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A publication of the Master Grazer Program


The use of cover crops prevents soil erosion, increases soil organic matter and microbial activity, improves soil water retention, recycles nutrients and decreases soil compaction. Cover crops also provide an excellent way to extend the grazing season. In Kentucky, commonly used cover crops for grazing include cereal rye, wheat, and annual ryegrass. Winter legumes such as crimson clover, hairy vetch, and winter peas, can provide high quality forage for grazing. Legumes provide the additional benefit of nitrogen fixation. Brassicas, such as turnips, are high quality, deep rooted and grow in dry conditions.

 Heartland Of America Grazing Conference January 18-19 in Quincy, Il  22nd Forages at KCA, January 20, Lexington, KY  AFGC Annual Meeting January 22-25 in Roanoke, VA

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Winter Cover crops on Turpin Farms

Cereal rye is a great choice for those needing fall and early spring grazing. Rye also has the advantage of growing under a wide range of soil conditions. Wheat produces less than rye in the fall but matures later in the spring extending the grazing season well into April. Annual ryegrass is a great fall and winter cover crop to graze if planted in September to ensure establishment. It has an extensive root system that establishes well in almost all soils. Brassicas make excellent feed and produce highly digestible fiber. This highly digestible forage has a rapid rate of fermentation that can lead to a buildup of gas that may cause bloat. Using feed additives such as poloxalene or ionophores, as well as providing long stem roughage, can aid in the prevention of bloat.










Grazing can begin after cover crops grow six to eight inches tall for grasses and above ten inches for brassicas and legumes. Ideally, livestock should be moved twice weekly. A good option is to strip graze cover crops. With strip grazing, a set amount of forage is allocated at a time which meets the needs of the livestock. When grazing cover crops, do not overgraze an area, making sure to leave four inches of plant cover. Once forage is grazed to this height, cattle should be rotated to another area to optimize future regrowth. A good management practice is to observe the amount of ground cover frequently for overgrazing or undergrazing and adjust rotation of cattle accordingly. Application of grazing practices on cover crops can aid in the distribution of manure and increase soil organic matter. In order to reduce animal compaction, plan and utilize a sacrifice area during wet conditions.


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WINTER PREPARATION FOR SOLAR POWERED LIVESTOCK WATERING SYSTEMS. BY: ADAM JONES, KY– NRCS GRAZING SPECIALIST Just as the sun powers forage growth, it can also power the delivery of water to livestock. The use of photovoltaic cells (solar panels) to pump water to tanks is on the rise in Kentucky. This rise is triggered by several factors. Livestock producers want to increase grazing distribution and supply water in remote fields. The long periods without rain have resulted in ponds, springs and streams going dry earlier than expected. Municipalities can limit the use of agricultural water during dry periods if usage exceeds a set amount. In this article, we will focus on winterization tips to keep solar powered pumps, water lines and panels in good working order. The photovoltaic cells (solar panels) absorb sunlight and convert sunlight into electricity. There are many types of mounts for solar panels, some move with the changing position of the sun and some are rigidly mounted. If necessary, A typical solar-powered water pump system, adjust the angle of the panel to compensate for the change in the sun’s angle from summer to winter. For the winter months, adjust the panel so which includes a solar array, controller, pump, and storage tank. it is facing due south and the angle is tilted 15 degrees plus the latitude. For example, the latitude in Lexington is 38 degrees, so the panel should be tilted down 53 degrees from the horizontal position. When summer returns, reverse the process and adjust the angle to the local latitude and subtract 15 degrees. In Lexington this would be 38 – 15 = 23, so the panel would be tilted down only 23 degrees from the horizontal setting. Each time you inspect the solar panel, always check the mount and make certain that the solar panel is firmly affixed and able to withstand the wind. For a solar panel to be able to do its job, it must be able to absorb light so clean the panel periodically with water and a soft cloth. The pump is the only moving part in this water supply system and needs preventive maintenance and winterizing. Remove the pump from the water source, and clean any accumulated sediment from the intake screen for maximum pump operating efficiency. With the pump out of the water source, check the safety rope for fraying and make certain the water line connections are in good condition. If you did not drill a weep hole in the water supply line coming from the pump, now is a good time before freezing weather begins. Drill a small hole (approximately 1/16th of an inch) above the water level and below the frost line to allow water to drain freely from the line when the pump is not operating. A weep hole prevents water from becoming trapped in the pipe above the frost line where it could freeze and burst the pipe, or create excessive head pressure which could damage the pump when it operates again. The water line to your watering tank should drain when the pump is not in use to prevent a burst pipe. Inspect the trough and make certain that the float or the pump controller is in good working order and free from debris. If the float doesn’t close the valve, water will flow uncontrolled into the tank. The controller shuts the pump off when the water level reaches the desired height in the tank. To ensure this occurs, the contacts on the controller should be free from corrosion and debris. If you pump into a storage tank and gravity feed the water tank from the storage tank, make sure that the tank is clean and free from algae build up. There are sanitizing solutions available to clean the tanks. Lastly, check the lid to make sure it won’t freeze and break. When below freezing temperatures are forecasted, drain the tank and turn off the solar panel power switch to help prevent damage to your watering system. As the temperatures begin to climb, switch the panel back on and wait for the system to refill. If you have any further questions about winterizing your livestock watering system, contact your local conservation district and Natural Resources Conservation Service office.


