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
Warm-season annuals such as sorghum, sudangrass, sorghum X sudangrass hybrids, and millets are useful forages for summer grazing. When deciding which of these forages might fit into your grazing system, it is important to recognize the different traits and common uses of each.
Sorghum is a single cut crop typically used for silage and grazing; it has a thick stem which decreases issues due to lodging.
Sudangrass can be harvested multiple times throughout the season and is commonly used for grazing and hay. This species has a thinner stem, lower lignin content, and higher digestibility in comparison to sorghum.
Sorghum X sudangrass hybrids, often referred to as Sudex, can be harvested multiple times and is used for grazing, silage, and hay. This hybrid has a thicker stem than sudangrass and lower lignin content than sorghum.
There is a potential for prussic acid poisoning when grazing the above species.
BMR (Brown Mid-Rib) Varieties are available for all above species. These are genetically modified to reduce lignin content and increase digestibility. These varieties also have improved fiber availability.
Milllets- Although millets are lower yielding, there is no potential for prussic acid poisoning. They have smaller stems and are leafier than the above species. Pearl millet can be harvested multiple times while foxtail millet, which is shorter and finer stemmed, is a one cut crop. Foxtail millet is ideal for grazing and hay.
Varieties for grazing can be found for all above species. Contact your county agent to find varieties best suited to your area or contact your local seed dealer.
Non-uniform grazing can reduce utilization of available forages and increase undesirable plants and weeds in pastures. Taking steps to graze paddocks more uniformly will benefit overall production and forage quality.