Rotational Grazing: Too Much Grass?
As much as we would like it to be, rotational grazing is not an exact science. Many factors contribute to the way the season will go. We have some tips to answer the question of “What if the paddocks get ahead of you?”
One easy answer if you have too much grass is to harvest the excess! If you need hay, this scenario can work in your favor. You could harvest the paddocks that have gotten ahead of you as baleage or dry hay, depending on your needs. This not only provides additional stored forage, but also resets those paddocks to go into a vegetative state and recover. This creates higher quality forage that will be ready for livestock to graze. It is important to ensure adequate recovery time for the harvested paddocks in the same way you would if it was grazed.
If you are grazing a class of livestock that does not necessarily need that higher-quality, forage, you could just continue on your normal rounds of grazing. The forage in these paddocks that have gotten ahead of you can be lower quality as the grasses are most likely heading out. This may not be a concern if there are still species in the mix that are in the vegetative state. It is important to be aware of seed heads that may irritate cattle. Grazing these more mature paddocks could also result in uneven grazing, so clipping after may be necessary.
Having some paddocks get ahead of you is not the end of the world and can serve as a lesson for your next round of grazing. This may show you that you can increase stocking density or move livestock more often. Rotational grazing can be an ever-changing system as you meet weather challenges and other factors that affect your rotation.