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FARMER HIGHLIGHT: TURPIN FARMS The Turpin farm, owned and operated by Billy Glenn and his son, Scott Turpin, is a 155- acre farm stocked with a herd of spring and fall calving Angus/ Simmental cattle. This farm has been family owned and operated for over 100 years. Billy Glenn Turpin retired from the Madison County school system as an agriculture teacher for 31 years. After he retired in 2001, drastic changes have taken place on what he calls his “Red House Farm.” They have stockpiled fescue in several paddocks to be used for late fall and winter grazing. Until the past four years, Billy Glenn and Scott’s main source of forage has been coolseason grasses. They have recently began planting and then grazing four acres of summer annuals. The use Billy Glenn Turpin and Son Scott Turpin at their Red House Farm of a rotational grazing system has allowed them to increase their livestock numbers while providing better quality forage. Rotational grazing practices have increased pasture usage and allowed them to utilize more forage. This has practically eliminated supplemental feed and forages on their farm. The farm is divided into approximately 12 paddocks. Mr. Turpin told students at the EKU grazing school and attendees of the Kentucky Grazing Conference that the hardest part of designing his grazing system was deciding the location of watering sources. The farm uses seven permanent waterers which are heated to limit winter freeze ups. All of the waterers, except one, are supplied by a cistern pump from rain water collected off existing buildings. The water lines are all connected to the cistern pump house, but at the turn of a valve he can water his cattle with city water during drought conditions. When planning his fencing system the water stations were placed so they could be easily accessed by multiple paddocks. When deciding how to improve his fencing Mr. Turpin said, “Fencing was the easiest of all decisions.” Their farm has a boundary fence of five strand high-tensile wire with interior fencing system as single-strand poly-wire. The best investment was the use of temporary fencing that allows him to control the area his cattle graze. This system aids in the ability to change paddock sizes or even implement different grazing practices between and within a grazing season. Since they started using a rotational grazing system, Turpin Farm has observed many benefits. The farm has increased stocking rates 25% due to the improved utilization of available forage. The most important aspect has been closely monitoring the pastures for adequate forage height. They have learned that it’s important to make sure that animals never over graze the forage. Leaving an adequate residual height is important so that the forage has reserves to grow back. This allows healthy plants to handle environmental stress, such as limited water availability.

Billy Glenn speaks at the EKU Grazing School

Billy Glenn Turpin claims to be a forage farmer first. Both he and Scott, strive to produce enough forage so none of their cattle receive any supplemental forage until after the first of January. They emphasize forage quality; they have reduced the need for stored feed; and they are striving to improve pasture utilization.


Heart of America Grazing Conference, January 18-19 Quincy, IL

22nd Forages at KCA , January 20 Lexington, KY

American Forage and Grassland Council Annual Meeting, January 22-25 Roanoke, VA Kentucky Small Ruminant Grazing Conference, February 18 in Hardin county Extension Office, Elizabethtown, KY

Tall Fescue Renovation Workshop, March 9 Lexington, KY

Kentucky Grazing School, April 25-26 UKREC Princeton, KY

Kentucky Grazing School, September 27-28 in Woodford County Extension Office, Versailles, KY

Comments Or Questions Contact: 821B W.P. Garrigus Bldg., University of Kentucky Lexington, KY 40546-0215 (859) 257– 7512

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