Swath grazing vs stockpile

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Stocker Steve

Well-known member
May 2, 2005
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Central Minnesota
I have a pasture that is about 70% fescue and 30% quack & clover. I clipped it on 7/5 and plan to swath graze it for early winter feed.

Is there an ideal time for swathing fescue? We usually get some sunny weather in mid Oct and light snow by mid Nov.

Have you tried rolling multiple swaths together to get a bigger windrow and reduce waste?
Not trying to play expert here or anything but if you swath graze perennials you could run the risk of winterkill because of insufficient snow cover. But if you want to go for it, you'd want to swath before killing frosts hit.

What size of swaths you want depend on what the predicted snow fall will be for the time period you plan to swath graze your cattle. For deep snow, you'd want to have swaths that are narrower but taller; for shallow snow, wide and shallow. But even so the swaths should be as narrow and deep as possible.

That's all the advice I can give you right now.
Steve, swath grazing in our neck of the woods is a gamble something like turning cows in a standing corn field. Your weather dependent. Get a couple weeks of damp wet weather and you lose it. If I were you and you can dry it, roll it up. If its kind short but leafy maybe turn the cows in it. Cows will harvest it with little waste even in wet weather. The nutrients will be there until it's covered with snow.
Some of my off the wall thoughts on the subject. To keep them from wasting it you'll have to run a hotwire right next to the swath. If you're going to have to move a hotwire, why not save the money on fuel and just strip graze the area you would have cut for each feeding period? A back fence won;t be required because the grass growth will be slowed down.
Never thought of raking multiple swaths together, that is something to think about for our swath grazing. I'm sure your weather is alot different than ours, but we swath graze all winter, as long as the snow isnt past their bellies and you have proper protection to get out of the wind. We stockpile graze through December and January. Its Smooth wheatgrass with a bit of alfalfa in there. We are gonna try swath grazing perennials this coming year and if it works we wont be having to hire someone to come seed barley for us. Also looking into Red Proso Millet, but need more information on it. Let me know how swath grazing the fescue works out. Oh, what kinda fescue is it?

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