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Management-Intensive Grazing: Management of Forage Supply

Forage Species

With our climate in Georgia, forage can be grazed year-round. One reason for this potential is that over 50 forage species can be grown in Georgia. However, there is a big difference between "can" and "should." Some forage species are more efficient users of scarce resources than are others. Some species are more persistent than others. Some species will yield more than others. Some species produce higher quality forage than others. Unfortunately, the "optimum" species that excels in each of these characteristics is non-existent. Therefore, it is important to simultaneously consider input-use efficiency, yield, persistence, and quality when selecting species.

The following are four key resources to help you evaluate forage species and management strategies:

  1. A Web site called – This Web site contains up-to-date information about selecting, growing, harvesting, and using forages in Georgia, including recommendations on species/varieties, fertilization, pest control, harvesting method, etc.
  2. Two Extension Publications, "Georgia Forages: Grass Species" and "Georgia Forages: Legume Species" – These publications identify the major perennial and annual forage species that are recommended in specific regions within Georgia and outlines their yield potential, persistence, input-use efficiency, and relative quality.
  3. A free computerized decision aid called "C-Graz™" – This software was developed by the USDA-NRCS and Extension personnel from across the Southeast and was designed to enable an evaluation of the relative productivity of individual species and mixtures under different animal/forage production scenarios.
  4. A book entitled "Southern Forages" – This book was written by Drs. Don Ball (Auburn University), Carl Hoveland (University of Georgia), and Garry Lacefield (University of Kentucky), and it represents the 100 years of collective experience between them and of the many other researchers who have worked on forage management in the Southeast. Plus, it is written in laymen’s terms.