As the year ends, it helps to look back at the good and bad of this year’s production and learn what might be done better next year.
For example, did you take an extra late cutting of alfalfa last fall because of good September and October growth? I’ll bet that hay was super quality, so either sell it for a premium price or use it only for special feeding situations. This coming spring, though, it may grow a little slower at first. If so, let it start to bloom before cutting.
Did your pastures or hay fields receive flood damage? Many of these sites need reseeding. Carefully consider what you will plant and then obtain the seed. Then make sure you, your planting equipment, and the field is ready when planting time comes.
Even without flooding, remember how wet and cool it was last spring? Maybe you ran out of hay and damaged pastures by grazing muddy fields. Extra hay, sacrifice pasture areas, or rapid movement through multiple paddocks may reduce problem damage if it happens again.
With all the rain last year, you may have had plenty of grazing available all season or even extra for winter grazing. You probably could have had even more grazing available if you planned ahead.
More likely this year, though, it will be drier. Normally, when do your pastures run out? Mid-summer? Late summer? Fall? You have plenty of options among annual forages to fill any gaps — forages like sudangrass, pearl millet, oats, and turnips. Plant, and use these temporary feeds when your other pastures are stressed so you have plenty of grazing for your cattle. And maybe your regular pastures will bounce back quicker, as well.
We all can do better next year than we did this year. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to look back to learn what we hope to do better in the future. Have a Happy New Year.
Bruce Anderson is an extension professor with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Reach him at 402-472-6237