Arkansas Fall Pasture Conditions Deteriorating
Don’t let the abundance of rain and good growing conditions this past summer allow you to put your guard down so to speak on fall forage availability. So far this fall, temperatures have stayed above normal and rainfall below normal. Add to those conditions shorter daylight hours, some armyworms, and large calves adding to the grazing pressure and you might find there’s not much forage left in pastures. Cows are starting to respond by losing body condition. Monitor pastures to ensure cows aren’t seeking out potentially toxic plants such as oaks and perilla mint due to hunger. Start feeding hay early if needed and test hay for nutritive value. Although hay is abundant in AR, some first cuttings were harvested later than usual and some of the last cuttings were harvested merely to get pastures cleaned off. The nutritive value of these hays may be lower than usual and cows may not winter as well using traditional supplemental feeding practices; especially if we end up with a wetter than normal winter. Sort off large calves and get them to market to also deal with over-grazed pastures. Parasites are also likely culprits contributing to production losses right now. Because of the warm weather, flies have remained high and fly tags have likely played out by now. When gathering the herd for weaning, consider using a pour-on dewormer this fall to help suppress flies and the extra worm burden due to very short forage height. If the calves are already weaned and gathering cows isn’t feasible, resort to an insecticidal spray for flies and a dewormer that can delivered in supplemental feed to help with gastrointestinal nematodes.