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Temperate Climate Pasture Species

Cool Season Grass Warm Season Grass Cool Season Legumes Warm Season Legumes Winter Perennials Forage Mix Forage Links Forbs Forb Links Weed Toxicity & Invasives Forage Trees and Shrubs Tree and Shrub Links
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Cool Season Grasses:

Grass is the primary source of calcium. Fresh immature green grass is high in Omega-3. Most perennial grasses are highly micorrhizal dependent.

Tall Fescue (Festuca arundinaceae Schreb.):

(Point of origin: Europe and North Africa) Season: cool Hay: Y, best for fall hay stockpiling if not grazed in winter, will provide dry matter pre-mixed with spring grass Yield: high, best in fall, works well with milk vetch does not work well with Trefoil Nutrition: moderate, alkaloids produced by endophyte infected tall fescue can be toxic. Use endophyte friendly varieties. high in omega-3. Intense grazing: N, can be bitter, difficult to tear, less persistent if overgrazed Bunch: Y, mixes well with alfalfa Planting: in early spring or fall, easy to establish Propagation: tillers, blooms in spring Drought tolerant: good Disease / Insect Problems: endophyte friendly has better persistence than endophyte free Info: Missouri University Kansas State - endophyte friendly

Orchard Grass (Dactylis glomerata L.):

(Point of origin: Europe) Season: cool Hay: Y Yield: high, best in spring, moderate summer growth , best in partial shade with crownvetch, good for fall stockpile in early winter only. Nutrition: high, potentially toxic to horses high in omega-3. Intense grazing: Can have persistence problems if grazed too low. Store carbohydrates in base stem; not the root. Alsp requires consistent grazing to keep persistent. Best for orchards since will tolerate some shade. Hard to bite. Bunch: Y Planting: spring, easy to establish Propagation: no rhizomes, bloom mid spring Drought tolerant: moderate Disease / Insect Problems: get varieties with resistance to leaf disease

Kentucky Bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.):

(Point of origin: Europe) Season: cool, very winter hardy Hay: N Yield: high yield under intense grazing, works well with Ladino / White clover / Trefoil Nutrition: high Intense grazing: easy to get a bite full Bunch: N Planting: spring, easy to establish Propagation: rhizomes, persistent under intense grazing Drought tolerant: N Disease / Insect Problems:

Western Wheatgrass (Pascopyrum Smithii):

OR

Northern Wheatgrass (Elymus lanceolatus):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: cool Hay: N Yield: higher with grazing, easy to get a bite full Nutrition: high Intense grazing: Y Bunch: N Planting: in early spring, mixes well with Kentucky Bluegrass Propagation: rhizomes / tiller Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: Informaton: USDA - Western Wheatgrass Northern State University SD - Western Wheatgrass Montana State - Dryland Pastures

Wildrye (Elymus angustus or junceus):

(Point of origin: Siberia, Mongolia) Season: cool Hay: sometimes Yield: low Nutrition: high Intense grazing: Y Bunch: Y Planting: Propagation: short rhizomes. Drought tolerant: very Disease / Insect Problems: Info: MSU - Dryland Pastures NRCS - Russian Wildrye **********************************************************

Warm Season Grasses:

Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: high, C4 Nutrition: high Intense grazing: moderate Bunch: N Planting: Propagation: robust, perennial, rhizomes, bunch, blooms summer difficult to establish Drought tolerant: high Disease / Insect Problems:

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: Warm Hay: 2-4 feet tall Yield: medium Nutrition: moderate, too course for goats and sheep once mature Intense grazing: moderate Bunch: Y Planting: seed or division in spring Propagation: perennial, short rhizomes Drought tolerant: very high Disease / Insect Problems: USDA - forest service

Sideoats Grama (Bouteloua curtipendula):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: Warm Hay: 1-3 feet tall Yield: C4 Nutrition: medium Intense grazing: Y Bunch: Y Planting: seed, rhizomes Propagation: seed, rhizomes, and tillering Drought tolerant: extremely high Disease / Insect Problems: USDA - forest service

Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: high, C4 Nutrition: high, hydrocyanic acid poisoning possible if grazed too low Intense grazing: moderate Bunch: N Planting: spring Propagation: tall robust perennial, rhizomes difficult to establish Drought tolerant: moderate Disease / Insect Problems:

Eastern Gama grass (Tripsacum dactyloides):

(Point of origin: Eastern North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: high, C4 Nutrition: high quality forage Intense grazing: easily overgrazed Bunch: N Planting: Propagation: perennial, rhizomes, very difficult to establish Drought tolerant: tolerates drought Disease / Insect Problems:

Blue Grama (Bouteloua gracilis):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: Warm Hay: N, short Yield: moderate Nutrition: high Intense grazing: Y Bunch: Sometimes Planting: Drill in spring Propagation: Perennial Drought tolerant: high Disease / Insect Problems: Grasshoppers, white grub larvae Info: USDA US Forestry Service

Buffalo grass (Buchloe dactyloides):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: N, short Yield: moderate Nutrition: moderate Intense grazing: Y Bunch: N Planting: fall, requires freezing Propagation: stolons, tillering Drought tolerant: high Disease / Insect Problems: Info: Northern University US Forestry Service **********************************************************

Cool Season Legume:

Legumes are the key to productivity and health. They are the primary source of magnesium. Legumes should make up 30-40% of a pasture. Contains omega-3.


