Emergency Forages to Plant Yet This Year For Grazing

July 8, 2019
Oats + turnip forage

Authors: Mark Sulc, Dianne Shoemaker, Bill Weiss, Sarah Noggle

With the forage shortage we are experiencing, below are listed several excellent options to plant now and into early September for grazing in late autumn into early winter.

For more information on establishment details and other agronomic guidelines and characteristics, click HERE.



Corn plants

High yield potential if planted by July 15.
Primarily for beef cows, heifers, dry cows, or sheep.
Requires controlled strip grazing with electric fence.
For details see https://ohioline.osu.edu/factsheet/anr-11.



Plant by mid-July.
Brown midrib (BMR) varieties are best for lactating cows. Conventional varieties are okay if BMR seed is not available.
Graze sorghum-sudangrass when 30 inches or taller and sudangrass when 18-24 inches tall.
Do not graze below a stubble of 6-8 inches.
High risk of prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide gas) if frosted, carefully observe waiting periods after a frost before grazing.


Plant by mid-July.
Best suited to beef cattle and sheep.
Graze when 18-24 inches tall and remove animals at 6-8 inch stubble.
Pearl millet does not produce prussic acid after frost damage.

Oat or Spring triticale

Plant from last week of July to mid-September.
Earlier planting dates provide more fall yield.

Oat or Spring triticale plus winter cereals

Plant from last week of July to mid-September.
Winter cereals (Winter rye, Winter wheat, Winter triticale) can be added to oat or spring triticale to add a forage for grazing early next spring (winter rye can be grazed starting early April). Winter rye can also contribute a little extra fall yield to the mixture.

Italian ryegrass

Plant from last week of July to mid-September; earlier planting dates provide more fall yield.
Excellent forage quality in the fall.
Can be grazed in late autumn and again next year starting in late April next year.

Turnip hybrids

Plant by the first week of August for grazing 80 to 90 days later.
Can mix with Italian ryegrass or oat or spring triticale.
Highly digestible with low fiber levels.

Note: The forage grass options all require adequate nitrogen to maximize yield potential, either as fertilizer or manure (about 50-60 lbs of actual available nitrogen per acre). Check any potential herbicide restrictions from the previously planted crop. Work with your nutritionist to incorporate these alternative forages into properly balanced rations. 

Keep in mind that other forage options exist to increase the supply of grazed forage, including grazing corn residues where available and, where possible, applying nitrogen (50-60 lbs N/acre) in early August on pastures and stockpiling growth for late autumn and winter grazing.

For more detailed information about each of these options, refer to this Fact Sheet.

Consult the Ohio Agronomy Guide for establishment and management details, available HERE.