Dr. Miranda Meehan is the Livestock Environmental Stewardship Specialist with North Dakota State University Extension. Her work primarily deals with grazing management and the balance between our environment and our livestock.
In this episode we talk about making rotations of livestock and pulse crops work. Specifically, we’ll cover the role of pulses in full season cover crops, the considerations of incorporating cattle into crop rotations, and we’ll also get into some of the biggest questions about cattle and crops like compaction, stocking rates and forage quality.
“I think the most common thing we see people do in starting with cover crops is those winter cereals because that's an easy way to get into it and it doesn't interrupt our cropping system much.… That's a really good source for grazing, getting animals out for a little earlier grazing than we would if we had to wait for pastures to be ready.” - Dr. Miranda Meehan
Dr. Meehan suggests basing your cover crop selections on your overall goals for production. Different factors such as grazing, haying, and cost of seed can all affect that decision. In addition to watching costs and nutritional balance, timing is also very important. For example, in a frost situation legumes will lose their quality, but brassicas will be able to maintain. But, she says pulses, peas in particular, can be a great fit in full season cover crop mixes.
“In terms of our pulses, I think the best fit in a grazing situation is our field or forage peas. They are very affordable. They're under 50 cents a pound. And so, if we don't have something established, you don't feel bad about it. You're not out a lot and that lowers that risk.…..It's a cool season. It starts growth nice and early. We actually have seen regrowth on it when we graze it.” -Dr. Miranda Meehan