; Revegetation of Winter Feeding Areas | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Revegetation of Winter Feeding Areas

Bruce Loyd


In West Virginia, extending the grazing season by stockpiling grass to graze in the winter is highly recommended. However, very few farmers will be able to graze the entire winter and many more will not attempt winter grazing for a variety of reasons. So, most livestock farmers will feed hay to livestock in the winter for some period of time when pasture is not available. Well managed hay feeding returns plant nutrients to fields where the nutrients can be used to grow forage next year. When the same fields are used for feeding areas every winter, plant nutrients can build up and need to be harvested in growing crops to prevent them from entering the surface water and becoming pollutants. Winter feeding can damage grass sod that protects the soil from erosion. Establishing quick growing cover is essential to prevent soil erosion and movement of sediment and nutrients off the field and into surface waters. Extension agents conducted field demonstrations in 2016 on five sites. Revegetated sites were evaluated for cost, forage growth, ground cover, weeds versus planted crop, and forage yield. Revegetated sites had dry matter yields ranging from 1.4 to 3.6 tons/acre with an average of 2.6 tons/acre. Weeds were generally well controlled in the revegetated areas. Farmers revegetating winter feeding areas saved themselves about $100 per animal unit in saved fertilizer value for growing future crops. Environmental stewardship was improved as they protected their soil from erosion and the local surface water from sediment and nutrient pollution.