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Stockpile ? for Fescue Fans

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simme

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About 20 years ago, my brother stockpiled a field of KY-31 fescue (endophyte type) in the fall. The field had been heavily fertilized with chicken litter and was extremely "good". Tuned the cows on it and a few days later, there were major problems with lameness. Removed them and most seemed to recover. One cow had chronic lameness the rest of her life. Another was so bad. She was moved to a stall in the barn, barely able to walk. No feeling in her rear feet. No response to a needle inserted just above the hoof. A short time later, she "shed" the hoof covering on one claw. She was slaughtered. Seems that stockpiled fescue and heavily fertilized fescue are more prone to cause fescue foot. The endophyte restricts blood circulation to the extremities. In this severe case, apparently causing severe tissue damage/death of that tissue.
Anyone else experience fescue foot to this extent?
 

kenny thomas

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I have not experienced this. One thing I have read is it seems that the toxic part goes away after it goes dormant or it is dried in hay. I almost never start grazing before Dec 20 and haven't started yet this year. Chicken litter is not available here.
 
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Stocker Steve

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Traders can make money regardless of the cattle market, but it helps if your inventory is appreciating.
One example that stuck with me was buying discounted fleshy calves, putting them on stockpile where they actually lost weight, and then reselling them for a profit in the spring...
 
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Stocker Steve

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I have planted a lot of "improved" fescue. Tall fescue yields well but gives a lower ADG than meadow fescue. We can not graze tall fescue in most winters due to snow depth, and when we get an open winter it suffers from cold damage. Cattle with graze sweet meadow fescue down to the roots if you let them. Then it struggles with overwintering too, but it can take more cold if managed correctly. WS extension did a study to look at ADG, rather than forage yield per ace. Best cattle grazing gains were on a mix of meadow fescue and WC. Cattle just plain eat more when it tastes good.

On well drained sites my grass mix contains meadow fescue, OG, and meadow brome. On well drained sites my legume mix contains WC, RC, and branch root alfalfa s. Then I put in a little chicory for color. RC is a weed here. If you put on more than a pound or two per acre, it will take over the stand and choke out most of the grass seedlings.
 
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RDFF

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Steve, so let me just clarify for myself, especially with you being located up here in my neck of the woods... you have used both tall fescue, and meadow fescue, and you very much prefer the meadow fescue because,
1. It doesn't suffer as much from "cold damage" as tall fescue, if managed correctly (not grazed too short)?
2. It has better palatability, a. through the winter after a hard freeze??? Or,
b. when grazing in the summertime???
3. You also feel that tall fescue WILL out yield meadow fescue, but not on # of gain per acre?

I put meadow fescue into my mix this past year, on the recommendation of Margaret at Albert Lea Seed (knowledgeable gal). But this being the establishment year, I'm not really able to tell how good it will be, because of the competition that I had out there with the nurse crop of cereal rye and oats. Everything came wonderfully, just not all settled out yet. Had excellent grazing though for a "spring frost seeded, establishment year".

WC??? A clover I assume?

Well aware of the circulation issues associated with endophyte infected tall fescue that Simme mentioned above, and it's the reason that I avoided it last spring, and opted for the endophyte free meadow fescue. However, I'm under the impression that tall fescue will potentially yield quite a bit better (tonnage), and, if grazed after a hard frost, the endophyte problem is no longer a concern????? And, that it maintains its green color VERY well, into and through the winter, and it's "tough", meaning that it has more lignin... more course (not good for palatability of course)... and as such, it will stand upright better than other grasses.... so cattle would be able to get to it through more snow than with conventional grasses (perhaps including meadow fescue????). I'm thinking of the tall fescue primarily for its winter stockpile benefits then.

I've also heard that the cattle don't like the tall fescue much in summer, and will avoid it if they have any choice.... but after a hard freeze, they suddenly seem to LOVE it. Have you found this to be the case too? Is that similar with the meadow fescue, or is that more palatable all year long, including into and through the winter? I assume it is, with the reference you gave on ADG... if they didn't like it in summer, the ADG would have fallen off on it obviously.

Simme, as I understand it, the "problem" with the endophyte tall fescue (KY31) is mostly concentrated low in the plant... not out at the tips of the leaves. So grazing tight will exacerbate the problem. The other important thing is to maintain diversity in your pasture, instead of having an endophyte fescue dominated one. Dilution is the solution to pollution.
 
