Repairing Those Winter-Feeding Areas & Spring Calving Pastures

With Spring here, the shades of green starting to show in your pastures.  There are a couple of areas where the green is unfortunately not showing; your Winter-feeding areas and spring calving pastures. We all have those sacrifice pastures that are too easy to abuse during the winter and spring months.  But once the weather ripens and you’re able to turn cattle out on summer pastures…you’re left with a mess that needs some repair.

What's Your Goal?

Before you can repair these pastures, you need to know what your goal is for that pasture.  Are you looking to improve for Fall forage or possibly for stockpiling?  Or are you looking to have some summer forage production, knowing you’re going to be abusing it again next Winter/early Spring?  Either way, there is a solution for both.


The first thing to do, no matter your goal, is to clean up the large amount of manure that has accumulated on these pastures due to the concentration of animals. Additionally, if you feed in bale rings, you’ll have large build-ups of trampled hay and manure.  Both the animals and the rings must be removed to either spread this manure on the remaining pasture or haul it off to the compost. The issue with leaving this much manure in a concentrated area is it could affect the soil pH, and a soil test should be done to determine if this has occurred on your pasture.  If the pH is too low is might require a fast-acting lime application to the top two inches of topsoil.  The ideal soil pH for forage grasses and legumes is 6-6.5.

What to Seed With & How

If you need forage in the middle of summer, you need to look at planting a warm-season grass.  One of the best grasses to graze in the middle of summer is Mojo forage crabgrass.  Its ability to transform summer’s most prominent challenges into a highly palatable and nutritious forage is fantastic. Additionally, it handles heavy grazing pressure and doesn’t need to be managed as strict as other warm-season annuals.  An application of 6lbs of seed per acre and scratch the seed in with a light tillage tool should do the trick.  It is important to note that germination will not take place till soil temps are above 62˚ Fahrenheit.


If you need forage in the Fall or following Spring, then you need to look at a cool-season forage.  This can be achieved with PastureRX.  This mixture of cool-season forage grasses and legumes provides a quick establishing forage mix that creates an ideal forage mix for repairing abused pastures.  For heavily abused areas, apply one bag of PastureRX per acre.  As the area becomes less abused, the seeding rate may be lowered.


No matter what time of year you need forage to graze or hay.  There is a solution to utilizing those winter feeding/calving areas to make them a successful part of your forage system.