Expert: Winter pastures could reduce supplementation and feeding costs
By Robert Burns, Texas A&M
Oct 22, 2012
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KIRBYVILLE — Planting winter pastures this fall could reduce and likely eliminate the need for cattle producers to buy expensive protein and energy supplements this winter, according to a Texas AgriLife Extension Service expert.

“The severe drought in the corn belt has caused prices of supplements to increase significantly over the last few months,” said Dr. Jason Banta, AgriLife Extension beef cattle specialist, Overton.

To help producers do the best possible job of developing and utilizing winter pastures and reducing supplemental feed costs, Banta and his colleague, Dr. Vanessa Corriher, AgriLife Extension forage specialist, Overton, will be conducting a short course, “Jasper County: Winter Pasture Program,” 9:30 a.m. – 6 p.m. Aug. 24 at the Call Junction Baptist Church in Kirbyville.

Dr. Vanessa Corriher, Texas AgriLife Extension Service forage specialist, Overton, discusses the finer points of hay production in East Texas. (Texas AgriLife Extension Service photo by Robert Burns)

In contrast to the corn belt, most of southeast Texas has received timely rains this year and is currently classified as drought-free, Banta noted. Local producers have been able to make enough hay to meet their needs and even produce a little extra.

“However, in many situations the hay is lacking in quality, requiring producers to feed energy and protein supplements,” he said. “Producers can utilize winter pastures to provide this supplemental nutrition instead of purchasing expensive concentrate supplements.”

Registration for the program is $60, includes lunch and program materials, and will be limited to the first 50 people to register. The program will offer two continuing education units to Texas Department of Agriculture private pesticide applicator license holders — one in the integrated pest management category and one in general. Register online by going to and entering the keyword “pasture.”

The program will answer a lot of the questions people commonly have about establishing winter pastures, Banta said.

Some issues addressed will include which species are best suited to a particular type of operation, how much money on feed cost they can expect to save, and how to interpret seed-tag information and create a custom soil and production map for a farm from satellite data.

Corriher’s presentation topics will be: species and variety selection; establishment and fertilization;insects in legumes; and insect control and transitioning from winter to spring forages.

Banta’s presentation topics will be: monthly and seasonal forage production potential; estimated costs, grazing and utilization strategies; bloat and grass tetany prevention and management; and appropriate mineral supplementation.

A question-and-answer session will follow the presentations.

For more information call Chadd Caperton, AgriLife Extension agent for Jasper County, at 409-384-3721.