Feed prices leading to foraging and pasture use


September 6, 2012

MASON COUNTY — According to a recent release from Southern States Cooperative Inc., the prolonged drought in the mid-west and the sharply escalating costs of corn-based feeds are encouraging livestock and horse producers on the east coast to rely more heavily on existing pastures and available forages for their animals.

“If the price of feed corn in 2013 continues to go up as it has this summer, livestock and horse producers may be hard-pressed to feed their animals and still turn a profit,” said Jim Moore, vice president of the Southern States Feed Division.

The release went on to say that forage is the most important element to any diet, whether livestock or horses. A high quality pasture can help producers control feed costs.

“Pastures that saw heavy grazing this past year may require additional attention, in terms of seed and fertilizer this fall and over the winter, to be able to sustain increased demand next spring,” advised David Jessee, an agronomist for Southern States. “The east coast can’t produce all of the forage that will be needed, and we can’t rely on hay from the mid-west to supplement it.”

It was reported that fall is the best time to plant, fertilize and lime a cool-season pasture. The proper timing for establishment is very important in developing the proper root system for providing the best forage for livestock and horses over the growing season. It is also advisable to conduct a soil test on pastures as a first step in determining a viable pasture management plan.

If quality grasses and hays are scarce, producers are also encouraged to supplement livestock or horses’ diets with forage replacers such as silage for cattle and chopped forages or pelleted hay stretchers for horses.

For additional information on pasture management and planning, contact the WVU Extension Service at 304-675-0888.