Home Discussion Forum Cover Crops Grazing Cover Crops

This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Matt Tiffany Matt Tiffany 2 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #1156
    Profile photo of Derrick Raspor
    Derrick Raspor

    I’m curious to find out how many of you have had experience with livestock and grazing cover crops?

    I am working with a producer who is in his second year of planting cover crops specifically to extend his grazing season into the winter.  Following wheat harvest he is seeding a 14 species warm season mix directly into the stubble.

    Last year he inter-seeded Red Clover into winter wheat in early summer.  Once wheat was harvested he was able to graze twice last year, and once this year before inter-seeding the 14 species mix into that field as well a couple weeks ago.

    Livestock were out-wintered on the cover crop mix last year.  The producer estimated that from December to February his 60 head got about 1800 lbs of feed per day from grazing the cover through the snow.  He supplied hay bales as well throughout the winter, but livestock preferred the covers if they could get to them.

    I would like to find out if anyone has attempted something similar of is considering trying something similar?  What’s worked? What hasn’t?  Any changes you would make?  What kinds of Dry Matter yields are you getting going into the winter?


  • #1163

    Hi Derrick, if farmers can find a way to be successful at grazing cover crops, it sounds like there could be a lot of potential. What mechanism did the farmer use to inter-seed into the winter wheat?  Is the 14 species mix made up of only species that overwinter?

  • #1169
    Profile photo of Derrick Raspor
    Derrick Raspor

    Red Clover was broadcast into the standing wheat in June.  He has a broadcast attachment for his UTV, that he drove through the standing wheat.  Germination was slow in the standing wheat, but once harvested the red clover took off nicely.

    The 14 species mix was all designed to winter-kill.  It was a warm season dominated mix, so most of the planting was dead once frost arrived.  Being a relatively mild winter last year, the kale surprisingly stayed green most of the winter.

  • #1321
    Profile photo of Matt Tiffany
    Matt Tiffany

    I’m quite a ways from WI in SW MN but have talked with some area sheep producers that have had tremendous success with grazing cover crops after their oat crop.  They are planting a 5 species blend I believe that is heavy on brassicas and oat regrowth.  They tried it with one group of ewes a few years back in the flushing period and noticed a 200%+ lamb crop from that group and it led to trying more of their flock.  They calculated the cost of feed for those ewes to be 1/5 the cost compared to dry lot feeding how they had been doing it.  That prompted them to plant solely cover crops on some of their acres to feed their sheep all season instead of cash crops (corn, soybeans).  All but one group of ewes was on covers this year so with 1200 ewes, they should have quite the lamb crop.

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