Stephan Schwab wrote: I understand grass goes to seed and dries off.
Stephen Schwab wrote:My theory is that due to selective grazing the cows over the years ate whatever was growing green during summer and reduced the warm season grasses. Left is everything for the cold season. As the cold season also sees almost all of the rainfall these plant species are able to grow quicker than the cows can eat and therefore have become the dominant species.
If my theory is true, then non-selective planned grazing should put pressure on the cold season grasses and take off the stress from the warm season grasses. When there is some rainfall the warm season grasses should be able to develop their root systems and probably over time grow in numbers.
Another thought is to seed warm season grass over the existing plants. I am thinking that maybe the cows could help with that and do part of the labor. At the end of February the soil heats up quickly and there is plenty of moisture. We could hand seed something like bermuda grass (or other grass, to be determined) in an active paddock and let the cows trample in the seed. Is that something that could work / is being done?
Prussic acid content in the plant decreases dramatically during the hay drying process and the forage should be safe once baled as dry hay. The forage can be mowed anytime after a frost if you are making hay. It is very rare for dry hay to contain toxic levels of prussic acid. However, if the hay was not properly cured and dried before baling, it should be tested for prussic acid content before feeding to livestock.
Marco Banks wrote:My hunch is that even if the cattle have overgrazed and it appears that the warm-season grasses have all been eliminated, there would still be latent seed out there, waiting to germinate. If you could keep the cattle off the paddock for an extended season and allow those grasses to recover, you might be surprised with what's still out there waiting to make its comeback.
Joel Salatin talks about the latent seed bank that brought his pastures back to full health: there were varieties of grasses and plants that he'd never seen before on his land that suddenly began to grow in his pastures. The key, as it seems you are practicing, is carefully managed rotational grazing. You've got to give the land a chance to recover between grazings.
Marco Banks wrote:Perhaps a bit of research might go a long way toward showing you what your pasture could look like. Is there someone in your area whose pastures have been well managed and where the diversity of biomass is lush, green and able to handle the harsh conditions/heat?
James Freyr wrote:
Aside from seeding more warm season grasses if that is a route that you choose, I recommend seeding a warm season legume as well such as lespedeza or cowpeas for example if there is not one or more already present in the pastures. Cows will eat them, it’s adding biodiversity, they fix nitrogen in the soil and the other grasses will grow better.
All sorts of things can be done to help increase forages but some may be in vain if it just doesn't rain for several months. What I think will improve with managed grazing is soil organic matter, and organic matter holds water. I've read that for every 1% of organic matter increase in a soil, that is a half-inch of rainfall that a soil can soak up and hold. This takes time, years, and slowly but surely grasses will stay green longer going further into the dry season.