Seeding bare ground for pasture

Discussion in 'Feeding & Watering Your Flock' started by tomwinfl, Jun 5, 2017.

  1. tomwinfl

    tomwinfl Just Hatched

    Apr 3, 2017
    We left our temporary fence in the same place for too long, and the hens completely denuded it. Now that we've relocated them we want to seed the bare ground with a pasture mix that will be good forage for them. We're in North Florida, Zone 8B, and we're concerned that some things might not start well this time of year. Any suggestions?
  2. lazy gardener

    lazy gardener Flock Master

    Nov 7, 2012
    I would contact your state thread here on BYC as well as your country Ag extension office for suggestions.
  3. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    Hancock Farm & Seed Company is a Florida based worldwide supplier of lawn, pasture, turf, wildflower and wildlife seed. For over 4 generations and 35 years, our family has grown, harvested, processed, packaged and distributed many lawn, pasture and wildlife seeds in central Florida. Our professional sales team has many years of planting, seeding and management experience. We are dedicated to providing our customers with the highest quality seed products at the lowest possible prices. If you are looking for expert advice, fresh high quality products, affordable shipping and bulk seed discounts then Hancock Farm & Seed Company is the seed store for you. Nothing fancy here. What you see is what you get...just farm fresh seeds from our family to yours. Feel free to contact us at anytime for recommendations, bulk order discounts or discounted freight quotes.
  4. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    Recently, I received a telephone call from a client regarding establishing a permanent pasture of Argentine Bahia for livestock grazing. In this situation, the client did not want to remove many trees from the site, because he wanted the livestock to have plenty of shade. He only wanted to cut trees he deemed necessary while retaining as much shade as feasible. Is it possible to have the best of both worlds- that is- shade and improved pasture?

    Argentine Bahia is slightly shade tolerant but grows best under full sun conditions. Shade tolerance refers to how well a plant can grow under shady or low-light conditions. If trees are shading the pasture area, the Argentine Bahia will not grow strong enough to support the added pressure of livestock grazing.

    Another option would be to select a pasture grass that is more shade tolerant, unfortunately the choices for shade tolerant pasture grasses are limited. Tall Fescue has fair shade tolerance, followed by Pensacola Bahia, Argentine Bahia, and Bermuda. Bermuda is the least shade tolerant, and both Pensacola and Argentine Bahia are a small improvement over Bermuda. Although Tall Fescue, a cool season perennial, is shade tolerant, it is not recommended as a pasture forage in Florida. Tall Fescue can be problematic as a pasture grass. There is a natural fungus that grows on fescue, called Endophytes,which helps fescue compete with other grasses and weeds, but this same fungus can cause suppressed appetite and poor growth in the livestock that eat this grass. There are endophyte-free fescue varieties available to grow, but according to Dr. Ann Blount et. al., (2012 Cool-Season Forage Variety Recommendations for Florida): “In general, fescue should not be planted in Florida. It does not persist as a perennial, and small grains and ryegrass are more productive as cool-season annuals.”

    Since the client wanted to grow Argentine Bahia for its noted strengths of drought tolerance, grazing potential, and disease resistance, my recommendation was to remove trees from the center of the pasture leaving the peripheral trees for shade. This should provide as many hours of sunlight as possible for the Argentine Bahia to grow.
  5. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri

    Vegetable Resources
    Aggie Horticulture Network > Vegetable Resources > Guides > The Crops of Texas > Forage Grasses

    [​IMG]Tall fescue. In East Texas, isolated plantings are found in river and creek bottom soils; provides grazing fall to spring but not particularly heat or drought tolerant. Endophytes (a fungus) can reduce animal performance and cause herd health problems. Plantings of Max Q or endophyte-friendly varieties now circumvent the alkaloid problems and result in better animal performance. Plantings of varieties circumvent the alkaloid problems and now result in better livestock performance. Turf-type varieties are used as a cool-season lawn or turf. Weed pests include annual and perennial broadleaf weeds. No major insects or disease problems.

    Texas bluegrass. A sod-forming perennial providing some winter grazing from natural stands in Northeast Texas. Breeding programs at Dallas have developed improved lines and turf-types.

    Warm-season grasses
    Warm-season grasses consist of a few annuals and several perennials, including introduced and native range grasses.

    Bahiagrass. Broad leaves, short rhizomes, and sod forming, established/managed acreage; 12,000 acres are seeded annually.

