This is not a preferred grass for goats but they will eat it. It does very well in
the Southeast and in some of the Texas area. It is particularly well adapted to sandy
soils and does best in well drained soils. We have clay soil in Northeast Texas and
it does good here. It can be grazed or a source for hay. It spreads by underground
stems, runners and seed. It generally grows between April and October. It can yield
3-6 tons per acre. It is possible to overseed Bermudagrass with cool season legumes
to provide additional browse in the spring. It is common to see clovers or annual
rygrass used in combination with Bermudagrass. It can be established quickly. It
grows to a height of 15 to 24 inches.
Crude protein (CP) values generally ranged between 16 percent and 20 percent.
Can yield 3-6 tons per acre
This legume does well in hot weather and are an important legume in the southeastern
United States, but since 1940 they have been replaced gradually by soybeans, clovers,
and other legumes. Referred to as “black-eyed peas,” cowpeas are grown primarily
for human consumption but also are suitable for hay, silage, and pasture. Cowpeas
are grown on approximately 200,000 acres annually in the United States, with Georgia,
California, and Texas accounting for 65% of the total production area. Cowpeas are
adapted to a variety of climatic and soil conditions, but they require considerable
heat for optimum production. Cowpea forage in a study was comparable to alfalfa hay
harvested at the late-vegetative to early-bloom stage.
Crude protein 20-25%
Crabgrass(annual that volunteers readily)
Crabgrass is commonly considered a weed due to its prolific growth rate and spreading
morphology. However, crabgrass possesses significant potential to supply high-quality
summer forage for grazing livestock in the transition zone between subtropical and
temperate regions of the USA. It is well adapted to most soils. Drought tolerant
and responds more quickly to rain than many summer grasses. Growth from June through
September. Provides higher quality grass than bermudagrass and has a 5-8% higher
Red River crabgrasswasdeveloped from a “hairy crabgrass” species Digitaria ciliaris
at the Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation in Ardmore, Oklahoma. It was named afterthe
Red River in southern Oklahoma where the parent plant was discovered (Dalrymple,
1996). Red River crabgrass is a runner grass that spreads by stolons. The plant roots
down wherever the stolon joints touch moist soil. It has very competitive regrowth.
Stolons can reach 4 feet in length within one regrowth period. It has a prostrate
growth behavior under stress but grows erect under desirable conditions. Red River
crabgrass can grow over three feet tall. It produces seed sufficiently for volunteer
This crabgrass has an acceptable leaf to stem ratio and is relatively insect and
disease free. Red River crabgrass is adapted best for the mild and some temperate
areas of the United States. It grows well in the hardiness zones 6 to 10. It thrives
in warm weather (80-100F), warm soils, moist conditions, and well-drained soils that
do not crack when dry. Crabgrass responds well to nitrogen fertilizer. It has poor
tolerance for extremely saline or alkaline soils A hay harvest of crabgrass during
the first growth can have 15-20% crude protein and 65-75% digestibility. A desired
haying height is 1.5-2 feet tall.
Crude protein 7-18% depending on stage of growth and fertilization.
Can yield 3-5 tons per acre
Perennial bunchgrass with short rhizomes and a tall ligule. Leaf has sparse hairs
at the base and rough edges. Seed head has drooping spikes. Well adapted to central
and southern part of the states. It has a very low seed germination which causes
a slow establishment. Planting usually occurs in March or April by broadcasting seed
at a rate of 10 to 15 lb/ac at a 1/4-inch depth. Dallisgrass is well adapted to clay
and loamy soils. It is very responsive to nitrogen applications. The primary forage
utilization is pasture, but can be harvested for hay. Forage production occurs from
April to October with yields ranging from 2.5 to 6 tons/ac. It is recommended not
to graze at seed head or to clip to eliminate the seed head. Dallisgrass does well
in a mixture with white or red clover. Higher nutritional value than bermudagrass.
Can yield 2.5-6 tons per acre
Native to the eastern U.S This highly productive grass is best adapted to wet habitats;
and remnant colonies are commonly found in flood plains and along stream banks. Eastern
gamagrass is a relative of field corn and is characterized by numerous short, well-developed
underground stems. It is a tall, erect bunch grass growing from 1-4 feet in diameter.
It spreads by underground stems and produces seed between July and September. It
requires a rest period from grazing that is critical to the survival of bunch grasses
because they rely on carbohydrates stored in the leaf bases for regrowth. If animals
are allowed to graze regrowth before carbohydrates can be stored, plants will soon
succumb to overgrazing. The loss of natural stands of this highly palatable, productive
grass has been attributed to overgrazing.It produces the majority of its growth from
mid-April through mid-September. Eastern gamagrass begins growing earlier in the
spring than do the other native grasses such as big or switchgrass. It is readily
eaten by all types of livestock and the young leaves are 65-72% digestible. One of
the major problems associated with eastern gamagrass is difficulty with establishment
and poor seed production resulting in high seed cost.
Crude protein 12-18%
Can yield 4-6 tons per acre
Haygrazers are described as crosses of forage types of sorghum, sorgo, and sudangrasses.
Sudan hybrids are described as hybrids or crosses in which at least one parent is
a sudan. The other parent may be a grain sorghum, a sweet sorgo, or a sudan. Sorghum
X sudan and sorgo X sudan hybrids tend to have coarser stems and broader leaves than
the true sudan X sudan hybrids. Common examples of sudan hybrids are Haygrazer, Trudan,
Sweet Treat, Sweet Graze, Sudax, and many others. Sudan X sudan hybrids usually produce
less than sorghum or sorgo X sudan crosses.