Milkvetch (Astragalus cicer L.):

(Point of origin: Europe and Russia) Season: cool Hay: Y, less palatable, best in fall Yield: high protein due to high leaf to stem ratio, works well with tall fescue Nutrition: Can increase skin sunburn. Bloat: N Intense grazing: Y, long lived Planting: spring, scarify seed within 1 week of spring planting, in alternate rows with grass. Propagation: difficult to establish, non spreading rhizomes Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: Info: FAO - Milkvetch University of Vermont - Milkvetch

Ladino or White Clover (Trifolium repens ):

(Point of origin: Europe) Season: cool, very cold tolerant Hay: Y for Ladino Yield: high, works well with Kentucky Bluegrass Nutrition: extremely high protein, low fiber. After a drought there is risk of prussic acid poisoning. high in omega-3 Good for hogs since low fiber. Bloat: low unless heavy stands and especially if wet with dew. Intense grazing: easy to get a bite full, can outcompete grass if grass is overgrazed Planting: spring or fall Propagation: 3 year perennial, long lived perennial in north by stolens or runners, high reseed potential, easy to establish. Not mycorrhizal. Drought tolerant: N Disease / Insect Problems:

Birds Foot Trefoil (Lotus corniculatus):

(Point of origin: Europe) Season: cool and warm Hay: use upright cultivar for hay Yield: high Nutrition: high Contains tannins that reduce bloat risk. Bloat: N Intense grazing: Must not overgraze. Do not graze in early spring or the fall. Planting: allow to reseed every 2-3 years Propagation: perennial with rhizomes that do not recharge until fall Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: Info: eOrganic Iowa State Purdue University Farm Science Genetics Farm Info South Dakota State University USDA - rhizomatous trefoil International Grasslands - rhizome expression Penn State University of Wisconsin

Sainfoin (Onobrychis viciifolia Scop):

(Point of origin: Europe) Season: cool, very cold and dry tolerant Hay: Y Yield: low Nutrition: high, anthelmintic. Contains tannins that reduce bloat risk. Bloat: N Intense grazing: N, never more than 70% defoliation Planting: seed, allow reseed every 3 years Propagation: easy to establish, semi-perennial Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: does well in dry cold alkaline soils. maintaining nitrogen root nodulation is difficult. research is ongoing. Info: Montana - Sainfoin Royal Agricultural College - Sainfoin USDA - Sainfoin

Red Clover (Trifolium pratense):

(Point of origin: Europe, Western Asia, Northwest Africa) Season: cool Hay: Y Yield: high Nutrition: high. Risk of excess phyto-estrogen, which can cause infertility. Risk of bloat. Bloat: Y Intense grazing: Y Planting: seed, allow it to reseed itself every 3 years. Propagation: easy to establish, short-lived perennial. Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: Info: Review of phyto-estrogen literature Phyto-estrogen Maturity reduces bloat risk. Univ of Wisconsin - Red clover maintains quality Phyto-estrogen inconsistently decreases with maturity University of Missouri

Alfalfa (Medicago sativa):

(Point of origin: South Central Asia) Season: cool and warm Hay: upright varieties Yield: high Nutrition: high. Risk of bloat. Risk of excess phyto-estrogen. Excess saponins can cause productivity declines. Bloat: Y Intense grazing: moderate Planting: seed, difficult to reseed. Propagation: hard to establish pure stand. short-lived perennial; 4-8 years. Autotoxic to itself. Drought tolerant: once established. Very deep root system which can break up hardpan. Disease / Insect Problems: Info: Wikipedia University of Missouri Estrogen decreases with maturity Large estrogen decrease with maturity Agronomy.org

White Prairie Clover (Dalea candida):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: cool Hay: Leaf only 1 foot tall Yield: high protein Nutrition: One of the very best nitrogen fixers. Excess nitogen used by other plants. Root is edible. Bloat: Low Intense grazing: N Planting: self seeding, scarified seed Propagation: short lived perennial (3-4 years), dies after flowering. Must allow pasture to seed every 3-4 years. Drought tolerant: Very deep thick tap root. Increases pasture drought tolerance by bringing up moisture for other plants. Disease / Insect Problems: Very resistant Mycorrhizal: Highly responsive to Glomus etunicatum Researchgate Rhizobia: Mesorhizobium amorphae Info: USDA Nitrogen fixation - 160 lbs / acre **********************************************************

Warm Season Legume:

There are very few warm season legumes suitable for cool temperate climates. The legumes listed below are not ideal, but with proper management, they can be made to work.

