. Tank style side discharge fail spreaders work much better.
Yes.
Was a cheap way to increase P. Price has gone up recently here, and most folks put on too much per acre, so not usually economical at this time.
 

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