    Bermudagrass (perennials). Development of hybrid bermudagrass at Tifton, Georgia in the 1940s revolutionized forage production for pasture and hay across the south. Bermudagrass has short, narrow leaves, strong stolons, forms dense sod and withstands intense grazing. Today 8 to 10 million acres of permanent pasture are established in Texas, with 20,000 to 40,000 acres planted or replanted annually to improved releases. “Coastal” is the most common but Tifton 85 provides superior yields and digestibility; most commonly planted as sprigs but 5 to 8% of the new plantings are seeded types, such as Giant, Cheyene, CD, and KY lines. Insect pests include fall and beet army worms suppressed by cold or warm weather; usually not treated if outbreaks occur late in the year. Weeds include annual grasses and broadleaves and can be severe when sprigging new stands. Perennial broadleaf weeds and smutgrass can be a problem in thin stands. Woody species, such as mesquite, may require herbicide treatment. Bahiagrass and dallisgrass encroachment where stands get weak. Smutgrass is increasing and difficult to control.

    [​IMG]Bluestems-native. Mostly Andropogons. Include big bluestem (one of the four most widespread and important in the tallgrass prairies), little bluestem (more common in eastern areas), and sand bluestem (sandy sites), which are used on re-seeded rangelands and restoration of native grasslands in western areas.

    Bluestems – old world. (Introduced Bothriochloa spp.; several are now indigenized). Includes KR, WW, Gordo, Spar, and Causasian, which are more productive than native bluestems

    Buffalograss. Native, found in mixtures, offers limited carrying capacity; commonly found west of I-35.

    [​IMG]Buffelgrass. Useful warm-season perennial in South Texas where it does well on light sandy soils and survives mild winters; native from South Africa. Excellent in semi-arid subtropical areas. Withstands grazing well but not cold tolerant. May be toxic to sheep in some situations; an additional 15,000 acres are seeded annually.

    Crabgrass (reseeding annual). Red River variety released by the Noble Foundation is planted on small acreage in East Texas; may volunteer as a summer annual forage grass for grazing. No significant pest problems.

    Dallisgrass. Warm-season bunchgrass common in the Gulf Coast region; provides moderate to good pasture. May be included with bermudagrass pastures or may be overseeded with ryegrass or a legume for winter grazing; 1,000 acres seeded annually (Some estimates up to18,000 acres).

    Gamagrass. (Tripsacum spp.) Eastern gama is most common; a high quality bunch grass on fertile soils.

    Gramagrass. (Bouteloua spp.) Primarily sideoats and blue grama.

    Indiangrass. Usually found in mixtures with other grasses.

    Johnsongrass. A pernicious perennial weed in crop land but may be seeded or managed for hay or grazing. Requires careful management to sustain stands and rhizomes.

    Kleingrass. Grown for pasture or hay, generally south of I-20 in Texas. Requires careful grazing management to avoid loss of stand. No particular insect or disease problems; thin stands become weedy. Estimated 5,000 to 15,000 acres are seeded annually. May cause photo sensitivity in sheep.

    Lovegrasses. Bunchgrass that includes weeping, Lehmann,Wilmann, and sand. Excellent quality forage. Performs well on marginal fertility.[​IMG]

    Pearl millet. An annual. Important for summer pasture and hay in some areas. Densely seeded to avoid weed problems. In East Texas, used for grazing to avoid prussic acid; in South Texas to avoid iron chlorosis problems.

    [​IMG]Sorghum and sorghum-sudan hybrids. (annuals) Sorghum/sudan hybrids are drill planted or disced in with fertilizer annually for high quality silage, hay, or rotational grazing. Development of BMR (brown mid rib, with higher quality) has increased acreage – especially for dairies. Some foliar insect pests. Diseases of ergot and downy mildew. Few weed problems if planted thick.

    Other grasses include: Bromegrass on 2,500 acres; Indiangrass on 1,000 acres; Rhodesgrass in South Texas on 25,000 acres; Sprange Top (green) on 1,600 acres; Switchgrass on 25,000 acres, mostly in South Texas, Plains, West Texas, and natural stands in the Blackland Prairie. In addition, at least another 12 million or more acres of mixtures and stands of range grasses are seeded or managed in Texas.

    Notes on hay crops and production
    Hay provides a low-cost means of storing forages in times of excess production. USDA Ag Census data reports Texas hay production from 4.14 million acres as follows: bermudagrass and other tame grasses on 3.4 million acres; alfalfa on 130,000 acres; small grains (mostly wheat and oats) on 320,000 acres; and sorghum on 16,000 acres.

    Wild grasses (unidentified as to type) are harvested on 280,000 acres. These acreages are included in crop-by-crop data listed above. Some clover is harvested as hay.

