We had a challenging summer. In late June the primary pump for our pivots burnt up which meant our forage slowly matured and never came back. We were able to use much of it, but we had to ship most of the cattle and restart after new equipment was installed. Of course, that sets us up for a much better future as we have much better equipment AND it's now electrical rather than mechanical. That means that when something fails in the future (because it will someday) any component can be replaced within a few days so we'll never lose our forage again.
When everything was in place we reseeded. We used the mix shown at right. It's a cover crop cocktail optimized for warm season growth and uses a variety of plant types to provide diversity in the soil. It worked really well! We got it in late July on the two north pivots and it grew beautifully. We were in a bit of a hurry to get cattle on it so after about 45 days of growth we started grazing it. As can be seen below the cattle were grazing belly deep grass.
WHAT WE LEARNED
1) Millet can be a terrific forage! It grew quickly, thick, continued to grow into December, regrew very quickly after even a heavy clipping, AND when it matured the leaves stayed green and continued to grow - even after it set seed.
2) Our forecasted stocking rates and consumption rates are right on. We had expected to be able to graze about 800 head of six weight stockers on the three pivots. We anticipated that they would eat roughly half a pivot over the course of about three - four days. That was almost exactly what we got - even when temperatures got a little cooler and even though we hadn't given the forage the full 60 days to grow.