Submitted to: Experiment Station Bulletins
Publication Type: Experiment Station
Publication Acceptance Date: April 22, 2013
Publication Date: April 23, 2013
Citation: Coblentz, W.K., Esser, N.M., Brink, G.E., Hoffman, P.C., Bertram, M.G. 2013. Grazing management for fall-grown oat. Experiment Station Bulletins. Vol. 15. No. 3. Technical Abstract: For the dairy (or beef) industry, the options for producing a late-summer emergency forage crop are limited, mostly because the growing season in Wisconsin is relatively short. Recent research has shown that oat, seeded in late-summer, can provide an excellent source of emergency forage before winter. However, this management strategy also has direct application to grazing livestock. Potentially, fall-grown oat can be used to extend the fall grazing season, especially throughout October and well into November, when the growth of perennial cool-season grasses slows. Generally, fall forage production of oat will out-yield winter wheat or cereal rye by about a 2:1 ratio, regardless of weather conditions or harvest date. Primarily, this advantage occurs because oat plants will joint, elongate, and produce a non-viable seedhead before winter, while the other species always remain vegetative (do not joint) until spring. However, oat also will winterkill in Wisconsin, and has little potential for fall forage regrowth. As such, fall-grown oat should be considered stockpiled forage for deferred (later) grazing. Based on these characteristics, there is no need to avoid overgrazing, manage plant growth reserves, or develop rotational grazing strategies; the best utilization of this forage will be accomplished by efficient, one-time removal of standing forage. A single ‘lead’ wire can be advanced daily to prevent trampling and waste, and to allocate forage daily based on producer management goals and requirements. In recent experiments, conducted at the Marshfield Agricultural Research Station, pregnant dairy replacement heifers without previous grazing experience adapted quickly to this type of grazing management. Producers will need to evaluate the nutrient requirements of their livestock classes against the quality of fall-grown oat coupled with other harvested forages and/or supplements to meet their desired animal performance goals.