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Banjo

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About 20 years ago, my brother stockpiled a field of KY-31 fescue (endophyte type) in the fall. The field had been heavily fertilized with chicken litter and was extremely "good". Tuned the cows on it and a few days later, there were major problems with lameness. Removed them and most seemed to recover. One cow had chronic lameness the rest of her life. Another was so bad. She was moved to a stall in the barn, barely able to walk. No feeling in her rear feet. No response to a needle inserted just above the hoof. A short time later, she "shed" the hoof covering on one claw. She was slaughtered. Seems that stockpiled fescue and heavily fertilized fescue are more prone to cause fescue foot. The endophyte restricts blood circulation to the extremities. In this severe case, apparently causing severe tissue damage/death of that tissue.
Anyone else experience fescue foot to this extent?
if cattle are exposed to fescue that haven't been on fescue you can have problems. Some cattle tolerate it better also diluting it with clover helps a lot.
 

Rydero

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I'm ashamed to admit until recently I didn't know much about how/where plants store nutrients when dormant. I assumed it was always in the roots. Apparently a lot of grasses store nutrients above ground. I'm curious if any of those of you grazing stockpile see much stunting or wimterkill the next spring.
 
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Stocker Steve

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I'm ashamed to admit until recently I didn't know much about how/where plants store nutrients when dormant. I assumed it was always in the roots. Apparently a lot of grasses store nutrients above ground. I'm curious if any of those of you grazing stockpile see much stunting or wimterkill the next spring.
Depends on the variety. Winter kill is a big issue for palatable grasses like meadow fescue that are easy to overgraze in the fall. The other issue is "improved" grasses are often selected for more fall growth, so they are weakened even before you (over) graze them. Some seed companies are know for high (fall) growth varieties that are short lived. I asked a seed company tech service about this once, and was told "we expect grasses to live as long as alfalfa"...

Many hay men don't understand how plants grow and cut them too short to get more ash in the bale. Three inches is a min cutting height for plants with crowns like alfalfa, and crown less grasses have a min cutting height of of 4 to 5 inches.
 
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bigbluegrass

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Question to those who stockpile fescue. Does the stockpiled grass come back better (earlier and thicker) in the spring than other areas?
 

RDFF

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I read an article yesterday from GrassFed Solutions, on grazing winter stockpile. They suggest once you get to that (stockpiled feed), you should take it all off in the first graze... so increase the grazing density drastically, and only give them what they'll eat each day. I've been flopping back and forth on this, wondering what would be the best way.... graze it all off like they suggest, or rotating them, but then coming back around again for a second, or perhaps even a third pass over it, through the winter. He's suggesting that they'll trample it down, so it'll be buried, and all the snow will have all the air gone out of it once they've been across it, so when it's buried, they can't get down to it anymore, ...so you really need to take it all on that first pass across. Alot of truth in that I suppose.

I've found though that whatever they might leave behind that gets buried is still there come spring when it starts to melt. Gives you some extra wiggle room with that thatch when it's thawing some... and the cattle seem to be pretty eager to leave the bales as soon as the "stockpile" gets exposed again then. If you grazed it down short, that spring thaw time is gonna be pretty much eliminated, I would think.

Thoughts?????
 

RDFF

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Beautiful! Beats feeding bales EVERY day you can do it! Why wouldn't a cattleman make this one of his highest priorities? I like how their water requirement goes way down when they're grazing in the snow too! Mine hardly even touch the waterer. I assume that's fescue?
 

kenny thomas

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Beautiful! Beats feeding bales EVERY day you can do it! Why wouldn't a cattleman make this one of his highest priorities? I like how their water requirement goes way down when they're grazing in the snow too! Mine hardly even touch the waterer. I assume that's fescue?
Yes. Stockpile fescue. 125lb of Urea per acre added in late August
 

FungusProudKY31

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Hoof issues - cattle genetics play a role, dilution plays a role, proper minerals play a role and there is the consideration of nitrate poisoning. Had a guy about 30 miles from here to have some high profile cattle from KS to shed hooves, tails and all in a short while after arrival. He dug a hole and buried them as they were totally immobile. Genetic selection is the easiest start and the minerals and dilution are god but also are more into the production improvements like extra performance, higher breed back, ... You can't trick the environment.
 

RDFF

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Kenny, do you maintain a "lower grazing density" and rotate them on that stockpile every day, and then come back around through the winter a few times? Or do you let them take it down short on the first pass, and kind of "take it all" (as tightly as you want them to go for the winter), and then increase the grazing density to accomplish that level of grazing?
 

kenny thomas

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Kenny, do you maintain a "lower grazing density" and rotate them on that stockpile every day, and then come back around through the winter a few times? Or do you let them take it down short on the first pass, and kind of "take it all" (as tightly as you want them to go for the winter), and then increase the grazing density to accomplish that level of grazing?
I had not tried rotating them as the winter goes along. Right now i give them an amount that i guess at 1/2 acre per 20 cows and let them eat it down fairly close before they get the next strip. I don't backfence so hard to control the grazing but that's a thought.
 

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