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View Full Version : Fescue/pasture grasses and Bobwhite Quail



JSwan
Dec. 19, 2008, 12:56 PM
Anyone have quail on their land? If so, do you have fescue in your pastures? If you don't, what sort of grasses do you have and what livestock do you graze, or is your land enrolled in CP-22?

Benson
Dec. 19, 2008, 03:50 PM
JS - I have a badly beaten up cool season grass pasture that will be renovated with fescue in the spring. We have mature forest on one side of the pasture and 22 acres of short (under 4') warm season grass in CRP on the other side of the pasture. We do not have CP 22 planted. We have a LOT of birds but no quail.

Do you work for either NRCS or the District?

Tamara in TN
Dec. 19, 2008, 03:54 PM
Anyone have quail on their land?
yes


If so, do you have fescue in your pastures?
yes



If you don't, what sort of grasses do you have and what livestock do you graze,
horses and the occasional feeder cow...surrounded by hay fields of tim/alf/orc and assorted things...





or is your land enrolled in CP-22?[/QUOTE]
no

best

JSwan
Dec. 19, 2008, 03:56 PM
No, I am merely interested in restoring bobwhite quail in a way that complements farming/horsekeeping operations. Meaning - native grasses, elimination of fescue, and few to no restrictions on grazing. I had one covey established but they disappeared.

ETA - Tamara. Are you actively managing for habitat or are the birds naturally present and thriving? Do you think that your management practices have helped? Not trying to be nosy.

Sakura
Dec. 19, 2008, 04:37 PM
No, I am merely interested in restoring bobwhite quail in a way that complements farming/horsekeeping operations. Meaning - native grasses, elimination of fescue, and few to no restrictions on grazing. I had one covey established but they disappeared.

ETA - Tamara. Are you actively managing for habitat or are the birds naturally present and thriving? Do you think that your management practices have helped? Not trying to be nosy.

JSwan,

I'm in central VA... would love to know what kind of native grasses you would recommend planting for the warm season in this zone (and where I can buy seed). I'm not a huge fan of fescue and want to avoid it pretty much at all costs, but need something hardy and able to stand up to traffic... tried contacting my ag-ext office (several times actually), however they keep encouraging me to put fescue down... sigh.

FLIPPED HER HALO
Dec. 19, 2008, 05:20 PM
We have a lot of quail and pheasant in my pastures. My pastures are seeded with a pasture grass mix = orchard, rye, white clover, alfalfa, timothy etc.

grayarabpony
Dec. 19, 2008, 07:23 PM
We have quail and fescue pastures, but of course the quail stick to the "roads" and the edges where they can easily walk.... We try to keep some edge areas closely mowed for that reason.

MikeP
Dec. 19, 2008, 11:13 PM
There usually are several coveys of quail on this farm. Pastures are about 50% Fescue and 50% Dallisgrass/White clover.

A few horses, mostly beef cattle on the pastures.

There are a number of pine woods thickets and planted areas of older pine that we burn every year or so. I think burning the woods helps with quail population.

No CRP land here.

JSwan
Dec. 20, 2008, 10:18 AM
Managing for quail all seems to be geared towards setting the land aside - no multiple uses.

Mike - I think you're right about burns. What I've read is that you do prescribed burns but that's just no possible or practical for most of us. Then I read you could mimic that somewhat by discing.

I've pretty much eliminated fescue in one pasture, which is now a mix of sedge, clover, bluestem (not bluegrass), timothy, orchard, and some gamma grass. No switchgrass of course.

That's where the covey was, even though livestock grazed that pasture.

I'm envious of you guys that have established quail populations. I haven't had much success and have become frustrated.


Sakura - I don't know of anything that is as tough as fescue. I usually plant Southern States mix #2; it doesn't have fescue. I frost seed clover in Feb. You can get native grass seed on the Internet, but it's very expensive compared to pasture grasses. Don't plant switchgrass.

Thanks, all.

secretariat
Dec. 20, 2008, 10:47 AM
Fasinating thread. Please forgive my ignorance, but what's the connection (or lack of it!) between the quail and fescue?

We had lots of quail when I grew up in eastern Kentucky, and we always got a box full of chicks from the Ag Dept (I think) every year. Turned them out with the chickens and their chicks & they stuck around and grew until they matured and gradually flew away. Hearing the "Bob White" in the evenings sitting on the porch was very pleasing. Have heard only a few in the last many years.

Fescue is a critical grass for this part of the country, no other grasses are as tough or productive here (e.g, Ky 31 fescue). Our quail co-existed with fescue, cattle, horses & the other varmints.

grayarabpony
Dec. 20, 2008, 10:59 AM
Basically quail have short legs and find it impossible to walk and forage in fescue pasture unless it is grazed very short.

The local community college has 800+ acres on which they do controlled burns to encourage quail populations and longleaf pine growth.

wateryglen
Dec. 20, 2008, 06:59 PM
There are a good # of bob whites in an area I ride that has lots of thick weeds and johnson grass, panicum, foxtail, and some other stuff I don't know. He's in some program about resurrecting them I think.

