Missouri pasture grazing

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Release of CRP land for grazing in northern Missouri gives relief for some cow herds on drought-shorted pastures.

The Conservation Reserve Program now allows short-term grazing in 42 counties in northern Missouri. Under current grazing terms that use ends July 15. That may be extended. Producers are urged to get all rules from their local FSA office.

Eric Bailey, University of Missouri beef nutritionist, says to use released forage with caution. In normal times, the land isn’t intended for grazing. It isn’t regularly burned, grazed or hayed, and that allows low-quality forage to accumulate, he says in an Extension news release.

“Producers must realize CRP forage will be poor quality,” Bailey says. “It will be below 50 percent total digestible nutrients (TDN) and 7 percent crude protein. It may not be palatable.”

Those low nutrients should not be expected to support cows nursing young calves or for growing feeder calves, Bailey says.

MU livestock specialists can assist with planning rations. In addition, the MU Ag Electronic Bulletin Board (agebb.missou ri.edu) lists current prices and sources for commodity feeds such as distillers grains, corn gluten pellets, wheat midds and soyhulls used in most feed rations.

A starting point is 5 to 7 pounds of these feeds per cow. Pregnant fall-calving cows likely need only 5 to 7 lbs. of these feeds per day at this point. Expect cows nursing calves to need 1 percent (12 to 15 lbs.) of their body weight per day if pastures are short.

Bailey warns that even with recent rains, most areas have lost the bountiful spring growth on pastures.

“Expect poor pastures to persist through the rest of this growing season,” he says.