Does My Pasture Need to Be Renovated?

If you're asking yourself this question, don't worry! You're not alone. This question is answered in one of two ways.

1. Complete a pasture inventory to determe the amount of viable forage species that are present versus bare ground/weeds

2. Evaluate animal performance on those pastures




Pasture Inventory

If you decide to do a pasture inventory, it will likely result in a couple of scenarios that will need further evaluation.  If you’re unsure how to perform a pasture inventory, click here. In all of these recommendations, this theme is the most important: keep up on your soil tests! The best plants in the world are only as good as what the soil can feed them.  Here are some possible scenarios after completing your pasture inventory:

  • Scenario 1: Your pasture has an adequate amount of favorable grasses and legumes in the check. Your focus should then be on fertility of this pasture to ensure the plants have the proper nutrients to reach maximum production


  • Scenario 2: Your pasture has a lot of bare ground. This will be seen in the early spring checks, but not usually in the summer checks, as weeds will fill in these areas very quickly.  If weeds don’t fill in, then one needs to evaluate their soil test.  When these bare spots are caught early enough in the spring.  Pastures can be renovated by interseeding a forage mix.  This will need to be done early enough to beat the competition of existing plants or weeds which will choke out the new seedlings


  • Scenario 3: Your pasture has heavy weed pressure. If this is what you’re up against, we suggest consulting with your ag chemical rep to determine the best herbicide to use to eliminate these weeds.  The number of forage species collected in the inventory also must be noted.  If you decide to spray out all the weeds, what will be left to produce forage?  There are two possible ways you can go about this:
    • Spray out the weeds and drill a forage mixture into the existing pasture
    • Spray out the entire pasture and utilize a spray, smother, spray approach to a new, improved forage seeding

Evaluating Animal Performance

You may also find a reason to renovate your pastures from evaluating livestock performance from the pasture.  Livestock performance can be altered in many ways, but when one notices weight gains or milk production decreasing, you really should consider doing a simple pasture inventory and soil test to see if adequate forage is being produced.  If you complete the pasture inventory and see plenty of grass, you will probably need to look further into the situation.  This could happen from having a forage base of an undesirable grass or legume.  If your livestock doesn’t want to eat it, it’s tough to gain with it.  Or it could be a situation where the forage present does not produce the tonnage needed to have excellent animal performance.  Either case could be fixed by:

  • Overgrazing the pasture in winter/spring then drilling a desired forage species mix into the stubble. This will help to dilute the undesirable forage
  • Terminating the existing forage by using the Spray, Smother, Spray approach, and starting over with a clean slate to plant your desired forage mix.

Pasture renovations can be achieved in different ways.  It’s essential to keep the primary goal in mind, the highest performance from your forages, so you can maximize the profit from your livestock.