The southern plains have experienced an unprecedented summer with perfect rains and lots of forage. Normally this time of year is marked by brownfields and ‘dusting in’ fall crops. This year, we are looking for dry spots to be able to get into the field. If you have been understocked during this cycle, you will be blessed with bigger grass inventories next year.
When planting for grazing, it is more productive to plan for diversity. This is different than those who plan to graze crops also planned for harvest. Diversity means: multiple seed types in your planting mix for graze. You will find many advantages to this program if you study what happens. Succession, which means that each plant type develops on a different schedule, provides the herd with multiple periods in which plants are highly selectable or palatable, as well as at their peak nutritional contribution. Planting diversity can also assure the herd of ‘something’ out there – if the winter turns weird. Personally, I like no less than 4 to 5 seed types in my winter graze mix. It is also important to remind you that a calculation applies to your planting in order to be feasible. You should plan, and plant, no more than 2 to 3 acres per AU. Pasture rotation, even in the winter, is a good idea. You can adjust your rotations in the cooler months whereas the life cycle of the parasites ‘may’ be different depending on the temperature.
The other plan that should be made this time of year is working the herd, and marketing. Both are dynamic and I recommend analysis before planning. If you have forage reserves, then you can plan to market according to a window of highest return from those reserves. If you are pushing your forage inventory to its limits, then it is wiser to plan rather than react to crisis. The market for bison is strong and steady, but now more than ever, quality matters if you want a good price and quality has everything to do with herd health programs and condition.