Humans thrive with a diversity of foods in their diet, and the same is true for livestock. Establishing and maintaining pastures of prairie grasses, forbs, and legumes, not only provides diverse, nutritious forage for cattle, but this practice also provides many other benefits to livestock, cattle producers, and wildlife alike.
Unlike cool-season tall fescue, which can carry a fungus that can harm cattle health, diverse natives—with many vitamins, minerals, and energy content—support cattle health. In addition, native pasture, unlike fescue, is drought-tolerant, providing nutritious, palatable forage even in hot, dry, weather.
“Even in very dry conditions, my native pastures provide quality forage, and my cattle gain weight faster than on fescue,” said Steve Clubine, retired grassland biologist and cattle producer, who, through his “Native Warm-Season Grass News” published regularly in the Missouri Prairie Foundation’s Missouri Prairie Journal, shares his expertise on native grazing systems. In addition, the deep roots that make natives drought tolerant also help protect waterways by absorbing large quantities of rainwater. Clump-forming natives, like big and little bluestem grasses, create the kind of structure that favors ground-nesting birds like quail, and flowers of legumes and other plants support pollinating insects.
Clubine is opening up his farm Saturday, August 5 at 10:00 a.m., for a Missouri Prairie Foundation tour to help others see first-hand the benefits of establishing and maintaining a native forage grazing system. This walking tour is limited to 25 people. Register below. Directions will be sent to registrants prior to the tour.Register here
Photo courtesy the Missouri Department of Conservation