    [​IMG]More than 78% of the hay is harvested in large round or square bales weighing 1000 to 1500 pounds for use by dairies or feedlots. At least 20% of the tonnage is harvested and marketed as small square wire or twine-tied bales for the horse market where special attention is devoted to well-fertilized, weed-free, high quality hay – mostly bermudagrass or alfalfa.

    Herbicides are applied on 65% or more of the hay acreage where 2,4-D, 2,4-D plus/dicamba (Weedmaster and others), trisulfuron (Amber), and methsulfuron (Ally) are used for broadleaf weeds and some grasses (smutgrass and grass burs).

  6. Glenda Heywoodo

    Glenda Heywoodo Chillin' With My Peeps

    Dec 19, 2016
    Cassville Missouri
    When you raise chickens you get the joys of collecting fresh eggs daily, the joys of watching “the chicken channel,” the little peeps of baby chicks, the sweet sound of the egg laying song the proud (and sometimes awkward) robust crows of the rooster… and also the pleasure of watching them completely tear your yard down to dust. Two years ago our chicken yard was a beautiful, lush pasture. Now half of it is just a barren, dust pit full of feathers and poop. Not very glamorous if you ask me! Not like raising chickens is a very glamorous thing in the first place. Unless you’re Zsa Zsa Gabor or the Queen of freaking England. But I digress. We prefer for our chickens to forage for food, bugs and things and supplement with chicken feed so we needed to do something about our pasture. But re-seeding the chicken pasture while they’re in there can be really tricky. But we figured out a way with our moveable “salad bar.”

    The first dilemma was to figure out a way to re-seed the pasture without the chickens getting in there to scratch around and eat all the seeds. We can’t really fence it off, they would probably find a way in, and the seeds may just wash off anyway. We needed something portable so we could section a part of the pasture off a little bit at a time. Basically, we needed to build a moveable fodder box. All we did was take some 2×4’s, squared them off, braced them just like we were making a frame. Then stretch some really strong wire over the top. And that’s about it. Pretty simple and easy to make in an afternoon. I should also note that we started out with just stretching chicken wire over the top but that wasn’t enough to deter curious chickens. So I’d suggest using some stronger wire or making your fodder boxes a little taller if you have to use chicken wire.

    Next, it was time to choose seeds. Peacefully Valley Farm Supply has a great chicken forage seed blend that’s filled with Omega-3 rich grasses. Yes please, I’d love a natural way to make their yolks Omega-3 enriched. Sign me up! That was a wonderful place to start but we wanted to add some perennial grasses to make sure that we didn’t have to re-seed our pasture forever and ever, amen. We went to our local feed store and came up with our own blend of both perennial and Omega-3 pasture seed:




    -red clover, white clover, strawberry clover

    -perennial rye

    -winter rye

    -forage chicory

    -winter wheat

    -and then whatever else was in the Peaceful Valley blend

    So we put our fodder boxes down in the pasture, sprinkled a healthy amount of seed in each box and watered it all in. After the first two days of hand watering, we just let the rain do the rest and didn’t pay much attention to the boxes. Figured we’d let the seeds do their thing. Naturally, the chickens were very curious as to what was going on in their yard! As the grasses started to come up, the chickens would walk all over the top of the boxes and try to peck out the little blades of grasses. But if you brace the boxes well enough and have strong wire across the top, they shouldn’t be able to get to the seedlings.

    Setting out the chicken fodder boxes. You can see how crappy our yard was looking, in dire need of some re-seeding.
    Shortly after germination
    Curiouser and curiouser…
    About 3-4 weeks after we seeded the fodder boxes, the blades of grass were pushing through the wire and it was time to move the boxes. I wanted to give the grasses a chance to get big and strong before letting the chickens go crazy on the fodder. So when the tall grasses were about 2″ higher than the wire, we moved the boxes to another section of the pasture and started the process all over again! You could just leave the boxes in one permanent location and let the chickens just eat the tops of the grasses, and we may do that in the future too. But for now, we have a lot of pasture that we need to re-seed!

    It’s about time to move the boxes and let them loose on the “salad bar!”
    Let me tell you, the pasture looks 100 times better than it did a month ago and we have some very happy chickens! We’ll see how well it does over the summer but we plan on re-seeding the pasture as long as the weather will let us. I imagine it’ll take us a year or two to get the whole pasture fully recovered but in the meantime, it’s a great way to get a dense, nutrient chicken forage pasture.

    The “salad bar” is ready and open for business!

    OCeggs23 likes this.

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