August is an important month for beef producers to plan their fall and winter grazing program. Using crop residues and small grain and ryegrass cover crops can provide some late fall-early winter, as well as late- winter and early- spring gazing. However, the best option is to stockpile fescue during late summer and fall for use in late fall and winter.
Select the fields to be stockpiled and graze or mow soon. Add nitrogen by mid-August. Let stockpiled fields grow as long as possible in fall while other pastures are being grazed.
After frost, be sure to graze the grass legume fields quickly before the plants deteriorate. After these fields are grazed, the stockpiled grass fields should be grazed.
Light stocking will cause a lot of waste due to trampling. To make more efficient use of the stockpiled fields, install a temporary electric fence across the field dividing it so the area to be grazed first has a source of water and minerals. Once the animals have grazed the area off, move the fence back, opening up a new strip. Repeat this system until the entire field is grazed.
The high quality of stockpiled tall fescue can result in good animal performance resulting from the higher crude protein and digestibility of the fall growth of tall fescue. In particular, the sugar content rises to very high levels in response to lower temperature and shortening day length. This nutritional change does not take place overnight due to the first frost but is spread over time.
If you stockpile fescue, you can typically expect an extended grazing season, reduced winter hay feeding, a good return on your nitrogen fertilizer investment (if other nutrients and moisture are OK), and an ideal place for wintering and calving your herd.