NDSU Extension - Williams County


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Planning for Spring Grazing - March 1, 2018

County Agent Update

Danielle Steinhoff


Planning for Spring Grazing

As we start the third month of 2018, ranchers have a lot of their minds. For many, March and April are their calving seasons, starting some of their busiest weeks. As exciting and tiring calving season can be, we have to think about spring. As we all know, 2017 was one of the driest years on record for most of North Dakota, so many are wondering what 2018 will be like. Some people might not like the little snow we have received, but for those that work in agriculture, we want so much more. With little snowfall during the past few months, we are all hoping for more moisture in March, April and May. Every year and this year especially, it is never too early to start thinking about your grazing options. With the low moisture going into the winter months, our cool season grasses which are the first to come up in the spring, might be in a bit of trouble. Postponing your release of cattle, could save a pasture from significant damages.

Utilizing all possible pasture to create a rotational grazing system is the best option, as season long grazing allows cattle to overgraze the plants they desire. Cattle will always eat the grasses they desire first, leaving the undesirable plants to reproduce at higher rates. Research from Dr. Kevin Sedivec, NDSU Rangeland Specialist, shows that you can get cattle to eat buck brush and even wormwood. Some operations have fenced in land but no water resource, The State Water Commission has money available to help drill wells or lay pipe to add water to resources to land that could be used. We may think that we have quite some time to figure out our pasture situation, but spring will be here before we know it.


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