An uncharacteristically harsh winter in many parts of the country precipitated an especially challenging calving season. This, plus ongoing drought and extreme conditions in other areas, make it more important than ever to maximize assets that help cows — and calves — meet their nutritional needs.
Effective weed and brush control increases forage yield, elevating the energy and protein available to grazing cattle. This helps cows efficiently meet their own nutritional requirements and that of their calves.
“A good grazing management program is just as important as a good vaccine, feed and mineral program, yet it is often overlooked,” says Jeff Clark, market development specialist at Corteva Agriscience. “This year had a rough start, but the sooner we start to think about our grass, we’re better able to implement changes that can impact herd performance this year.”
Grass replaces weeds controlled pound for pound, at least. As pastures begin to green, Clark advises you to prioritize eliminating troublesome species to allow grasses to take root. The benefits are twofold:
Mature weeds can reduce the quality and palatability of the forage available for livestock grazing. Or, worse, toxic weeds such as poison hemlock, perilla mint and sneezeweed cause severe illness that can lead to death.
“When we remove those toxic weeds, we benefit our overall herd health by eliminating potential illness caused by weeds,” Clark says. “Any time a cow gets sick, we risk her not being able to produce milk or return to her cycle for the next breeding season.”
The next calf crop is what keeps you in business. Forages are the basis for ensuring productive cows with thrifty, high-performing calves. We can’t always anticipate weather conditions, but we can be better prepared for what Mother Nature throws at us, Clark says. Weed-free pastures and hayfields can help you more cost-effectively get cows back in condition quicker after calving and produce high-quality hay that helps maintain condition through next winter.
Clark recommends choosing a residual herbicide, such as DuraCor® herbicide, early in the season to stop weeds that are up and growing while providing control of those that germinate later. This extended control will help prevent weeds throughout the season, preserving moisture and allowing grasses to better compete against weeds.
Many factors play into maximizing pasture productivity, especially in areas already challenged by drought. It’s a delicate balance to be sure. For help with a plan to grow more grass, visit RangeAndPasture.com. To learn more about the profit-per-acre approach to pasture management, visit RangeAndPasture.com/ROI.
™ ® Trademarks of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Under normal field conditions, DuraCor® is nonvolatile. DuraCor has no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with DuraCor and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. DuraCor is not registered for sale or use in all states. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. Always read and follow label directions.