As rainfall and soil moisture decline, coastal bermudagrass will remain green as
long as moisture is being replenished from the subsoil, but it will not replace what
is grazed with new growth. Since June and July are typically sparse months for rainfall,
haygrazers usually grow so rapidly as to stockpile excellent grazing well into the
summer months. If more haygrazer is produced than can be used, the field can be divided
with a hotwire, and the ungrazed portion can be baled while it is in the boot stage.The
highest-quality haygrazers are well fertilized, are produced on deep, well-drained
soils for extended moisture supply, and are planted somewhat thicker to decrease
Livestock producers in the southern Great Plains should not overlook johnsongrass
in their pastures. For one thing, under certain conditions it can kill your cattle.
Another reason not to overlook johnsongrass is that it is excellent forage - if you
can get over the fact that it can kill your cattle!
Positive aspects of Johnsongrass
As far as nutritive value is concerned, johnsongrass is tough to beat. One study
conducted at the Noble Foundation from the summer of 1999 to the fall of 2001 showed
that the quality, expressed as percent crude protein (% CP), and digestibility, expressed
as percent total digestible nutrients (% TDN), of johnsongrass is as good as any
of the forages tested. In this study, bermudagrass was neck and neck with johnsongrass
in terms of % CP and % TDN. The bermudagrass was a managed stand and was fertilized
with 50 to 100 pounds per acre of actual nitrogen. The johnsongrass was unfertilized
In another Noble Foundation study that was initiated in the summer of 2007 and is
ongoing in 2008, the palatability of several warm-season grasses is being evaluated
by forage connoisseurs - yearling steers. In the study, three yearling steers have
access to plots containing pure stands of 14 different warm-season perennial grasses
(both native and introduced). We count the bites of each steer during their morning
grazing to determine their preference for a particular grass or grasses.
After one year of data collection consisting of two grazing cycles conducted during
the summer of 2007, Johnsongrass came out near the top in this study. Alamo switchgrass
was the only other grass in the study that had more bites taken of it than johnsongrass
in year one (9,262 versus 6,062, respectively). Preliminary data from the first grazing
cycle in 2008 show that johnsongrass is the second most preferred grass in the study
this year - second to bermudagrass (5,084 vs. 4,625, respectively). A testament to
the preference for johnsongrass by livestock can be seen while driving down the road;
pastures that are continually grazed generally won't have any johnsongrass, but you
will see it all along the roadside - out of reach of the fenced-in cattle.
Negative aspects of johnsongrass
Johnsongrass is on the noxious weed list in several U.S. states (including Oklahoma)
and has even made the list of the 10 most noxious weeds in the world. Johnsongrass
can accumulate nitrates during the summer if exposed to several dry, cloudy days
in a row. It can also produce prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) after stressful conditions
such as drought, freezing weather or exposure to a herbicide that kills grasses.
If your Johnsongrass is subjected to any of these conditions, keep cattle away for
about a week to allow the prussic acid to dissipate.
Adapted to most medium or well drained soils except deep, sandy soils. Pearmillet
is superior to sudangrass and sorghum-sudan hybrids in sandy soil. It is an erect
plant with more leafy than sorghum-sudan hybrids. It does not produce prussic acid
like the hybrids can do. It can grow between 3- 8 feet tall according to the variety
grown. It grows between May and October similar to Haygrazer. It is 60-65% digestible.
It is recommended to only graze it for 1-3 days at a time grazing at a height of
14-24 inches down to a 6 inch stem. Unlike Sorghums, Pearl Millet does not produce
prussic acid. Nitrate poisoning has not found to be a problem unless nitrogen rates
are in excess of 250 kilograms/hectare (225 pounds/acre). Conditions for Nitrate
poisoning and formation of toxic silo gas is only a problem when under a combination
of abnormal growing conditions such as:
High N fertilization caused by heavy N or manure applications or following legume
Prolonged drought followed by rain
Any condition which kills the leaves while the roots and stems remain active, will
initiate the accumulation of nitrates (frost, hail, grazing and trampling, or sometimes
drought and overcast weather).
Crude protein 14-18% at a height of 12-14 inches but loses protein as it make a head.
Can yield 3-4 tons per acre
Sericea Lespedeza(Perennial legume)
Grown throughout the Southeast and does the best on medium to well-drained clay to
sandy loam pastures. It can do well in eroded areas and shallow soils. It has a reputation
for growing in poor, droughty areas. It is an erect, deep-rooted legume growing 3-6
feet tall that can survive for many years. It has slow growth to start with only
6-12 inches for the first year. It does not spread by stems or runners. New growth
after grazing comes from buds on the stubs. Growth period is between April and November.
If not grazed or cut, it will produce a seed crop in the late summer and fall. Pastures
need to be well prepared for seeding because it does not compete well with other
plants and grasses. Digestibility is 50-55%. Growth after 24 inches becomes woody,
stemmy and high in fiber. One of the main reasons goat breeders are interested in
Sericea Lespedeza is because of its Tannins that have been shown to help reduce worm
Crude protein 12-16%
Can yield 2-3 tons per acre.
Can be used for high quality grazing or hay. It does best in in well-drained soils
and can withstand drought. Growing season is between July and September. It is recommended
that it be grazed in 1-3 day periods to allow regrowth on the plant.
Crude protein 25-30%
Can yield 2-3 tons per acre
Grows best on well-drained soils with good amounts of moisture. Switchgrass is a
long term perennial living as long as 15 years. It is an erect, bunch-type grass.
It is ready for grazing several weeks earlier than Coastal Bermuda. The peak production
months are May to July. It has weak seedling vigor. It is a high quality grass with
70-78% digestibility. Switchgrass will not accommodate as high of stocking rate as
Coastal Bermuda. Slow seedling establishment has previously limited adoption of switchgrass
in forage production.