Good pastures pay off in the long run

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musk thistle

Thanks to effective weed control, sound fertility and careful grazing management, this Missouri producer says he grazes more and feeds less hay.

Since the 1980s, Dwight Kibby, along with his wife Majuana, has been running a commercial cow-calf operation on primarily fescue pastures in the hilly, Ozark landscape of Missouri. Dwight Kibby jokes that the county his pastures are in should have been named “Rock County”; rocky soils make the ground well suited for pasture lands versus crops. Because the land is best fit for grazing, maximizing pasture productivity has always been important to Kibby’s operation.

“It costs money to feed and put up hay,” Kibby says. “If your cattle will bale it for you, you’re much better off.”

In an industry with tight margins and volatile markets, cattle performance is crucial for many producers; and the Kibbys are no different. Providing a solid forage base throughout the year pays off for them in the long run.

“If you’ve got good pastures, cattle will gain and keep a body condition that’s good,” Dwight Kibby says. “For that matter, it’s a lot less trouble and expense to have good pastures than to have hay. Any time I can keep from getting my baler out of the barn, that’s a plus.”

Weeding out troublesome species

Like any good producer, Kibby knows the impact of weed pressure in pastures. He works hard to provide a solid foundation that keeps his cattle grazing nearly year-round. Weeds threaten that. In an average year, Kibby deals with chicory, musk thistle, knapweed, ironweed, ragweed and multiflora rose. Recently, hay imported into the area has caused poison hemlock to encroach on Kibby’s pastures.

“In the case of chicory and ironweed, it robs the grass around it [of nutrients],” Kibby says. “And then with musk thistle, cows will back off and won’t even eat close to it. I hear that knapweed can release toxins that inhibits surrounding grass, so I surely don’t want that to happen.”

The Kibbys have utilized a variety of Corteva Agriscience products throughout the years — from 2,4-D to DuraCor® herbicide — to battle troublesome species in their pastures. They also use Remedy® Ultra and Tordon® RTU herbicides to spot-treat brush, namely multiflora rose.

“When we took this place over in the ’80s, you could not find a field that was not loaded with musk thistle,” Dwight Kibby says. “We’ve fought them ever since, and we’ve just about got them under control.”

Getting — and keeping — weeds under control is one of the many steps Kibby takes to ensure his pastures provide for his cattle, even beyond the primary grazing season. Fertilization has been another go-to option in his pasture management program.

“I stockpile one field every year. In the middle of August, I fertilize it. After I fertilize, I’ll shut the gate until the first of December,” Kibby says. “In that field, I use electric poly wire and I cut off a pie-shape paddock. When the cows eat that, I move my fence. I usually move it about seven or eight times. Most years, I don’t have to feed hay until the first of February.”

The ability to combine DuraCor with fertilizer appealed to Kibby. Fertilization and weed control were already important to his pasture management program. He worked with the team at Shrable Fertilizer & Feed in Seymour, Missouri, to accomplish both practices in a single pass on the pasture that he utilizes for stockpiling.

“It was amazing the difference in that field from the year before,” Kibby says. “If you’re dealing with chicory, you could mow it down and by the next morning when the sun comes up, your field will have a blue cast to it, because you cannot cut the last bloom off of those things. But DuraCor killed it.” 

Kibby says there’s a noticeable line in the pasture he treated where he ran out of mix. The visible success has him eager to use DuraCor on his pastures again.

Grazing management aids in pasture productivity

In addition to weed control and fertilization, rotational grazing is another critical aspect to maintaining a solid forage base for Kibby. He uses electric fences to efficiently divide his pastures. 

“I try to rotate cattle every week; I watch the height of the grass. My cows tell me when they need to move. I know they’ll be standing at the gate ready to go to the next pasture,” Kibby says. “I don’t let them eat [the grass] down too much. That way, it’s a quick recovery.”

Including weed control products from Corteva Agriscience has not disappointedhelped keep his grazing program on track.

“Having good pasture is much better than putting up hay,” Kibby says.


™ ® ℠ Trademarks and service mark of Corteva Agriscience and its affiliated companies. Under normal field conditions, DuraCor® is nonvolatile. DuraCor and GrazonNext® HL have no grazing or haying restrictions for any class of livestock, including lactating dairy cows, horses (including lactating mares) and meat animals prior to slaughter. Label precautions apply to forage treated with DuraCor or GrazonNext HL and to manure and urine from animals that have consumed treated forage. DuraCor and GrazonNext HL are not registered for sale or use in all states. Consult the label for full details. UltiGraz with fertilizer is available for use with specific herbicides in the states of AL, AR, FL, GA, IA, KS, KY, LA, MO, MS, NC, ND, NE, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, WA and WV. Contact your state pesticide regulatory agency to determine if a product is registered for sale or use in your state. State restrictions on the sale and use of Remedy® Ultra apply. Consult the label before purchase or use for full details. Always read and follow label directions.

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