The plants used to seed are often the most neglected part of a pasture, yet it usually provides the majority of nutrients to the stock. Well-managed pastures that are properly grazed have the potential to minimize feed costs and increase long-term health or your field. Pasture is the most natural diet for animals.
A pasture can be comprised of many different kinds of plants. Which species to plant depends upon the purpose of the pasture, the climate, and soil type. Soil survey maps can help with the latter. The best pastures usually contain a mixture of grasses and legumes. Selecting one or more grass and legume species is usually preferable to commercial pasture mixes, which may contain plant species, which are not adapted.
Cool season grasses
Cool season grasses form the basis of most pastures. Cool season grasses are annual or perennial plants that begin growth during the fall or winter and grow to spring or early summer. Sub-freezing temperatures do not damage cool season grasses. However, they go dormant during hot weather. Common cool season grasses include orchard grass, Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, timothy, reed canary grass, ryegrass, brome grasses, and wheat grasses.
Tall fescue is the most important cool season grass in the United States. Most tall fescue is infected with a fungal endophyte that reduces performance in grazing animals and causes reproductive problems in horses. Sheep appear to be less affected by the endophyte than cattle and horses. Animal performance is superior on endophtye-free fescue, but plant persistence suffers. MaxQ tall fescue contains a non-toxic endophyte, which improves animal performance while maintaining plant performance.
Tall fescue is the most desirable grass to stockpile for late fall and winter. Unlike...