Cattlemen's Corner …

Posted July 11, 2018 at 2:33 pm

Taking advantage of native

crabgrass and Johnsongrass

With the hot and humid dog days of summer comes an opportunity for cattle producers to cash in on warm season grasses. Two of the most common and prevalent we have in Kentucky are native crabgrass and Johnsongrass. Both of the grasses offer forage benefits for grazing and haying. And in just about all cases, they naturally exist year after year.

With only the most minimal of management, crabgrass and Johnsongrass can boost summer production dramatically. Pretty much the only renovation equipment needed is a sprayer, a good mower, and a little extra fertilizer applied in late spring.

Crabgrass may be the most overlooked forage most cattle farmers have access to. A natural trait of crabgrass is it’s ability to fill in empty spaces in a field. Given a bare spot, this tiny seed readily germinates and will quickly establish itself. Because cool season grasses such as fescue and orchard grass have already completed their growth spurt for the year, crabgrass begins kicking in with the hot daily temperatures. It is not uncommon for native crabgrass to reach a height of 18-20 inches and overshade fescue. All of this while boasting protein ranges between 10-15%. It cuts easily and will dry quickly with the aid of a tedding.

Johnsongrass on the other hand offers many of the same high qualities as crabgrass but does have a narrower cutting time frame. Left to grow too long, its stems will become undigestible for cattle and be slow to cure. Cutting at a height of 24-30 inches with seed head beginning to form will maximize the protein level for Johnsongrass. Fields that have “overgrown” due to rainy, poor harvesting conditions can be effectively grazed. Cattle will graze the plant downward, starting with the tips of the choicest leaves. The thicker base stem will normally be the only part of the plant left after grazing.

Cattle will graze in the order of selection just like most humans eat. They will go for the choicest, most nutritious, and best tasting forages first. Providing these feeds to your livestock at the proper times of the year should be the goal of good cattle management.

Till next time, keep putting on the pounds!


Cattleman’s Livestock and Forage Field Day July 17

The Twin Lakes Cattle Association in cooperation with the Clinton County Extension Service will hold a field day on Tuesday, July 17 at the farm of Steve and Carol Peddicord. The farm is located on Ky. Highway 639 South just west of Albany. Program activities with tours will begin at 5:30 p.m. A ribeye steak meal will follow the program. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Several vendors will be present for the program including Meade Equipment of Somerset, Farm Credit Services of Mid-America, Clinton County Farm Bureau, CPC, Burkmann Feeds, Performance Feeds, Dependable Livestock Testing, Z Tags, and the Kentucky Beef Network. Dave Maples from the Kentucky Cattlemen’s Association will be the featured speaker.