Planting fall and winter pastures to help supplement feeding hay to cattle is relatively common here in the Brazos Valley, and it’s never more important than in a year like this one.
Very little hay was put up, and most pastures are currently in relatively poor condition.
“We plant oats and rye grass nearly every year, and have had a lot of success with it, but this year is a pretty good gamble but we decided it was worth taking anyway because we needed the forage, and I think we have a chance to get some kind of a crop.”
Steve Allison ranches in Robertson County.
“Most of this ground that’s been planted has been pretty well barren, mostly native ground. The cows have grazed it down. We’ve had grasshoppers and things like that this year that have been pretty tough.”
Fall and winter pastures provide cover on what were bald spots in a pasture, and will also help discourage weeds in the spring.
“Without enough cover your water just runs off and you have some erosion. The main thing is that you don’t have any grass for the cattle.”
“We normally make all the hay we need here, but this is the first year in eighteen years that we haven’t made a bale of hay.”
This year Allison had to look for feed alternatives.
“This is the first year to feed silage and cotton seed both. Normally we feed alfalfa and whatever hay we make here, but this has been an unusual year for sure.”
Some timely rain could provide some desperately needed forage.
“In the next month or so if we don’t get some rain, it’ll stress it pretty bad.”
“You have to have rain. Last year in the fall it was real dry and we didn’t have any kind of a crop until maybe February, but we got about three months grazing out of it, which is really good when you really need it bad. Normally in a good year we get six months, and that save a lot of hay.”
I’m Bob French, looking at Brazos Valley agriculture, From The Ground Up.