Costs, benefits of renovating fescue pastures


Spring is the ideal time to begin renovation initiatives on the farm. To safeguard animals and profitability, cattle producers really should tackle these fescue pastures.

Virtually 98% of Missouri’s pastureland is tall fescue contaminated with an endophyte that can lead to fescue toxicosis in grazing livestock, which leads to decreased reproduction prices, milk output, acquire and weaning weights. It can also triggers overall health issues, which includes lameness and warmth anxiety.

Nonetheless, changing toxic fescue with other forages removes animal publicity to the harmful endophyte.

Joe Horner, University of Missouri Extension agricultural economist, and Craig Roberts, MU Extension agronomist, response 7 frequent concerns farmers ask when embarking on pasture renovation:

1. When really should producers look at renovating pastures? Infection stages must be fewer than 10% — ideally zero — for dairy cattle and high-priced horses. For beef cattle and modest ruminants, endophyte ranges must be a lot less than 25%.

Pastures with at minimum 60% endophyte an infection are very poisonous and must be replaced, Roberts states.

2. How do you know a pasture’s an infection degree? Farmers should accumulate fescue samples and deliver them to a lab for tests. Labs use a microscopic test or chemical methods to ascertain the infection amount.

Roberts encourages producers to select a lab with seasoned professionals and a tested observe history of exact benefits. MU researchers and Extension specialists send their samples to Agrinostics, a lab in Georgia that conducts the chemical exam. Find the Agrinostics sampling procedures at

3. What forages are best to change infected fescue in pastures? Just after eradicating toxic fescue, producers often plant “novel” fescue versions that are nontoxic to livestock, but are inclined to improve and persist as properly as tall fescue contaminated with harmful endophytes. Other solutions contain native heat-period grasses or perennial great-year grasses, these types of as perennial ryegrass, orchardgrass or bromegrass.

4. How does the renovation system get the job done? To renovate a pasture, spray, smother, then spray once again.

Use a herbicide in late spring or early summer, or you can hold out right up until tumble.

Plant a smother crop this sort of as sudangrass or pearl millet in the summer months or wintertime. Right after the smother crop matures, you can lower it as hay or graze it. Horner states producers can omit the smother crop if they implement herbicide 2 times and notice a ready time period concerning the two programs. Having said that, planting a summer time smother crop generally sales opportunities to more quickly payback.

Use a further round of herbicide before seeding a alternative forage.

The spray-smother-spray method can take one particular yr. Animals can be turned in to frivolously graze the renovated pasture in the spring next the renovation calendar year.

“It’s not a uncomplicated and effortless system, but actual opportunities exist,” Horner claims. “If producers are prepared to place in time and make major modifications, it is a good extended-time period financial commitment.”

5. How substantially does pasture renovation expense? When renovating pastures, the most important input charges contain the administration dedication, chemicals, seed and fertilizer, Horner claims. In addition, idling pastureland through the renovation period of time has its costs.

Horner and his MU Extension group estimate net renovation expenses per acre to overall $354 if utilizing a summertime smother crop, $497 if using a winter season smother crop and $357 if using no smother crop. These estimates involve planning pastureland, planting novel fescue and idling land through the renovation approach.

6. What are the positive aspects? Animals grazing on a renovated pasture generally knowledge improved reproduction fees and weaning weights. Plus, grazing a renovated pasture can minimize expenditures, together with veterinarian charges. Horner states producers can foresee yearly returns of $198 for every cow. Relying on the stocking level, producers could also seize a 5% to 18% return on investment for each year.

7. How extensive will a renovated pasture remain free from damaging endophytes? If producers adequately preserve a renovated pasture, they can foresee pastures to be cost-free from damaging endophytes for about 20 several years, Horner states. Having said that, some renovated pastures have lasted more time.

Far more info about pasture renovation is readily available from the Alliance for Grassland Renewal at

Supply: College of Missouri Extension, which is exclusively dependable for the info offered and is wholly owned by the source. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not liable for any of the information contained in this information asset.


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