Crownvetch (Coronilla varia):

(Point of origin: Africa, Eurasia) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: moderate, will tolerate some shade Nutrition: palatable Bloat: N Intense grazing: N Planting: spring Propagation: perennial, rhizomes Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems:

Purple Prairie Clover (Dalea purpurea):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: low, palatible Nutrition: high Bloat: low Intense grazing: N Planting: bloom mid to late summer, allow to reseed Propagation: perennial Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: None Information: Purple Prairie Clover
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Winter Perennials:

These are perennials that will grow in the early and late winter. They are great for providing forage without having to feed hay.

University of Alaska - extremely cold hardy grasses
Montana State - extreme cold hardy grasses
ERUDIT - extreme cold hardy legumes
Canada - extreme cold hardy legumes
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Forage Mix:

The philosophy behind these mixes was to choose species that can be used to establish a semi-permanent pasture with little maintenance in a cool temperate climate.

Virginia State - Legume Grass Mixtures
University of Kentucky - forage availability
Virginia Tech - rye can be very early and very late

Forage type is not exactly clear cut. Some forages cross boundaries and can be used in both warm season and cool season pastures.

Virginia Tech - Species diversity supresses undesirable weeds.

The more species in each mix the more undesirable weeds will be suppressed.

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Midwest Example Mixes:

SPRING, FALL, & WINTER STOCKPILE:
Tolerant of frequent grazing:

Grass: Fescue, Orchard, Kentucky Bluegrass, Wheatgrass, 
       Wildrye
Legume: Milk Vetch, Ladino, white clover, red clover, alfalfa

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LATE SPRING & SUMMER HAY / PASTURE, & WINTER STOCKPILE:
Intolerant of frequent grazing especially in the fall. 
Do not graze from late summer through fall, 
to allow carbohydrates to buildup:

Grass: Bluestem, Indian, Gama, Grama, Indian, Buffalo
Legume: Birdsfoot Trefoil, Sainfoin, Crownvetch, Purple Prairie, Alfalfa

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Forage Links:

Grass and legume links: USDA - pasture and hay species University Wisconsin - pasture for sheep University of Purdue - forage grasses and legumes North Dakota State University - grass varieties. Univ of Kentucky - forages ********** Forage Quality Penn State - forage quality North Dakota State - forage quality **********************************************************

Forbs:

Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Advantages: High calcium Short lived perennial Edible by humans also. Disadvantages: Low growing Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica): (Point of origin: Eurasia) Advantages: High calcium Perennial Edible by humans also. Disadvantages: Prickly. Accumulates excessive nitrates. Plantain (Plantago spp.): (Point of origin: ) Advantages: High in calcium and copper Short lived perennial Narrow leaved variety has antibiotics. Disadvantages: Low growing. Illinois wild flowers - plantain Chicory (Cichorium intybus L.): (Point of origin: Europe ) Advantages: Drought tolerant deep tap root which can break up hardpan. Rich in calcium, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Tannins can reduce nematode infestations in animals. Disadvantages: High mineral and nitrate content may cause imbalance in the wrong situation. Requires specfic management to keep stands long term and prevent bolting. Low growing. The Free Library - chicory Forage chicory University of Kentucky - chicory Kansas State - chicory Sow Thistle (Sonchus oleraceus): (Point of origin: Eurasia ) Advantages: Good livestock forage. Very nutritious. Disadvantages: Noxious weed in row crop regions. Atracts aphids but also attracts preditors. Info: Sonchus oleraceus U.C. Davis Virginia Tech Edible Wild Food Burdock (Arctium sp.): (Point of origin: North America, Europe, Asia ) Advantages: Good livestock medicinal forage. Disadvantages: Accumulates excess nitrates. Difficult to dry. Burrs can damage eyes. Turns milk bitter if overconsumed. Info: Univ of Wisconsin Burnett (Sanguisorba minor): (Point of origin: Europe, Asia ) Advantages: Good livestock forage. Very deep tap root so very drought tolerant and good at breaking up hardpan. Provides nectar for parasitic wasps and honey bees. Long lived evergreen. Disadvantages: Low growing. Info: USDA US Forest Service **********************************************************

Forb Links:

Organic Beef - herbs Weed Forages Weeds as Feeds Miss State **********************************************************

Weed Toxicity & Invasives:

Some of the most nutritious weeds can be toxic if given just the wrong circumstances. Weed monitoring and management is critical. Nitrate Toxicity Poisonous Weeds in Pastures Weeds that livestock can eat Smooth Brome is invasive **********************************************************

Forage Trees and Shrubs:

Most of these trees should be kept full sized to increase strength against weather extremes. But just having them around guarantees that volunteers will sprout in the fields. If fields are not overgrazed, the animals will regularly have access to young green shoots.


