Grass Too Tall?

Asked May 26, 2020, 12:12 PM EDT

I'm a newbie too rotational grazing and finally have my pastures enclosed and am about to start rotating through daily. The grass has exploded this past week, and gone from ready for animals to now all of a sudden about to seed. Should I go ahead of them and mow it to about 8 inches or so? I really appreciate any input!

Genesee County Michigan

1 Response

Hello,
Your question is a dilemma that many cattle producers have faced for decades. They don't have enough cattle in the spring when the grass is rapidly growing and they have too many cattle in the fall when things are slow and forages slow down.
You can go ahead and mow if the cattle aren't going to be able to go through at least once prior to everything being at full maturity. You may want to consider putting in the cattle for a little bit to give them a chance to get some of the forage utilized.
The height of the mowing depends on the type of grass you have in the field. A good rule of thumb is to take half and leave half. Some grasses will tolerate a closer cut than others. Orchardgrass, as an example, will have much faster recovery if it's not cut below 4 inches. The cool season grasses we have in Michigan need to have some leaf left in order to have ongoing photosynthesis which is necessary for faster growth. If there's no leaf, all the energy for growth will come from the roots reserves and if you have continuous over-grazing or cutting it short, will decrease the plants ability to recover quickly over time.
I hope this helps. If you need more information, please feel free to contact me through email at kaatz@msu.edu.