University of Kentucky College of Agriculture

Welcome to the Master Grazer Educational Program

-an educational program to improve grazing practices in beef, dairy, goat and sheep herds


 

Grazing News Articles

Articles on forages, animals, and grazing systems



Additional Resources

 

Beef
Dairy
Goat
Sheep
Forages
Extension Publications

 

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Master Grazer Educational Program reports to KY Ag Development Fund Board:

2013 Annual Accomplishments
2012 Annual Accomplishments
2011 Annual Accomplishments


 

 

Contacts


Cody Smith

Master Grazer Coordinator
804 W.P. Garrigus Building
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY
40546-0215
(859) 257-7512
Fax: (859) 257-3412
E-mail: cody.smith@uky.edu

Faculty Coordinators:


Dr. Ray Smith

Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-3358
Fax: (859) 323-1952  
Email: raysmith1@uky.edu

Dr. Donna Amaral-Phillips

Extension Dairy Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-7542
Fax: (859) 257-7537  
Email: damaral@uky.edu

Dr. Jeff Lehmkuhler

Extension Beef Cattle Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (859) 257-2853
Fax: (859) 257-3412  
Email: jeff.lehmkuhler@uky.edu

Dr. Garry Lacefield

Extension Forage Specialist
University of Kentucky
Phone: (270) 365-7541 202 
Fax: (270) 365-2667  
Email: glacefie@uky.edu


 

The Importance of a Rest Period Between Grazing

 

 

One of the most important components of a successful rotational grazing system is allowing the forages an adequate rest period for plant recovery and regrowth. Allowing plants a sufficient rest period is vital to maximize forage quality, yield, and stand persistence. This period not only give the plants time to regrow but also to replenish stored carbohydrates and for root development. However, if plants are allowed too long of a rest period without grazing or mowing, plants will become mature and lose nutrient value and palatability.


The length of the rest period needed will vary depending on forage species, season, and environmental conditions. With adequate moisture, cool-season species will grow rapidly during the spring and fall while warm-season species will grow rapidly in the warm, summer months. When grazing predominantly grass stands, it is suggested that animals are removed in late fall (late October to early November) before a hard freeze to allow plants to replenish root reserves before these plants go dormant. When grazing alfalfa, animals should be removed earlier in the fall (mid to late-September.) The fall growth of alfalfa can be grazed after a killing frost or in mid-November. Because the ideal rest period may vary, it is very beneficial to be flexible and to move animals according to forage and animal observations. Adjustments may be made over time according to observations.


Animals should be removed when pastures are grazed down to the suggested height where adequate leaf area is present for quick regrowth. Overgrazing pastures will increase the length of rest period required. More paddocks allow for longer resting periods. For example, in a six paddock rotation, if animals are in each paddock for six days, this will allow for a thirty day rest period. Knowing and adhering to the suggested grazing heights and rest periods for the various forage species is important for maximum forage production and quality. The following table contains suggested length of rest for common forages. For more information see Rotational Grazing, ID-143.

 

Rest Period Chart