Too bad our bob white quail can't be released; we'd be glad to give you some. Still have over 40 or so. Poor things. I like chickens better!

Tamara in TN
Dec. 21, 2008, 09:07 PM
ETA - Tamara. Are you actively managing for habitat or are the birds naturally present and thriving? Do you think that your management practices have helped? Not trying to be nosy.

nose away :)

we don't really "manage" for anything...we just went from grazed cattle land to about 30%pastures and the rest planted hay crop fields...we never set out to plant $10,000 worth of "specific grasses"...it just sort of happened...about the second year of really feeding the fields the deer started growing...we had inadvertently put the house on a game trail...so I can track the things from the west to east and aross two picture windows...feeding the does made more fawns and we always make sure they eat well...the vagrants :winkgrin:

the fields that will yield high for us we really work...but the margins and ponds (we have 11) remain uncut and unburnt save about twice a year...so I reckon the smaller critters get all they need...the bob white have been more prevelant (I think) since we started planting the orchardgrass...but I think that has more to do with the foxtail in the same fields thru the hot summer....can't prove it though....

since I came here,we now have deer as big as ponies and nice big racked boys that our cousins have left to grow up big(only cousins carry hunting and fishing permits here...only family keeps a vested interest in the land) ...there is squirrel and rabbit in abundance now...ground dove and mourning doves,numerous sorts of hawks...owls and red fox,bear and elk have been sighted here as well in the last 16 mos..the occasional river otter and beaver...of course turkey...

best

JSwan
Dec. 21, 2008, 11:19 PM
Thanks, Tamara (and everyone else)

It sounds like you've just created the right situation for everything to thrive. Must be beautiful!

I am thinking about purchasing a few pounds of native grass seed (I'll frost seed clover in Feb), and then doing a release. Do that in the pasture that has little fescue and has good cover.

I don't know what to do about the fescue in the other pastures. One thought, in trying to keep expenses down, is to take the PTO driven sprayer and do Roundup along the fenceline and maybe a filter strip or two - near good cover. Then lightly disc and plant orchard and timothy. Native grasses if I can afford to splurge.

While that's taking root I'd do a release in the good pasture.

What I'm not sure of is if any good will come of it. I'm still ruminating so if any of y'all have suggestions I'd be grateful.



Mike P - As far as I know Dallisgrass is safe for livestock (including horses). Is that correct?



Wateryglen - your neighbor is probably in the CP-33 program (I wrote CP-22 program but that's a typo). Is this the same area that hunters have shot fox? If so - I am wondering if they are shooting fox to keep them from preying up on the bobwhite? Fox and coyote are terrible predators of bobwhite. Just a thought.

Tamara in TN
Dec. 21, 2008, 11:33 PM
[QUOTE=JSwan;3745318]Thanks, Tamara (and everyone else)

It sounds like you've just created the right situation for everything to thrive. Must be beautiful!

it's nice enough I guess...but the point is in the end, we chose to farm for hay...it is/was our first concern...

maybe it's recognizing that the land is ...ummmmmm what's a good word?? well I dunno must be the muscadine typing:lol:...

the land is lots of different rooms in one big house...with different windows and furniture and it's own inherent traits...the view in my basement laundry does not match the bedroom balcony....but each suits it's purpose...

if you look at your own "house"it should come to you were to put what...I have never thought much about "managing"...... it always eemed a way for me to keep seed companies in govt program money..:( which always makes me grumpy anyway...

and the biggest nastiest,most unlivible places to me have been these hideous weed farms of "wildlife grasses"and some such...

course then again, I'd hate to know how many tons of our hay never see the mower:lol::lol::lol: ending up instead keeping Bambi and Thumper et al well fed!!!!


best

subk
Dec. 22, 2008, 12:03 AM
A friend manages his acreage for quail by restoring it to native grasses. I believe it gets a significant amount of the cost reimbursed by Quail Unlimited. They would be a very good resource if you are truly interested in increasing you quail population.

http://www.qu.org/content/habitat/habitatinformation.cfm

JSwan
Dec. 22, 2008, 12:09 AM
Ahhh - for me it is the eggnog typing. :)

It does indeed sound lovely and well managed. To me, well managed means it's productive and there is still native wildlife/plants. Not so much getting a pat on the head from the USDA.

I may also be looking at this the wrong way. With the number of coyotes around here releasing quail may just be giving a free buffet. Maybe just planting grasses for livestock and quail and getting rid of the coyote might help. Dunno.

MikeP
Dec. 22, 2008, 01:49 AM
"Mike P - As far as I know Dallisgrass is safe for livestock (including horses). Is that correct?"

Dallisgrass is very high quality forage compared to the options where it grows. Central Alabama is about the northern limit of Dallis grass adaption.

Yes, soon someone will come on here and say that they read a report that Dallis grass is dangerous. (ergot). All I can say is that I've been grazing cattle and horses on Dallisgrass pasture for decades with never a problem. Most farmers in this area wish they had more of it, but it doesn't do well on dry soils. Heavy clay or moist bottomland suit it the best.