Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems
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Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952
Muddy, wet pastures are a common scene in Kentucky. In order to keep soil and forage damage to a minimum, it is important to take the proper actions to protect them during these wet periods. Livestock traffic on wet pastures can cause soil compaction and can damage the roots and crowns of plants. The extent of the damage is dependent upon soil type, forage species, and severity of wetness and hoof traffic. Organic and sandy soils are more easily damaged compared to other soil types. Forages, such as timothy, ryegrass, and alfalfa are extremely susceptible to damage.
Kentucky bluegrass, tall fescue, and bermudagrass can stand up to more severe hoof action. Another issue with muddy conditions is that the livestock often kick mud onto the forages and are likely to avoid grazing these plants. Not taking precautions to protect wet pastures can cause extreme damage and production loss.
When pastures are extremely wet, moving the livestock faster can be helpful to reduce the possible damage to pastures. Putting animals in a sacrifice area, feedlot, or feeding pad during these times is another good method to protect pastures. Although it may be necessary to feed stored feeds, using these methods during extremely wet periods can protect plants from damage and soil from excessive compaction and erosion.