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Willow (Salix spp.):

(Point of origin: Europe, Western Asia) Advantages: Leaf forage. Roots can go deep so leaf is mineral rich. Reproduces from rhizomes. Some varieties are ideal for planting near berms: Salix nigra - very tolerant of water Salix alba - somewhat tolerant of water Salix bebbiana, exigua, interior, scouleriana - flood and drought tolerant Disadvantages: Roots can invade water pipes. Information: Wikipedia University of Connecticut Canadian Journal of Botany: P. nigra - drought resistance City of Colorado Springs: Salix alba vitellina - drought tolerance Drought tolerant willows - bebbiana, exigua, interior, scouleriana USDA: Intermountain browsing willows for uplands - scouleriana Willow *******

Cottonwood (Populus spp.):

(Point of origin: North America) Advantages: Only moderately tolerant of drought. Some varieties are ideal for planting near berms: Populus deltoides - somewhat tolerant of water Disadvantages: Black Poplar is toxic Information: Poplar is the source of bee propalis Oxford Journals Northern State University USDA - Black Cottonwood Populus fremontii Zapata - drought tolerant Plains and Rio Grande Cottonwood ( monilifera and wislizeni ) - water and drought tolerant *******

Alder (Alnus sp.):

(Point of origin: North America and Europe ) Advantages: Very good nitrogen fixer. Young sprouts are excellant for all cattle. Depending on species and water conditions, roots can be shallow or deep. Most varieties are water tolerant, but Italian Alder is drought tolerant. Disadvantages: Catkins used as food by moths, but can also be used as food for domestic animals. New sprouts are easily overgrazed. Information: Wikipedia - Alnus sp. Alder - tripartite symbiosis Alder - ecto, endo, ectendo Alder - limited mycorrhizal species Alder - cross mycorrhizal species Alder - host to diseases Alder - few shared networks *******

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides):

(Point of origin: North America ) Advantages: Excellant for sheep and certain cattle such as Highland and Galloway. Heavy suckering tree so tolerates grazing. Roots can go deep so leaf is mineral rich. Disadvantages: Easily over grazed. Information: Oregon - Aspen Management Utah State Aspen Wiki *******

Illinois Bundleflower (Desmanthus illinoensis):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: palatable Nutrition: Moderate Bloat: N Intense grazing: N Planting: bloom early to mid summer, allow to reseed Propagation: perennial bush Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: None Info: Illinois Bundleflower University of Purdue - Bundleflower University of Wisconsin - Bundleflower ******

Lespedeza (Lespedeza virginica or capitata ):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: palatable Nutrition: Moderate Bloat: N Intense grazing: N Planting: difficult to establish Propagation: perennial, long lived Drought tolerant: Y Disease / Insect Problems: None, do not plant non-native sericea which is invasive Advantages: nitrogen fixing bush. cattle forage non-invasive. Disadvantages: do not plant Lespedeza sericea in non-native habitat it is too invasive Information: University of Minnesota University of Wisconsin USDA Kansas Native Plant Society US Forestry Service USDA Kansas Natural Heritage Inventory *******

Leadplant ( Amorpha canescens ):

(Point of origin: North America) Season: warm Hay: Y Yield: low Nutrition: High, very palatable Bloat: N Intense grazing: N Planting: Spring Propagation: perennial, seed or cuttings Drought tolerant: Y, deep tap root Disease / Insect Problems: None Advantages: Legume bush. Very nutritious and palatable. Fixes nitrogen Disadvantages: Easily overgrazed. Rhizobia: Mesorhizobium amorphae Information: USDA - Leadplant University of Minnesota - native legumes Agronomy.org - perennial legume study USDA / NRCS - Leadplant Kansas Native Plant Society *******

Mimosa (Leucaena leucocephala):

(Point of origin: West Indies, Central America ) Advantages: Very high nitrogen fixation. Leaf has high forage quality. When freezes back will often regrow. Disadvantages: Leucaena leucocephala is hardy to zone 6 Potential goiter Information: **********************************************************

Forage Tree and shrub links:

Polycultures & Silvopastures VTForages - Silvopasture overview, Honeylocust Forest Connect - Silvopasture examples, Honeylocust Silvopasture in Wisconsin Willow, Cottonwood, Aspen, Hickory, and Walnut connect networks Small Stock Forage for Goats Fodder Trees of Nepal Fodder trees of Pakistan Univ Tennessee - trees that tolerate waterlogged soils Australian trees that tolerate Waterlogged soils Iowa State - trees that tolerate Waterlogged soils Michigan State - water tolerant trees Perennial Solutions - nitrogen fixers ranked Back to Garden for Nutrition Index